Corroding Democracy..

There is a very interesting article in the Byline Times by the curiously named Alexandra Hall Hall, who resigned from her diplomatic American post over Brexit.

She has written a mea culpa (do please read it all) and concludes:

The uncomfortable truth is that it is not just this Government which lies, though it has taken it to an extraordinary degree of brazenness. And it is not just politicians. As my own shameful experience attests, lying is hard-baked into the British system and enabled by civil servants.

It was after all a British Cabinet Secretary, Sir Robert Armstrong, who immortalised the phrase ‘being economical with the truth’ to justify his misleading comments during the Spycatcher trial in 1986. Anyone willing to replace Lord Geidt as the Prime Minister’s ethics advisor will need to have an extremely flexible understanding of what ethics entail.  

Though telling the truth can be painful, systemic lying corrodes democracy. When ministers tell lies, they insult the intelligence of voters. They undermine trust in our institutions. They degrade the reputation of the UK internationally. When civil servants enable such lies, they are not performing an act of public service but a harmful act of disservice. 

One of the most troubling aspect of events in Britain in recent years is not the behaviour of this Government, but the complicity of the senior Civil Service. We may pretend to ourselves that we are not lying, but it is no wonder that for many, we are indeed ‘perfidious Albion’.

This is, I suggest, devastating stuff.

I fear that what she says is absolutely spot on.

It seems that we have a Civil Service that is certainly not financially corrupt – just – even worse – morally so.

It is true that a few civil servants have recently resigned – but as this lying, corrupt government destroys more and more of what we thought was our constitutional propriety, the civil service have to look to their own values.

Indeed, now, we really need these value requirements to be comprehensively enshrined in law.

Without that, Fascism will progress – and – ever more dangerously – in the nicest possible way….


  1. Graham -

    “Devastating stuff” indeed. In hierarchical organisations like Government or Civil Service the rot starts at the top. The small cogs who object are spat out and replaced with more compliant ones.

    1. Peter May -

      Agreed – yet I thought?hoped the civil service was better.
      Mind you they’ve been battered by neoliberal public=evil versus private =good for a long time now..

  2. Schofield -

    At the higher level career progression for civil servants depends on politicians and if those are corrupt the rot starts here and works its way down the echelons of the civil service. FPTP is a system that encourages corruption in politicians along with a corrupt party funding system. Some years back, for example, I remember watching a video of a former leader of the American House of Representatives, John Boehner, openly distributing lobbyists money to Republican Party representatives in the debating chamber!

    1. Peter May -

      Much agree how FPTP encourages corruption.
      As also does the party system – the parties themselves are too powerful.
      I think a short blog is coming….

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