Political language, disagreeing while saying they’re agreeing… December 20, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
There’s an excellent example of political language meaning whatever the hell you want it to reported in the SBP at the weekend in relation to Pat Rabbitte and Lucinda Creighton’s musings on the €3.1bn promissory note which is due to be paid in March. As Niamh Connolly reports last week we heard this from Rabbitte when asked if a bailout would ensue on foot of a lack of agreement on payment of the note:
“Personally, I don’t think it is as stark as that, because we didn’t pay the promissory note this year and, as far as I am concerned, we are not going to pay it next year. It’s as simple as that,” Rabbitte said.
Seems clear enough. ‘We are not gong to pay it next year’ (though if one reads the first four or five comments in this thread here one will get a real sense of how even that is ambiguous in terms of what is really happening… ).
Creighton when the issue was raised said:
[while an agreement would have to be found in March:] “I don’t think it’s helpful to say ‘we will not pay’. That suggests that we might default, which is not the case. We have to remember when you say ‘we will not pay’ that this has all sorts of connotations and can be interpreted a thousand ways by the markets. As soon as we start sending out messages to the market that we might default, why would anybody come and invest here?”
But wait, didn’t Pat Rabbitte say ‘we are not going to pay it next year’. Isn’t that effectively the same as ‘we will not pay’, at least in so far as ‘we will not pay… next year’.
Apparently not. In this instance when she heard Rabbitte say ‘we will not pay’ she interpreted it as the following:
“I know exactly what Pat Rabbitte means and it’s very much in keeping with the sentiment expressed by Michael Noonan. But obviously, we have to do everything by agreement with the European Central Bank.
“We’ve spent the last number of years making it very, very clear that Ireland is a safe place to do business – you can invest your money, buy bonds, bring your company here, and you can invest in a thousand different ways in Ireland. That message has been heard loud and clear, and international investors are responding to it, so I would be very cautious about using that language because it can be misinterpreted. I would say that it’s for the government to manage this process, to deliver on our commitments and the expectations of the public by March, and we will do that.”
But Rabbitte’s language surely fits precisely in to the sort of language that can, at its kindest, be misinterpreted? Surely? No?