Politics Without Lying 128

It is hard to envisage politics without lying, nowadays. A world where politicians are honest about facts, actions and motives appears an impossible aspiration. In general, the electorate seem now to accept this lying as priced in. I don’t think that anybody now doubts that Boris Johnson shagging Jennifer Arcuri led him to send public money and access her way, but the English electorate in particular show no sign of caring enough to alter a voting intention. Mind-boggling sums on Covid-related contracts for mates, or the entire crooked premiss of the Greensill public finance scam, appear similarly to have no effect.

The BBC care so little they did not report Ms Arcuri’s confession at all, save for Ian Hislop referencing on Have I Got News For You that the BBC did not report it. But only on the extended, late night edit of that programme, that nobody watches.

It is not generally sensible to try to analyse the Loyalists of Northern Ireland using criteria that refer to the use of logic, rational thought or any empirical knowledge established since the eighteenth century. But the riots in Belfast reflect, at least in part, that it is still possible that some people get upset if lied to.

Boris Johnson could have stated “To have no hard border with the Republic of Ireland is paramount. Therefore Brexit will necessitate the imposition of certain border checks of a technical nature which will be necessary at the Irish Sea. These cover veterinary and phyto-sanitary declarations and that sort of guff. They are a nuisance but not serious, and in no way reduce our commitment to the Union. They will be more than compensated for by new transport infrastructure, political initiatives and Treasury grants to Northern Ireland”. That would at least have had the benefit of being, mostly, honest. We will never know if it would have caused a violent reaction from unionists. (The question of who attended which funeral may be a trigger event, but is not a cause).

But Johnson did not do this. Instead he simply lied. He lied to the loyalists of Northern Ireland saying that there would be no border checks at the Irish Sea, when plainly there would be. He lied to the European Union by trying not to implement the Protocol he had signed. He lied to the United States that the Good Friday Agreement was not impacted.

It is difficult for me to inhabit the mindset of a Northern Ireland loyalist; but if you are one, your allegiance to the British state is the most important factor in your life, besides immediate family considerations, and sometimes before them. To discover therefore that the British state which you worship has sold you out and told you a load of lies, must be disorienting. Particularly when you find that the truth is that the British government is much more worried about Northern Ireland’s links to Ireland than to the rest of the UK, and pretty relaxed about setting a path that is obviously – to everyone except, till now, you – leading to Irish reunification.

It must all be very horrible for loyalists who are abandoned by the state to which they wish to cling, and must feel their peculiar culture slowly dying. Hence the riots, which will make no difference.

Iain Macwhirter extrapolates from this situation to the English/Scottish border post-Independence. He is keen to point out that if Scotland is within the EU single market and England outside, there will have to be those non-tariff border restrictions and thus some border infrastructure and checks. That is undoubtedly true, but I am not quite sure why he thinks that is so terrifying. The loyalists in Belfast are not rioting because there is a practical shortage of quinoa and they are starving; they are rioting because of purely political dissociation.

Scotland will certainly need checks on the border with England; these will not be, as Macwhirter tries to make out, just “EU protectionism”, but are needed, to protect us against import from England of chlorine-washed chicken, genetically modified tomatoes, unsafe children’s toys, and whatever other delights the Tories promised bonfire of EU regulation will visit upon us.

Border controls are good.

I am normally a genuine fan of Macwhirter, but he makes the curious mistake of suggesting that Scotland after Independence would be in the same position as Northern Ireland now is, in relation to the UK and EU. Whereas of course Scotland would be in the same position that the Republic of Ireland now is, assuming it joined the EU or at least EFTA and the EEA. And there are no riots in Dublin. In fact, Brexit has brought to Ireland the advantage of more direct links to Europe bypassing England altogether, which have burgeoned at spectacular speed.

Precisely as Ireland has done, similar ferry routes for Scotland will massively mitigate any problems caused by what will be – and I happily shout it out – a very real border with England. What is alarming is that it is well within the powers of Holyrood to start work already on the necessary port infrastructure, but no planning on transport integration for Independent Scotland appears to be happening at all.

I have felt for fifty years that the A1 – incredibly still not even dual carriageway for much of its progress north of Newcastle – is the perfect symbol of lack of genuine enthusiasm for the union in the British body politic: as well we have the fact that no government has ever seriously considered a genuine high speed railway running from Inverness and Aberdeen to London, and onward through the Channel Tunnel. The UK now has less high speed rail than a substantial number of third world countries. The timidity of HS2, which may make it before I die to its ultimate goal of Leeds – just a quarter of the way north from London in the UK – shows that the union really does not deserve to survive.

