Britain Ethics Europe Politics Scotland

Lies and Deceit – Another Week in UK Politics and A Government Minister being ‘Economical with the Truth”

“Anything is better than lies and deceit”  -Tolstoy – Anna Karenina 

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave…when first we practice to deceive.”
― Walter Scott – Marmion

“When it becomes serious, you have to lie” – Jean Claude Juncker.

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”  Jesus Christ (John 8:44)

I have been thinking this week a lot about lies and politics.  It is a sad picture of modern life that the two are almost seen to be synonymous.  I think that is somewhat unfair.  We need to be very careful before we accuse others of being liars – I guess that’s why it is considered to be ‘unparliamentary’ language within the House of Commons.  But it clearly happens.

When someone makes a mistake or gets something wrong – it is not a lie. To err is human.  When someone communicates misinformation, which they believe to be right, that is naivety, ignorance and sometimes delusion – not a lie.   But when someone says something which they know to be false – they are a liar.  They misrepresent themselves, others and situations, often for their own personal ends.  The telling of lies is to destroy truth – and to destroy truth is to destroy, order, love and beauty.   Which is why we need to be careful. Sometimes we don’t know when someone is mistaken, deluded or a liar.  Take for example President Trump’s claim on the 10th of October –
“Look, we have no soldiers in Syria. We’ve won. We’ve beat ISIS. And we’ve beat them badly and decisively. We have no soldiers.”   But the US had 1,000 soldiers in Syria at the time.  He could have been mistaken, ignorant or lying….  We don’t know.

Lies are destructive in the home and personal relationships.  They are destructive in the Church (witness Paula White’s latest book which is full of lies) .  And as we are witnessing in the UK, US, China, the EU, and elsewhere, they are destructive of civic life and politics.

In this latter respect, I experienced a shocking example of this when a Scottish Government minister, openly and brazenly spoke ‘untruths’ in public to me.  But before we get on to that let’s look at some examples of why our politicians are considered to be dishonest, deceitful liars – and why the trust between the electorate and those they elect is disintegrating.

Remember this infamous bus –

Screenshot 2019-10-23 18.07.31

This was not a direct lie – because it was technically true – we do send £350 million to the EU each week – but the impression given was that if we leave the EU we would have £350 million to fund the NHS.    This was a lie – because at least £100 million comes back in rebate.  It was not the Leave campaign’s finest hour – and that lie has plagued them ever since.

But there were plenty lies on the other side too.

 

There have been other examples of politicians lying with apparent impunity this week – the imposition of abortion on Northern Ireland was a result of dishonesty – not least from people like Ian Blackford who profess to believe that devolution means a country should decide its own policy but are happy to make exceptions when it is things that they want imposed on the country.  In Blackford’s case it is even worse because he professes to be a follower of Jesus Christ – yet does not follow what He says about protecting the weak and the children.  There is nothing that has upset me more than what has happened in Northern Ireland this week.  The permission and celebration of the killing of human beings.

But back to the Scottish government minister.   I posted this a couple of days ago:

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Mike Russell – Scottish Government minister for Europe responded:

Screenshot 2019-10-23 18.24.29

 

Note – the whatabouterry – comparing my calling Parliament dishonest and incompetent with those who abused Rees- Mogg and his child walking home…. I happen to think it is legitimate to call a dishonest and incompetent parliament, dishonest and incompetent. I also knew that Mike had done this many times….So I asked him:

Screenshot 2019-10-23 18.23.47.png

I was quite frankly astonished that Mike was claiming that he had NEVER called a politician dishonest or a group of politicans useless…..so I gave him a chance…

Screenshot 2019-10-23 18.23.26.png

But that is precisely what he said….so I did what he asked me to do…and checked his history…it took me about 30 seconds to come up with these gems.  Remember he claimed he has NEVER called another politician dishonest.  Firstly his opinion of Gove…

Screenshot 2019-10-23 18.00.54

Then the Prime Minister:

Screenshot 2019-10-23 18.20.35

Even as I write this beauty has popped up on the timeline of the man who never accuses fellow politicians of dishonesty!

