There are, sadly, many in and around politics who have a problem with reality, so much so in some cases that they have to construct their own alternative variety. This is usually accompanied by an inclination to be seriously economical with the actualité, or as most people call it, lying. One of the most seasoned practitioners of his art is former Tory Leader Iain Duncan Cough, who has been at it again over the Brexit negotiations.
After the DUP reiterated their outlook on any political question - “No! Not an inch! No! Never!” - there was Duncan Cough to tell anyone listening that the Tories were of the same view, which probably surprised all of the cabinet and those who work with them. He told the Guardian “The prime minister is fully aware that when it comes to the border issue Northern Ireland remains an integral part of the UK and therefore there cannot be any regulatory divergence between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK”.
But to others he produced a more forthright dishonesty, not to mention utter delusion. The BBC’s Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg noted that “IDS told me the EU has to 'back off' OR we will 'get on with other arrangements that will not be beneficial' to the EU - he has conveyed that message to Number 10 and says 'vast majority' of the party shares his concerns”. Everyone agrees with IDS. And the earth is flat.
The HuffPost reported that Duncan Cough “has claimed the dispute over the Irish border that has halted Brexit talks has been cooked-up for political gain … The ex-Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith told the BBC that ‘this Irish stuff was not at this state some months ago’”. Bullshit. The “Irish stuff”, to use Duncan Cough’s happy phrase, has been at that state since 1921, with the additional “hard border” issue tacked on as a result of both our membership of the EU, and the Good Friday Agreement.
Others were less charitably inclined to this idiocy, with Labour’s Chuka Umunna allowing some exasperation to show as he pointed out “Where to begin with this tripe from IDS to the EU: ‘You need to change this process’ - your PM agreed to the talks timetable. ‘Not going to end up with a hard border in Ireland’ - we will if you insist on leaving the C/Union. ‘We will not box ourselves in’ - your govt set out red lines!”
Quite. Duncan Cough is just blethering for the sake of it, not so much as stopping to consider such trivialities as facts. Mike Hinde went yet further on the exasperation front, Tweeting “I shouldn't be, but I consistently am surprised by the mendacity of the Tory right. Iain Duncan Donuts telling us the Irish border problem is Eire making trouble for internal political reasons WHEN WE ALL SAW THIS COMING 18 FUCKING MONTHS AGO”.
Duncan Cough’s problem with facts, though, is only part of the larger malaise. Everyone and his dog knows that IDS is a liar with a highly tenuous grip on reality. The idea that a Tory Party whose MPs had him removed from office before he could lead the party into a General Election is mostly behind him is the purest and saddest fantasy. But print, online and broadcast media keeps on giving him airtime when they should just ignore him.
So the message to all those parts of the media is straightforward - what are you all doing giving him a platform? Leave Duncan Cough to wibble to the nearest wall, and instead ask someone who can comprehend the real world. Problem solved.