The Tory propaganda machine is spectacularly successful at disseminating lies. It has very successfully embedded it into the nation’s consciousness that the last Labour government caused all the ‘economic mess’ as though it had nothing to do with the bankers or the international recession. It has got it into people’s minds that Labour was profligate and can’t be trusted with the nation’s finances when the economic record says the opposite: in Labour’s 11 years (1997-2008) before the crash the budget deficit was never larger than 3.3% of GDP, whilst the Thatcher-Major governments racked up deficits bigger than this in 10 out of their 18 years, so which was the spendthrift party? It has got people to believe that cutting the deficit takes precedence over every other aspect of policy, as though expanding the economy, creating well-paid jobs, boosting investment, and raising household incomes was not much more important, and would actually generate the bigger government tax receipts to pay down the deficit much faster.
Now there are two further lies. One is that the Tories will eliminate the structural deficit on both current and capital account by 2018-19. This is utter fantasy since the deficit is still a whopping £92bn and in this last year 2014-15 when growth was recorded as 2.8% the deficit would actually have increased were it not for the fortuitous one-off last-minute payment of income tax by the super-wealthy to avoid paying at the 50% rate. Now they’re putting out a new lie for the purposes of getting elected, that good times are coming and it will all be sun and happiness, when they have every intention of enforcing a much bigger dose of austerity even than that which people have suffered for the last 5 years. The evidence comes from Osborne himself, aggressively asserting that there will be further welfare cuts of £12bn (though when asked to explain where these will fall he keeps mum) and that he will shrink the State and public services to the much smaller proportions of the 1930s so that everyone swims or sinks by the market with precious little help otherwise.
How does the Tory propaganda machine manage to ingratiate such whopping lies into people’s minds? It is partly by disciplined repetition of these falsehoods on every available occasion in the mass media till the ignorant are beguiled into thinking it must be true. It is partly by the lamentable failure of the Labour party to contest these lies and to vigorously argue the truth in their place. It is partly because the Tory lies fit naturally into the ideology of market fundamentalism which originated with Thatcher-Reagan and which the Left in the West has tragically not yet buried. And it is partly because of the toxic influence of the Tory tabloids which are not newspapers in the proper sense of the word but propaganda machines in their own right. One major objective of the coming Labour government must be to change this multiple bias by ruling on a right of reply, requiring all owners of newspapers to be British and to live in Britain, and changing the pattern of ownership away from private oligarchs to public trusts subject to a balanced code of impartiality.