Is there a season for spokespersons to spring up like dandelions suddenly showing on a lawn? They are sprouting everywhere at the moment.
Must we have spokespersons? Let the individual or the leader of the organisation come out and make the statement, the one who, in the words of tax havens, is the beneficial owner of the problem. He or she did something that caught our attention. We would rather hear the explanation from the mouth, not from the mouthpiece.
By now we are able to interpret the words of mouthpieces. Anyone who says, “The PM has full confidence in his Secretary of State and fully supports him”, is playing for time. It really means – ‘the prat will be made to resign by the end of the day. At that point, once we have distanced the key people from his stupid actions, we will heap praise upon his wondrous and glorious achievements as he is booted down the road’. It is a way of quietly easing out the offender, like tipping a stone out of your shoe. In some countries, he would be taken out and shot.
Anyone who hears the phrase “I won’t tell, if you don’t” should run a mile, even if the comment is made in a country famous for its hats and canal. Any archaeologist will tell you that what is buried will one day surface. By shrouding the dodgy dealings under the cloak of privacy, sleight of hand dealers add new meaning to the word ‘privateers’.
Photo by Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz Mariordo
We all groan at the phrase “I will fight these lies through the highest courts in the land and prove myself innocent. They will eat their words”. It is like watching an animal bucking away as it is being taken into the slaughterhouse. The merciful part of us says, admit it, plead guilty now and look less of a fool later.
The airwaves at the moment are filled with spokespersons for various banks and organisations saying, “the bank has done nothing wrong and always cooperates with the authorities”. This is polite speak for, ‘we have not been caught before and have not done anything really criminal, no matter how reprehensible, greedy and amoral you think we are’.
“We are only working for the benefit of our shareholders” is trotted out to excuse everything from not paying the minimum wage, child exploitation in sweatshops, to not paying your taxes because you know someone who is effective at slipping around the law.
There ought to be a ban on any mouthpiece saying “We have learned from this sad event and have moved on”. They usually mean, ‘it has been a tough few weeks in this spotlight. Some other organisation can now be the top news story. Leave us alone’.
How refreshing it would be to hear from the mouth, not the mouthpiece, clear statements that allowed us to be a bit more sympathetic. “As PM, I realise I should never have asked that idiot to be in charge of anything. He is on his way and hopefully I will make a better choice in replacing him.”
Imagine your surprise if you heard, “We hold our hands up. By using fake beneficial owners we have covered up for the greed, selfishness and arrogance of super-rich individuals who think they can buy anything they want. We are happy to publish the names of these bloodsuckers. Our top executive has been sacked without any severance pay and he loses his pension for being so stupid and so greedy”.
I doubt the day will come when the mouthpiece is pushed aside and the mouth says, “I should have seen it coming. I apologise that it took seven stressful years of fighting by the family to winkle out the truth that we make a right cock-up of the way we neglected their child to death. Had we had sufficient staffing in place, had those individuals been properly trained by us and correctly supervised instead of us forcing them to cut corners, this terrible event would never have occurred. I am deeply ashamed of my part in this debacle. I resign immediately”.
Such honesty would be deeply unsettling to the cynical observer. It would be scary if applied to MI5, GCHQ and counter-terrorism operations and challenging if it was ingrained in all our relationships.
Unless of course we could find a spokesperson to talk our way out of the corner.