• benny posted an update 4 months, 1 week ago

    Are politicians lying to us habitually? Take the police cuts as an example. Amber Rudd says one thing and a report says another.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43694062

    I’m sure we could find more from all sides of the political spectrum. Why do they lie and how can they get away with it?

    Lets’ not quote Boris as that is just too easy.

    • If a politician states something, it’s a lie and if a report contradicts it, then the report is true?

      Perhaps there’s a grey area in between, is every report automatically the truth?

    • That seems weak to me. I know that the media are very keen to highlight dishonesty by politicians (a good thing on balance). But there doesn’t seem to be anything overtly contradictory in those statements:

      1. “A fall in police numbers is likely to have contributed to a rise in serious violent crime…”

      2. “serious violence was a ‘complex crime’ and ‘not all about police numbers’ ”

      At most it is a difference in emphasis.

    • Regarding the police cuts contributing to a rise in crime. The Chief Constable of the Met said police numbers were not to blame for the increase in violent crime. Presumably she is going on the CC’s advice. Especially as she said she hadn’t read her own department’s report. She doesn’t have to accept anything her department tells her as gospel anyway, does she.

      Regarding lying in general. Most of the time they don’t lie, you just need to understand that their pronouncements are often very carefully crafted and need to be thought about carefully.

    • All politicians will cherrypick facts and stats to suit their argument. If there is the slightest wriggle room in interpretation they will take it. If they can find one expert to support them they will quote that expert and ignore the 99 who disagree. If they can come up with some form of weasel words that misleads but which they can defend later as not actually being a downright lie but ‘a misunderstanding they will use them (cf Promise, pledge, aspiration).That’s all standard stuff.

      Others will just plain lie, bluff and bluster (am I giving too many clues here?) because they have found they can get away with it

    • As a rough rule of thumb if a politicians mouth is open and noise is coming out of it treat at at worse a down right lie, at best a manipulation of the truth to support their current agenda. Do this and you won’t go far wrong.

    • Obviously they have f*cked up massively on crime: they cut police numbers and simultaneously they gave the cops massive numbers of new bookkeeping tasks, they put lots of cops onto investigating historical cases rather than stuff that just happened, they put cops onto investigating what people said on Facebook and they stopped them doing stop and search.

      Theresa May and Amber Rudd are responsible and it’s interesting to watch them find their new scapegoat to replace the EU and ECJ: the internet companies. People get stabbed and their first reaction is to stop Amazon sending knives to the cusotmer’s house or yell at some Facebook executive. It’s blatant manipulation, same as it was with the EU. They are selecting hate figures for their aging base – the EU or Facebook – and using them as a diversion for their own incompetence and an argument for more powers for Westminster.

    • “I’m sure we could find more from all sides of the political spectrum. Why do they lie and how can they get away with it?”

      Generally they don’t which is how they ‘get away with it’.

      They do however frequently focus on narrow interpretations minutia tangent to the question or waffle then answer a different rhetorical question or employ a number of other tricks so as to give a misleading impression on difficult topics. It’s not lying but it’s not honest either. It’s also the way the majority of competent visible politicians are ‘communicating’ at the moment which is a shame because it’s corrosive and if it persists it’ll ultimately prove dangerous for our democracy but they’re locked into a bit of an arms race it’s hard to find a way out of. That said, communication styles do change and what works in one time or place doesn’t elsewhere, it’ll only take for someone to achieve some electoral success communicating more straightforwardly with the public to trigger change, I can’t believe many of them enjoy deliberately misleading people or went into the job to do so.

      • “That said, communication styles do change and what works in one time or place doesn’t elsewhere, it’ll only take for someone to achieve some electoral success communicating more straightforwardly with the public to trigger change”

        I think you’ve missed the transition: five or ten years ago successful politicians used to play the games you describe. Droning on until people forgot the question and then answering a different one and such like.

