The 5 Big Lies At The Heart Of Politics

by Ray_North on June 19, 2013

imagesI got cross again yesterday. I was talking to some colleagues and one of them made a flippant remark about how there was no alternative to the programme of austerity – words were said, most of them by me, some of them were unkind.

Oh dear.

It wasn’t meant to be this way. I had always assumed that as I casually slunk towards middle age, I would become a fairly contented, slightly portly, golf playing member of the middle classes. I didn’t expect to be raging more against the establishment in my forties than I did in my teens. But, I am, and there is a reason for this, it is that every time I hear a politician speak, I know that he or she, pretty much regardless of their political party is either repeating, or apologising for one of the five big lies that have been enmeshed like iron into our politics. It makes me angry, because, I don’t like having the wool pulled over my eyes and because, until we have politicians who are honest enough and clever enough to go beyond these ‘orthodoxies’, then we will never properly address them and create something better.

Lie One: ‘the only way to progress is with through capitalism.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not some wide eyed loonie from the Trotskyite fringe who wants to see introduced some kind of controlled economy. But, our political elite have all signed up to the basic tenet that greed is good because somehow it allows progress and that this progress will see wealth trickle down to those who are less well-off.

Lower taxes (especially for the richest), less regulation, more privatisation of essential services, more competition – that is the credo started by Thatcher and Reagan and continued with a certain degree of enthusiasm by Tony Blair and a certain degree of cluelessness by the Coalition.

Well, it is a lie. Greed and unregulated capitalism has led to a society divided as wealth is hoarded by the few and the rest are treated simply as consumers who are expected to purchase more and more with diminishing resources. Services have not improved, research and technology has not improved markedly and the opportunities for social advancement have decreased.

Unfettered capitalism is not a source for good and politicians need to stop being afraid to take on the banks and the big businesses and tell them that a nation’s economy is not run for the good of big business, it is run for the good of the people.

Lie Two: We are doing all we can to help the environment.

We’re not. The attempts being made by almost all political parties, pretty much everywhere in the world to save our planet from environmental disaster are paltry. The evidence is absolutely clear, our consumption is killing our planet. Yet, politicians (and we are complicit in this as well) know that the real impact won’t be felt by us, perhaps not even our children or grandchildren, but by a generation a few years further down the line – and so, we can easily get away with doing nothing or paying lip service to environmental concerns, because, to truly address the problem means making some absolutely massive changes to our lives that are extremely unattractive.

None of our mainstream politicians are brave enough to admit this unpalatable truth, and so they carry on perpetuating the lie, that they are all doing what they can.

Lie Three: We have a healthy and robust democracy that works for the good of the people.

Our democracy is in tatters. Distrust of politicians is at an all time high. Voter apathy is at an all time high. Less than two thirds of the population bothered to vote in the last general election, and the figure is likely to be less at the next one.

People are no longer interested in joining political parties and they are becoming unrepresentative of the population as a whole.

Even more worrying is the increasing influence of lobbyists and vested interests in the democratic process – just note how casually Tim Yeo, Patrick Mercer and others offered to sell their services to the highest bidder. This is not a robust democracy, this is the last vestiges of a failing system. Labour and the Tories, in particular are quite content to keep things as they are, because it suits them – but until one or either of the parties address properly the democratic deficit we are blindly encouraging in our country, then, these parties will continue to struggle to articulate the real fears and aspirations of our people.

Lie Four: We are pursuing an ethical and consistent foreign policy.

President Assad of Syria uses chemical weapons on his own people – we do nothing, President Saddam Hussein of Iraq, does nothing and we invade his country overthrow him and his government and participate in the deaths of many hundreds of thousands of innocent people. I’m not going to go into the relative merits of these foreign excursions here – but, let’s not kid ourselves that there is any moral or ethical consistency in foreign affairs. The international community is toothless and completely dominated by
the vagaries of vested interest interested powers whilst the US pretty much does what it wants. Until we have a reform of the United Nations and an effective system of international law and diplomacy then I am struggling to see how we can justify sending a single soldier to fight on foreign soil.

Lie Five:Our children have never had so many opportunities.

I fear for my children’s future. True, they may have more consumer goods, computers and gadgets – but that counts for nothing if they do not have a real opportunity to fulfil their full potential. To me, the fact that I was paid to go to University by the state to enable me to better myself and contribute to my community, but my own children and kids from backgrounds similar to mine, will not have opportunity is a profoundly grave indictment on our society.

