Fending off questions with bland, repetitive and obfuscatory phrases is clearly becoming the default position, not only of the prime minister, but of the entire Tory government, as illustrated this week over Trident, and earlier in the month, by the transport secretary over the Southern Rail crisis. Of course, May knew about the missile failure; of course, parliament wasn`t informed in case support in the vote for Trident`s renewal was reduced. In concealing critical truths from parliament, and therefore from the public, they are proving themselves as duplicitous as the previous government. "Deliberately misleading parliament", which is what May is accused of by the Stop the War convener, Lindsey German, is clearly now official government policy (Morning Star, 24/01/17).
We see it every week at PMQs, when perfectly sensible and pertinent questions from Jeremy Corbyn, and other opposition MPs, are either not answered at all, or responded to with irrelevancies or false claims, with the Speaker failing to offer any reprimand, or even a reminder of the purpose of the session.
The trouble is this government tactic works, because it is allowed to: claims that the NHS is not in crisis, that no recruitment problems exist in the teaching profession, that the country cannot afford increased pay for carers, and that everyone`s taxes need reducing, are repeated so much, they must be true! As if there ever was an "economic long-term plan", or is likely to be a "northern powerhouse", or even help for the "just about managing"? No-one in the mainstream media says the government is lying to us, but what else is it? Being "economical with the truth"?
How can the "effectiveness of the UK`s independent nuclear deterrent" not be in doubt, as Fallon says, when its missile "malfunctioned"? How can we criticise the Trump administration for its propensity to use "alternative facts", when our government adopts the same tactic?