I had made up my mind last night to write about lying before I read Chris Grey’s superb blog out today, December 16. I strongly recommend you read it, too.
“In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
― George Orwell
I was provoked into addressing the issue by a clip of last night’s BBC Question Time. This is a programme I have found impossible to watch without wanting to tear my hair out and howl with despair, made worse by Brexit and rendered intolerable since the dreadful Fiona Bruce took over.
Couple her sneering and biased chairing of the ‘debate’ with successive panels that feature, seemingly on a loop, the architects of our moral and economic decline – Farage, the ERG and the denizens of Tufton and Lord North Streets – and you’ve got a recipe for a corrosive cocktail of frustration and fury. It’s a cocktail best avoided. The hangover never goes away.
But I see clips on Twitter and, yes, in my particular bubble they are clips that trigger those howls of anguish. Last night’s was no exception. Just watch Rees-Mogg’s face. The curled lip, the contempt and venomous condescension as he listens to a man speaking the truth about the reality of Brexit and its legacy:
To plagiarise Hilaire Belloc’s Matilda:
“The Tories told such dreadful lies
It made one gasp and stretch one’s eyes;
Some, who from our earliest youth
Have kept a strict regard for truth,
Attempted to correct the liars –
The effort’s very nearly killed us.”
But it’s no joke, is it? Rees-Mogg’s lies drip from his supercilious lips and add another layer to the calcifying mountain of falsehood that is burying the truth. The money ‘went to the NHS’: it did not. The money squandered with mates on useless PPE and on test and trace was, however, counted as spending on the NHS, an obscenity when you see millions of it laundered into yachts and fine stucco houses by the scammers.
Rees-Mogg continues, refuting the lived experience of an expert to claim that trade deals with Australia and New Zealand have improved his lot, dismissing the tax issue as the Treasury’s fault. I found myself reaching for Orwell again:
“The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”
Power is all they want . They lied to get it and lies are now all they’ve got to keep it.
Even more obscene has been the campaign to turn us against all those essential workers, clapped through the pandemic and now vilified as grasping, selfish enemies of the people.
Ministers, including the Prime Minister (so much for his promise on integrity!), have been advised repeatedly to stop lying about the costs of a proper pay rise, but they just keep right on telling the same lie, over and over:
And take a look at this orchestrated campaign to pervert the truth about the strikes. These bot-created tweets prompted a suitably sarcastic response from our friends at Best for Britain:
Again, I turn to Orwell:
“The really frightening thing about totalitarianism is not that it commits ‘atrocities’ but that it attacks the concept of objective truth; it claims to control the past as well as the future.”
Lies are persistently told to overwrite our recollection of the past, even our experience of the past.
Matt Hancock’s ‘diary’ of the pandemic is no such thing . . . he kept no diary and is, instead, rewriting history to cover his own back and to cast doubt over our shared recollection of what actually happened. The seeding of care homes with Covid; the herd immunity strategy; the PPE corruption; partygate… It’s gaslighting, all of it, designed to make you question not just your own memory but your own sanity.
Then there are the almost casual lies told to buy time ahead of the revelation of a truth which can no longer be hidden:
We are being told lies that the NHS has been showered with money but just gets worse and worse so that, in the end, we concede that the only way to sort it is to privatise it. We are told that pay demands are driving inflation, yet public sector pay has been squeezed for the past 12 years. We are told that everything that has gone wrong is the fault of Labour, Covid, Putin, the unions . . . but never Brexit or the Tories.
We are told, over and over again, despite it being an outright lie, that we were only able to get our vaccination programme off the ground so quickly because of Brexit. We are told that the Brexit rollover deals have brought ‘new’ trade; that bad deals are good; that the EU is the awkward party etc .
We are told that we are a generous and welcoming nation when it comes to offering asylum; we are told that the 6,000 Afghans granted leave to remain here BEFORE the botched evacuation somehow cancel out the fact that not a single Afghan has been permitted to escape the danger of imprisonment or death under the much-vaunted resettlement scheme. We are told that people choose to risk their lives to get to the UK on blow-up boats because they are all criminals and miscreants. We are told to believe that there are legal routes and that it is, anyway, illegal to seek sanctuary, that people should stay in the first ‘safe’ country they reach, despite any familial, language or historical links to Britain. They tell us the source of all our woes can be laid at the frozen feet of all those desperate souls who, they tell us, are invading us in their thousands.
“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” Orwell
How long can we go on like this? How much lying are we willing to take? When will more people realise that the lying is actually facilitating policies which remove freedoms and rights, ruin lives and livelihoods, turn people against each other and destroy the very fabric of our society?
The battle to counter a toxic narrative spewed out by government and a lackey media is a constant and challenging one but we must keep at it. We cannot allow these lies to be normalised into the new ‘truth’. We have to keep calling it out, sharing posts from the likes of Peter Stefanovic, Led by Donkeys, 99% Org, Best for Britain, Byline Times.
Oh, and the answer to the question in the title? Yeah. With the current crop . . . when hell freezes over, because lying is now the established method of securing and maintaining power. And let us hope that nobody forgets that when the chance comes to vote these liars out.