In the RG yesterday there was an article concerning Premier Cox’s apparent reversal of her position on taking a paycut. The unions had been advocating that if they (their constituent membership) were going to be expected to take paycuts, in the sense of overtime bans and their wages not increasing to match inflation (both of which are de facto paycuts for workers) that the MPs, particularly the Cabinet and the Premier, should also make similar sacrifices, even if merely symbolic. In Premier Cox’s Easter address<; to the country she rather infamously ruled out even entertaining such an idea with some poorly chosen words of ‘politics of appeasement’ and ‘doing more with less’ which were not only contradictory but came across as extremely arrogant.
That she has now apparently changed her position on this issue has opened her up to attacks of flip-flopping and weak leadership – she is perceived to have backtracked in the face of the ridicule and criticism she recieved for her words in that speech. This is understandable. While there is nothing wrong with reflecting on ones position and being convinced of a better position, her published statements do make one wonder whats going on with these rapidly changing and contradictory actions.
I welcome her apparent willingness to reconsider this position, although I recognise it isn’t clear if there will be anything additional to her comments, as in whether or not it will translate into any actual action. It may very well be a minor concession, an attempt to mitigate some of the criticism she recieved for her original position. However, if that was her intention, she failed to counter the predictable criticism that she is flip-flopping and allowing public opinion to dictate her actions, rather than her actions helping guide public opinion. All she needed to do to prevent that criticism was to state something along the lines that ‘on reflection, her earlier pronouncements may have been made without sufficient consideration, and she is now willing to entertain the concept and give the unions an opportunity to discuss the issues in greater clarity’. Had she done that she could have given herself the appearence of hindsight, humility and a willingness to recognise that she, too, is all too human and makes mistakes. She may well have been criticised still, but I think the criticism would be less so and she instead would have garnered some political capital in the process.
It’s important to note that we don’t know fully what she said on the matter. The RG, like any media outlet, is limited in space and likely just provided excerpts that gave the essence of the communique. The PLP though (and how many times has this been pointed out?!) have a website where her communique could have been transcribed in full, unfiltered and fully controlled. It is dissappointing that they do not use their website more in this manner and instead use it for a confused combination of poor propaganda and government (and not Party!) releases.
As said though, I welcome the Premeir’s humility in recognising that her earler statements may have been too hasty and is willing to reconsider the matter. I just hope that in the future she considers her statements more carefully (although avoiding paralysis by analysis) so that she doesn’t have to repeat this situation in the future.