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The Rise of Political Lying Paperback – 11 Apr 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (11 April 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743275608
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743275606
  • Product Dimensions: 15 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 197,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'A fun read . . . You just won’t believe that anyone could have voted for Blair again' -- Charlie Whelan, Sunday Telegraph

'A lively contribution to an important debate' -- Michael White, Guardian

'Devastating . . . A remarkably compelling read' -- David Mellor, Evening Standard

'Devastating' -- Daniel Hannan, Daily Telegraph

'This book is substantial, a brutal study of a brutal topic' -- Simon Jenkins, Sunday Times

'Vivid and compelling . . . The reader will be both entertained and angered . . . Oborne has provided some very powerful truths' -- John Kampfner, Observer

About the Author

Peter Oborne is a former political editor of the SPECTATOR. He now writes a weekly column for the DAILY MAIL, in addition to writing and presenting regular TV documentaries on current affairs.

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Marshall Lord TOP 500 REVIEWER on 27 July 2006
Format: Paperback
I know from experience that there are still honest politicians around in both the Conservative and Labour parties. But this book is depressingly successful at showing how many others have set out to deceive the voters and why respect for politics is at an all-time low.

Oborne appears to have gone to considerable length to make only charges which he can substantiate - doubtless he would have been sued otherwise.

His book starts with an instance of a politician who told the truth and was accused of lying because of it. In 1994 William Waldegrave was asked whether it might ever be acceptable for a minister to say something untrue to the House of Commons, and he replied that in "exceptional circumstances" it might be. This was immediately portrayed as an example of tory sleaze, and various future Labour ministers who would have had to resign if they themselves were held to the standards they demanded, used Waldegrave's statement to condemn him and the government.

Peter Oborne admits to some feelings of guilt for having sprinted out of the room to file the story, which resulted in a media firestorm, because as he puts it "There was a great irony at work here. William Waldegrave was doing something very rare for a modern politician and trying to give an honest answer to an honest question. If anyone was lying, it was his Labour opponents, who set an impossibly high standard of truth telling, and one they had no intention of meeting themselves. It was Waldegrave's misfortune that his remarks played straight into the Labour Party strategy. Labour was determined to portray Conservative politicans as cheats and liars.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By T. T. Rogers on 17 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback
I have a lot of time for the author as an upstanding and impartial journalist of unimpeachable integrity and while I have criticisms of this book, I do still like this book very much and recommend that anyone interested in UK politics buys it and reads it. I will certainly be keeping it on my shelf.

Now on to the critique. I think this could have been a great book. An accessible work on political dishonesty is badly needed, but sadly 'The Rise of Political Lying' does not live up to its potential. Oborne writes compellingly and I was deeply moved by his observations on the numerous instances of lying and dissembling behaviour in the Blair Ministry, particularly in relation to the Iraq War. It is here that we find some of the best polemic dissent of an era that came to be characterised by Blairism not just in politics, but in the mainstream media as well. I think Oborne is right to focus mainly on wrong-doing in the Blair Ministry while astutely tracing the errant behaviours back to as early as the Thatcher Ministry, but his analysis of what has gone wrong with honesty in politics is not sufficiently rounded and informed. He fails to take sufficient account of sociological, cultural and technological changes which have influenced profoundly the practice of politics in the UK. I also think the symbiotic relationship between politicians and journalists is a very fertile area for analysis and study and would have justified much more coverage in this book. In particular, it would have been good to have closer observations on how the behaviours of individual journalists and broadcasters and the behaviour and structure of the media-at-large has an effect on the levels of honesty found among politicians.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Adrian Maxwell on 23 May 2015
Format: Paperback
The Rise of Political Lying

Occasionally politicians tell the truth. We know that. We don’t need books like this to reassure us that the fragility of human nature means politicians will turn away from lies and sometimes trust the electorate to know and handle the truth. This of course runs the terrifying risk that voters (the electorate and MPs) may make informed and responsible decisions. A risk few politicians have the moral strength to run. If the truth had been known about the preposterous dodgy dossier and the nature of Blair’s ambition (see David Owen’s The Hubris Syndrome: Bush, Blair & the Intoxication of Power 2007) and relationship with George W. Bush the UK would not have gone to war.

In A Few Good Men (1992), Rob Reiner’s ‘courtroom drama with a contemporary edge’, Col. Nathan Jessup bellows ‘You cant handle the truth’ at Lt. Daniel Kaffee in the polarized debate as to how much the people should be told. This of course is the underlying rationale of Blair’s lies to parliament. Saddam hasn’t got WMD and does not pose a 45-minute risk to the UK but he is a really bad man and we ought to have regime change and we ought to support Goerge who is going to do it anyway. If Jessup had Alastair Campbell as his Chief of Staff rather than the weak slave to tradition, honour and integrity, Lt. Col Markinson, Jessup would have avoided arrest, ignominy and dishonour.

Oborne’s book was published in 2005. I read it in 2015 to gain further insight into, and understanding of, how and why we went into a disastrous war that has undoubtedly made the world a far more dangerous place. I leave aside the facile comments by reviewers that the media i.e. newspapers i.e. Murdoch also tell lies. Really?
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