It could lead to a severe prison overcrowding crisis the likes of which has never been experienced in UK history but the time for the introduction of a specific criminal offence of lying to the public is now long overdue.
It would clip the wings of politicians who use telling lies as a campaign tool to win votes or defend the indefensible and who now think nothing of spouting regular porkies in Parliament, safe in the knowledge there is no punishment for their deceit. The prevalence of dishonesty in politics is a corrosive cancer which undermines public trust and endangers the whole idea of democracy. It must be combatted urgently.
If lying in Parliament was illegal in the same way as lying in court, there would be fewer speeches and pronouncements, but their substance would improve considerably. Some politicians would be compelled to speak much less lest they found themselves behind bars for contempt of Parliament but to hear fewer bungling bollocks from Boris Johnson would be a positive selling point for such new legislation.
Johnson’s long list of barefaced lies is well documented both inside and outside Parliament but since he was elected Prime Minister of the UK by England in December last year we should have witnessed an improvement in his deceitful deportment. We have not. It has persisted and got worse. The latest examples make legislative action appropriate and urgent.
Johnson’s Lies Last Week Were Barefaced and Brazen
After extensive mainstream and social media coverage last Sunday and Monday, 14th and 15th June, of the sterling efforts of a young black Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford to request the government continue its free school meal provision for poorer children during the school holiday period, the rejection of that request was clear and consistent in the news outlets throughout the Monday:
“The Prime Minister has rejected a call from Manchester United and England star Marcus Rashford to extend the free school meals scheme into the summer holidays.
On Monday morning the footballer pleaded with MPs to reconsider their decision not to extend the current food voucher scheme in an open letter “written from the heart” in which he spoke about his own experiences of relying on free school meals.
The spokesman said: “ The PM understands the issues facing families across the UK which is why last week the government announced an additional £63m for local authorities to benefit families who are struggling to afford food and other basic essentials”.
That could not have been clearer. The young man’s sincere appeal was received, considered, and rejected. A massive social media campaign of support ensued and even the mainstream media was compelled to accord the Rashford appeal positive coverage. Determined not to be exposed as the cruel, cold-hearted, and callous Conservatives they are a hurried U-turn was agreed. But even amid a high profile and widely anticipated U-turn Johnson’s predilection for lies could not be resisted. He stood in Parliament and blurted out last Tuesday:
“I talked to Marcus Rashford today and congratulated him on his campaign which to be honest I only became aware of, recent … erm, today”.
This guy has no shame. He just stood before Parliament and the whole UK and barefaced lied. The Rashford campaign had been running intensely over the previous two days. The day before the U-turn Johnson’s own spokesman rejected the appeal in a widely trailed and reported statement. But Johnson, desperate to avoid blame for the foolish rejection of the ‘heartfelt’ plea to provide food for poor children in England over the summer holidays decided to say he had only just heard about it that morning… It is a level of deceit that beggar’s belief.
Tory Record on Poverty is Shameful – No Wonder They Lie About It
Of course, he knew about the campaign before last Tuesday. Of course, he approved the official statement last Monday. But in Johnson’s warped world lying and deceiving to survive is his default mode.
Undeterred by his previous day’s parliamentary porky pie and no doubt encouraged by the ease with which he could get away with it he returned the next day to give us more whoppers in relation to the serious issue of levels of family poverty and child poverty. His Tory government have presided over some of the most shocking and shameful increases in poverty as a whole and child poverty specifically. Yet during Prime Minister’s Questions last Wednesday he just barefaced lied again:
Keir Starmer, the Leader of the Opposition –
“A report last week from the Government’s Social Mobility Commission concluded that there are now ‘600,000 more children…living in relative poverty’ than in 2012. The report went on to say: ‘Child poverty rates are projected to increase to 5.2 million by 2022.’
What does the Prime Minister think caused that?”
Boris Johnson –
“[…] But I must say that I think he is completely wrong in what he says about poverty. Absolutely [sic] poverty and relative poverty have both declined under this Government and there are hundreds of thousands—I think 400,000—fewer families living in poverty now than there were in 2010.”
The Children’s Commissioner for England was compelled to fact check the disputed claims made by the PM during last week’s exchange with Labour leader Keir Starmer and their Report released last Monday is a coruscating condemnation of both Johnson’s integrity and his party’s record in government over the last ten years. You should read the Report in full but even considering the restraint it uses in describing Johnson’s spurious claims it is damning nonetheless:
“However, among these two groups combined, levels of relative poverty actually increased between 2010/11 and 2018/19. Our calculations using the HBAI figures suggest that an additional 800,000 people in families (defined as couples with children, or single parents) were living in relative poverty AHC in 2018/19 compared to 2010/11 (an increase from 6.8 million to 7.6 million).
None of these estimates can support the Prime Minister’s claim of 400,000 fewer families being in poverty.
It also is worth noting that the organisation Full Fact has also struggled to establish the evidence for this claim.
Verdict: Appears to be false. While there is no exact reference for this claim, it is not consistent with the official statistics. The Prime Minister may have access to other data that substantiates this claim, but it is not borne out by the government’s own published figures”.
Make Lying in Public Office a Criminal Offence & Get Scotland Out of Here
Johnson stated in Parliament 400,000 fewer families were living in poverty today than ten years ago when in fact 800,000 more families are living in poverty now than when his party assumed office. While in relation to child poverty an extra 600,000 are living in poverty than ten years ago and the overall figure was expected to rise to 5.2 million before the Covid19 pandemic hit. That figure by 2022 is now judged to be a significant underestimate.
The events of last week and the Children’s Commissioner Report published yesterday convinces me beyond all doubt that lying in public office should be made a criminal offence to deter the likes of Johnson from his regular practice and that the Tories are the party of increased poverty, inequality and exploitation. Under their ten-year reign there has been an acute rise in the number of billionaires and millionaires cheek by jowl with increased family and child poverty.
England was foolish and stupid to elect the Tories again last December and Scotland would be equally foolish and stupid to hang around within the Westminster union which prioritises the greed of the millionaires, not the needs of the millions. Politicians lying must become a criminal offence. Scotland must become an independent country.