01 July 2008

It Is Easier To Lie Than Tell The Truth.

Following on from these posts here,here and here. Here is my contribution.

If you don't have to properly check your....
facts, if you don't have to be true to yourself - it is much easier to pander to people's prejudices, misconceptions and ignorance. Couple this with widespread control of the media and we can see why right-wing propaganda is so successful - if you say something often enough it catches on. If we say Ken Livingstone is a crook over and over again, most voters will begin to believe it, even if they have no idea what he has supposed to have done and even when he is probably the most honest, competent and hardworking politician of his generation. When you are one voice telling the truth amongst many fibbers - it is the fibbers who will probably win out.

It also takes time to check facts, do proper research and results are never black and white - this is another bugbear of the Left. In this age of 24 hour media and 30 second sound-bites, how do we get across subtle points on complex issues? It is easy for the Right, they just exaggerate, distort, blatantly lie and can repeat these lies until they become mainstream and accepted - it helps them that most media do less than scratch the surface of most subjects - which is partly why religion, racism and other ignorance still exists. The Right have the power to shout the loudest and shout most often to make sure their points are heard - because they own most of the media. Commercial interests are always going to be skewed against the consumer and voter interests. Those who pay the billions in advertising to the media each year are going to call the shots in every debate and it is in their interests to call for lower taxes on the wealthy at the expense of the poorest and for transport, healthcare, education and other public services to provide better services to the middle classes than the majority who are poor.

So how do the Left fight back?

Well most importantly we do have the facts on our side. The Right cannot deny what people see with their own eyes, what they experience in their daily lives, and this is why we need to hand as much power as possible to the people. Democracy is the left-wing friend. The lack of it in the Soviet Union was the reason why socialism could never have succeeded there.

Unfortunately the Labour party has moved towards the Soviet model of socialism i.e. without the democracy - so debate is stifled within the party and members views suppressed, membership falls as members are seen more as a nuisance than an asset. Why have Labour done this? When faced with the power of a distorting media and electoral system and the wealthy business class who control the economy, the Labour response was understandable - they decided to play by the right-wing rules of the game - so they could not just flittingly win power for one term but stay there. For a decade this has sort of worked, the economy was kept benign and the wealthy untroubled. This enabled much social change on equalities for minorities, doubling of public sector spending on health and education and worker protection, even tentative freedom of information rules. For all the talk of Tories being libertarian, don't be surprised if the FOI rules are the first to go. It is laughable that an anti-gay, hang 'em, flog 'em Tory is now being lauded by the head of Liberty - like their support for speeding drivers and opposition to ID cards, CCTV and DNA databases, it shows how their priorities have been skewed into theoretical perfection rather than practical improvements in people's lives. Their support for David Davis rather than the Greens who are the true libertarian standard holders in the by-election, takes them beyond even this stupidity into the realms of courting right-wing popular-ism - even Liberty cannot deny the power of the right-wing press.

So for all the admirable progress of this Labour government, unless they embrace democracy, it is likely to be lost to a Tory government elected by a small minority of the electorate. I find it difficult to understand how or why the manifesto commitment on PR was avoided by a Labour government in power for a decade. It is clear that enough Tories and dimwits have infected the party to take it away from the true will of the people. Even now, Labour could put this right - but it is just not going to happen. To change to PR and prevent this right-wing government being imposed once again on a reluctant public would be the first step on the road to a socialist fight-back. All we can do in the party is keep making the argument - elect Ann Black to the NEC, and offer an inclusion of PR in the 'partnership in power' documents being drawn up this week.

It is sad to see the slow death of a Labour government that could be out of power for another generation as the Tories alter boundaries in their favour and abolish the broadcast rules on impartiality. The real losers are not the Labour party, but the people, they can see corporate interests override the majority and feel powerless to stop it - just like in the good 'ol US of A. The land of the free - my ar**!


  1. Neil, you do come up with some real gems of double speak! Does Polly Toynbee ever distort the truth!?!

    I wish I could see the light like you!

  2. Whereas Polly actually bothers to read reports and quotes real statistics, the Right equivalent Melanie Phillips etc just spout hearsay and conjecture.

  3. Neil, do you actually believe any of this or do you do it to wind people up?

    Have you ever looked at Factcheckingpollyana? I can't vouch for Melanie P, but she's a woman and a journo so I've no doubt that she only half understands stuff and peddles a lot of prejudices and lies as well.

