House of liars: the deceits at the heart of the UK’s 14-year death rattle

Last Updated: April 10, 2024By

If you’re in the UK, you’ve suffered 14 years of political and economic decline because you’ve allowed liars to bed themselves into Parliament and the media.

That is the conclusion of Professor Simon Wren-Lewis in his latest Mainly Macro article and it’s one that This Site has been pushing, practically since Vox Political’s inception in 2011.

If you’ve been going around thinking – or even saying – that “nothing works anymore, the country is in a mess, workers’ living standards have remained stagnant, public services are at breaking point,” then your beliefs are in line with ours.

The reason is simple: we let the liars in and we let them do what they wanted.

Tory lies and the thinking behind them

Prof Wren-Lewis explains the reasons for this:

In Opposition, between 1997 and 2010, the Tories learned nothing from Tony Blair’s New Labour, which had shown that neoliberal economics was acceptable to the public if linked with increased spending on public services – most particularly the National Health Service.

No: they wanted to shrink the state, selling off services to their rich friends who would run them for profit, and they never stopped to think that this would mean a huge consequential tax rise as their rich friends started charging ever-increasing prices to provide those services.

The Global Financial Crisis of 2008 or thereabouts was a gift to David Cameron and George Osborne, because it gave them an excuse – even if every sane economist in the world knew it was crazy.

We had known since WWII that cutting government spending during a recession, where interest rates were stuck at a lower bound, was a crazy idea. The fact that this was also advocated by the Republican party in the US, and a Germany-dominated Europe spooked by the Eurozone crisis, should not lend it any respectability.

The responsible thing for any UK government to do after the GFC was to spend into the economy, as the Attlee government had done after World War II. But instead, Cameron and Osborne insisted on spending cuts.

Prof Wren-Lewis says shrinking the state, as Cameron and Osborne did, could only work if the tasks the state is required to perform are altered (they weren’t) or if there was significant fat to trim – efficiency savings to be made (there weren’t).

So instead of slimming government down to an efficient, lean machine, they knocked the wheels off the wagon. Their successors, lacking the intelligence to realise what’s wrong, have let it grind to a halt, leaving huge metaphorical marks on the country as it went.

They did all this by lying to us that it would reduce the national debt and deficit – things that didn’t need to be reduced at all. “There is no alternative,” they said. “We’re all in it together,” they said. Both were bald-faced lies. The rich who benefited from the Tory spending cuts and privatisations increased their wealth massively.

Oh, and as Prof Wren-Lewis points out,

we do know that they started cutting taxes fairly quickly after 2010, which you wouldn’t do if deficit reduction was really your primary goal.


The Tory culture war: divide and rule

They supported this big lie with another one, which Prof Wren-Lewis describes as “culture war issues”. Divide and rule, basically.


they focused on immigration as a means of winning support from voters who were socially conservative but left leaning in economic terms, a strategy that was most successful with Brexit and Johnson’s victory in 2019, but which is now seen by many as the sham it always was.

The lie that immigrants were stealing all our jobs was a pillar of the Brexit campaign, of course. They weren’t taking our jobs; there were too few indigenous workers so they were filling the gaps – as we have found out to our cost since Brexit happened.

There was also the lie that leaving the EU would allow more money to be spent on the NHS; the lie that farmers would be better-off; the lie that leaving the EU would cut down bureaucracy (in fact the amount of paperwork involved in international trade has multiplied exponentially).

The Tories knew they were lying about these things. But they also knew, from years of building anti-immigrant sentiment in the media, that the public could be manipulated into supporting anti-immigrant policies and that, if they promoted such policies, enough of the public would support them to keep them in power.

So Brexit and immigration were the main pillars of Boris Johnson’s 2019 election campaign and they won him a landslide victory.

But look what has happened since then: repeated failures to reduce migrants coming here across the Channel on boats, coupled with the realisation that the economy needed workers from the EU, has turned public opinion against the Tories.

