Breaking: Welsh government commits to ban lying in politics

2024-07-02 20:00:00 +0100

Breaking: Welsh government commits to ban lying in politics

The Welsh government has today made history by committing to outlaw political deception.

In a move heralded by campaigners as a significant development in the fight to restore faith in democracy, the government confirmed that it will introduce legislation before the next election to ban candidates and members of the Welsh Parliament from deliberately lying to the public.

The surprise move follows the tabling of an amendment by Welsh MS Adam Price to create a criminal offence of political deception. The proposal had won the backing of the Welsh Conservatives, Plaid Cymru ,and Welsh Liberal Democrats but was originally opposed by the Labour Government. 

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Following a concerted campaign by members and the think-tank Compassion in Politics however, the government gave way and committed to introduce its own Bill in the near future. 

The move follows a four-year campaign by Compassion in Politics working at both Westminster and national parliaments. The original law drafted by the group was backed by three-quarters of the general public according to polling by Opinium.  

Jennifer Nadel, Co-Director of Compassion in Politics said: 

“Public confidence in politicians is at an all-time low. This move is the beginning of a political re-set. Voters want honesty and this means that Wales will become the first country to insist that politicians and candidates are obliged by law to tell the truth. Lying in politics has for too long been normalised. Voters expect and deserve more and now they will have it.”  

Dr Sam Fowles, the barrister who helped stop the prorogation of parliament in 2019 and contributed to the exposing of the Post Office Scandal in 2021, has been advising Adam Price.

Dr Fowles said: 

“Truth telling is essential to democracy. As voters we should be entitled to rely on the statements made by our elected representatives. This measure will ensure that politicians are held to the same standards as lawyers and doctors who already have enforceable truth telling obligations. This seems to me to be long overdue.” 

Adam Price MS, who first tried to introduce legislation to oblige MPs to tell the truth in 2007 to hold then Prime Minister Tony Blair to account for the Iraq war, said: 

“Today’s announcement that the Welsh Government will bring forward and support legislation to effectively outlaw lying in politics is a landmark moment and is a recognition that existing mechanisms to ensure public trust and confidence in politics have failed. 

“As a result of the cross-party support that now exists in the Senedd to legislate to disqualify Members and candidates found guilty of making deceptive statements, the Senedd will become the first legislature in the UK to embark on this path. It’s all the more fitting that we have a commitment to legislate for this much needed and long-awaited reform to coincide with a reformed Senedd elected in 2026. 

“It’s a vindication of the arguments we have put forward and it’s also a vote of confidence in our maturing parliamentary democracy – that government and opposition – have been able to agree a way forward for the common good.”

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