There appears to be little agreement amongst psychiatrists as to whether compulsive or pathological lying is a genuine personality disorder, whether it is a symptom of another condition, or whether in fact, some people are just lying bastards.
One thing seems clear which is if it is left untreated it can develop into a delusional state in which the individual barely knows whether they are telling the truth themselves. For some people lying becomes the default position, and this is compounded by the need to keep lying to maintain past deceptions.
This of course can be devastating for both the individual and the people around them. Compulsive liars may often be little more than harmless eccentrics or pub bores, but many of them manage to lie themselves into positions of responsibility. This is the case with Employment Minister Chris Grayling who has resorted to ever more outrageous falsehoods, even risking his career recently by lying to the Parliamentary Committee on Work and Pensions.
Grayling’s deceptions began way back in 2007, when he was Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary. His first big whopper was his claim that “billions of pounds are being lost to fraud” in the benefits system. This was based on figures which showed that £2.5 billion was lost due to fraud and error in the system. It turned out that the amount lost to fraud alone was less than a billion. Grayling has never apologised for this distortion of the truth and has remained relentless in his attempts to portray benefit claimants as criminals. A press release issued by the DWP just last year led to lurid and fictional headlines claiming that 75% of people on sickness benefits were ‘skiving’. Disability hate crime soared as a result.
Grayling’s decline seemed to accelerate in 2009. Back then Grayling was Shadow Home Secretary, and tipped to be a big wheel in government should the Conservatives return to power. After a single visit to the Moss Side area of Manchester, Grayling claimed the area was in a state of urban war, comparing it to the fictional depiction of Baltimore in television’s The Wire. Manchester has a population almost five times that of Baltimore, yet Baltimore has a murder rate around seven times higher than the Northern city.
Shortly after this the expenses row blew up and Grayling did not fare at all well. At one point Grayling claimed for two mortgages, one on his large family home in Surrey, just a short commuter trip from London, and another on his posh flat in Pimlico. Grayling also owns two buy to let properties within the M25. In 2005 he carried out extensive renovations on his Pimlico flat and to pay for them claimed almost close to the maximum annual allowance for MPs. This wasn’t quite enough however and a year later he was back claiming thousands more for work done the previous year. Had he not spread the cost over two years he would have been unable to claim the full amount. He explained away this discrepancy by pleading that his “decorator has been very ill and didn’t invoice me until now.”
Only a year later Grayling was at it again. This time he claimed that violent crime had soared under the Labour Government. Grayling had deliberately chosen to ignore the change in the way crime had been recorded which led to a furious rebuke from the UK National Statistics Authority. The chairman of the authority, Sir Michael Scholar, was forced to write to Grayling accusing him of misleading the public and risking damage to public trust in official statistics.
His most famous gaffe came a month later. Grayling was recorded saying he supported the right of B&B owners to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples. This drew condemnation from across the political spectrum with calls for his resignation. Cameron was incensed that the true face of Tory bigotry had been revealed to the public and Grayling all but disappeared from public life until after the current Government weren’t elected in 2010.
As ever Grayling attempted to squirm his way out of the scandal claiming: “I am sorry if what I said gave the wrong impression, I certainly didn’t intend to offend anyone… I voted for gay rights”
No-one accused him of giving the wrong impression, we all know what the Tories are really like. Theyworkforyou.com reveals that in truth Grayling has voted moderately against gay rights, voting against the initial legislation to establish civil partnerships, against fertility treatment for gay couples and was absent from the vote on repealing the notorious Section 28.
It was upon his appointment to Employment Minister however that Grayling’s pathological deceptions really began to take hold. An early scandal emerged over the private companies given lucrative contracts to carry out the flagship ‘Work Programme’. Deloitte Ingeous were listed as preferred bidders by Grayling and went on to win a contract worth almost a billion pounds. Grayling had previously received a donation worth £27,978 from Deloitte. Grayling for once remained tight lipped on the affair which Labour Minister John Robertson claimed could be a breach of the ministerial code.
When the workfare row broke out two months ago Grayling found himself repeatedly forced into the public eye and he began to fib and bluster like never before. It is now impossible to know whether people are mandated to workfare for private companies on the Work Programme as Grayling says one thing yet his department claims quite another. DWP officials have been reduced to rewriting documents and ‘disappearing’ freedom of information requests to cover up for Grayling’s dishonesty. Grayling claimed that under the last Government people who undertook work experience lost their benefits when in fact (to their shame) it was Labour who introduced workfare. Spurious claims about 20,000 young people finding work due to the Tory’s Work Experience scheme were never backed up. He was humiliated on Channel 4 news when he pleaded to his interviewer to look into his eyes and see that he wasn’t lying. This was in response to his claim that the Government’s Work Experience was completely voluntary despite Channel 4 news presenting a letter from the DWP which confirmed that this was far from the case.
As the row deepened Grayling’s fibs became ever more bizarre. Whilst David Cameron boasted of all the new companies who were joining the Work Experience scheme, the DWP, under Grayling, began to refuse FOI requests asking exactly who these companies were. Blaming the resistance to workfare on an SWP plot he revealed himself to be increasingly paranoid, at one point even accusing the SWP of hacking his email account.
Last month he deliberately ignored the number of people who successfully appealed decisions which had declared them fit for work and stripped them of vital benefits. The DWP published a press release which dishonestly claimed over a third of those assessed were Fit For Work, a number which omitted the growing number of appeals.
When Paul Farmer, the Chief Executive of mental health charity Mind quit an advisory panel on the Government’s Work Capability Assessment recently, Grayling’s pathetic response was to pretend he was going to sack him anyway. Farmer had said the assessment was unfit for purpose, whilst Grayling alleged his position was untenable because Mind were suing the DWP. According to Mind no such court case was on the cards.
And it was late last month that Grayling lied to a Parliamentary Committee when he declared there is no evidence of anyone on the Work Programme being sent on a mandatory work placement at a private company. This was perhaps Grayling’s most bare-faced lie yet, as despite the DWP’s attempt at a cover up, evidence of this practice can be found in seconds.
None of the other members of the committee have yet commented on Graying’s lies, although they have been informed. This may be down to the fact that the lazy bastards are on holiday again.
It is clear that Grayling is out of control. The DWP is fast becoming a laughing stock whilst insiders say the system is in meltdown behind the scenes. With a Minister in charge who seems to be making things up as he goes along, it is little wonder that the no-one in the department seems to know, or even care, what’s going on anymore.
When people lie compulsively a day of reckoning is never far away. Deceptions can only be maintained for so long until eventually the whole charade comes crashing down around them. Grayling has been very quiet the last couple of weeks. His initial swagger is all but non-existent these days. Some have claimed his career is hanging by a thread.
The rows over Atos and the WCA, along with workfare, are still generating headlines. Universal Credit is a train crash waiting to happen. It will no doubt be entertaining to watch Grayling attempting to wriggle and squirm his way out of trouble yet again. You can hardly blame him. He’s just doing what’s always come naturally, and he’s been well rewarded by Cameron in the past.
It is a weak leader who allows such a dishonest and malevolent influence in their ranks. Grayling has been a continual embarrassment to the Tory Party and Cameron has still cheered him from the sidelines. The Prime Minister looks unable even to control his own ministers. If a lying, cheating, scheming, money-grabbing bastard like Grayling is the best the Tories can come up with to ram raid through welfare reform then it reveals a party desperately lacking in talent. Still, with Grayling on board, at least you can’t accuse them of a lack of imagination.
Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid