The truth has become a “disposable commodity” in politics, the Alliance Party leader has claimed.
Naomi Long said this is the first election where she has felt that truth is being treated as opinion.
“I have fought other elections where there have been smear campaigns, misinformation campaigns, leaflets campaigns, but this is the first election campaign I have fought where I have really felt it is as though truth is a disposable commodity,” she said.
“People will openly say things that are patently untrue. I am not talking about spin, I am talking about not true, and the response to that is, ‘sure they all do that’, and that worries me because to me that is a much deeper problem in society, not just in politics.
“If we start to treat truth as if it’s just opinion then we lose any sense of right and wrong, of good and bad, of who you can trust and who you can’t trust – it’s not all a matter of opinion, some things are still a matter of fact.
“I think that it started with this whole idea we are all tired of experts… if I’m unwell I want an expert, if I’m sick and I go to the hospital I don’t want to see my plumber scrubbing up to do my surgery.”
Ms Long added: “I have seen a lot in this election, people just announcing figures, 50,000 more nurses, 60 more hospitals, they don’t say why, what’s that going to mean for your healthcare. That’s the conversation that we need to be having with people so there is trust and they understand how it is paid for.
“But then you start to drill down into the figures, it’s not 50,000 more nurses, it’s 50,000 more than there would have been in 10 years’ time if we did nothing now. If you say that it doesn’t sound half as glamorous but at least it’s true and nobody feels let down at the end of the conversation.
“We need to be more honest and upfront with people that most of our spending promises come as the result of a cut somewhere else unless we are freeing up money or borrowing from Treasury, and if we borrow that costs too.”