        Trump and Boris Johnson have changed that. They communicate extremely straightforwardly straight at the prejudices of their base and they don’t give a sh*t about whether what they say is true as long as it is emotionally appealing. It’s been such a successful tactic that more politicians are copying it rather than trying to compete against it. Politicians like Theresa May who used to be more careful are now not even trying to be truthful they just come out with obvious crap like ‘spending the Brexit dividend’ because their base won’t tolerate the truth.

        • “Trump and Boris Johnson have changed that. They communicate extremely straightforwardly straight at the prejudices of their base and they don’t give a sh*t about whether what they say is true as long as it is emotionally appealing.”

          Trump does, it’s not entirely clear how much of that is compulsive and how much is calculated. It apparently works but that’s not surprising given his barely literate base and Praetorian guard of right wing news filters. Johnson in general still doesn’t though he’s had a few little goes at outright populist nonsense, mostly he still errs on the side carefully distorting the truth and maintaining deniability (the bus for example, everyone stood in front of it but nobody is responsible for it) rather than flagrantly making stuff up.

          “It’s been such a successful tactic that more politicians are copying it rather than trying to compete against it. Politicians like Theresa May who used to be more careful are now not even trying to be truthful they just come out with obvious crap like ‘spending the Brexit dividend’ because their base won’t tolerate the truth.”

          But that isn’t what she said at all. Go find the transcript or the original recording. She never claimed there’d be a dividend and it’d be spent on schools but it was extremely misleading and anyone hearing her answer would be totally forgiven for doing believing that’s what she meant. She’s taken a recent step toward the bullshit end of politics but that’s no surprise given the task she faces. I’m no fan but she is good at saying one thing while meaning the opposite, doubtless because it doesn’t come naturally so has to be carefully planned.

    • Politicians lie because, in general, the public does not want to hear the truth.

      • Or they are right and the public want them to be wrong.

        “Obviously they have f*cked up massively on crime:”

        • Any politician who told the truth wouldn’t be elected. People prefer to live in ignorant bliss.

          You get the public services that you pay for.

          • “You get the public services that you pay for.”

            Most certainly not.

            Anyone selling anything puts the price up if they can, and does less for the money if they can. Hard to stop for monopolies, and more so for public services. There has to be a constant war on waste and inefficiency, since those to blame do not lose directly from it. (Also a problem with big business.) Relying on people doing the right thing is doomed to failure. It’s easy to just keep paying more year on year for the same services.

            • No amount efficiency will improve a service that wasn’t funded sufficiently in the first place and then given extra tasks. You can lean, time and motion, etc.. all you like, but sometimes you just need more resources to get a job done. That is what costs and must be paid for.

            • “No amount efficiency will improve a service” Any extra efficiency will improve a service.

              We all get lazy if there’s no consequences. Not so much about making people work harder. Administration needs to be aggressively evaluating the whole operation and evolving. If you run a business you do this to survive. Without someone constantly worrying about everything, it quickly goes very wrong. It’s not about “We did that last year, there’s no more improvements to be found” Things change all the time.

            • I’m self employed plus a partner in another and yes efficiency matters. But there comes a point where you also need to invest to improve things, be it in people, training or assets. None of this is free and often can’t simply be funded by small efficiency savings elsewhere. That doesn’t mean you don’t evaluate what you do, how you do it and why from time to time.

            • I suggest you are not disagreeing with me. But you think the government should have set the proportions of spending on different things, verses the borrowing that would be required, differently. Which I have not commented on.

            • No, I think people get the services they pay for, at the moment people expect the uk’s public services, police, NHS, education etc to be world class, whilst paying ever decreasing amounts of tax. If people expect better, they should consider the notion that these things need more funding. Borrowing to fund the annual costs of services is madness, there is essentially no return on the spending and it becomes a debt spiral. They should be funded through small progressive tax rises.

            • The borrowing is there already. We are hoping to reduce it.

