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The age of dishonesty

David Laws' excuses over his expenses claims are only the latest example in a cultural epidemic of self-delusion

We all know that politicians are salesmen. Most of us expect—cynically, though justifiably—that they will lie to us, even though we hope, somewhat romantically, that they won’t. But as recent events have demonstrated, the greatest tragedy of political life is when politicians lie to themselves.

David Laws, in admitting that he claimed rent in parliamentary expenses for a room in his partner’s London flat between 2004 and 2009, is just the latest casualty in a cultural epidemic of self-delusion. Laws was clearly a fool to think the rules were open to interpretation, claiming in his defence that he did not…

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