Subterfuge undermines public confidence
Politics cannot take place out in the open. Any form of negotiation needs to generate a certain amount of trust between the parties involved and ought to minimise pressures relating to time and its focus. In short, dialogue is easier if the background noise is reduced and it generates a certain loyalty, even in disagreement. During the European Union’s complex negotiations, if necessary, the clock is literally stopped, and when no successful outcome is reached, the proceedings are brought to a close with an agreement as to the level of disagreement. Maintaining the negotiating table ensures there is a channel for dialogue, however bad things get.
Nevertheless, discretion in negotiations does not mean getting caught in the art of subterfuge or in the use of euphemism. The risk of lying is it risks discrediting politics. President Puigdemont has been trying divert attention away from his meeting at the Moncloa on the 11th, and the government spokesperson, Neus Munté, has done her best to deny it without blushing. Political communication allows one not to tell the whole truth, to delay, to make public certain information that favours one in the negotiations.
However, this does not justify lying, if we wish to maintain the public’s confidence in their representatives. If a leading politician believes they can keep a meeting at the Moncloa a secret for any length of time, rather than taking the initiative and letting the cat out of the bag themselves, then they are very much mistaken. The right to be heard by the public is founded on gaining their trust, and credibility is one means to achieving it. Puigdemont could just have easily spoken to Rajoy with the lights on.