Recently on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme Chuka Umunna, the shadow business secretary, was being interviewed about ‘dodgy donors’. Presenter Jim Naughtie asked Mr Umunna 5 times if the Labour Party would repay any donations that turned out to have come from someone who was avoiding tax. Five times the shadow business secretary avoided the question, choosing to answer a different question altogether.
Of course Mr Umunna is not the only MP that chooses to avoid answering direct questions, but why are so many politicians unwilling to be straight with the electorate? We can all make our own judgements why they don’t answer such direct questions, and sometimes they may be right to avoid rising to the bait, but on most occasions we should have an answer. After all, they’re meant to accountable to us, the taxpayer, who pays their salaries. On this occasion, Mr Umunna’s simply came across as being slippery and untrustworthy (who seems to have forgotten that there’s an election around the corner).
In business no one would get away with such obsfucation. Imagine you’re asked by your boss why something hasn’t happened that you should have done. How far would you get trying to simply bluff your way through with nonsense excuses? Some people might try to blame others, but the best option, by far, is to be honest, even if you know that you have messed up.
Your boss might not be happy with your performance, or lack thereof, but at least you would be seen to be trustworthy and honourable, and your own PR would actually be enhanced.