Why I'm sick of politicians refusing to give us an answer

Health secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday that teachers would not get priority for the Covid-19...

Health secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday that teachers would not get priority for the Covid-19 vaccine. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

However impressive, effective and efficient politicians might be behind the scenes, a lasting takeaway of the pandemic is how they have slipped and slid their way out of answering straight questions.

On all sides of the political spectrum, elected representatives have been shameful in giving anything but straight answers to direct questions and refusing to admit when they’re wrong.

Holding up their hands to any mistakes is clearly a big no-no in the secret code of conduct for all politicians. Are they inducted into the House of Commons with an oath never to give a straight answer or admit to being wrong.

A case of acute wrong-phobia from top to bottom blue, red and whatever political colour, and it’s getting excruciating.

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve yelled: “Just answer the question!” from behind a cushion, embarrassed for these elected ‘leaders’ paid to run the country intent – and possibly coached – to say and do anything to avoid delivering a straightforward question, six, seven, and eight times over.

And it’s not just ministers or the government either, slithering around questions is endemic across all parties and levels.

They might believe they give stellar performances, but every time they are deliberately evasive to a clear question demanding a clear question, they underline what we all know: Politics is a game and interviews are the politicians’ stages.

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But these questions are, mostly, what we want answered and it is their job to answer.

We squirm with embarrassment for them, but they appear unbothered and impervious to ridicule for their ridiculous games of Avoid the Answer. How can look back on interviews as a debrief and not cringe in humiliation at how idiotic they looked?

Then there’s refusing to admit they’re wrong. Waffle, deflect, waffle, distract, waffle, double down, and throw strings of words in that have absolutely nothing to do with an interviewer's question. Digging themselves deeper into holes and public ridicule.

Saving face at all costs, but do they believe they’ve done a great job and not come across like evasive numpties playing a childish game?

Can it really be that they don’t think that they are wrong. People are increasingly bad at admitting when they are.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said this week he "won't apologise" after a high court ruling found him guilty of unlawful conduct by failing to publish Covid-19 contracts within the legal time frame.

"I won’t apologise, to apologise would imply I’d do something differently.”

No, it doesn’t. It acknowledges that you got it wrong, even if you would do it again for the right reason.

Getting things wrong and making mistakes are huge parts of life, and what you do about it and deal with the fallouts are equally big.

More: Rachel Moore on lockdown - 'It's hardly a war, is it?'

People respect those who hold up their hands, admit they’re cocked up and apologise.

It’s seen as strong more than weak. It’s not betraying confident leadership.

Being and admitting a foul-up and dealing with it is always the best way, and the right thing to do.

These awkward TV exchanges are social media gold, but they keep on happening.

Politicians wonder why young people are turned off politics.

We wouldn’t accept our children being so slippery and dishonest. It goes against everything we teach them to own up to their mistakes, tell the truth, apologise when they’re wrong and put right wrongs – and answer straight questions.

I can imagine any young person watching politicians and using them as a model in the classroom – or home schooling, poor parents – will be the bane of teachers’ lives.

Perhaps politician believe they are protecting others who have made the mistakes, – civil servants or colleagues. Whoever made the error, the elected representatives are accountable and the public face of that error.

Being able to say a two-syllable word, sorry, speaks volumes about the person, the organisation, or party, and their values and standards. Refusing to do it, speaks volumes.

What it highlights most is a disconnect with the electorate and a rank lack of empathy, humility and understanding.

Suck it up, answer the question, apologise if it’s needed, and move on.

We’re sick and tired of these games.

Vaccine envy: Whoever thought there would be vaccine-envy?

It’s a real thing.

People who have been called up for their Covid vaccination and those who think they should have been but haven’t are at odds.

“Why she’s got it before me?” and all sorts of accusations about queue jumping because of “friends in the know” and people securing jabs through the back door.

Only in Britain could a vaccination system spark jealousy and gossip.

I had my vaccination – the Pfizer - a week ago. I was surprised to have been called earlier but assume my health history and medication record pushed me up a few groups.

I grabbed the chance and was quite emotional about the efficient, cheery and reassuring experience at Hoveton Village Hall.

Bravo for all those volunteers.

“As far as I know, you’re not 70,” harumphed someone, clearly put out that I must have jumped the queue and couldn’t possibly be classed as vulnerable.

It’s not a competition. It’s a race to get everyone vaccinated, but we all need to wait our turn and take it when our time comes and be thankful for the privilege.

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