The Truth is Not What We Signed Up For

Boris – Pinocchio – Johnson before the election, ‘Everything will be fine! Promised’ (translated from German), Klaus Stuttman and Schwalme, Der Tagesspiegel, 11th December 2019

‘The Commons may treat the making of a deliberately misleading statement as a contempt. In 1963, the House resolved that in making a personal statement which contained words which they later admitted not to be true, a former Member had been guilty of a grave contempt.’ Erskine May, Members deliberately misleading the House, Paragraph 15.27 (Erskine May is considered the be ‘the Bible of parliamentary procedure’).

Let us be clear before we begin: most politicians from all political parties sometimes lie in some form. Some tell big lies, some tell small lies; a few tell white lies and others tell fibs. In fact, a genuinely honest politician is very rare, and one could argue that being honest in contemporary politics becomes a hindrance as those who lie will use your honesty against you. An honest person can often look like a pessimist, limited by their imagination for what the future holds. In this sense it is hard to be completely honest when everyone else lies, and people allow liars to prevail. Crucially, those who should be holding politicians to account allow the lies to pass, unquestioned and without consequence. These media outlets and other politicians become complicit in the lie, either by repeating it as fact, or because of tacit acceptance. 

Our Beloved Leader has personally taken lying to a whole new level. The lies pour from him and by extension his ministers, non-stop, 24/7/365. He is liar-in-chief but his ministers seem just as comfortable with lying as well, not only repeating party lies, but also their own lies. These incumbents are Eternity politicians, so lying forms part of their statecraft: they use it for the myth-building of a bright future rooted in a glorious past, and they lie to control discourse and to deliberately mislead the public to meet their own ends. For ordinary citizens, it can be difficult to identify one lie from the other, such is the dizzying pace of the onslaught. 

We have witnessed de Pfeffel lie about Brexit. The money he and the Leave Campaign promised the UK would have after leaving the EU is a good example. The money they said we pay to the EU each year was a distortion of the truth (they said it was £12 billion, but it was actually £7.5 billion, over a 5-year average). The more general impacts of remaining were lies and his ‘oven ready deal’ was another big, fat lie. We think he lied about saying he wanted a deal (we have left the EU with a deal now, but that was more due to the circumstances of a change in the US presidency as Donald Trump – Johnson’s safety-net – was defeated by pro-EU Joe Biden).

Vote Leave campaign bus, May 2016

de Pfeffel was found in the Supreme Court to have unlawfully suspended parliament – or prorogue parliament – in 2019. Prorogation is essentially an arcane motion which is put before the reigning monarch to prolong the break between parliamentary sessions. It is the monarch, in this case Queen Elizabeth II, who agrees to prorogation. However, although the Queen could have refused de Pfeffel’s request under her royal prerogative, it would have been extremely difficult for her to do so. As a constitutional monarch, she should not be seen to be involved in politics. Johnson lied about his reasons for prorogation, he said it was to, ‘bring forward an ambitious new legislative programme for MPs’ approval’ but everyone knew it was actually to not give any time for further debate or votes that may have stopped the UK withdrawing from the EU with no deal on 31st October of that year. 

He made an election promise to build 40 new hospitals if elected. However, this was another exaggeration, as the spending package to build them was around only £3.7 billion, whereas the actual build cost is estimated around £20 billion for forty new hospitals. What we are more likely to get is either around six new hospitals or some rebuilding and refurbishments of existing ones.

As we have documented in other notes here, de Pfeffel has most horrendously lied about Covid. He at first lied about the scale of the problem. He and his ministers continuously lie about being ‘guided by the science’. They lied about ‘throwing a protective ring around care homes.’ They lied about the amount of PPE the NHS had available for staff. They lied about contracts being outsourced to private companies (most of them with links to the Tory party in one way or another). They lied about who was running Track and Trace. They misled the public into a false sense of security to get them to ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ during summer 2020, whilst simultaneously being aware of the likelihood of mutations and the probability of a massive winter surge (scientists made the PM aware of this in July 2020). Government knew that the virus would mutate and bring new variants, yet when the next spike came, they lied about whose responsibility this was as ministers blamed the public for not obeying the rules. They lied about the safety of schools, colleges, and universities. As Covid goes on, so do their lies. 

Managing the disease is made all the more difficult when you have a government who are difficult to trust. The problem then becomes when you assume you can’t trust the government, you end up thinking everything else they tell you is a lie, hence why we have large numbers of people on Plague Island refusing to wear masks or have the vaccine, etc.

Whilst it is generally accepted that most politicians will occasionally lie, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson lies so much, it is his default position. Instead, he may occasionally tell the truth (I recall the time when he explained how Covid should move through the nation and that we should ‘take it on the chin’, all in one go). As we have said, his lies are part of his statecraft – perhaps it’s the only kind of craft he possesses – but I wouldn’t give it the dignity of calling it ‘the art of lying’, because there is nothing noble or respectable about what he does. 

This type of lying that we are subjected to on a daily basis is corrosive to our lives, have no doubt. We know they lie. They know we know they lie, yet they continue with impunity because they think there is nothing we can do about it. The magnitude of their lies has no consequences for them. They also have such a low opinion of us and think we have such a poor attention span, that we will quickly forget. For them, lying has become normalised, and them lying has become the norm for us.

But do not despair. The best thing is to not vote for liars in the first place, but Plague Island has unfortunately gone through the looking glass there. Whilst we are in this situation though, we must hold them to account. We are not powerless; more of us know what they are up to than those who don’t and we have to expose the lies. When the Prime Minister or an MP lies, we have access to them via their parliamentary email accounts and Twitter. Once it is again safe to do so, we can attend constituency surgeries. Our constituency MPs should hold those who lie to account for us, and we have to tell them that we expect them to do this, not just once, but every single time. Our own MP is a total servant to power and votes, without exception, in line with Our Beloved Leader. It doesn’t feel like he listens to us at all, but that is no reason to become demoralised. If more of us act, it becomes more difficult for them to ignore.  

Of course, most mainstream media outlets are largely in the pockets of those in power, so we should turn our attention away from them to alternative news sources: Double Down News, The Byline Times and The Canary are good places to start. We need to also become citizen journalists: to independently fact-check, question and challenge. Importantly, we need to unify and work as a group to overcome this era of post-truth and Eternity politicians. 

A little hope, always.

~ L&A 13.2.21 ~

Peter Osbourne, The Assault on Truth: Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and the emergence of a new moral barbarism(Simon and Schuster, 2021)

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