Monday, April 11, 2005

When is a lie not a lie?

I quite like the LibDems. I hope they strengthen their representation in the next Parliament to bring it closer to 20% or so votes that they will be receive. But I am not impressed by a stupid lie in the Ruislip candidate's latest flyer. He writes that the election is a straight choice between Conservative and LibDem and that Labour are out of the race, quoting the result in the local elections in 2004.

Now this is mendacious. At the 2001 General Election in Ruislip-Northwood, the Tories got 48%, Labour 28% and the LibDems 18%. Yup, the LibDems go into this election from a weak third position. All electoral history shows that voting at General Elections follows the pattern of previous General Elections and that local and bye-elections count for little. The LibDems have a ghostly chance, but to claim that Labour are out of it is a lie. Or at least to state this as though it is an established fact is a lie since it is acceptable as a statement of opinion.

So the answer to my question is that a lie is not a lie when uttered by a politician. I'm not sure how to categorise it. "Vapourware" has long been used in IT circles to characterise publicity claims about non-existent products "just" about to be released. Perhaps "Politspeak" should designate the utterly risible and untrue claims made by politicians who extrapolate wildly from relatively trivial figures and ignore the basic reality.

Other examples of Politspeak in recent days
Alex Salmond of the SNP on the radio at the weekend "We are the only party with the policies to make Scotland succeed"
The Labour party's stupid statements about Tory spending "cuts" based on forecasts for public spending in five years time.
"It's not racist to talk about immigration"
"UKIP could win 20 seats"

The monitoring continues...

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