Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Those who lie for a purpose

Pinocchio, by Carlo Chiostri (1901)

Very talkative people always seemed to me to be divided into two classes — those who lie for a purpose and those who lie for the love of lying;
Ambrose Bierce

The recent admission by Sir Malcom Bruce that our MPs are liars is unlikely to surprise anyone over the age of ten.

Asked on BBC Radio 4 whether he was alleging that lying was widespread in public life, Bruce, who stood down at the election, replied: “No, well, yes. Lots of people have told lies and you know perfectly well that to be true.”

He suggested MPs could not be excluded for telling a lie: “If you are suggesting every MP who has never quite told the truth or even told a brazen lie, including cabinet ministers, including prime ministers, we would clear out the House of Commons very fast, I would suggest,” he said.

Not a particularly significant admission one might assume. Yet sometimes political comments stick around to become public facts, absorbed into the swirling network of narratives which make up public discourse.

Official lying has become a fact of life, but we knew that anyway. However if political lying were to become a basic fact of all realistic political discourse, then political life would have to change.

On the other hand, we knew about the lying but still voted for them in our millions in the recent general election. What does that say about us?


Demetrius said...

Alas, too few of us want the hear the truth.

A K Haart said...

Demetrius - true :)

Roger said...

I suppose the problem may be that doing something useful is so difficult. Government of a minor mature democracy whilst buying off a multitude of interest groups must be a pretty tiresome job. I fear we are entering a long period where the rights of people will be gently suppressed. Most will not notice until the final click of the lock.

James Higham said...

And one side of politics bases its Narrative on a series of lies.

A K Haart said...

Roger - I think you are right. It's a response to political complexity - control more variables by reducing our degrees of freedom. Unfortunately, as a policy it makes sense.

James - it does yet millions are not repelled enough to vote against them. Or insufficiently aware.