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8:39am on Wednesday, 11th October, 2017:



Suppose that in her LBC interview yesterday, the Prime Minister had been asked this question: "If there were a general election tomorrow, which way would you vote?". Would she have equivocated, saying that there isn't going to be a general election tomorrow and that she never answers hypothetical questions, or would she have simply answered "Conservative"?

Well, if she hadn't answered "Conservative", she would have been indicating that the issue was in some doubt.

The question she was asked was not which way she would vote in a general election, though. It was whether she would vote to remain or leave the EU if there were a referendum tomorrow. She decided not to answer, by appealing to a general principle of never answering hypothetical questions. In doing so, she indicated that this particular issue is in some doubt.

She could, of course, have stated openly that the issue is in some doubt. She didn't even do that, though. The natural deduction is therefore that the issue is not in any doubt, but to provide an answer would be damaging.

On breakfast TV this morning, I watched the Culture Secretary, Karen Bradley, similarly fail to answer the same question. In the end, she was triumphant about her not having answered a hypothetical question, as if it were some major achievement. She denied that she'd answered it, even though it was put to her that by answering another question she effectively had answered it. It was almost as if she was more interested in not offending whoever told her not to answer the question than she was interested in not looking spineless.

Still, you can't use logic when arguing with these people. Those aren't "hypothetical questions" anyway, they're real questions. If you don't want to answer them, say you don't respond to counterfactuals.

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