It's there because I'm going to have a bit of a moan. This did the rounds among fellow lefties on Twitter the other day:
Ho, ho, ho. What a hoot! Isn't Sarah Palin utterly stupid? No wonder the Republican Party is fucked, etc.
Funny ha, ha, indeed. Except it's bullshit. An exemplar of the moronic degeneration of the American right to be sure, but she didn't say it. 30 seconds with your search engine of choice would have established that. As Snopes notes, this is from a "satirical" website that churns out wannabe memes of right wing blowhards mouthing lunacy about vaccines, guns, Obama's secret Muslim/communist conspiracy, etc. This stuff then gets picked up and circulated as good coin. After all, no one any more can be arsed to do basic fact checking, even if we risk getting it wrong.
Then there is this one which circulates every time a #webackEd/#CameronMustGo-style Twitter storm takes off.
TORIES THE NASTY PARTY IDS punches the air in excitement as Cameron announces a 2-year benefit freeze. pic.twitter.com/vq4gWg5sfZ” #bbcqt
— Shirley (@shirleykay11) February 5, 2015
This, again, is utter bullshit. IBS is particularly loathsome because he dresses up his Dickensian social security policies in the garb of Christian concern for the poor. The quiet man is also a spiteful and mean-spirited little man. Yet he didn't punch the air when Dave announced a freeze on welfare payments, his fist hit the sky with the announcement of the raising of the 40p income tax threshold. Don't take my word for it, here's IBS doing just that at the 25:49 mark.
I can understand why people would happily pass this meme off as good coin. It would be entirely within the Tory character, that thinks a princely dole handout of £71/week and not lack of jobs causes unemployment, to do so. Yet someone went to the trouble of going through Sky's footage of the speech, taking the cap, and giving it that lying spin. I suppose it's safe to assume that whoever did is not a Conservative, and chances are they're somewhere on the left. Just because the Tories are awful and have caused much suffering in their self-defeating class war doesn't mean we should be lying about out opponents.
Lefties lying is a real bugbear of mine. Whether it's fibs bits of our movement tell ourselves, like Left Unity/TUSC are on the verge of doing a Syriza, that Blair won in 1997 because he was uniquely gifted, that Stalin was merely misunderstood; misrepresenting the positions and distorting the arguments of opponents ostensibly on the same side; lying about comrades and/or yourself to make you look good/advance yourself; or weaving great big fat ones about the words and deeds, personalities and policies of political enemies, it's irritating and counter-productive. Maybe I am naive. I expect the right to lie because their bottom line is defending the indefensible: entrenched privilege. The left, from the weakest pink to the deepest red, doesn't: it's about something else. Whether your perspective is limited to a few reforms that make life better or expansive enough to envisage the root and branch change of entire societies, your case cannot be built on falsehood. Whether a simple reform or something more ambitious, politics rooted in the labour movement are about building things. Prosecuting the interests of our people requires a politics constructed from sturdy materials. Anything less is a recipe for disillusion, or the path to you're-just-like-themism.
Remember that next time you tweet a dodgy-sounding meme, or about to spin a lie for whatever political purpose.