Media complicity

The Tories were aided in their lies by the mainstream media, that has been complicit in pumping nonsense onto our TV screens and newspaper pages, rather than facts:

Some of this is obvious, such as the right wing press becoming a propaganda vehicle for Brexit, or the influence the Conservative party has had on the BBC. But it is also the case that the broadcast media, and particularly the BBC, has an increasing obsession with balance at the expense of informing viewers about facts or about the consensus of expert opinion. This has been an important factor in facilitating our political decline. It played a crucial part in the 2015 election, in the Brexit referendum and in the election of Johnson and it continues today.

[It] allows political deception and lying as a matter of routine.

On the few occasions the broadcast media ignored impartiality and took a clear side it backed the wrong cause, including its adoption of deficit obsession after 2010 and relentless pursuit of antisemitism within Labour while largely ignoring Tory Islamophobia and Johnson’s unsuitability to be PM. The latter, together with sections of the Labour right who preferred Johnson to Corbyn, helped ensure Brexit happened and led to many thousands of deaths in the subsequent pandemic.

Peter Oborne recently discussed how the obsessive, false belief – by Michael Gove and his ilk within the Tory Party – that institutions like the civil service and BBC are stuffed with Communists has led them to fill it with Tories instead, sabotaging the requirement for proper balance and fact-based reporting in favour of propaganda. This bears out his words.

Massive decline

The result of all these lies has been a profound decline in incomes, spending power and living standards that the lying Tories would have seen coming and chose to ignore.

Austerity is important. The UK set out plans for large-scale and relentless austerity earlier than the EU, which is why our recovery was relatively slow, but the EU as a whole fell back to UK levels when it embarked on widespread austerity during the 2011-13 period. The US had an excellent recovery from the pandemic because, unlike the UK and Eurozone, it encouraged its recovery with fiscal expansion. As I argued here, deficit obsession, shared by the UK and EU but not (currently at least) by the US, appears to be bad for growth not just in the short term, but continuing into the medium term as well. Evidence also suggests cutting spending in a recession actually increases the debt to GDP ratio.

Brexit also clearly matters. I doubt that it accounts for all of the GDP per head gap that has opened up between the EU as a whole and the UK since 2016, but it almost certainly accounts for a good part. It is also responsible for the 2016 depreciation which reduced the purchasing power of UK incomes.

Both austerity and Brexit have played a large part in producing the UK’s relative decline, but other factors (e,g, bad governance generally, poor pandemic management, encouragement of rent seeking from government) may also have played a part… Austerity itself probably played a key part in ensuring Brexit happened.

Labour is no alternative

Here’s the final kicker: we’re still being fed the lie that our First Past The Post electoral system can offer us an alternative to the current – failed – government instead of one that is different in name only:

Part of the current malaise also comes from an uninspiring opposition, but much of that stems from a First Past The Post electoral system where government typically alternates between the two major parties

The silencing of the social media

Sadly, the lies are set to continue – fuelled by a compliant, supine mainstream media that has no competition since the social media platforms effectively silenced alternative sources of news such as This Site.

Unless you went to great lengths to put it there, you won’t have seen the link to this article high on your Facebook newsfeed or X timeline – because those platforms deliberately bury them. Either they don’t want you reading material that uses facts to attack their own political positions or they are being paid by the Establishment media to hide it.

So what do you do?

If you are happy to continue relying on politicians and the political press to tell you what to think and who to vote for, then you are stuffed. And that is putting it politely.

You will be hoodwinked into voting for one of the Big Two (or possibly Three) political parties that will carry out none of the actions that people like Prof Wren-Lewis say are necessary to revive the UK’s prosperity.

And you’ll get the blame for doing it!

The only answer is to get yourself out there and find out for yourself the information you need.

Here’s some good information to get you started, courtesy of This Writer:

There are handy websites to help you to find:

Candidates by constituency.

Candidates in your area.

Use these tools to make an informed choice about your future. The alternative is that you will give up not only your future happiness and prosperity but that of your descendants for generations to come.

Source: mainly macro: The Anatomy and Reasons for UK relative Economic and Political decline over the last decade and a half

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