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Recollections may vary

It has been asserted that we live in a ‘Post Truth’ society, where political debate is hampered by an inability to agree on basic facets of reality. This assertion holds true in many instances.

There are those who struggle to grasp the many meanings of the word ‘true:’ the moment someone uses a phrase like ‘my truth,’ they implausibly claim that veracity—‘the truth’—is the only sense in which they understand the word. It’s disheartening that they must go through life without any true friends.

So, I was delighted by the last section of the most recent episode of Politico’s podcast, ‘Westminster Insider.’ In the episode, Ailbhe Rea discusses the art of the political interview. In the final section, she addresses the disastrous interview which prompted Andrea Leadsom to withdraw from the Conservative leadership election in 2016—the infamous ‘motherhood’ interview.

Rea conducts interviews with both Leadsom and Rachel Sylvester, the journalist who interviewed Leadsom. The two have markedly different recollections of the crucial part of their interview which, on first hearing, seem entirely irreconcilable.

The genius of this episode lies in the fact that Rae then plays the dictaphone recording of the original interview for the listener, without comment. It immediately becomes apparent that the seemingly irreconcilable accounts are, in reality, both accurate.

Naturally, Sylvester and Leadsom’s recollections differ because they are viewing the same encounter from different perspectives, focusing on different aspects of it. Neither is recalling the complete picture: and with only their own perspective to work from, how could they?

The episode serves as a poignant reminder that disagreement on basic facts is not always born of deceit: sometimes, recollections can differ in ways that are entirely honest. Despite appearing contradictory, neither Leadsom nor Sylvester’s account was inaccurate. ‘Facts’ that appear mutually exclusive aren’t always so.

The image at the top of this post was generated by Midjourney.

This post was filed under: Politics, Post-a-day 2023, , , , , .

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