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Europe’s leaders need to be honest about what they really think, and what they really can and cannot do

Posted on 8 December 2011 | 11:12am

Another day, another summit, another round of ups and downs, then stand by for another set of bold declarations that Europe’s leaders have found the solutions to the current crisis … again. With every step of crisis management that doesn’t quite work, they take another reputational hit.

How refreshing it would be if, instead of saying how we can now breathe easily, Frau Merkel and Monsieur Sarkozy emerged to say something on the lines of …

‘Well, this is a crisis for sure. Here is our analysis of the problem … And here are some solutions that we propose to take us forward from where we are. We cannot guarantee their success because in reality we are not in total control of all the forces at play here. All we can do is set out the measures for which we have responsibility, provide the leadership we can provide, and appeal to others involved in this process to accept their broader responsibility too.’

I acknowledge this would be something of a departure from the traditional school of political communications. But the public are ready for it in a way that perhaps they weren’t in previous eras of deference and an understanding of the power of the nation state.

I mentioned this at the conference of French public service communicators in Dunkirk yesterday, and recalled the time former Socialist Party presidential candidate Lionel Jospin said ‘the State can’t do everything.’ It was a statement of the truth – and in poll after poll the public say they want politicians to tell the truth. Yet it is widely felt his campaign took a tumble from then on in.

The conference, and the awards ceremony the night before, were a refreshing reminder that at its best communication is about public service. Those present who were surveyed said their prime motivation was a dedication to their local community. The bulk of them worked for regions, towns, mayors, councils, and there was some excellent work honoured.

It was interesting too how almost all the campaigns, because of budgetary restraints, were mainly targeted at the internet. Those that cut through did so because of originality of ideas and authenticity of the means of communications.

Authenticity is the key to modern comms. It is what people are looking for from Europe’s leaders today and tomorrow. I’ve suggested how Merkel and Sarkozy might approach things. As for David Cameron, honesty and authenticity require him to work out what he really thinks, and say so.

The comparisons with the Thatcher and Major eras are some way off the mark, because if anything the Tory Party under Cameron is even more Eurosceptic. But if he feels their basic position is wrong, and damaging to the national interest, he needs to say so, and say why, clearly in both cases. Instead he keeps trying to give the impression he is ‘one of them’ whilst telling anyone else that he is not.

He needs to sit down and work out his core position. Once he finds it, he might find it liberating to say what he really thinks, rather than keep tippytapping between fundamentally irreconcilable positions.

  • MicheleB

    Cameron needs to find out what his MPs really think, at the moment they’re hidebound by what they’ve said to their constituents to get their votes and are now held ransom to whenever there’s a division.

    Some are playing a similar game to Cameron’s (with his varying scripts according to whom he’s facing at the time).

    Surely it’s possible for Govt Tories to have a blind/anonymous vote on the topic of whether the EU is best for us at a national/international  level or not.

    That’s what should concern them, not being blackmailed by what might please their own voters.  He’s got to face up to having bought the votes of some that would have
    gone for the BNP or UKIP if either had had enough candidates for a Govt.  We hear so much about Labour being beholden to the unions, less about those beholden to racists and tax cheats.

  • Libdem

    Alastair, I admire your cheek!

    ‘Authenticity is the key to modern comms’ implies that spin is no longer in and we all need a good bout of honesty from our politicians. It’ll never happen as you and your colleagues have been and still are media manipulators, we’re getting kidded every day of the week by the complicit mainstream media.
    The good thing is that we now have the internet and we can convey our views in a wider and more open forum.
    If this makes our politicians more likely to be honest then great but
    I won’t be holding my breathe.

  • Diarmid Weir

    ‘As for David Cameron, honesty and authenticity require him to work out what he really thinks…’

    But does he really think anything beyond ‘How do I and my chums stay in power?’

  • George Woodhouse

    Nice thought Alastair but we have long lost political leaders that tell the truth -‘or even recognise what the truth is. Sadly nor do they understand that we would respect them far more if they did.

  • Ehtch

    They come across as impotent, and as I have said before, they are looking after their own behinds, not to do a faux pas which would affect their future political career. They just seem to come out with the same feckless not taking responsibilty bollocks all the time. Bring back Winnie I say, he is the sort of character that is needed, calling a horse a horse, or a spade a spade, and etc. comparison wotsits.

