Monday, December 14, 2009

Government By Deceit

Deception all round

Bliar's last Director of Public Prosecutions is now back practising law with Cherie at Matrix Chambers, the operation he set up with her in the late 1990s. A long-time Labour insider, he was appointed DPP in 2003 just after the invasion of Iraq, but it seems he's finally recognised a horribly inconvenient truth:

"The degree of deceit involved in our decision to go to war on Iraq becomes steadily clearer. This was a foreign policy disgrace of epic proportions and playing footsie on Sunday morning television* does nothing to repair the damage. It is now very difficult to avoid the conclusion that Tony Blair engaged in an alarming subterfuge... to mislead and cajole the British people into a deadly war they had made perfectly clear they didn’t want, and on a basis that it’s increasingly hard to believe even he found truly credible..."
Now given that Ken Macdonald went to work for Bliar after the invasion of Iraq, and after they hadn't found those notorious Weapons of Mass Destruction, you may think he is in no position to criticise. But let's park that.

The key point is the deceit. As Macdonald says, Bliar deceived us over WMD. Worse, large swathes of the British establishment - including the Tory Party - went along with that deceit. Whether for reasons of self-aggrandisement, or because they thought we needed to side with the yanks whatever, they went along with the wafer-thin fiction that Iraq's invisible WMD somehow posed a clear and present danger to us.

But of course, once discovered, such deceit has a price. As Macdonald puts it, "it rendered any affair of the heart between government and people no more than a wisp, like a lie in the wind. It broke faith."

And that's a pretty good summary of where we are overall. Right from the early days of so-called "triangulation", deceit has been at the very heart of this government's entire approach.

Consider just a few of catastrophes we blog so often on BOM:
  • The debt mountain - Brown's self-monitored "Golden Rules" were nothing more than a fiscal con, designed to reassure the financial markets while allowing him to stretch and break their so-called limits at his convenience; the definition of National Debt failed to account for his hundreds of billions of off-balance sheet liabilities, massively understating the true total
  • Public sector efficiency savings - the "non-cashable" Gershon programme allowed Brown to claim savings where none existed
  • Immigration - Labour claimed mass immigration would make us all richer: it has done nothing of the kind; in reality, it seems it was driven by Labour's desire to destroy the right in British politics
  • Edukayshun - Labour has dumbed down the UK exam system to make us think education is improving; in reality we are plummeting in the international league tables
  • Crime - Labour has spun the crime stats to make it look like crime is falling: in reality, violent crime - the stuff we really worry about - has risen
  • Climate change - Labour claims the "science is settled" and spends shedloads paying for research and propaganda to prove that; in reality, it is far from settled
  • Tax - Labour promised not to increase tax... enough said
Last week Tyler met a bunch of quite senior civil servants. They were pretty downhearted, and not just about the public spending outlook. As one of them explained en route to the tube afterwards, they have been corrupted by government spin.

These days, everything they do, from official statistics to the latest Pre-Budget Report, has to be shaped and spun to support the government line. Nothing is genuine any more, and it has corroded the entire civil service structure. Those that have done Labour's bidding have prospered, and those that haven't are now toiling in a Strategic Health Authority just outside Omsk.

Ultimately we get the governments we deserve, so why have we ended up like this? Do we like being deceived?

Well, no, of course not. But we are all suckers for a nice simple story. The real world is horribly complex, and we are crying out for someone credible to make sense of it for us. Especially someone like Bliar who has first convinced himself he's right.

Eventually of course, the real world will out, and no amount of deception can escape from it. But nobody likes facing up to harsh truths, and the last time we were there back in the 70s/80s the woman who dealt with them was reviled by a large section of the population. She got herself into the all-time lexicon of evil and remains there to this day.

Deception seems so much easier all round.

*Footnote In case you missed it, Bliar was paying footsie with Fern Britton on her new TV show. Ah, Fern, Fern. Tyler first met Fern in a lonely hotel room up North. She was sparkling and funny and warm and seemed so genuine. It was madness of course - Tyler was a boring financier and she was the hostess of Ready Steady Cook. Plus, she was the other side of a TV screen. But no more for that - Tyler was smitten, and watched with pleasure as her career blossomed. But then one day she let him down. Badly. She'd lost a sensational amount of weight, and was looking fantastic. She claimed she'd done it through diet and exercise and sheer willpower, and even started to lecture Tyler about how he could do the same if only he had as much self-discipline as her. Alas, it subsequently emerged that her new look was entirely down to the surgeon's knife and a large elastic band twanged tight round her stomach. How could she? How could she break faith? How could Tyler ever trust her again? Heartbreak. And now she's even playing footsie with the liar's liar.

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