Mark Sainsbury: Steven Joyce and the truth about bad-boyfriend politicians

OPINION: If you say something enough, repeat it enough and insist that it's true, does that make it true despite the facts?

Steven Joyce must be pondering such a scenario this morning as he becomes more and more isolated over his claim that Labour's election costings have an $11b hole in them.

So far not a single economist has backed up the Finance Minister - all say the man in charge of the nation's books has got his sums wrong.

Now that doesn't mean that Labour is infallible on the numbers, as their forecasts could be flexible. But by saying there's an $11b fiscal hole, Mr Joyce has dug himself into a ditch of his own making.

It's easy to see what led to this - National's biggest hope is to paint  Labour as inexperienced spendthrifts who would destroy the admittedly strong economy that National has nurtured these last nine years.

This leads us to what I call the fast-approaching period of peak promise. We are reaching a critical time where the volume, complexity and audaciousness of election promises reach such volume that voters cease to take them seriously.

And now we are ceasing to take the rebuttal or criticism seriously as well. It's hard to believe anything any of them say, as we rightly suspect they aren’t giving us the unvarnished truth.

And sometimes it's our fault. Maybe we just don’t want the truth. If a politician said, "We can't afford what's happening here so we are raising income tax to 50 percent as it’s the only honest way to solve a problem", would you vote for them?

Of course you wouldn't. You'd prefer the one who lied to you and told you it would all be all right, even if you suspected they weren't totally straight up.

It's like bad-boy boyfriends and girlfriends - you know they're up to no good, but so long as you can kid yourself, it's all OK.

Mark Sainsbury hosts Morning Talk from 9am-midday on RadioLIVE.

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