When I was at school, l I was taught that when you cheat the only loser is you. The morality aside, on a practical level this is sound advice for the important things in life and I feel grateful to have been given this insight from a young age. Think what would happen if you were a brain surgeon and you had cheated your way through your medical training. I don’t suppose you would last long before not knowing the difference between cerebrum and cerebellum gets you struck off. If you get somebody else to take your driving test, the first time you run over a pedestrian could make you live to regret your bad choice in life and honesty.
It seems that the Conservative Party, in its current form, went to a different school that never discussed such ethical issues. Cheating has been adopted as a stock feature of their modus operandi for some time now. Johnson, Gove and Cummings were all middle of the Leave EU lawbreaking debacle. We must conclude that given their leading positions in the campaign, these things were within their sphere of influence and therefore they must bear some responsibility. Ian Lucas, Wrexham MP, who was on a committee examining these issues, in his departing speech, was very clear they had all failed to answer for their actions or certain knowledge that the campaign had cheated its way to a small majority for Leave. From deceitful Facebook ads served up to unsuspecting targets whose data had been illegally mined, to diverting funds which were an overspend to the BeLeave campaign, they have all indulged in pretending that was “nothing to do with us guv”.
Lies about the money. Lies about the foreigners. Lies about the benefits of giving up our EU membership. The floor of the houses of parliament is littered with the ashes of all the broken promises of the leave campaign and May’s government and now under Boris Johnson, the cheating continues at an even greater pace. The Election campaign is one of the dirtiest I can ever remember in my 51 years on this earth. The Conservative Party has lied and lied and lied, they have doctored videos of Starmer, they have hidden important reports from the public including the contents of the Russia report which ex Tory Dominic Grieve is very concerned about. They had a Facebook advert removed and the other night they renamed their blue tick Press Office account to pretend they were a fact checking account. They have paid for keywords on google relating to the Labour manifesto so they can point people to a website they created in order to attack it. Interestingly we had a company do that to us once, they paid for a short phrase which happened to be our company name and interfering with our site traffic as a result. Thankfully it was one of our suppliers, so we were able to get them to stop, their media agency hadn’t realised, but it’s a very sneaky trick to deliberately and we were furious.
Cheating or trying to get one over on political rivals with dirty tactics – it’s all designed to steal your vote. But, you say, all politicians lie. Well yes I suppose they do in relatively small ways and I think they definitely have a history of U-turns and failing to carry through manifesto commitments, but answer honestly, is it normal for them to lie about Russian interference in our elections, or to cheat in referendums and general elections? Is it normal for a politician to deny their presence in a hospital is a photo opportunity to a patient’s dad when the cameras are literally pointed at them whilst having the conversation? How big do the lies have to be before everybody wakes up and starts to take responsibility for their own vote in the light of all this.
The UK is a nation which was united in its outrage when Maradona scored his Hand of God goal. They rightly saw the chance for England to win the World Cup had been stolen. The UK is a nation which was united in its shock at the expenses scandal when, amongst many other similar revelations, a Tory MP paid for his duck house out of taxpayer’s funds. The nation rightly saw this fiddling as a theft of their money. Nobody shrugged and said well “whatever”. Sadly, something seems to have been lost since then.
The polls appear to show Boris Johnson’s lies are just being completely ignored by half the public. I think we have to blame several people, not just politicians but also the press which for 3 years have mostly blanked the cheating that occurred during 2016 or they have echoed the Brexit lie, that “both sides cheated”. Both sides did not cheat but the myth persists. Ignoring the law breaking in 2016 set the scene for a normalisation of big fat whopping lies and I fear that voters have been totally inured to it just at the very moment we have to contend with Boris Johnson, the Truth Optional Prime Minister, trying to get a majority so he can continue with his mad Brexit.
Moreover if ALL the opposition parties had also picked up on the work that dedicated journalists like Carole Cadwalladr have done at a higher level at a much earlier point, we would, I feel, have been in a very different place right now. For too long we heard the respect the vote argument and that has really damaged us.
But now there is no excuse as we see with our own eyes fresh evidence of lying and cheating by what is left of the Tory Party after they got rid of most of the honourable MPs they had on their back benches. Broadcasters have finally realised they are supposed to challenge politicians and are doing so quite well actually. Yet the polls show people are not abandoning Tories despite this and I wonder if this is because they want to be on the winning side, and they think Johnson will win.
I would say to those still thinking of voting for a man who cheats to win, he will cheat on them too in the end. Johnson, Gove, Cleverley all of them, they will be alright Jack. They will have their power, their jobs, their money. Ordinary voters will be the people who pay for their hard Brexit. Our children will lose rights. Our communities will suffer as the promises about money for the regions replacing the EU Regional funding ends up consigned as a distant dream. In fact I haven’t heard anybody mention regional funds lately. Those 40 hospitals, well, given there is no timetable laid out do we really believe that they will ever materialise? The Russian Report, why, if it shows there is no evidence of interference in our democratic processes, does Johnson not release it?
But I come back to where I started, on this idea that when you cheat, you only cheat yourself. Well, perhaps my teachers didn’t tell me the whole story because in the case of Johnson and his cronies, we are in danger of allowing them to not only get away with it, but prosper from their lies. Life may in time deliver a form of natural justice to them but by then our economy will be trashed and we will be greatly diminished on the world stage as hard Brexit bites in every part of our lives. We simply cannot wait on the offchance that random fate will intervene on our behalf. We have only a handful of tools available to us right now in this hateful and dirty election. We must deny these people a majority and in our first past the post system this is what we can do.
- Call out the lies. Don’t let it pass. If somebody you know, family or colleague or friend shares a Johnson post you know to be incorrect or repeats a myth, tell them. Calmly and politely and gently challenge the myths. Small conversations with your mates could make all the difference.
- Make sure everybody you know is registered to vote and cajole them to get out and vote on the day. Talk through the issues with them. There are nearly a third of the electorate who are not registered, they have been called the Unheard Third. Support campaigns such as this website which gives useful advice as to how we can persuade people to use their voices.
- We must look hard at our own constituency and consider whether Tactical Voting is going to help us. Do the research. There are several sites, look at them all. In fact somebody just gave me a link to this one which compares all the tactical voting sites at once so you can see If there is consensus emerging as to which candidate can best beat the Brexiter candidates. Keep checking too because all the sites add data from polling as the election campaign goes on, some of the opinions may change.
Tactical sites are good but there is no perfect science to this, and local knowledge is also useful when deciding if you aren’t sure. Talk to your local pro EU group and see if they can give you any further insights. Whilst you are talking to your local pro EU group, please consider giving them a hand. Most have ongoing voter registration campaigns and other initiatives running at the moment. They will be grateful for any assistance you can give. They can probably put you in touch with the right people if you want to directly help a particular candidate campaign. There is a lot of local cross-party support for campaigning going on in target seats by pro EU activists.
We have come this far together, my friends, from being a disparate bunch of baffled sad or angry people, to a massive grass roots movement determined to put the wrongs of 2016 right, We have given up ridiculous numbers of hours of our personal time to fight the Brexit Beast, neglected our lives in other areas in some cases because we believe it is so disastrous. Why throw that hard work away on partisan rows. if we genuinely want to win this round so we can stay in the game to stop Brexit, we are up against a group of people who are so desperate to get their Brexit they will cheat and lie over and over to get what they want and its only by working together that we have a hope of making sure they are stopped.