Why do politicians lie?

If there’s one word to sum up 21st century politics, it’s ‘lying’. Be it the Lib Dems’ promise on tuition fees, the WMDs in the Iraq war, or the £350 million the NHS is getting post-Brexit. In both the EU referendum and presidential debates it has been a common occurrence for direct questions to be answered with complete misinformation and falsehood, citing non-existent polls and quoting fabricated studies. Lying seems to be getting more prevalent each passing day and the politicians doing it never seem to be held accountable. So why?
A big part of it is fact-checking and trust. We’ve become so used to politicians evading questions and reciting meaningless drivel that when someone actually gives an answer we just assume it’s the truth. But the politician’s playbook has been rewritten and so far we’re none the wiser.

The next culprit is the media. Be it broadsheet newspapers or Buzzfeed, there’s rarely enough of a story behind “person told a lie” to make anything worth publishing. You see there is a beautiful advantage to telling a simple lie about a complicated issue. The simple lie is memorable and easy to understand, but the truth is complex, controversial and far too long to fit into a sound bite. And when the truth is this unwieldy, who’s to bother defending it?

The biggest case of this I would reference is the Tory brilliance that is “Labour overspent in 2008 and ruined the economy”. This rubbish has been peddled up and down the country to the point where even the average Labour voter believes it. Banks gave reckless loans in order to secure bonuses resulting in a mass collapse when they found themselves unable to pay their creditors. In order to prevent thousands of lives being ruined, the government stepped in with their own funds and bailed out the banks. The government deficit up to this point was irrelevant, as provided the economy is growing, a deficit is simply an investment that results in faster growth. Had the government been running a surplus the crash would have still happened and difference would have been completely negligible. But this is simply not something anyone cares to hear. And thus the lie trumps the truth.

Speaking of Trump, it’s about time we addressed the magnum opus of political liars. In his presidential campaign Donald has taken the step no one else wanted to risk. Rather than carefully crafted lies, Donald Trump will unleash a constant stream of nonsense. When he is called out he will deny everything and continue. In the past one would assume that the public would see through this facade, but in the depressing realm known as reality we now see this is not the case. Trump has shown once and for all how little accountability there is and has paved the way for a new kind of politics. And you know what, if we are truly naive enough to fall for it, maybe it’s just what we deserve.

Chris vickers
(Image courtesy of Minerva Studio)

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