The Tory party conference is underway after their unexpected outright win on May 7th. As usual, success always brings out the worst in right-wing politicians.
Slick presentation, propaganda and incessant spin make their own realities. At the conference there will be much speechifying about how the nation, the NHS, the young and old, Army and economy are safer under this party. Bosoms and chests will heave, faces will flush with pride.
But look at what lies beneath and you will find double dealing, iniquity, and the planned demolition of institutions. All of this is preceded by a web of lies and deceit.
The accountability of the Executive (the government) to the Legislature (Parliament) has steadily been eroding for years. Until Parliament seriously threatens ministers’ survival when they deliberately mislead the House, secretly break unequivocal parliamentary decisions and deliberately lie to the electorate on manifesto promises, Britain is increasingly headed on the road to an authoritarian state. Lying and deception by politicians is the new normal.
The Ministerial Code is supposed to be a code of ethics and procedural guidance for ministers, introduced as a result of the first report by the committee on standards in public life in 1995, which is revised every parliament. It is based on the seven principles of public life: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership – almost universally rejected by the ruling politicians of today.
It is a national disgrace that the public should have to put up with elected leaders that, without impunity, lie as a matter of course.
The Prime Minister: The revelation that the RAF is engaged in bombing operations in Syria in strict defiance of a Parliamentary vote two years ago prohibiting this, should be a matter where ministerial heads roll. The excuse given by the Prime Minister’s office is risible. The vote in 2013 was explicit that there was not to be any British military involvement in the Syrian conflict. There are ground troops and RAF bombers in action every day.
Cameron also told the Commons that the two British jihadists killed by drones, had been planning to attach public commemorations in the UK, and No.10 later specified VE Day in May and Armed Forces Day in June, long before the two men were killed in August. On that basis the killing was clearly not within the law and therefore just another lie.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer: George Osborne faced calls to apologise in Parliament after he stated that HM Revenue and Customs was “collecting twice as much tax as before” through new measures to target super-rich individuals and multinational companies, who shelter their vast wealth in overseas tax havens.
However, it was established that Osborne was referring to merely a target of tax collection for this Parliament – one that was based on a completely different measurement from the previous five-year election cycle. Or as the News Statesman put it – “George Osborne’s economic policy is based on lies”
Secretary of State for Work and Pension: Vox Political stated that it was “deeply troubling” to hear that a government minister responsible for the welfare of millions of vulnerable people “continually misrepresents” information to other MPs.
There were calls for Iain Duncan Smith‘s resignation after the release of statistics showing thousands of people died soon after being found fit to work in disability benefit tests, when he denied knowledge of, that he was actually hiding.
Culture Secretary (2010-12) Jeremy Hunt (now Secretary of State for Health) was humiliated when the Commons Speaker ruled it was OK to brand him a “liar”. In a blistering personal attack Labour MP Chris Bryant had accused Mr Hunt of “lying to Parliament” after the minister admitted that he misled MPs about links to Murdoch’s News Corporation while looking at the £8billion BSkyB takeover. Usually MPs are barred from accusing colleagues of lying, but Speaker John Bercow let it stand.
Secretary of State for Education: A furious coalition row erupted in 2013, with the Liberal Democrats accusing Tory Education Secretary Michael Gove of ‘lying’ about a flagship policy to give children free school meals. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced £150million to to build and extend kitchens to cope with the expected demand for the scheme to give free hot lunches to every child under the age of seven. But the Department for Education claims an £80million underspend in schools maintenance budget earmarked for the work does not exist. It turns out the Lib Dems were right as free schools meals for infants is being scrapped altogether.
Home Secretary: Theresa May was famously criticised for claiming that an illegal immigrant avoided deportation because of his pet cat. She told the Conservative conference the ruling illustrated the problem with human rights laws, but England’s top judges , Cabinet colleague Ken Clarke and Human Rights organisations said she had got it wrong and it was not true. The Conservatives are to abolish the Human Rights Act during this parliament.
Nick Clegg, former Duputy Prime Minister accused Theresa May of outright lies when referring to the “Snoopers Charter” in which May blamed the coalition partner of torpaedoing the bill. Clegg said “it is a level of outrageous information that I have not witnessed in the four and half years that I have been in this government.” Clegg demanded a written apology from May.
Leader of the House of Commons: Chris Grayling’s deceptions began way back in 2007, when he was Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary. His first big whopper was his claim that “billions of pounds are being lost to fraud” in the benefits system, which was a gross exaggeration of the truth.
Grayling also claimed that violent crime had soared under the Labour Government. Grayling had deliberately chosen to ignore the change in the way crime had been recorded which led to a furious rebuke from the UK National Statistics Authority. The chairman of the authority, was forced to write to Grayling accusing him of misleading the public and risking damage to public trust in official statistics. The Independent covered the story with the headline “Lies, Damned Lies And Tory Crime Statistics”
This roll-call of politicians who consistently lie, deceive and peddle propaganda is of course nothing in comparison to the 2010 Tory party manifesto. It is nothing more than a document listing all their broken promises. They are too long to list but include;
We will balance the books by 2015
THE TRUTH: Britain still had a budget deficit of £90billion
We will pay down Britain’s debts
THE TRUTH: George Osborne has borrowed over £500billion in five years – more than Labour did in 13.
We will get net immigration down to the tens of thousands
THE TRUTH: Net immigration is almost 300,000 per year
No more top-down reorganisations of the NHS
THE TRUTH: £3billion wasted on the biggest reorganisation in NHS history
We will deport more foreign criminals
THE TRUTH: The number of foreign crooks on our streets soars 20%
As the economist Paul Krugman argued in the New York Times before the election and referring to Conservative party narrative that the labour party had bankrupted Britain and that austerity was the only way forward – “every piece of this story is demonstrably, ludicrously wrong. The crisis was started in the financial sector, the deficit only grew massively after the £1 trillion bail out was handed over to the banks. Austerity hasn’t boosted the economy, it has flatlined”
Former Conservative peer Lord Skidelsky launched a ferocious attack on the Tory manifesto. He said his former party’s claim that they had rescued the country from ‘Labour’s great recession’ was “the mother of all lies.”
Like Krugman, in a post on his website, Lord Skidelsky said: “The Great Recession was caused by the banks. Governments, the Labour government included, by bailing out the banks and continuing to spend, stopped the Great Recession from turning into a Great Depression.
Britain is ruled by a political system built on dishonesty, disinformation, distortion and duplicity. Britain’s once famed values of fairness, justice and humanitarianism will not fare so well under an authoritarian, unaccountable government such as this.