Here lies the truth

Written on 1 Feb, 2024

I’ve been a fortnightly Private Eye reader since I first spied it in the library of my sixth-form college, so finding a book by self declared Private Eye ‘hack’ Adam Macqueen in the town library found me digging out my card and walking out with it tucked snuggly under my arm.

‘The Lies of the Land’ is scamper through half a century of politicians’ public pronouncements that eventually unravel and reveal the hypocrisy of those whose job it is to do the right thing for those they represent. Each story begins with a quote from someone involved followed by a potted history of where it all went wrong and how real truth finally came out.

Being a long-standing Private Eye journalist, Adam’s style mixes sardonic humour with a righteous anger at the gall of politicians to not do the right thing. Some tales are downright shocking (the Hillsborough cover-up being a clear example), others can be consigned to the gossip column. Even these latter ones justify their inclusion due the perpetrators inability to keep the facts and Adam’s focus on the effects lies have on the victims and innocent parties.

The books central question is whether today’s leaders are less honest. Have public standards not so much slipped but fell down three flights of stairs and now lie broken in the basement? I’m not sure. Sure, we’ve been ‘blessed’ with a current slate of politicians that lie easier, and suffer fewer consequences, but I remain optimistic this is just a blip and not a sign of irreversible decline.