Can We Trust What Government Tell Us?
There are differences between manipulating words, bending the truth, omitting material facts and outright lies, some obvious, some subtle. Then there is propaganda and disinformation. Government and their officials are experts in this dark linguistic art. A good example of this art in operation is the recent revelation that David Cameron knew UK pilots were involved in US-led bombing missions of Isis targets in Syria, even though parliament had expressly rejected British military involvement in the country in 2013.
Cameron said he was “aware of the pilots involvement and that it was a long-standing practice for the UK to embed forces with other countries and this was no different”.
Cameron’s language is deliberately designed to diffuse and deflect criticism. “I authorised direct bombing missions in Syria irrespective of the wishes of Parliament”, would be more aligned to the truth. A few decades ago, Cameron would have been in mortal political danger for lying to parliament and the electorate – it would have been a scandal.
Manifestos – (noun)a public declaration of policy and aims, especially one issued before an election by a political party.
In todays manifesto’s the word ‘policy’ is replaced with the word ‘pledge’. One being easier to reverse out of than the other. It’s the same with the term ‘u-turn’. A u-turn is a broken pledge in manifesto speak. To you and me – it’s a broken promise.
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After the 2010 election in 2010 a coalition was formed. David Cameron led the coalition which was to some degree fortunate for him. The Conservatives then blamed the Lib-Dems of the coalition for blocking or not supporting their ‘pledges’. In truth, the conservatives had made many pledges that were either unpopular or did not suit their aims and subsequently u-turned on at least fifty during the course of that parliament.
In the run up to the 2010 election, George Osborne continuously stated that the UK had the biggest debt in the world. After some scrutiny George Osborne admits to the Treasury Select Committee that he did not know the UK had the lowest debt in the G7? (watch). You can see throughout this video a ‘ducking and diving’ technique that largely fails to pay off.
In 2013, the Conservatives released their latest party political broadcast. The TV ad sees apparently ordinary members of the public asked to rate the government’s performance on paying off the deficit, cutting taxes and dealing with unemployment at the halfway point of the coalition.
Most people are fairly pessimistic and are then confronted with the supposed truth, FactCheck-style. The deficit has been reduced not by two or three per cent but by 25 per cent, for example.
David Cameron then tells viewers: “Though this government has had to make some difficult decisions, we are making progress. We’re paying down Britain’s debts…”
One has to be observant here. The broadcast talks of deficit (gov’t spend verses tax revenue) but Cameron uses the word ‘Debt’ (total national debt). Big difference. (Watch video HERE).
This was a clear case of word manipulation and therefore outright lies. At that time Andrew Dilnot, the chair of the stats authority, confirmed after numerous complaints that there was no basis for Cameron’s claim. He rightly pointed out that the national debt has risen from £811.3bn, or 55.3 per cent of GDP, to £1,111.4bn, or 70.7 per cent of GDP, since the coalition entered office. Today, that debt stands at over £1.5 trillion or about 90% higher than 2010 when Cameron moved into No 10.
David Cameron’s general election pledge not to cut spending on the NHS has clearly been broken. From there the NHS has staggered from one crisis to the next – privatisation being its only saviour of course.
More hospitals will be run “outside of the NHS” by “mutuals”, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said after Conservative feet got under No10’s table. He did not “see a line” he wasn’t prepared to cross, in terms of how many hospitals might be allowed to transfer out of the NHS.
Assisted by health minister Norman Lamb and Kings Fund chief Chris Ham, Maude had been quietly purusing this agenda – what one expert health commentator recently called “the biggest denationalisation of health services ever suggested.”
Lamb let the cat out of the bag. There is a very real intent to privatise hospitals – and mutuals are to be presented as an alternative to it. Lamb’s puppet master, Francis Maude, well known for his missionary fever to denationalise public services as “mutuals”, is more honest about what they are. “Mutualisation is privatisation” Creating a mutual from a public sector organisation is taking a public service and moving it into the private sector, which is the definition of privatisation.
Primarily, the privatisation process installed by the Thatcher era has been the outsourcing of public services or functions to private firms. The purpose has been to take a public cost and move it ‘off balance-sheet’ to reduce long-term liability to the public purse. This was sold to the public after lengthy campaigns to convince them that public services were failing and required the huge investment and expertise that could only be delivered by private entities.
Almost universally, this philosophy has failed. But there is a more sinister side to privatisation – the selling off of national assets (and both) are done without due democratic process, whilst generating government revenue that wasn’t their’s to sell.
British railways are now the most one of the most expensive rail services anywhere is the world. Many privatised rail services are in fact owned by foreign governments who use the profits to fund their own activities.
The universal experience of water privatisation in the UK was a sharp increase in the cost of water. On average, prices rose by over 50% in the first 4 years and privatised water companies are planning to increase prices 40% by 2020. A parliamentary committee in 2000 disagreed with OFWAT and made the claim that since privatisation, the water supply and sewage system had got worse through inadequate investment. It is still the same today.
Then we had the disastrous ‘right-to-buy’ housing sell-off. Rolled out during the first half of the 1980s as a flagship conservative policy. Contrary to many reports, 4.39 million homes had been sold-off from 1980, transferred from councils or demolished to make way for new private developments. There are now two million families waiting for suitable council accommodation in Britain today.
And More ..
In his address to the Tory party conference Wednesday 10th October 2012, Cameron claimed that his government had created over one million jobs in the private sector, this is a complete misrepresentation of the truth. Around 200,000 of that million are straight forward reclassification of people who work in further education and have simply been reclassified from public sector workers to private sector workers. Hundreds of thousands more are part time workers; temporary workers; self employed; under employed.
Here is another a very dark use of disinformation and deceit by government. George Osborne said famously in 2007: “We need to harness the internet to help us become more accountable, more transparent and more accessible – and so bridge the gap between government and governed.”
Two years ago the world found out that the Cameron government hasn’t just lied for years about its true intentions- it deleted the evidence of those lies from the internet. Ten years of speeches and press releases about how the new Tories were all about modernising conservatism, how they cared about the environment, the NHS, the poor. All gone. Not just from the Conservatives’ website and YouTube pages, but from the Internet Archive, the world’s digital library.
The erasure had the effect of hiding Conservative speeches in a secretive corner of the internet like those that shelter the military, secret services, gangsters and paedophiles.
If Edward Snowden had not divulged government dirty laundry we would not know of the huge surveillance lie they had been telling us for decades. The current government will wave around the threat of a D-notice when a newspaper insists on publishing details of its gross surveillance programme now proven in the highest courts of the UK and EU to be illegal. Yet, they insist on their right to scrutinise, track and spy on activists, protesters and ordinary citizens, then kick into a censorship fit when they are scrutinised in turn.
There are countless other examples from the world of politics, but one thing you can be assured of is that your government lies to you – all the time.
The promises that governments are making to their electorates are not just misleading: they are unforgivably dishonest. It will not be possible to return to the expectations that we once held that politicians and government officials told us the truth. Governments, politicians and their agencies in the UK, the US, and the countries of the EU conduct a so-called democracy on a bed of false premises and outright lies.