Lesson from Plaid-in bad politics.
There is already a wealth of evidence but it's always best to find fresh examples to make a point. Plaid Cymru has done this for my work on a new book HOW TO DO BAD POLITICS. Politics has been on the slide from its high ideals into the coarse spin of the tabloid persuasion of untruths. The referendum propaganda was the supreme example of a choice between two sets of lies. Within days of the vote, the promises of both sides collapsed into dust.
The Commons debate on the new Wales Bill has been handled reasonably between the opposition parties. As the main spokesmenof the biggest opposition party, i was keen to organise a timetable that would allow the voices of Plaid, LibDem and Tory dissidents to be heard. This worked. Everyone had a go and their choices of divisions. As all opposition parties were in general agreement in favour of the bill, differences were slight and sometimes artificial. Many of the Plaid/LibDem amendments were written by Labour Party sources. Some were no longer practcal because the Tories had set their faces against them. Labour accepted the reality of grown-up politics that the Tories had not abandoned their decisions overnight, and we prepared alternative choices that adopted half-way positions. This is grown-up tactics. If the full loaf is not obtainable try for a half one. Plaid postured with unattainable rejected positions knowing these were vacuous grandstanding and futile gestures-as the colloquialism has it, issuing liquid projectiles into the wind.
From one Plaid MP there was some party political tribalism . It was forced, exaggerated and a little embarrassing because it jarred with the respectful tone of the debate adopted by other parties. I did not rise to the bait. I disregarded the empty rhetoric that was designed for consumption by Plaid members. Better a yawn than a tiresome row. It would have been unkind to have pointed out that he was raging against Labour while moving an amendment that Labour had written. It's accepted that Wales is not free of coarse politics. My task is to expose the tricks of bad politics not participate in them.
The bill is progressing through parliament at breakneck speed that does not allow time for the usual consultations. On some issues i expressed support and explained our voting intentions. We will have further opportunities to improve the bill in the Lords and at Report Stage after Government has had a chance to consider our compromise positions. All parties had their chances to vote on lines they wished. Even some dissident Tories who want another referendum on tax (would you believe?)had their vote with the optimism of Don Quixote tilting at a windmill.
For the benefit of their supporters Plaid has now fictionalised their narrative of the bill with an account that casts their MPs in heroic roles - as the sole defenders of the nation. They illustrate their spin with a wholly misleading video wipe falsely claiming that Labour Welsh MPs were generally absent. They were not. They played their full roles in the debates. Some of Plaid's more gullible supporters swallowed the fiction and who have been indignantly twittering. Swiftly it's descended into an ignorance-rich sense-free zone. Trying to explain that absence from the Chamber for the second on the video grab did not mean absence absence from the debate and certainly not absence from the votes does not cut through to some of the tweeters hellbent on creating their own self-serving fantasy.
This stunt will deserve a paragraph in my new book's section on HOW TO LIE WITH IMAGES. But it is small beer compared with the massive self-deception of those judged guilty by Chilcot. In the Commons and Lords last week many accused continued with their self-deception. They struggled to defend their 2003 positions that have been destroyed by the Chilcot conclusions they now chose to disregard. If our mortal errors are not understood they will be repeated. I was not silent on this and I pressed the Leader of the House on Thursday.
'179 of our gallant British soldiers died; their loved ones have a wound of grief that will never heal; 3,000 have been maimed in body and mind; uncounted Iraqis were killed, made homeless or exiled; the cycle of terrorism continues to this day—and all because of an act of folly, incompetence and vanity by this House. Will the Leader of the House take responsibility—it is his job—and arrange a formal apology, preferably face to face with the bereaved and surviving injured? This is the least a grateful nation can do for those we have grievously wronged'.
The Iraq War accused are powerful and determined to defend themselves and to continue the follies of the past.
This is where Bad Politics become lethal