Friday, 19 June 2009

Not in front of the House, please

Constantly Furious is a bit annoyed - nothing new there, then. Mind you, this one is potentially quite serious.

There is, of course, the longstanding assumption that politicians will lie. The Spectator has run so many articles about Gordon's lies that they have actually started to focus on the different and distinctive manner of Gordon's lying, rather than the mere fact of it. "Brownies" is their preferred term, which I think lets him off the hook a little. But the one point of honour that was always relied on by politicians was that they did not, would not, could not lie to the House. When a Minister spoke at the dispatch box, they told the truth. If something inaccurate happened to slip out inadvertently, they would return to the House as a matter of urgency to set the record straight.

CF has pointed to several comments that Brown has personally consulted McBride since the latter was sacked. The Spectator is reporting them, too. It seems that some of the discussions were by text messsage - in which case there will be physical evidence, surely? Yet Brown stated to the House this week at PMQs:
Mr. Lee Scott (Ilford, North) (Con): Will the Prime Minister tell the House whether the Government have received any informal briefings from Damian McBride?

The Prime Minister: I have not.
There is no wriggle room here, surely? He cannot claim that he was not aware that he personally sent and received text messages to/from McBride, if he was the one that did so. If the story is true, then Brown's mobile phone records will corroborate this, and he will have been caught comitting the ultimate sin before the House.

The triviality of the lie (for it is indeed trivial) is irrelevant. The point behind the rule is that MPs must be able to rely on a statement made to the House, and Ministers must therefore never be willing to lie or mislead it.

If he has lied, he should be impeached. This is not just tittle-tattle; this is not about the rights and wrongs of using McBride. It is a serious matter, and his phone records should be checked to see if it is true.


  1. We all know the lying liar has lied. He's always lying.

    It's enormously frustrating (and Constantly InFuriating) that it seems impossible to lay a hand on the slippery sod.

    How the hell does he continue to get away with it?

  2. Brown picked up lying tips from the master. Teflon Tony lied from day one. Yet neither getting bungs from motor racing, police fraud investigations, property empire building, deliberate misleading of the House of Commons and the public, blatantly untrue manifesto promises or even taking the country to war because he promised his mate that he would had any effect on him.
    Slick Tony hasn't even got any expenses to black out.

  3. And, of course, if someone is willing to lie about a trivial matter then it is clear that they would be willing to lie about something important.

    Brown has spent his whole time in office (Chancellor and PM) lying, spinning, bamboozling. He can no more clean up politics than can a rancid piece of meat can be turned into a culinary masterpiece.

  4. Hear, hear!

    This is an important issue. Saying that all politicians are liars is an exaggeration, because some are honest.

    Nonetheless, people do speak too easily about politicians being liars, and the problem is that once we have convinced ourselves that they all are, then we will both expect it and accept it.

    How good, therefore, to see you writing "When a Minister spoke at the dispatch box, they told the truth. If something inaccurate happened to slip out inadvertently, they would return to the House as a matter of urgency to set the record straight."

    This is idealism, and it is the kind of idealism that we need in a cynical world, if we are to maintain some semblance of decency on public life.

  5. CF - quite.

    BQ - Absolutely. This did not start 2 years ago, but 12.

    BE - Yes; this is why the triviality of the lie is, err, trivial.

    YMB - You are right - we must not forget that some in the House are not liars, some are not venal. The Telegraph's weekend supplement did in fact print a list of the saints - i.e. the MPs whose claims were reasonable and measured. It was a long list, but one that is not reported.

    I do have a spark of idealism left. I do have some hope. But you'll notice that my quote was in the past tense.