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On left-wing fibs and lies

No, the blog hasn’t been hacked. That really is the headline. It’s there because I’m going to have a bit of a moan. This did the rounds among fellow lefties on Twitter the other day.

 Ho, ho, ho. What a hoot! Isn’t Sarah Palin utterly stupid? No wonder the Republican Party is fucked, etc.

Funny ha, ha, indeed. Except it’s bullshit. An exemplar of the moronic degeneration of the American right to be sure, but she didn’t say it. 30 seconds with your search engine of choice would have established that.

As Snopes notes, this is from a “satirical” website that churns out wannabe memes of right wing blowhards mouthing lunacy about vaccines, guns, Obama’s secret Muslim/communist conspiracy, etc. This stuff then gets picked up and circulated as good coin. After all, no one any more can be arsed to do basic fact checking, even if we risk getting it wrong.

Then there is this one which circulates every time there’s a #webackEd/#CameronMustGo-style Twitter storm takes off.

This, again, is utter bullshit. IBS is particularly loathsome because he dresses up his Dickensian social security policies in the garb of Christian concern for the poor. The quiet man is also a spiteful and mean-spirited little man. Yet he didn’t punch the air when Dave announced a freeze on welfare payments, his fist hit the sky with the announcement of the raising of the 40p income tax threshold. Don’t take my word for it, here’s IBS doing just that at the 25:49 mark.

I can understand why people would happily pass this meme off as good coin. It would be entirely within the Tory character, that thinks a princely dole handout of £71/week and not lack of jobs causes unemployment, to do so. Yet someone went to the trouble of going through Sky’s footage of the speech, taking the cap, and giving it that lying spin. I suppose it’s safe to assume that whoever did is not a Conservative, and chances are they’re somewhere on the left. Just because the Tories are awful and have caused much suffering in their self-defeating class war doesn’t mean we should be lying about out opponents.

Lefties lying is a real bugbear of mine. Whether it’s fibs bits of our movement tell ourselves, like Left Unity/TUSC are on the verge of doing a Syriza, that Blair won in 1997 because he was uniquely gifted, that Stalin was merely misunderstood; misrepresenting the positions and distorting the arguments of opponents ostensibly on the same side; lying about comrades and/or yourself to make you look good/advance yourself; or weaving great big fat ones about the words and deeds, personalities and policies of political enemies, it’s irritating and counter-productive.

Maybe I am naive. I expect the right to lie because their bottom line is defending the indefensible: entrenched privilege. The left, from the weakest pink to the deepest red, doesn’t: it’s about something else. Whether your perspective is limited to a few reforms that make life better or expansive enough to envisage the root and branch change of entire societies, your case cannot be built on falsehood.

Whether a simple reform or something more ambitious, politics rooted in the labour movement are about building things. Prosecuting the interests of our people requires a politics constructed from sturdy materials. Anything less is a recipe for disillusion, or the path to you’re-just-like-themism.

Remember that next time you tweet a dodgy-sounding meme, or about to spin a lie for whatever political purpose.

This was first published at All that is Solid

4 Comments

  1. Barry Ewart says:

    Good points – you will never win working people to progressive ideas by being dishonest. We should attack the Tories for example with what we belive is the factual truth. For example according to the Guardian, Hedge Funds have given the Tories £50m since the last election and in April 2014 the Tory Govt with Lib Dem support gave tax cuts to Hedge Funds worth £140m! I also wish Labour would nail the Tories and Lib Dems re their Big Lie that Labour was to blame for the financial mess. Labour had to step in to save the banks and people’s wages, savings, benefits, and pensions or there would have been chaos. We on the left know the banks were to blame via sub prime lending. Those that doubt this should just read recent history – see Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, Lehman Bros et al and look at the evidence. Unfortunately for the Tories and Lib Dems Big Lie history keeps throwing up more evidence -.JP Morgan Chase fined 13b dollars in the US in 2013 for its role in sub prime lending and City Group fined £4b in July 2014. So whilst the Tories and Lib Dems weakly keep up THE BIG LIE we should ask the Tories and Lib Dems what they would have done? They never say!

  2. Chris says:

    The left accepts lies about the right (and vice versa) because they have no understanding of where the other side is coming from. Therefore, they assume they must be morally corrupt and capable of anything.

  3. Ultracynical says:

    If you don’t want lies to be the order of the day, then you need to get millions of people to all demand the same thing: higher press standards.

    This isn’t going to happen because those millions of people have busy lives, and/or are stupid. So if you want to be competitive, then you’ve got to stop wasting resources on such pointless things as establishing the truth.

    As long as you’re slightly less “just-like-them” it’s surely justifiable.

  4. David Pavett says:

    Good piece. The easy assumption that the right is stupid may make some people on the left feel superior but it is strictly counter-productive. Such people need to ponder on Gramsci’s comment that in the battle of ideas, unlike military battles, one must tackle the enemy at its strongest points.

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