Saturday, 19 May 2007

Lying politicians

I really want to believe in politicians. I really want to believe in their promises, their beaming smiles, their grand plans. I truly want to believe that once they're elected, the country will be a better place and all our lives will be happy and complete.

But I don't. I just don't. I've seen so many politicians over so many decades, and been betrayed and let down by so many of them, that I no longer have any faith they'll do what they say.

What else can I think when the new English Wonder Boy, the new Saviour, Flash Gordon himself, who on Thursday had promised us all genuine 'democratic accountability', had on Friday - the very next day - agreed that MPs should not be subject to the freedom of information provisions.

I can't say I'm surprised. I don't kid myself any more. Politicians lie. They lie all the time, day in and day out. They lie about everything. They lie about the small things, they lie about the big things. They lie about weapons of mass destruction, cash-for-peerages, ending poverty, ending sectarianism. The list is endless.

What's more, they know they lie and it doesn't bother them. The only important thing is gaining power and keeping it, and if that means lying shamelessly, so be it. I could cite one or two honourable refuseniks like Tony Benn and John McDonnell, but of course they're the exceptions that prove the rule.

Cynical, moi? Not at all, just clear-eyed and realistic. I've seen so many false dawns and rude awakenings in my time - from the insipid socialism of Harold Wilson to the mass unemployment and industrial carnage of Margaret Thatcher - that the harsh truth stares me in the eyes.

There's only so many times you can trust those grinning faces before you realise they're all different versions of Jekyll and Hyde. There's a good reason why the popularity ratings always put politicians at rock bottom, with estate agents and car salesmen.

So much as I would like to put my faith in one of those earnest, well-scrubbed faces pleading for my vote and promising me another great leap forward - sorry, guys, don't hold your breath.


  1. Yes Nick, that's why we left the U.S.
    Stealing one election was bad enough, but then factor in 9/11, ignoring the Constitution/civil rights, the jeebus madness, ethnocentrism, fear of the other, two wars, torture, and stealing another election convinced us it was time to go.

  2. Yes a bit difficult to turn a blind eye to that lot. Though plenty of people still manage to - after all, anything goes as long as we keep the lid on those frigging commies and pinkos....

  3. Some politicians lie. Some journalists, doctors, solicitors, police officers (notoriously) and plumbers lie too. As someone who has actually been a politician, I find this kind of post frustrating. Yesterday I spent the day canvassing for someone who's been working unpaid for over a year in the hope of getting elected to the Dáil, and it was inspiring. We get the kind of politicians we deserve and although democratic politics has its flaws, the alternatives are a hell of a lot worse.

  4. Well, I did say there are honourable exceptions (quite a lot of them) and of course if you do believe in someone enough to actively support them then that's great. And yes democratic politics for all its faults is unarguably better than the often horrendous alternatives (you only have to look at Zimbabwe). I have to say too that Jenny was a brilliant local councillor in a left-wing London borough in the eighties. But the whole Tony Blair experience has been bitterly disappointing for me and millions of other people.

  5. Re the above - just a healthy disagreement. Take no notice. We love each other to bits. Honest.