Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The "bankrupt Britain" lie

Some political myths are more believable than others. Some of them contain grains of truth, or perverse elements of pseudo-logic that seem to make sense when considered in isolation. Other political myths are such pure unadulterated rubbish that nobody should be falling for them. Claims that the UK has been "bankrupted" are amongst this class of political fallacy that even the most dedicated tabloid rote-learner should be able to see through with even the slightest amount of actual consideration.

Outright lies

Claims that the Labour Party are to blame for the 2007-08 global financial sector insolvency crisis are spurious enough as they are, but they are at least underpinned by some kind of simplistic pseudo-logical argument (the crisis happened on Labour's watch, therefore it must have been Labour's fault), so it's unsurprising that some simple-minded people fall for it*.

Claims that the UK economy have been bankrupted at any point in the recent past don't have any pseudo-logical foundation whatever. They're just lies. Easily disprovable lies.

The definition of the word bankrupt is "a person or organisation adjudged insolvent by a court, his or her property being transferred to a trustee and administered for the benefit of his creditors". Anyone who thinks that the UK has recently been declared insolvent by any court is living in absolute fantasy land.

If you're not convinced, think about this: If the UK economy has been declared bankrupt, then how is it possible that the UK has been benefiting from the lowest government borrowing costs in history since 2009? Isn't it normally the case that lending institutions are reluctant to lend to recently bankrupted entities, rather than lending to them at the lowest interest rates in history?

David Cameron

"The last Labour Government ... crashed the economy; they bust the banks** ... and they bankrupted this country." - David Cameron, October 16th 2013, House of Commons
It's bad enough that tabloid propagandists use the "bankrupt Britain" lie to push the "blame Labour for everything" narrative. That the Prime Minister openly uses the "bankrupt Britain" lie in the Houses of Parliament (and gets away with it without a word of condemnation from the mainstream press or the parliamentary authorities) is utterly appalling***.

That the Prime Minister of the UK is allowed to lie to parliament (and the public) with absolute impunity is yet another damning demonstration of the lamentable decline in the standard of public debate.

No excuses

There is no excuse for anyone who knows anything at all about economics, or who has the slightest regard for the truth or honesty in debate, to make claims that the UK economy has been bankrupted.

At absolute best it is a display of abhorrent ignorance about the state of the UK economy and the meaning of the word "bankrupt".

Assuming that the person claiming "bankrupt Britain" is not absolved by virtue of their appalling ignorance, there's only one other explanation: that they know perfectly well that what they are saying is untrue, but they're saying it anyway because they believe that you are thick enough to believe it.

There is absolutely no excuse for anyone to use the"bankrupt Britain" lie. Either they're making a crystal clear demonstration that they themselves are an economically illiterate idiot. Otherwise they know perfectly well that it's a barefaced lie, but they're making the assumption that whoever is listening to them is an economically illiterate idiot.


The "bankrupt Britain" lie is a lamentable debating tactic, but it does serve one very useful purpose. It serves as an incredibly clear marker that whoever just uttered it is either a spectacularly gullible idiot, or a dishonest person who knows that it's pure bullshit, but they're saying it to you anyway because they are openly taking you for a spectacularly gullible idiot.

If you ever hear anyone use the "bankrupt Britain" lie, it's a sure sign that you should disregard their political opinions. After all, who would listen to the political opinions of someone who has just proven themselves to be either an idiot or a deliberate liar?

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* Oddly most of the people who do fall for the "blame Labour" myth are also the kind of right-wing tabloid rote-learners who have been indoctrinated into believing in the personal responsibility myth, which is the myth that everyone should take responsibility for their own lives and not blame the Tory government for things unemployment or low wages. When it comes to a pack of reckless bankers trashing the global economy though, tabloid rote-learners use their complete immunity to cognitive dissonance to maintain the illusion that the bankers bore no responsibility for the crisis they caused, and that instead it was entirely the Labour government's fault!

** It's worth noting the way David Cameron casually offloads all responsibility from the bankers for busting their own institutions in order to score cheap political points against the Labour Party. According to Cameron's bizarre interpretation of events, the bankers were merely passive victims in the financial sector meltdown, with the government of the day taking full responsibility for the failure of these private institutions!

*** For a longer and more detailed examination of David Cameron's "bankrupt Britain" lie, here's a previous AAV article on the subject.


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