When Snowball and Napoleon debate the difficult question of how to defend Animal Farm from humans, the animals cannot make up their minds who is right; they find themselves persuaded by Napoleon's solution, only to change their minds when Snowball speaks. This passage has stuck with me for years because I have always felt susceptible, like the animals, to persuasion by opposing arguments.
Much as we would like legal questions to have simple answers, that is often (rather obviously) not the case; there is usually more than one way of looking at things. On the issue of business property relief on holiday cottages, the First Tier Tax Tribunal in Pawson finds one way; the Upper Tier Tax Tribunal, on the same facts, finds the other (see Rhoddy Voremberg's article). And in more day-to-day matters, whether it is a land agent asking about repair responsibility for drainage or water pipes (see my article) or a question of responsibility for gas safety (Paul Krafft's article), the answer is often not straightforward.
Orwell wrote that political language is designed 'to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind'. Well, that still rings true, but, in their defence, politicians are often playing to our hope that complex problems should have simple solutions. The easy answer is so tempting, and often so wrong.