Contrary to Macwhirter, I expect that Independence will in the event radically improve Scotland’s connectivity not just to the EU, but also to England. Even though we will have a border to keep out the dodgy stuff, and a good thing too.


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128 thoughts on “Politics Without Lying

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  • N_

    It’s true that much of the A1 is a cr*p-awful road, really ludicrously cr*p for the route between two neighbouring countries’ capital cities. But the southern part of the M74, aka the A7(M), is wider than it “needs” to be for the amount of traffic it carries, as is also true of the northernmost section of the M6. So there’s an East Coast vs West Coast angle.

    There must be interests that make money out of the A1 being rubbish. The Duke of Northumberland probably has something to do with it.

    • N_

      “If the resources that were put unnecessarily into the M74/A74(M)/M6 on both sides of the border had been put into the A1 instead,” said the stirrer, lol.

    • Bob (original)

      The ‘M8’ should be charged under the Trade Descriptions Act, 1968.
      For the most part, a ‘glorified’ dual carriageway, without any road lighting for long stretches or clear road markings. The utter basics of economic development between the 2 main cities of an ‘English colony’. [And I believe it took 30+ years of lobbying in London to get this, ahem, Motorway in the first place!].
      To paraphrase ‘Trainspotting’: we should have been colonised by a better class of w#####s.

  • Penguin

    That’s odd!

    I distinctly remember the gorgeous pouting Sarah Smith (daughter of former labour leader John Smith MP & Baroness Smith of Gilmorehill) stating on Channel 4 News back in the 2001 election that the A1 was duelled all the way to the border in Scotland, and compared this with the terrible bias against the poor denizens of the NE of england since the reopening of the Scottish parliament.

    I know that the road that I’ve driven over isn’t adequate, but I must have been lost somewhere as we know the BBC’s chief reporter of all things Scottish would never lie on TV.

  • N_

    80% of Scottish exports go to other parts of Britain, mostly to England, where ferries won’t help much. But that market may dry up if the line is taken that “a poond’s as good as a pound, and anyone who says otherwise is a colonialist”. In practice the poond would have to be pegged to sterling for a while before the peg shifted to the euro and an indy Scotland joined the eurozone. It’s a disgrace Britain didn’t join the eurozone, but Brexit is a disgrace too. Sadly few agree. Alex Salmond’s saying that Brexit boded well for the independence cause was nuts.

  • Mockingbird

    It beggars belief why Tony Blair imo a war criminal because he LIED is still able to be given “air time” by most media about his views on Covid 19? I bet he would love the vaccination passports.

    Alan Duncan former MP who worked with the Rothschild puppet Boris Johnson has written some scathing dairies, no doubt for financial gain, but enlightening also, especailly about the Israel relationship.


    Has any other politician in recent times other the Boris Johnson been photographed with Sir Jacob Rothschild?


    • Mockingbird

      Alan Duncan MP wrote

      Saturday, July 16

      “At 5.30pm I go to the Foreign Office. All seems clear and agreed that I will be Minister for the Middle East. [But] when I see Boris [now Foreign Secretary] at 6pm it seems a massive problem has arisen, which is nothing short of contemptible. Boris says the Conservative Friends of Israel [CFI] are going ballistic.

      If I’d ever so much as sided with anti-Semitic people, or said anything near it, they’d be fully entitled to have a go at me, but I never have.

      It is for no other reason than that I believe in the rights of Palestinians and it’s quite clear that they don’t. They just want to belittle and subjugate the Palestinians.

      Now Number 10 are telling Boris I cannot have the Middle East. This it seems has come from [May’s special adviser, or spad] Nick Timothy, who has also been got at. Appalling.”

      • Mockingbird

        Alan Duncan MP wrote

        Monday, February 6

        “[Israeli PM Benjamin] Netanyahu is being feted in Number 10, meeting the PM, followed by lunch, and then we let him use the FCO media suite to peddle his pro-settlement propaganda. We are supine, lickspittle, insignificant cowards. I am ashamed of my own Government.”

        • Stevie Boy

          Remember back, not so long ago, that the whole JC antisemitism thing was largely funded, directly, and whipped up by the rabid zionists in the Israeli government. See links below.
          The zionists cannot countenance any equality of support for Palestinians.
          Even now plane loads of politicians ([Appropriate tag] friends of Israel) from the UK, US and other fawning states are transported free of charge to Israel for fact finding indoctrination and bribing. As they stumble back through Heathrow with their little gift bags their consciences will be untroubled by the plight of the Palestinians at the hands of Israel.

        • Johny Conspiranoid

          “We are supine, lickspittle, insignificant cowards. I am ashamed of my own Government.””

          Well what did he think he was involved with?

  • Mftr

    Good piece Craig – planning for a deep water port with direct links out of Scotland to Asia and the Americas should be well advanced – similar with passenger car and freight links into Europe. The current appetite for this in government seems to be rather limited.

    • Bayard

      Well, if more shipping uses the North-East Passage, then Scotland is better placed than England as an off-loading point.

  • U Watt

    English taxpayers may well be funding intra-EU trade infrastructure if Bozo’s Scotland-NI tunnel gets the green light. The kind of magnanimous gesture Middle England is famous for.

    • DunGroanin

      Make more sense to connect Scotland to Europe wouldn’t it?
      Better to have its own energy interconnectors into greater Eurasia for import/export.
      North Sea being shallow makes it ideal for a great BRI project…

  • Sarcophilus

    Sure. But you keep saying that the Crimean people’s decision to return to Russia was illegitimate. WTF?

  • Courtenay Barnett

    ( A tribute to Tony Blair and Boris Johnson – or – making fun of serious matters)

    Blair boasted, “ Bo Jo – can’t lie like me.”
    “ Want to test?”
    “Sure – let’s see; you an’ me.”
    So they contest.

    Jo feels a small excited beat in his heart.
    Blair said, “ You first”
    “Give your best. Now start.”

    Bo Jo let loose, “ Never told a lie in my life – ask any woman – or, even my wife.”
    Blair laughed, he said, “That is your best?”
    “ Take a seat, like a sheep, not even a good bleat.”
    “ I spoke to Saddam. He dared me to come – silently – and not even beat a drum. I smiled. Iraqis cried and died.”

    Dumbfounded, Bo Jo Looked all round.
    Not a straight faced to be found.
    “Blair, you are here to lie and are in the wrong room. Now totally entombed.”
    “Huh – what you say? Go away?”
    Jo with a laugh, then showed his lying class, “Truth is not a lie and the truth contest was done yesterday. You have strayed.” .

  • Lorna Campbell

    Big NI Unionist thumps table with closed fist and bellows in a thick Belfast accent: “I’m a Unionist and I demand to go down with the sinking ship of the UK and be drowned in the deep waters of asinine political partisanship. I demand it; it’s my birthright as a Unionist.” I really do fear an influx of these boneheads into Scotland so that they can continue their special brand of disruptive nihilism.

    As for links to the Continent and elsewhere, links we used to have aplenty as an independent state, there appears to be not the slightest appetite within the SNPG for anything like this. If I didn’t know better, I’d think that they were deliberately treading water until we are absorbed into a Greater England. Nothing at all has been done, no preparations, to give the slightest indication that independence is, in any way, a policy that they embrace, let alone being their raison d’être, supposedly, and the reason that so many of them are able to park their lardy behinds on the green benches at Westminster and the wooden ones at Holyrood. I am beginning to loathe them and their complete self-interest and lack of imagination for a country desperate for them to lead it out of this Union.

    We should have had all the MPs recalled and let them fight like ferrets in a sack with their Holyrood counterparts for their seats, on the understanding that independence was the name of the game. No progress, no seat. John Mason’s excuse for inaction and inertia really takes the biscuit: the UK armed forces unleashed against us. Oh, yes, wouldn’t put it past them to try and bump off the sweaty socks as they did to the Irish, but they have a little problem there with a large portion of the armed forces being Scottish in origin. Yet, he posits that as the latest in a very long line of excuses to do nothing, while his party introduce extremely unpopular policies based around sexual identity. It is very telling with religious zealots that they are opposed to everything that affords even the slightest protection to women. So, misogyny by any other name, then.

    • Tone

      A fine display of misanthropy! By God, you’ll hate everybody in the end.

      Thought about moving to Mingulay? Personal Independence guaranteed.

  • Susan

    A hard border between Scotland and England will be necessary and desirable after independence. I have no issue with it.

    • Kempe

      It’d be bad news for the economies of both nations and Scotland would probably suffer the most.

      • Alf Baird

        “Scotland would probably suffer the most”

        You mean there is something even worse than 300+ years of colonialism?

  • Louis Celine

    Disagree Craig. Nobody like/ want to be cheated. But the media is controlled by the establishment, the BBTorie included. They publish or hide what they want, it is part of the agreement with the government, to receive favours = ££££. Same with the monarchy. They pay “journalists” and papers ( i.e Sun). And, we, modest people, cannot control it. just we can try to find alternatives sources of information, as you are one of them .

  • Lev Bronstein

    A Lying Politician is a coup-de-etat against Democracy.

