We need stronger stories to counter political lies | Letters


Andy Beckett is right to say that our politics are being hollowed out, but Covid-19 is just part of that process (The pandemic has hollowed out our politics – but that can’t last forever, 14 January). The sheer weariness of public outrage may be true, but what outlets remain where we can show our anger and despair at the gradual weakening of our democracy?

Demonstrations and public meetings are forbidden under Covid rules. Leading newspapers cravenly support this government, and even the BBC too frequently goes oddly soft in interviews with cabinet ministers. Time and again, serious lies are not questioned by hitherto trustworthy journalists.

Perhaps try lobbying your MP about the broken promises of Brexit, and you will find that Jacob Rees-Mogg has closed down the Brexit select committee, ending debate and interrogation, as if Brexit were over. The government is plotting boundary changes to their advantage, and the powerful rightwing media spend more time attacking the opposition than they do holding the government’s feet to the fire.

Of course there are outlets for public outrage, social media being the most widespread. Thank goodness for Marcus Rashford, using his fame and decency to reverse government policy.

Despite the weariness we all suffer from Covid and never-ending Brexit, I believe the public’s outrage is on a slow burner, and will in time rebound on our present political leaders, who have unerringly failed to understand or address the deep social and wider political issues we face.

How this will happen is hard to predict, but with an increasingly authoritarian government with scant regard for the law, or the needy, and even less understanding of the society in which they live, dangerous civil unrest and the response to it could be the eventual unwelcome result.
Anna Ford
London

• Jonathan Freedland is correct: changes in the media landscape accelerate a disconnect between beliefs and locally verifiable truth (Trump may be gone, but his big lie will linger. Here’s how we can fight it, 15 January). But was it ever thus. Any student of myth observes how religion thrives in post-scientific societies despite rational evidence piled against it. Humans remain driven as much by emotion as logic, especially in times of stress.

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Yet this is not an argument for pessimism. Empowered by a better story, disrespect for the rational enables the downtrodden to triumph against the odds, the defeat of fascism being but one example. Populists seduce the vulnerable by inviting them to play the hero in their charades. Inconvenient facts are obstacles in the hero’s journey, tests of faith that must be trampled by the true believer. The answer for progressives is not to further fuel the fire with facts, but to counter with stronger stories – stories that champion love over hate, hope over fear, predicated on truth not lies.
Stuart Morris
Westergate, Chichester

• Mary Barber asks how we got into this mess (Letters, 15 January), wondering why a mendacious, privately educated elite who have conned the electorate into favouring failed policies of austerity and increasing privatisation was chosen over a party advocating first-class public services, decent housing and a fair income for all. Perhaps part of the solution could be that for every letter we write to the Guardian, we should write an even stronger one to the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Daily Express, the Sun and the Times.
Paul Tattam
Chinley, Derbyshire



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