Wednesday, September 21, 2005

 

New Labour and Lying

I've just read Danny Fikelstein's piece in The Times(21/9/05) about New Labour and lying. He recalls the moment he realised they lied without conscience and experienced a kind of negative epiphany in consequence. With me it's been a slower process perhaps, as a Labour supporter. But I have to confess it was the book by Peter Oborne, The Rise of Political Lying, which truly confirmed what had become persistent suspicions. They began when I interviewed Peter Mandelson for an article I was writing in the mid eighties on how senior politicians handled interviews. He denied that Neil Kinnock had received any advice on how to dress or otherwise present himself;in contrast to Mrs Thatcher, he pointed out, every inch of whom had been the recipient of make-over activities. This just did not ring true to me. Later, when the same Prince of Darkness was suffering his second ejection from high office, I recall hearing two radio interviews with him. In the first he seemed to imply he might be interested in serving in the EU Commission; in the second, on local not national radio, he denied having any such thought. Small things- but this is how it starts maybe, in politics as in any aspect of life.

Blair's behaviour over the WMD was another major asssult on my faith in my party's veracity; how could he have assumed we were so stupid as to believe him over the Dossier's claims of 45 minutes and that he did not know details about the Kelly affair. Then came a number of revelations, the most recent of which was the biography of David Blunkett in which his biographer- and such people are usually sypathetic- admitted his subject was 'a liar'. And I had been taken in by the idea that a blind man must have more integrity somehow. How naive can you get- and I always thought I was too cynical.

The most recent source of disillusion is the diaries of Lance Price, a former press officer in Number Ten. He explains that lying was an automatic response to adversity, no sense of guilt seemed to accompany the lies. A depressing picture of our political leadership at the very top. But where does one go from here?
It's hard, as I always assumed a moral superiority of Labour over the Conservatives. But it seems they are just the same. Will I keep on voting Labour? Yes, I will as at least Labour manage to achieve things which I support- more funds for public services for example. Maybe New Labour are a bunch of lying bastards but at least they are 'our lying bastards'. What I would like to see is one of the senior guys caught red handed lying to the Commons. Our system is not so inured to untruths that it would over look such a transgression. Even Bliar could go that way and it might even become his leaving of the stage.

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