Ten years ago a liberal US journal, the Washington Monthly, published what it called The Mendacity Index, which rated Reagan, Clinton and the two Bushes for their propensity to tell ‘the most serious fibs, deceptions, and untruths’. No surprises as to who won!
The news that the Con-Dem Government is, just to take a few recent examples, rushing the profoundly authoritarian Lobbying Bill through Parliament, claiming that ‘transparency is the theme’; pressing ahead with the shameful privatisation of the East Coast line on the basis that franchising was a ‘force for good in the story of Britain’s railways’; and continuing to force through the marketisation of the education sector in the guise of ‘putting children’s interests above ideology’ offers pause for thought.
We all know that this rotten Government is the most ideologically right-wing administration seen since the 1930s. But the sheer scale of their deception since they took power is breath-taking. Trade unions, campaigning organisations and progressive political parties already do a good job taking issue with the Government’s divisive policies and dishonest messages. But, as the media is dominated by the right in this country and Labour continue to struggle to articulate a genuine socialist alternative, maybe there’s a case for implementing a running Mendacity Index in the UK. While this has a slightly light-hearted flavour to it, it would surely help efforts to hold the Con-Dems to account; challenge their untruths; and undermine their attempts to manufacture consent for endless austerity, deepening inequality and politics by the rich for the rich.