Screenshot 2019-10-23 18.36.08.png

Mike even managed to post a couple of tweets accusing me of being dishonest for quoting him…..He also seeks to defend himself by saying that I am ‘trolling’ for calling out his untruths.  Remember that I did not post on his Twitterfeed – he was the one who responded on mine (and continues to do so)….who is the troll?!

Screenshot 2019-10-23 18.41.49

You need to take a deep breath at the lack of self awareness and intelligence involved in that last tweet.  Yes.  truth is at stake.  And when a government minister openly and dishonestly is economical with the truth about what he has said, it is serious. Making a mistake…getting something wrong is one thing – (and I tried hard to see how Mike could have misunderstood his own tweet – but just couldn’t get there…maybe I’m wrong and others can see what he was trying to say?).  A mistake is easily corrected by an apology or just simply stating ‘that is not what I meant…I misspoke…this is what I was trying to say’.  But it appears that apologies or being wrong are foreign to some of our politicians and so our government minister just dug in and continued to attack.

If I as a minister of religion I did that it would be a resigning offence – and a disciplinary one.  Of course I am not saying that I have never lied (I know the Psalms, James 3 and my own heart too well), but I cannot in all conscience continue to speak about Christ as the truth, if I am unwilling to recognise what truth actually is, and live a lie.  Likewise with a government minister.  It tells us a great deal about our society today that a Scottish government minister feels free to speak untruths in public and expects to get away with it (even sadder that some of his ‘followers’ go along with the charge and retweet his lies!).    

This is the world we live in….a post-truth world where those in power think they can lie with impunity.   You can try to tell truth but as Ray Bradbury pointed out:

““But you can’t make people listen. They have to come round in their own time, wondering what happened and why the world blew up around them. It can’t last.”  Ray Bradbury – Fahrenheit 451 

This world of lies is going to collapse.  I thank the Lord for the Truth that is eternal….

Live and Let Die – Lessons from the Scottish Parliaments Debate on SSM

 

 

 

14 comments

  1. Do you really think this exit deal should be scrutinised in such a short time frame as Boris wants?
    Compare the time taken to analyse the details of previous bills. The time frame offered is laughable. Just because this has taken so long isn’t an argument to pass this quickly without proper scrutiny.
    I realise the main topic is lying, or misrepresentation of the truth but unfortunately B Johnson doesn’t set a great example for anyone to follow and he is the PM.
    Frankly if one can see why JRM wants out needs their heads examined because it’s not for the good of the country.
    None of the parties have covered themselves in glory, most seem to have the ultimate aim of being in government.
    I’m not sure if the country’s divisions will ever heal.

    1. It’s not the subject but yes I do think that, given it is in effect the same as May’s deal and that MPs are not known for their careful scrutiny of deals, it is enough time. What is the subject is that, with few exceptions, those who claim to be wanting an extension just so they can ‘scrutinise’ are lying. They want to delay in order to prevent any kind of Brexit.

      1. I don’t understand why enactment of a Bill is needed that is 110 pages long, as an alternative to a yes/no meaningful vote on the withdrawal agreement in only one of the two Houses of Parliament, which the Speaker would not allow. Why not just enact a one-line Bill that would suspend the relevant rule in Erskine May and compel the Speaker to allow another meaningful vote.

    2. Matt ” in such a short time frame”?

      What about the years previously that have given the opportunity for “scrutiny”. Don’t be fooled – Boris’ political enemies want him out and to hijack the Brexit process for their own personal political gain with no thought of the consequences for the public whilst trying to make it appear that they are acting in the public interest.

      This is so transparent that I’m surprised that anyone doesn’t see it.

      By the way I voted remain. And I’m not Boris’ greatest fan.

  2. That’s an interesting Twitter interaction and exactly why I avoid that platform: it lends itself to immediate disharmony. No wonder Sir Roger Scruton said, “Twitter has made morons of us all!”
    For the record I never once thought that the Leave bus meant giving £350m/week to the NHS. Clearly, as net contributors, we are given some of our own money back by the EU (and told where we are *allowed* to spend it) for farming subsidies and other things. But it did point out what a massive amount it is; and as net contributors, there would be money left over with which we would be able instead to fund the NHS better as an example.
    I have never considered it a lie but a ‘meme’ and no meme works if it is adulterated with small print and caveats.

  3. Yes very annoying the “once in a lifetime / once in a generation” rhetoric with both referenda we have been subjected to.

    I’m glas I am not the only one who can tell that my intelligence is so frequently insulted by our “honourable representatives” as to find it tiresome to wade through th mud of the rhetoric and emotion that passes as “campaign” and “debate” to get to the actual issues and what positions are being taken.

    It is all too obvious to me that in both referenda over Scotland’s membership in the UK and the UK’s in the EU there is a political class and a following that not only does not honour outcomes but is actively engaged in both thwarting it and forcing through the opposite. This makes a mockery of having any referendum in the first place.

    It is in appearing to be democratic and serving “the people” whilst perpetuating an Orwellian tyranny where the “inner party” has all the strings and manipulates with propaganda with the “ministry of truth” and fear with the “ministry of love”.

    However – has it got any worse or are we in this age of information seeing things which have always been there to a greater or lesser extent with “nothing new under the sun”?

    Thankfully whether what I posit it reality or not, it doesn’t have to end with a nihilistic acceptance of this being how things are with no hope, but as you have indicated David truth and justice shall prevail sooner or later and those that are not cognisant of this are plotting their own downfall.

  4. You are correct David. All this talk of needing time to scrutinise. Most of them will not even read their papers but sit in the coffee houses and bars until they hear the division bell, then troup through and vote with their tribe.

  5. I totally agree with David. I believe that those who are apparently so keen to ‘scrutinise’ this deal are not in the least bit interested in doing so, their real aim is to prevent the result of the 2016 referendum from actually taking place and has been since the morning of 24th June 2016, despite manifesto promises to honour the referendum result. Democracy? Peoples vote? I thought that happened on 23rd June 2016? The events of Monday this week when Mr Speaker excercised his ‘impartial’ role and the following day when predictably a small number of MPs excercised their right to block the Referendum result being enacted as soon as possible was a sad and shameful day for the ‘Mother of Parliaments.’

  6. Some thoughts…

    Politicians could arguably be the tax collectors of the day. Jesus wouldn’t get too deep into their business, simply call them to follow Him and concern themselves with His Kingdom rather than their own.

    Yes, Jesus could call Herod a “fox”, but his dealings with the powers that be were a sideshow to His Kingdom building among the grassroots. I also think of that proverb, “don’t answer a fool according to his folly” (aware too of the other one).

    I’m interested in politics. I have a degree in it! But I have to keep reminding myself to focus on God’s Kingdom, because getting caught up in the world’s politics is I fear a bit of a red herring.

    Thanks for the post, and God bless.

  7. The DUP returned to Stormont to demand to be treated differently from the rest of the UK while they throw their toys out of the pram at Westminster because they don’t want to be treated differently from the rest of the UK – you couldn’t make it up!

  8. Does freedom of religion include freedom in religion? – is Ian Blackford allowed a mind of his own or does he have to slavishly follow the establishment line? It seems to reinforce the view that we Christians have to at least pretend to be brainwashed and cannot think for ourselves.

    1. Stephen – thanks for this…you raise an important question – which I think I will answer with a full blog…..needless to say I don’t recognise the premises or the conclusions of your accusations…but let me think a bit more about it…watch this space!

  9. Good to remember Proverbs 9:8, sometimes, David: “Don’t rebuke a mocker, or he will hate you; rebuke the wise, and he will love you.” Just sayin’, as we say in Tennessee (USA). Choose your battles, but keep fighting.

    1. Carol – tricky, Proverbs 26:4 ‘Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.’ followed straight away with v5 answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.’

      So, we have to weight up which kind of fool we’re talking to. And some are composite fools

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