Probably on a personal level.
On the other hand, it may just become such a second nature to twist and contort realities that you couldn’t trust them in any given situation. There’s this notion of the flipping of the moral compass. Once a certain point has been crossed morality becomes irrelevant. Enough lies and you can do anything you want.
A feeling of power.
I’m sure that most politicians get into it because they want to change the world, probably for the better. I reckon the majority genuinely go into it with the best of intentions.
But it strikes me as a career where you quite quickly realise that you’re permanently in a job interview situation. Everything you say or do, becomes part of your career.
This is a large part of the problem.
Imagine being told to constantly be on your guard about what you said. Make sure you are permanently marketable. Think about all the demographics that you might be targeting and how everything you say fits in with that.
Imagine trying to convince everyone you meet that you agree with them. Imagine every person you meet being a prospective employer.
You’d either fall out of the race or get good at telling people what they want to hear.
When several Lib Dem MPs recently got in trouble for saying crowd pleasing things to undercover journalists, they complained that it ‘violated the sanctity of MP/Constituent relationships’. This is bullshit. There is no sanctity there, this should not be a closed process. What was meant was that ‘when I’m talking to my constituents I shouldn’t be held accountable for what I say, because everything I say is whatever that person wants to hear’.
Marketing is all about knowing your audience. Politicians are aware of that.
And then, once you’ve got the job, you can finally make the difference that you wanted to in the first place. It doesn’t really matter what you’ve said along the way, because you’ll convince yourself you can bend the truth again. And like true sociopaths, you’ve probably believed yourself all the way along. You stand by your convictions, it’s just that you say them differently to different people.
All of the mistrust in this country has fallen on the Lib Dems, partly rightly. They’ve been terrible, on account of never expecting to get into power. They’ve had the freedom to say whatever they want to everybody. This means that they’ve u-turned the hardest. But let’s not ignore the minority leaders of this country.
The Tories actually do pretty much what they promise, they were just lying about the reasons. From this perspective, they’ve managed quite a deft raft of social engineering policies. They’ll shrink the state, boost big business and kick the poor out of the nice bits of cities (with a boot in the ass on the way out).
This has been dressed up as ‘we’re all in this together’ but it’s actually just brutal, ideological conservatism.
Don’t trust it. Please.
Illustration by Sarah-Anne.