In all our sanctuaries we sit at risk

The Parrot Notes Mr Toad Grown Larger


Today, UK Law seems to have decided that it is not a penal offence for an accountable holder of public office, such as a member of parliament, to lie to or otherwise seek to mislead, a sovereign people. This despite the fact that all members of parliament have sworn an oath to tell the truth, so that lying is a breaking of that oath ; and in the House of Commons, it is normal practice for members to address each other as “honourable” since honourable people can be trusted and dishonourable can’t. Today’s judgement seems to imply that lying to the people is on the same level as telling them the truth. Honour and Dishonour are just equal combatants at the hustings.

Marcus Ball is to be congratulated on bringing this case. We are all the losers if he is defeated in his attempt to restore honour and trust to our political system. Democracy depends entirely on words that can be trusted.

As for this stanza, it too is concerned with truth-telling. Mr Johnson, our new Prime Minister, has twice been sacked for lying. In any occupation apart from politics and crime, he would now be unemployable. The reference to Mr Toad is to one of the leading characters in the Edwardian children’s book called “Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame, first published in 1908. The pun is quite a fertile one – there’s “toadie” ; there’s “lying toad”…