Nobody tells the truth in politics because people only listen to what they want to hear.
And politicians only say what advisers tell them the people want to hear.
Lies corrode like rust.
We – the voter, the optimist, the bloke with his elbow on the pub bar – hang on to illusions … Take Back Control. Global Britain. Levelling-Up. The Northern Ireland Protocol. New hospitals. Repairs for rundown schools. Cheaper prices after Brexit. The fastest growth in Europe.
The slogans are sleights of the hand, word play, doublespeak.
Boris Johnson lies. He lies an awful lot. And every time Boris Johnson lies, nobody tells the truth in his Cabinet because the truth would sound outrageous, confusing, false news. Press spokesmen are carnival touts spinning government policy like coloured sugar to turn lies into something palatable like candyfloss.
Every onslaught of fresh promises and repudiations comes wrapped in a hazy veracity. You have to listen for the pauses, watch for the shrug, the extended palms, the knowing half smile.
We find in silence and body language the shadow of truth.
Nobody Tells the Truth Anymore
Johnson promised Britain the fastest economic growth in Europe. This is the latest forecast by the OECD reported in the Financial Times: ‘Economic growth in the UK will grind to a halt next year with only Russia, hobbled by western sanctions, performing worse among the G20 leading economies in 2023.’
That puts the United Kingdom behind: the European Union, the United States, France, Germany, Italy, China, Japan, Canada, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Korea, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, India and Indonesia where, when baby boomers were born, head hunting was actually head hunting.
Boris Johnson finest lie is Brexit. He is a European. He speaks languages. He loves the Chateau Lafite Rothschild served at parties at Castello di Santa Eurasia in Umbria, the mediaeval castle restored by Evgeny Lebedev, the Russian owner of the Evening Standard whom Johnson elevated to the House of Lords against the advice of MI6.
Not that there’s any collusion. Or corruption. No, you scratch my back … Just a weekend jolly. Pretty girls. All expenses paid. Lord Lebedev wears ermine in the Lords and can vote on British laws because … well … he’s a really nice bloke and it’s not his fault he was born in Russia and his dad’s the billionaire oligarch Alexander Lebedev, a former KGB spy and intimate of mass murderer Vladimir Putin.
Learning from the Master
The Wall Street Crash in 1929 bankrupted half the world. Inflation was so high in Germany, you needed a wheelbarrow full of cash to buy a loaf of bread. Who did Hitler blame? The bankers. Hitler didn’t like communists and, as he rose to power, he needed an enemy within to blame for Germany’s woes. He chose the Jews and told the German masses ‘Communist Jewish Bankers’ were conspiring to destroy Germany. The claim makes no sense, but the Big Lie was so preposterous everyone believed it must be true.
Trump, Bolsonaro, Narendra Modi, Putin and Boris Johnson learned from the Führer that if you pile lie upon lie the pile gets so high the truth is obscured.
These macho popularists likewise chose minorities as plotters, terrorists and foes: Trump – Mexicans; Bolsonaro – the indigenous people; Modi – Muslims; Putin – all foreigners; Johnson – Europeans and immigrants.
Liars are chameleons that take on any colour. Liars are the acid that eats at the foundations of public life and democracy.
Michael Gove, according to the Guardian, claimed £7,000 to furnish his London home before ‘flipping’ his designated second home to a house in his Surrey Heath constituency. Furniture claims included a £331 Chinon armchair, a Manchu cabinet for £493 and a pair of elephant lamps worth £134.50 bought at Oka, an upmarket interior design firm set up by Lady (Annabel) Astor, David Cameron’s mother-in-law.
Lies tarnish all politicians. ‘They’re all at it,’ we say. ‘What’s the point in voting?’
And when there’s no point in voting, we feel safe with the devil we know – the Conservative Party that during the last 12 years in power has destroyed much of the NHS, brought food banks and hunger to millions, cut taxes for the rich at the expense of the working poor, alienated Britain from its closest trading partners in a hard Brexit that has benefitted no one except those with offshore trusts in fiscal paradises worried that new laws in the EU and US would interfere with their tax dodging.
While Rishi Sunak and his wife were choosing ceramic tiles at £20 each for their new indoor swimming pool, the Chancellor cut the £20 a week in Universal Credit for the poorest people in the country and considered it ‘silly’ to help with energy costs. At the same time, he gave £7.3 billion of tax cuts to bankers. I’m not sure what Hitler would have said about that.
Next time there is an election, local or general, my advice is to vote Conservative if you earn more than £100K a year. They’ll look after you. For the rest of us in this land where nobody tells the truth, a vote for the Tories is a vote for self-immolation, auto-defenestration, a slow, painful suicide.
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