              You may be right about tax increases. However there is an optimum level of tax for best productivity and eventual tax revenue. Obviously if tax was zero then there would be no tax revenue. But if everything went in tax then nobody would bother to earn, and the result would be the same. So the level of taxation tends to be set by opinions on this, rather than required expenditure, which is more likely to be a matter of taking away from somewhere else. I’m glad I’m not in government.

            • Or tax for decades has been the tool to buy votes with short termist policies. While the costs of all public services has increased. Tax can increase to a point where people still value it. Having the funds for material products versus same day doctor access, better education, better care in old age, feeling safe on the streets. ..

          • Well the thread is “are politicians lying to us ?”

            I say generally not. They are doing their best based on their beliefs. Everybody wants to spend more on public services. Some believe that if we spend more, we will reduce our ability to spend in the future.

    • I forget which interviewer it was (Paxman or Humphreys would be my guess) that said their attitude when interviewing a politician was “Why is this lying bastard lying to me?”.

      Adoption of a similar attitude could serve us all well at times.

    • Personally I think lying in Parliament should be akin to lying in court and punished the same.

      It’s not often we see blatant lies, more often massaged facts or omissions.

      The case with Amber Rudd is so clearly an untruth, and a willing deception given the “evidence” of the leaked report.

      That should at the very least mean a punishment or public chastisement if not returning to the ballot box.

    • They’re an untrustworthy bunch for sure. Particularly the government we have right now. They’ll say anything to hold on to power or to push forward their personal agendas.

    • Politicians are universally self serving liars.

      • I’m not sure they are, I think some of them want to help others and would like a fairer society.

        It’s pretty obvious that some of them are liars, rather than people who make mistakes, and they should be kicked out.

        I don’t believe MPs are any different to “real” people but they shouldn’t be lying purposefully and getting away with it.

        Boris has been caught out blatantly lying a couple of time, at least, and he shouldn’t be there.

    • Do they lie habitually? Look at the on-going tale of Barry Gardiner (no I had not heard of him either but apparently he’s Liam Fox’s shadow).

      1. He gives a private speech playing down the Good Friday Agreement and problems of an Irish border

      2. Sh1t hits the fan

      3.Instant reaction? I never said. it. Accuses critics of spouting “nonsense on stilts”

      4. Audio of speech emerges. Oh yes he did say it

      5. Second reaction. Oh bugger! Well it’s a misunderstanding then. I never meant it

      So definitely a liar. Action taken against him? Zilch

      Draw your own conclusion as to how serious an issue lying is considered to be in today’s politics

    • Are politicians lying to us habitually ?

      Well of course they are – they will always choose whichever facts (or opinions !) suit whatever point they wish to push.

      And this is not just political politicians.

      The same is true for anyone to gets on a soap-box, be they a real or self-styled leader in any aspect, be that religious, ethnic, political, gender, union, and so on.

      Never trust one view – check it out with the other views on the subject, and don’t trust google regarding facts either.

    • Remember when you were at school. The girl who grew boobs 1st became the popular girl. The boy who grew taller and stronger first became the sports hero. When it came to being chosen for things the ‘popular’ kids got chosen for everything 1st. Life was a popularity contest and those not blessed with big boobs or long legs just blended in and tried to make the best of things and followed in their wake.

      Well politics is a bit like school was. But these people haven’t got the benfit of having the biggest boobs or longest legs. They have to use something else to make them popular. That’s where lies comes into it. There was always kids at school who would say anything to be popular. Their dad was tarzan, their mum was the queen etc etc. Anything to get friends. Well guess what they became when they were older, POLITICANS.

      They can bend truths, hide facts or whatever they want to do. More fool us for even listening to them. Politics works on the majority voting for them. Get the majority to believe what you say and you are the winner. Stands to reason the best liar will win. They are all liars, just some are better than others.

    • Here’s an article by Rory Stewart MP I think its a rather good and well considered piece.

      http://www.rorystewart.co.uk/the-point-of-politicians/