It is a true maxim that cheats never prosper. Boris Johnson and the Tory Party have lied and cheated, and in the short term it has won them the keys to 10 Downing Street. It may even win them an election. But in the long term it spells ruin for all of us. Here’s why.
Brexit is toxic to even steady growth in the economy.
Economic growth rests on three things: optimism, stability and trust.
People need optimism to believe that they will get something back from the work or cash that they put into any investment.
People need stability in order to predict whether what they put in over time will pay back the cost, in hours or money, of putting in the effort.
And they need to trust that what they are told about the situation is true, that the rules are not going to be changed arbitrarily on them, and that they are on a fair playing field, that some other people are not going to suddenly be given the profits that they have worked for.
Brexit is not an optimistic ideology. It is made of nostalgia and fear of change. A desire to turn the clock back to a time that never was is not the dynamism that you need to create opportunity for the new.
Boris Johnson himself may have optimism in spades (or may not; often, when challenged, he appears to be faking it), but no one at all trusts him. Twice in the election debates he has raised the idea of trust in his government and twice audiences have literally laughed in his face.
Brexit is built out of lies. From that bloody bus; via the disingenuous all-Brexits-to-all-people approach that short-term winning was more important than telling people true what they intended; through the use of “othering” minorities, blaming migration, breeding hate-crimes but also dividing the country; and up to lying to the Queen and refusing to publish the report into Russian interference.
That consistent lack of trust, that attitude of looking backwards not to the future fundamentally undermines our economy.
We need politicians to start telling the truth, no matter how painful.
We need the media to drop the partisan bullshit (and that goes as much for the Guardian as the Telegraph, but above all the BBC) and report the truth. Stop saying “the other side is lying”; only report what politicians say if it is true.
And we the public need to stop voting for cake-and-eat-it politics. Because the more we reward the cheats and liars, the more it will cost us in the long run.
None of that is going to happen in GE 2019. And the outcome will be either bad or worse.
But change is coming.
To be continued…
[In Part 2: The indecision at the heart of Brexit that makes Johnson the real “Prime Ditherer”]
* Richard Flowers has been a Party member for 20 years. He’s campaigned in many an election, stood as a local councillor, and Parliamentary candidate, was Chair of Tower Hamlets Liberal Democrats, and in 2020 will be Liberal Democrat candidate for the Greater London Assembly constituency of City and East. Thanks to Liberal Democrats in government, he is married to his husband Alex Wilcock. He also helps Millennium Elephant to write his Very Fluffy Diary.