  • Olli Issakainen

    Christmas pantomime season starts.
    Thanks to leaks we know what the plans of European globalists are. They want a federal superstate, but cannot say it directly.
    Anyway, citizens do not like it.
    So we are treated with these silly summits one after another. Play-acting!
    Banking elite, which also wants a United States of Europe, has provided politicians the platform to move towards the superstate by producing economic crisis which is bound to become much worse.
    There is easy solution to the eurozone “crisis”. End austerity and reform the banking sector.
    But, of course, this will not do for the neoliberals and freemasons.
    (One of the aims of freemasonry is a world government as anyone can see from the writings of H.G. Wells.)
    So we are now heading for a Credit crunch 2.0.
    Global banking system faces insolvency. Maastricht Treaty prevents European Central Bank (ECB) from saving banks.
    Politicians do not want market forces to be involved when it comes to banks. Taxpayers must guarantee the losses.
    Bank bailouts caused the “mess”. Growth is needed to balance the books, but the same banks which caused the mess are now demanding austerity and “reforms”.
    Austerity is destroying investment and jobs. Tax receipts will go down, and benefits costs up.
    So the government deficits will rise. It is now probable that Mr Osborne will face almost the same level of deficit in 2015 than it was in 2010. All because of lack of economic growth.
    The EU currency must serve the public, not big corporations. Private financial interests must now come second.
    The plan of the globalists is to demolish democracy, personal freedom and capitalism. Depression is the tool to achieve this. Austerity leads to recession and depression.
    Nation states will be a thing of the past. Soviet-style central planning is on the menu as tax and spending plans will be transferred to Brussels.
    So we have to witness this EU charade until the globalist bankers and freemasons in politics will finally get what they – and not the public – want.

    Ps. The US credit-ratings agency Standard & Poor´s is a division of McGraw-Hill. Rothschilds control McGraw-Hill through Vanguard (4.46%) and State Street (4.14%). According to a Swiss study by the University of Zurich 147 cross-owned Rothschild-controlled companies control 40% of the wealth of global economy. 

  • Anonymous

    I now know what it feels for a country to be led by a former PR consultant, they lie habitually and deceit becomes an objective of state policy.  The tragedy, however, is that they drag many along with them under the belief that all is fair in politics including barefaced lies.  Gone are the days of Sir John Major who at least showed some decency.  

    These Cameron lot now actually claim that Gordon Brown wanted to lead Britain into the Euro! Can Cameron for once not allow his penchant for lies to at least concede that Gordon Brown and by extension Balls did more than anyone to preserve the pound? 

  • Anonymous

    I think Cameron will say anything – he is such a lightweight.  But I am extremely concerned that we seem to have no bargaining power whatsoever, primarily because leaders in the EU know the UK government doesn’t believe in Europe.  They can see Cameron coming.

  • MicheleB

    Re a question of yesterday about agencies like S&P – who are they?

    Have just heard a report that Germany’s recently revised number of As or +/*s means that their loans are now costing double to insure.

    What on earth that can mean for poorer countries or what it means in terms of commission or another word beginning with ‘com’ but ending in ‘icity’, the mind boggles.

  • Bar Bar of Oz

    Alistair! You say you don’t do god, but surely the One sits on the shoulder of Tony Blair. Otherwise HE would be president of the EU right now.

    Hilarious.

  • Sometimes you can catch them at it (telling the truth) if they forget to switch their mikes off George:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-15635476

  • Standard and Poors are a city funded credit rating organisation Michele.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_%26_Poor’s
    Their objectivity and credibility is often questioned, sometimes rightly sometimes wrongly.

  • MicheleB

    Thanks RH but my first line was quoting the question of yesterday, it’s one that more media commentators  than AC have placed, questioning the sudden prominence of S&P (especially since they are actually so long-lived and so very Republican).

    As to their need just to be, to exist, given that we already (supposedly) have the IMF assessing countries’ budgetary performances, I see them as just another set of vultures.

    My point was about their apparent effect on insurance  policies to cover countries’ loans and if Germany are now paying double what they used to on theirs, what the he** effect to S&P have regarding poorer countries?

    We have more than the banks to worry about under the heading of ‘bar stewards’ imhoo.

    Hope the gormless threats from trolls that you posted about a couple of weeks ago have come to nothing 🙂