Unless we can change things, they will grow up in a country where they enjoy tonnes of social media, but have their freedom compromised by the paranoid excesses of the state; they will enjoy the possibility of travel, but will have half the world closed to them because of the failure of international diplomacy; they will have debt if they want to study and debt if they want to buy a home; they will have to pay for their hospital care in ill-health, the legal representation if accused, rightly or wrongly of a crime, and their own children’s education from nursery onwards.

They will be bombarded with images of beauty and perfection and told that that is what they have to aspire to achieve, whilst the drugs laws will continue to ensure that many of them fall foul of addiction and the inherent misery that it brings.

I bloody despair.

We are not progressing, we are regressing. And until I hear a politician speak with enough honesty and balls about these issues, I will continue to be cross.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

George_East June 19, 2013 at 11:37 am

The biggest single and most dangerous lie in politics at the moment is the one you started your piece with: that there is no alternative to austerity. It is endlessly repeated by the media and commentators and Labour has now embraced it for fear of not being ‘credible’. What is so frustrating about it, is that the truth is the exact opposite: austerity is and has been a total disaster. It is the exact opposite of what we need in a demand denuded economy. A few economic commentators aside (William Keegan, Martin Wolf etc) there is virtually no push back on this at all.

The second biggest lie at the moment is that Labour’s profligacy in office caused the financial crisis. A lie repeated so often that there pressure on Labour to apologise for its public spending under Blair and Brown (pressure that is coming from the Blairites as well as from outside the Labour Party). As I have written before the ‘Gordon Brown’s spending plans caused Lehman Brothers to go under’ argument is so absurd that you only need to write it, to show how ridiculous it is.

But there we are – destined to follow policies that make things even worse. Destined to learn the opposite of what we should from history.


Charlie_East_West June 19, 2013 at 11:39 am

An absolutely brilliant article. I completely agree with this.

As far as I am concerned, the old theory of becoming more right wing with age is a myth. I too, have become even more left wing and liberal with age.

I am sick and tired of hearing people spout on about their ill informed, ignorant and lazy right wing opinions – usually formed by reading the wrong newspaper headlines. Fear breeds fear.

I also feel slightly displaced. I grew up and studied in Scotland – a place full of socially enlightened and progressive opinions. I worked in London for 12 years where I mixed with similar politically slanted people and was therefore lucky to be surrounded by a left of centre narrative.

Living in Cornwall is very different. Almost everyone I know has either openly blatant right wing views, or at best, politely ignorant right wing views – normally against the type of targets that, quite frankly, do not challenge or concern them – immigration being an obvious case study. Also, when considering that Cornwall completely depends on public sector employment and EU convergence funding – the generalised grumblings towards anti European and anti public sector is tragic in its misplaced irony.

I should just rise above all of this. Unfortunately, I was made differently. I was made with a feisty questioning disposition – and unlike a good bottle of wine, this trait is maturing ineffectively with age.


Ray_North June 19, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Thanks Charlie, I feel your pain.
George I completely agree with your 2 extra lies – I place them within Big Lie 1, as sort of Whopping Sub-lies on the theme.


Alec June 19, 2013 at 2:39 pm

I too have become more left wing.

Lies, dissembling and sophistry is all that politics seems to be.

Trickle down does not work, Having a crazy dysfunctional banking sector which distorts our economy and society and which seamlessly allows tax avoidance and evasion.

I am not a luddite, I like technology, but I see our towns being destroyed by companies that pay no tax. I despair at meaningless new gadgets and the throwaway society.

We have a Tory led coalition, which lies over and over again and gets away with it and I believe the BBC has become more right wing.

Finally the way the weaker member of our society have been made to pay is just sickening. I watch powerless as the effects of the latest cuts hit

I too worry for the future that my daughter will encounter.

Brazil is hitting the barricades, but I do believe people are getting angrier here, sod keep calm and carry on – get angry and fight back.


Mike Killingworth June 19, 2013 at 3:08 pm

I agree with pretty much every word of both the article and the comments so far. A couple of other points that deserve notice:

– the London housing market is being driven by oligarchs from the oil-producing world, including Russia. While they want a base here they do not seek British citizenship. In effect we are being colonised, since the London market ripples out into much of the rest of England;

– three generations were able to build wealth on the back of the housing market. This had to end some time, and that time is now.

The last Tory PM to have as little interest in the promotion of owner-occupation as Cameron has was Arthur Balfour. Also an Old Etonian.


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