It is not just politicians who tell lies

One feature of this election has been the willingness of some sections of the press to tell bare-faced lie after lie. I have been reading the Guardian and occasionally The Independent – and both of these papers have relentlessly lied.

One feature of these lies is that they appear to be made by people who either a) are of such feeble intelligence that they can’t grasp nuance and complexity of a situation or b) who are normal but who count on their readers being of type a). Either way – this isn’t just about lying. Wish that it were. This is about a kind of bestial disregard for truth.

For example. Today’s Independent told us that Johnson had hidden in a fridge to avoid an interview. A good story. But made-up. It appears that the background to the story is that a TV programme had been asking for an interview with Johnson for some time. He had not taken them up on the offer. (There is no rule which says he has to accept an interview with every programme). This programme then sent a ‘journalist’ to ambush him at a walkabout. The journalist had a link to a live broadcast and Johnson was invited to appear “live on air now”. This is a stunt. It then appears that Johnson went into a large cold storage area at the factory he was visiting. There is no evidence at all that this was not part of a pre-planned tour. On the face of it he simply didn’t “hide from an interview in a fridge”.

Another example. Johnson has been accused to being racist because he has used racist language. One claim is that in an article he used the word “piccaninnies”. This is a derogatory word meaning black children. It is widely reported that Johnson used this word and that he is therefore a racist. (Peter Oborne writing in today’s Guardian repeats the claim). Like others I have seen this purely out of context of the article in which it originally appeared. Like others I assumed Johnson was some kind of a racist. But when you look at the source it turns out that this is not the case. Johnson used the word in an article about Blair in 2002 to mock Blair:

What a relief it must be for Blair to get out of England. It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies; and one can imagine that Blair, twice victor abroad but enmired at home, is similarly seduced by foreign politeness. [1]

and the same goes for “watermelon smiles” which is often cited as a separate offence but which comes from the same article:

They say he is shortly off to the Congo. No doubt the AK47s will fall silent, and the pangas will stop their hacking of human flesh, and the tribal warriors will all break out in watermelon smiles to see the big white chief touch down in his big white British taxpayer-funded bird. Like Zeus, back there in the Iliad, he has turned his shining eyes away, far over the lands of the Hippemolgoi, the drinkers of mares’ milk. He has forgotten domestic affairs, and here, as it happens, in this modest little country that elected him, hell has broken loose.

Johnson is mocking Blair for playing the Emperor. The use of the words is as he says satirical. Clearly.

The people at the Guardian and Independent  and Corbyn (and others) who accuse Johnson on the basis of having used these words (many years ago when he was a journalist) have either descended to such a low level of intellect that all they can see is the word and not understand the way it is being used – or they can and are simply and cynically exploiting this to spin a story about Johnson being racist to try and win power (so they can get their hands on all the money – the main aim of the Labour left). The latter explanation though completely cynical would be a much better state of affairs than the former. I am pretty confident though that in many cases it is the former that applies.  The minimum intellectual level to participate in public life is at an all-time low. Swamped by emotionalism, therapy culture and the fake sensitivity of the ‘progressive left’.


It occurs to me there is a third possibility. These people know and understand what Johnson is doing; that he is using nuance and satire. But they identify, correctly, that it is a type of satire that marks him out as a Public Schoolboy and thus they can (as Corbyn said in a TV debate) be 100% certain that they would “never use that kind of language”. (Not because it is racist but because it is clever satire). And knowing this they also know that they can use it against him. They can use it and make it look like Johnson is a racist. It is a weak spot – Johnson can’t really use his actual defence. He can’t say “this is clever satire and you are just pretending not to get it”; that would make him look worse. It is a kind of class war. The weak versus the strong. The slaves v. the masters. The strong are always at risk from this kind of attack from the weak – as Nietzsche pointed out.

Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer