Who are the least trusted people in society? Journalists? Car-sellers? Bankers?
Nope. Politicians are top of the list. And you only have to look at the headlines to see why: Partygate here, Donald Trump’s false election fraud claims in the US, the claims of WMD before the Iraq war in 2003, and of course the original “gate” – Watergate. But surely politicians have ALWAYS lied? Isn’t it just what happens when you have to persuade people to vote for you? Or have Trump and Johnson taken us into a new era of almost instinctive dishonesty? Is there grave danger in assuming our leaders are lying to us? Does it undermine democracy? Phil and Roger hear from barrister Julian Burnside how a big lie about migrants won an Australian election in 2002, from former US Congressman John Leboutillier on how dishonesty has poisoned political discourse in America, and from Professor Alan Renwick of UCL’s Constitution Unit on the risks to the UK’s democracy from the death of trust
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Alan is a researcher at UCL's Constitution Unit. They reckon he is "an expert in the mechanisms through which citizens can participate in formal politics: particularly in electoral systems, referendums, and deliberative processes such as citizens' assemblies". He has provided evidence to governments and parliamentary select committees on a range of topics, including the conduct of referendums, electoral reform, reform of the House of Lords, and citizens' assemblies.
John is a former U.S. Republican Congressman (in the eighties) and author of Harvard Hates America. He went to Harvard by the way. And now he hates the Republicans! He now writes and provides political commentary, not least, to The Why? Curve!
Julian is an Australian barrister, focusing on human rights. During the Tampa incident, when Australia refused a Norwegian ship from docking because it had picked up asylum seekers. From that point Julian became an advocate for refugees. He is vehemently opposed to the mandatory detention of asylum seekers. IN 2009 he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2009, "for service as a human rights advocate, particularly for refugees and asylum seekers, to the arts as a patron and fundraiser, and to the law."