    I always check my facts and figures, and logic tells me, Labour are shit and the Tories will be ever-so-slightly less shit.

  4. "Democracy is the left-wing friend.

    If that's the case, why are so many lefties afraid of letting the people have a say, particularly when it comes to the EU?

  5. Well Labour doesn't help itself by promoting all this right wing authoritarian bullshit - ID Cards, univeral DNA databases, internment without trial and all the rest. It's cost you a lot of support from social liberals. For years Labour has been saying, 'we don't give a damn what the social libertarians say, they are irrelevant when we've got middle England on our side'. Well it looks like you are losing the middle class Tories who voted for Blair. So Labour now appears to be attenmpting to shore up its vote from the white working classes who might defect to the BNP and we get all ID Cards will keep out the darlies crap. Your part really needs to work out what it stands for.

  6. Mark, factcheckingpollyanna was a pedantic paradise - arguing over the rounding up of 1% here or there in Polly's figures. It never found one inaccuracy in Toynbee's figures that was significant or discredited the argument she had made. It didn't even try to address the argument - it was just a childish attempt at discrediting her with lies and distortion. The site was caught out enough times itself exagerating and making up figures.

    As for the Tory government that is coming - you may want less spent on the NHS, education and public transport - do you think the public agree? Do you really want to see an even more regressive system of taxation? - because the historical evidence suggests that that is what you have got with every previous Tory government. Cameron will be worse than Thatcher IMHO. Do you think the Tories have ANYTHING to offer on reducing crime when Thatcher and Major doubled it? Do you even think the Tories of section 28 and dodgy donation sleaze (even while in opposition) will be better managers, less corrupt or less intrusive than the internment, sus law Tories of the past? You may be fed up of new Labour - I am as well, but you are barking mad if you think the Tories are better.

  7. ian QT - Most real lefties would love to see a referendum on PR and the EU treaty (both promised in Labour's manifesto), but these people are not in power - rightwingers like Gordon Brown and Jack Straw are.

    How come you right-wingers were never bothered about Labour breaking it's promise on PR. Doesn't that suggest you Righties are also 'afraid of the people' when it suits you?

  8. stephen: This is a right-wing Labour government - it is its right of centre attitude that is the problem - we will not solve that by having an even more right-wing Tory government. The FOI Act, workers rights, equalities legislation, will all go under the Tories - and CCTV and the database state will be unchanged (not as if I think it a problem anyway). Remember the Tories were the biggest enthusiasts for CCTV and DNA databases when in power, and still are in many councils.

  9. Stephen, "ID Cards, univeral DNA databases, internment without trial" is all left wing authoritarian bullshit.

    The right believes in individual freedoms, the left believes in state control.

    I believe in rolling back the state wherever possible, less Government, less taxes and less interference in my life, not more.

    PS Neil, you could just as easily say that Polly spouts hearsay and conjecture.

  10. Neil - there is plenty of debate within the Labour party - as you well know! It's just done within the party because that is a safe area where people can speak their minds freely and think outside the box without having to worry about our opponents or the press making mischief. Then when conclusions are reached, we share them with the outside world. It's the only way to proceed, because as you say yourself, we live in a world dominated by a right wing media that is determined to destroy us.

    But I'm glad you admit that the Labour government has done many admirable things. Yay!

  11. snowflake: I just don't see the enthusiasm in the party to welcome new members - maybe it has never been there, but our party - the only real hope for millions, has become ever more cliquey and every potential labour candidate is now asked to swear allegiance to the party (to always follow the whip- I refused). What can be more Soviet than that?

    We have to get away from thinking that we can suppress and control everything that party members and candidates say. It doesn't matter - the press are against us, no matter what - we have got to start speaking our minds - Ken nearly pulled off a sensational victory polling 15% ahead of Labour nationally because he told the truth - and said what he thought. Political speak does not win votes anymore (if it ever did) - the voters want to see real people expressing real views, not Blear's robots.

  12. If you don't have to properly check your....
    facts, if you don't have to be true to yourself

    This comes from the King of the unsupported sweeping claim!

    I cite as just one small example your total misquoting of road death statistics (which I am sure you remember).

    What a joke!

  13. urko: 4,000 children and 8,000 adults killed or seriously injured every year on our roads - how much media attention does this get?

    Compare this to the massive coverage of the handful of stranger knife murders (50?). This totally distorts public opinion. Yes I quoted the road death figures wrong once (did I quote the above as daily - I forget) - but this was an innocent mistake and didn't invalidate the point I was making.