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The Rise of Political Lying [Paperback]

Peter Oborne
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
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Book Description

11 April 2005
Being "economical with the truth" has become almost a jokey euphemism for the political lie -- a cosy insider's phrase for the disingenuousness that is now accepted as part and parcel of political life. But as we face the third term of a government that has elevated this kind of economics almost to an art form, is it now time to question the creeping invasion of falsehood? What does the rise of the political lie say about our society? At what point, if we have not reached it already, will we cease to believe a word politicians say? Tracing the history of political falsehood back to its earliest days but focusing specifically on the exponential rise of the phenomenon during the Major and Blair governments, Peter Oborne demonstrates that the truth has become an increasingly slippery concept in recent years. From woolly pronouncements that are designed merely to obfuscate to outright and blatant lies whose intention is to deceive, the political lie is never far from the surface. And its prevalence has led to a catastrophic decline in trust, at a time when people are more politicised than ever. Rigorous, riveting, and profoundly shocking, this is a devastating book about one of the single biggest issues facing us today.

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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: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 335,709 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.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Depressingly convincing account 27 July 2006
By Marshall Lord TOP 500 REVIEWER
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The 'Liar Liar Pants On Fire' analysis 17 Nov 2012
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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39 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Labour's contempt for truth 18 Jun 2005
I really only picked this book up out of curiosity. But it has been a stunning eye-opener.
It is true that politicians make mistakes when asserting facts and proposals - the history of this facet of human life is endless. But it is quite another revelation to learn that New Labour has consistently sought to deceive the British electorate on a deliberate basis. Mandelson and Campbell along with their stinking crew of New Labour acolytes clearly have no intention of letting truth get in the way of their political objectives.
Peter Oborne's timely book gives chapter and verse of this wholesale mendacity. I understand that no libel writ has yet been received by his publishers.
Read and be appalled.
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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars where will it all end ? 3 Jun 2005
By Ich Bin
well written, presumably well-researched (otherwise he'll get the pants sued off him) and ultimately depressing book - finally articulating the disquiet which had me sending back my membership card within 2 years of the 97 election. Only slight reservation is that it comes over as a largely recent and Labour skill - surely history is peppered with terminological inexactitudes (WSC 1906) and the current Tory opposition appears to have no greater moral fibre. Which is why it is difficult to see a way out. Oh, of course, it was a judgement call - that's allright Tone, you made a mistake but it (all this misleading of the public) was well meant so you just carry right on. As for the fat oaf and his reduction of traffic on the roads ...
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3.0 out of 5 stars WELL INFORMED, BUT AN OUTDATED APPROACH 2 July 2014
This is clearly a studiously researched book, and anyone who can hold their nose long enough to wade through the noisome swamp of Blairite politics as Oborne has, deserves a great deal of credit.

However I found this book ultimately unsatisfying.

It actually tells us very little we didn't already know (Blair, Campell, Mandelson pathologically dishonest, Brown unhinged) and really draws no useful conclusions.

The deeply provincial focus purely on the Blairite period in the UK means that wider lessons are not drawn on what is in fact a global phenomenon - the 24 hr news cycle is boosting the importance of the medium over the message, the primacy of the soundbite, modern marketing techniques applied to politics, the fracturing and disintermediation of access to news caused by blogs and social media.

The solutions he proposes are pretty useless, rooted as they are in his conception of politica news being relayed by lobby correspondents, an outdated approach.

Much more important is that people in general need to realise that politicians, like second hand car dealers and men who offer to do your drive way, are in it purely for what they can get, and the only way to improve matters is for a drastically smaller state and much more direct accountability.

This is the key battle ground in politics and one which Oborne fails to mention.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent work.
As those who have read his newspaper and journal pieces over the years will no doubt expect, Oborne writes well and makes an excellent case. Read more
Published 17 months ago by M. Hallett
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be on the curriculum.
If everyone read this book, maybe we wouldn't let politicians (and i'm naming no specific party here) get away with half the stuff they currently do. Read more
Published 17 months ago by MR S WALMSLEY
4.0 out of 5 stars Ver Informative.
This arrived promptly and in good condition. It is very informative and I would recommend it to anyone interested in how we the masses are lied to and manipulated by our... Read more
Published 21 months ago by A. Carroll
4.0 out of 5 stars Interest
What Peter Oborne says of the lying and deception of the Blair government is probably true. He presents the case well. Be prepared to be disgusted with Politics.
Published on 27 July 2011 by Sandy
3.0 out of 5 stars biggest lies since 1970 left out
Interesting but flawed. Lying by politicians isnt new its just more in the spotlight.
This book should have mentioned big lies from the past for instance, Edward Heaths govt... Read more
Published on 28 Nov 2010 by Fin Hope
3.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately depressing
I read this book as the wheels were coming off "new labour" in the run up to their defeat in the general election. Read more
Published on 17 Aug 2010 by Mr. R. Willis
1.0 out of 5 stars Sadly guilty of the deceptions meant to expose
The book starts well with a clear definition of the different types of lying and deception and a clear committment to give a balance view. Read more
Published on 28 Jun 2009 by Mr Review
4.0 out of 5 stars Democracy? What democracy!
Everyone ought to read this before voting in another election; in fact if everyone did there would surely be revolution tomorrow. Well written and accessible, but quite shocking.
Published on 27 Jun 2009 by J. C. Day
1.0 out of 5 stars The Rise of Political Commentators
To save time in reading this book, all you need to know is

-The Conservatives told two lies in their entire time in post-1979 government, and no more
- The author... Read more
Published on 2 April 2009 by Ben S
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rise of Political Lying. Peter Osborne.
The book confirms what many thinking people already suspected. Tony Blair practiced deception as well as lying and was aided by Al Campbell. Read more
Published on 29 Mar 2009 by Jfwarren
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