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Letter: To Argue That Any Answer Is Better Than None Is Dangerous

Published on: 8 Oct, 2023
Updated on: 10 Oct, 2023

Quote from the late Glenda Jackson, former Labour MP

From: Ben Paton

In response to: London Road Scheme Is Not Perfect But Better Than No Scheme At All

This argument, that something or some plan is better than nothing or no plan, is a familiar refrain in Guildford.

It is precisely the same argument that was used to justify St Edward’s North Street Development and the disastrous 2019 Tory Local Plan.

Is it logical to say that some plan is better than none? Is it true? Should residents ‘buy it’?

If I tender a £10 note to buy a bar of chocolate that is priced at £87p should I be satisfied if the teller gives me just £9 back in change? Should I accept the retort that any answer/change is better than none?

Suppose I tendered a £20 note and the teller mistook it for a £10 note and gave me back just £10 and 13p. Is any change better than none?

This is a problem with politicians today. They seem to confuse a) the strength of their emotions b) the purity of their intentions c) importance of their selected ends d) the efficacy of their beliefs (ideology) with solutions that actually work. This ain’t a Left vs Right problem. The crazies are endemic.

Local government does not have to get everything right to five decimal places. But it should not pervert truth. There is such a thing as an objectively correct answer.

To argue that any answer is better than none is dangerously close to saying, in effect, that the right answer is not worth the trouble of looking for it.

After all, if you can kid most of the people most of the time with plausible statistics and phony ‘consultations’ does the truth or correct answer matter any more?

There’s a rational and respectable argument that if government cannot demonstrate that its proposed change – which it will implement with taxpayers’ money – is not objectively an improvement it should, in fact, do nothing.

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Responses to Letter: To Argue That Any Answer Is Better Than None Is Dangerous

  1. Helen Skinner Reply

    October 11, 2023 at 4:01 pm

    While I agree that this answer shouldn’t be the default response, the complaints about the London road scheme do seem to be perfect being the enemy of good. At times we have to take the pragmatic approach and make our streets safer. If there isn’t room for a fully segregated cycle lane then a good shared path is enough to make it safe for children to cycle.

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