    After all, when the politicians are allowed to freely lie, then just what exactly are the voters voting for? The Hair Style? The Gender? The Eye Color? It is certainly not a situation where the people are getting a voice into how their society is run, not when politicians are allowed to lie freely and without cost. And of course, a part of the oligarch overthrow of democracy in the late 20th century and the early 21st century has been the propaganda push to get citizens to accept that ‘all politicians lie.’ If you accept that, then you accept the end of democracy.

    I can’t say I have an answer to solve the problem, but it is very clear that a system where politicians can freely lie is at best a sham democracy.

    The grassroots approach would to be to convince voters to never, never, never vote for a liar, no matter how much you like the hair style. But, at least in American politics, that could only happen if we adopt the old Libertarian idea that every ballot include a choice to vote for “None Of The Above”. (which means a new election with an entirely new slate of candidates) Even then, we might have to learn how to live without Politicians for awhile until we managed to breed a new crop of non-liars. All living Western politicians appear to be un-reformable liars.

    • Lev Bronstein

      Allowing aggressive recall of elected officials is one path towards democracy. The ability to pull back a liar from office when they don’t do what was expected. Probably needs to be combined with the ability to nullify the actions of the successfully recalled.

      More democracy in that the role really does go back to that of the representative of the people of the district could be achieved with far more local referendums on how the office-holder will vote in Westminster or Washington. IE, the representative has to accept instructions from the people they represent, and at times say that they need to go back and ask for instructions. With modern communications, a quick referendum of voters on questions like whether we should invade another country based on evidence-free big-lies is very achievable.

      The colonial Americans who rejected the current American constitution were appalled at the idea of sending a representative off to Washington with 2 whole years between elections. They were used to 6 month or 1 year terms of office in the offices closer to home. Speeding up the cycle of elections would at least reduce the amount of time a liar could hold the office before facing the voters again.

      Portions of America believe that only the threat of long prison sentences in tortuous prisons and even the death penalty are the only ways to compel people to act decently. So far, we’ve never seen such politicians apply this to themselves.

      • bevin

        “Annual elections ‘ were an old demand before they were adopted, as a matter of course, by the People’s Charter.
        There really is no excuse for longer than annual terms but it is great for careerists and trough slurpers of all kinds.

      • lysias

        The Athenians didn’t elect their representatives and most of their officials. They chose them by lot from the whole body of adult male citizens.

          • Bruce H

            But it was a city state, absolutely incomparable with even small countries like Britain.

            Also, don’t forget that only a tenth or so of the population was involved in this early attempt at democracy.

      • Johny Conspiranoid

        No politician would be able to do their job because of endless recall moves.

      • Polly Titian

        “Allowing aggressive recall of elected officials is one path towards democracy.”

        In the UK the public is generally not aware that they already have such a power. If you organize a no-confidence petition against an MP and 10% of the constituents support it a by-election is triggered.

        A well-organised and popular people’s power type political movement could use this mechanism to force a general election to unseat a criminal government, like the one currently in power.

  • Douglas Scorgie

    J Galt
    April 15, 2021 at 16:42
    “If the humanist, evolutionist Richard Dawkins fans are correct and we come from nothing and go to nothing then what does it matter what the hell you believe!”

    What matters Mr/Mrs/Ms Gault is what you do between coming from nothing and going to nothing. The selfish, greedy and powerful among us in the world work on the premise that “We’re only here once so fuck everyone else and get what you can while you can.”
    Typical capitalist thinking; does it matter if climate change is going to destroy the planet; does it matter if capitalist driven activity is polluting the air and oceans; does it matter if selling deadly weapons to both sides in a conflict produces death and destruction on both sides?
    No. It doesn’t matter to those who benefit from that outlook on life.

  • Antonym

    Why is Boris J. (must be of Russian origin) insisting that the COP26 circus physically descends on Glasgow? To spread Covid-19? To increase carbon emissions? To promote Scotland? No,no, no. Just to be THE ringmaster in the spotlights – any limelight will do.
    Greta (18) makes more sense than him – imagine!

  • N_

    The SNP is unlikely to win votes in Coldstream with a promise to introduce border checks with England but run lots of ferries to the continent. And…every vote has equal weight in a two-way referendum.

    As with Ireland, where border questions are involved it’s reasonable to consider the needs and desires of people who actually live near the damned border.

    • DunGroanin

      Borders used to exist at parish boundaries. Pillory was a common punishment for transgression without permission or Right.
      As we are being moved back to that state of affairs – try parking outside your street or entering a privately policed ‘near gated’ area- I find it pathetic the idea of a dotted line on a map being in someway the GREATEST DISASTER EVER.

      Such doom mongers need to be called out for their hyperbole.

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