Opinion articles written in the style of their author. These texts are to be based on verified facts and must be respectful towards people, even though their actions may be criticized. All opinion articles written by individuals from outside the staff of EL PAÍS shall feature, along with the author’s name (regardless of their greater or lesser renown), a footer stating their office, academic title, political affiliation (if any) and main occupation, or the occupation related to the topic being assessed

Nothing but the truth

The PP has not learned the lesson about where lying leads a party and now seems to have vowed to deceive its own voters

I once heard my father say that, when he was still just a youngster, he vowed to tell nothing but the truth. This is quite a thing for a child to promise, since children so often find themselves in need of lying. I can only suppose that he kept the promise to the best of his abilities, only lied when he really had to, and felt guilty when he did.

But what about the inverse? In practice there are large groups of people for whom it is almost impossible to tell the truth, even as an exception. These groups are common enough in politics, but in Spain we have had a particularly malevolent case for many years now: that of the party that is now in power in our national government.

I seldom miss the stories of one particular journalist who writes in EL PAÍS: Carlos E. Cué. His area of expertise is the inner workings of the Popular Party (PP). He often finds himself obliged to suppress the names of his sources, using formulas such as "one leader says...," "a veteran member thinks that..." etc. One recent story was particularly juicy.

It would seem that, with its regressive bill on abortion — which many of its own members consider inopportune, counterproductive and wrong-headed — the PP is trying to please one particular section of its voters: the extreme religious right (that is, even more extreme than Prime Minister Rajoy and his ministers themselves). The aim is to mobilize these voters for the EU parliamentary elections in May. Traditionally, many people fail to come out and vote at these polls. But it appears that once these votes from the ultra-Catholics are safely in the ballot box, the bill will probably undergo far-reaching modifications, softening it and, in particular, striking out the clause prohibiting abortion even in the case of severe fetal deformities.

It looks as if the PP cannot relate to people on any other basis. It's as if they have developed such an aversion to truth as to have sworn a solemn oath against telling it

That's to say, they are planning to cheat these extremist voters, by keeping them happy until the elections, after which it won't matter. It seems "one member of the leadership" has stated: "Obviously the bill has been written to please a not very relevant part of our electorate. As such, the European elections will show whether this was a sound strategy."

The PP surpassed itself in cheating and lying, of the more blatant sort, in 2003, with its patent untruths about Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. Since that time it has lived with lying as a habit, the height of this being the stunningly insolent propagation of a fabricated tale about who was behind the March 11, 2004 bomb attacks in Madrid. This was too obvious for even a credulous public to accept, and it cost them power in the elections a few days later. Yet they and their attendant media persisted in feeding the conspiracy theory for years. Far from learning a lesson and mending their ways, they now look like a party that had made a vow contrary to my father's: "Let us lie always, even to our own voters." It looks pathological.

It's easy to grasp the fact that Rajoy's last election manifesto was a pack of lies. "We'll create employment; we will not touch pensions; we will not raise taxes; there will be public healthcare and education affordable to everyone; women will have liberties and rights and live in a better country." And so on. Well, those lies were meant to convince the credulous, and did indeed convince them: the "center" electorate, who vote according to circumstances -- "normal," uncommitted people.

You don't approve, but you understand. What is hard to understand is that he is doing the same with his own loyal followers; the people who yearn for the days when Franco ran things and movies were censored by priests — as if saying, "when they find we've cheated them we'll think of something to say; after all, we don't really need them."

It looks as if the PP cannot relate to people on any other basis. It's as if they have developed such an aversion to truth as to have sworn a solemn oath against telling it.

Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS