The prime minister cut a shambolic figure, with even his own MPs no longer buying the clown act

The crucial part of any lie is that it must be believable. Not necessarily by everyone but by enough to create a margin of doubt, however small. It also helps if the lie feeds into the audience’s weakness by telling them what they want to hear.

One of the ways someone who is serially unfaithful can get away with it for so long is that their partner would rather cling to something demonstrably untrue than face the reality of being betrayed. Again. The creaks in the excuses cover up those in the bedsprings. Much the same applies to politics. Voters frequently back snake-oil salesmen simply because they need to believe in a promised land. One that’s often located somewhere in an imagined, nostalgic past.

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