Out With the Old – 2004 Year of Political Liars

As Guido gets older he gets increasingly weary of lying politicians, Jeremy Paxman famously said that when he interviews a politician he wonders “why that lying bastard is lying to me.” Lying seems central to modern politics. Politicians have such contempt for us that they lie to us without flinching.

We went to war and lost a hundred soldiers lives on the basis of lies, from the prime minister down lies were told, Tony Blair is the Liar-in-Chief. The Tory leader is no better, why does he tell us complete bullshit like “we are united” on the issue of ID cards. Does he think we can’t read about the shadow cabinet dissent in the papers or that we can’t count the number of Tory MPs who failed to vote for ID cards?

Charles Kennedy (although to be honest I don’t pay him much attention) seems to be more honest. Voters would find that attractive if were not for the endless examples of LibDem dishonesty and duplicity in local government.

The expenses fiddles at Westminster may be small change compared to the dodges of MEPs, but it matters. We elect politicians on the basis of trust, we trust them to do what is right and we hold them to the highest standards. We do not expect them to be fiddling the postage and claiming tens of thousands of pounds for travel costs when they live a few stops away from Westminster on the tube.

But worst of all its the corrosive lying on a day-to-day basis, spin may embellish and put policy in the most advantageous light, but when spending plans are announced repeatedly as new spending, it is lying. Blunkett pathetically lying to hold on to office when he is in charge of the justice system is unacceptable. The collective amnesia of the civil service was a disgrace, John Gieve should be sacked, not knighted. Labour MP Tony Clarke, active in the politics of football, lied about his hooligan past. He could have come clean and said he was a naughty boy in his youth, but he lied because it was easier. From the top to the bottom lying is acceptable.

If politicians could make one collective New Years resolution it should be to tell the truth.




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