Fake news, lies and punishment for politicians – getting to the truth of the BBC debate

By Kate Pounds
December 6 2019, 22.55

Proposed punishments for politicians showed the contrast between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn in the BBC election debate.

During the debate both leaders referred repeatedly to the untruths of their opponent.

One question near the end asked them to mention the consequences of lying rather than the lies themselves.

An audience member asked: “In the era of fake news, what punishment do you think is appropriate for elected politicians who lie during political campaigns?”

In his characteristic flamboyant style, Mr Johnson said: “They should be made to go on their knees through the chamber of the House of Commons scourging themselves with copies of their offending documents which claim to prove one thing and actually prove something quite different.”

Sincere Mr Corbyn said: “If they don’t deliver, there should be a democratic process of holding them to account” for policies they were going to do and how they were going to do them.

Despite both seeming to disapprove of lying, the debate was peppered with uncertainties.

Mr Corbyn explained how Mr Johnson had moved from 40 to 20 and then six new hospitals.

Mr Johnson said that it was very clear that funding was allocated for six initially and 40 in ten years time.

On the four day week, Mr Johnson said: “John McDonnell said very clearly that there was a plan for a four day working week for the NHS.”

Mr Corbyn said: “There is no plan to bring in a four day week in the NHS.”

It can’t all be true, so someone’s up for accountability or a scourge.

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