Let me introduce you to my nearest hero. It is perfectly possible that a lot of you know him already, but some might not.
He is a journalist and a very good one and he has made a video of our Prime Mendacitor telling lies to the House of Commons and put it up on Twitter, suggesting that people should spread the word because it is high time we pushed our media to start telling the truth about what is going on, as he says “if they won’t hold this Prime Minister to account.. we will damn well do it ourselves!”.
The message was taken up and viewed by no fewer then 15 million people, but the media are still doing as their bosses tell them and staying schtum. I find it horrifying that a compulsive liar should be a) the Prime Minister of this country and b) lying to the House and apparently getting away with it. But he is, and he is.
And that set me to thinking about deliberate lying and the terrible damage it does. It’s not a new thing but the scale of it is now, frankly, terrifying.
Compulsive lying has been brilliantly analysed in an article by http://www.psycopathfree.com, which I’m quoting here in full.
“Gleefully dishonest, intentionally ambiguous, eternally bored and unfathomably manipulative – pathological liars are the ultimate masters of deception. They always have excuses for their inexcusable behaviour and somehow it is never their fault. They cheat, manipulate and steal — but they still play the victim. They lie, even when it is not necessary – even when the truth would be the better story. They lie for sport, as proof that the recipient of their lies is inferior to them. However, believing in someone else does not make a person weak. It makes them capable of love, trust, compassion and kindness. These are all emotions that the pathological liar is incapable of feeling. In their attempts to manufacture superiority, pathological liars only reveal the pitiful nature of the emptiness that consumes their soul.”
And lying is nothing new. When I started to write this blog I remembered that I had written two poems about liars and lying a very long time ago, but when my lovely amanuensis found them I was shocked to see how long ago it was. 44 years no less. I should be so old!
So here they are as my sixpenn’orth to this debate. ‘Liars are Lovely’ could have been written about our Prime Mendacitor, although as you see, it wasn’t.
Is lying endemic in our political society? And if it is, what can we do about it?
Liars are Lovely. August 1977
A liar is a comfortable man. He’s right.
Easy to look at, in a well-placed light,
Where his stage make-up isn’t obvious,
His charm is sweet but rarely nauseous
His false teeth gleam, the toupee joins don’t peel,
The padded shoulders almost pass for real,
A twisted spine is hidden by his suit.
Truth’s such an ugly brute.
A liar’s a companion you won’t fear.
He tells you only what you want to hear
Good for a laugh to gloss the time of day.
Or a slick tale to chase your blues away
Where passion is not raw but sentimental.
Riot and rape, and all things elemental.
May tear the other harder world apart
He’ll keep such horrors from your placid heart;
Nothing he says or does will make you rue it;
He’ll talk of sex but very rarely do it;
And if you’re fifty make you feel fifteen.
The truth’s so bloody mean.
A liar is a politician, made
To keep all truthful thinkers in the shade.
He’ll mesmerize you till you feel you could
Give him your vote for each consumer good
You’ve ever dreamed that you could want or need.
Especially when he smiles into your greed.
He’ll chloroform your conscience as you buy.
Leave megadeath to his remedial lie.
To arm is noble; death is a release;
Carnage is colourful. And war is peace.
And if the bombs should chance to fall on you,
He’ll smile sincerely, “Nothing he could do.”
Knowing that in a bureaucracy, most politics
Are muffled in close carpeted statistics
Where truth is dull, deadly and repetitious,
And readily avoided by the ambitions.
What people need is just their daily lie,
The lie sensational, dull truth put by.
The truth’s so uninspiring; makes you bored.
Leave truth to artists. They can be ignored.
Good Guys Don’t Win February 1978
(with apologies to Ogden Nash)
The assumption of superiority
Is, without question, a No 1 priority
If you intend to have the temerity to compete
With all those pushing, shoving, crawling members of the new bureaucratic elite.
You can commit adultery, fiddle the books, con, borrow or steal
Providing you do it in secret, and hide it even from yourself,
Because if you are so stupid as to reveal
Anything to anybody, even the hairline fracture of a mild self-doubt
Then you shouldn’t be surprised when hordes of insecure bullies come screaming down determined to knock you out.
For quite the most dangerous of any commodity
And really, if you’re going in for this game, for your own protection
It’s the first of the virtues you should jettison or hide away from any possibility of detection.
There may have been a few honest politicians but nobody has ever noticed ’em or missed ’em
Which is no surprise really, because you can’t expect natural justice from the British parliamentary system.
So if you want to be a success in our society you’d better try hard,
No matter how imperfect you may be, to acquire a façade
And if you’re thinking of kicking your way into the political scrimmage
Remember it’s not the personality that counts, nor the party, nor the issues – just the image.
Having got to this point in my diatribe I’m at a loss to know how to sign off, perhaps we should paraphrase Shelley, THOSE OF US WHO TELL THE TRUTH ARE MANY, THOSE OF US WHO LIE ARE FEW.
Strength to your arm Mr Stefanovic. There are 15 million of us cheering you on.