Latest Issue

To thine own self be true

Political hypocrisy finds its modern expression in the creation of "narratives." Blair mastered it, but it could be Brown's downfall

By David Willetts   June 2008

Political Hypocrisy: The Mask of Power, from Hobbes to Orwell and Beyond by David Runciman (Princeton, £17.95)

Shakespeare’s Polonius issues one of the English language’s most beautiful warnings against hypocrisy: “This above all: to thine own self be true / And it doth follow, as the night the day, / Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Because Polonius is a courtier-politician, the sentiment doesn’t seem quite right coming from him. Today, our perspective is more likely to echo Groucho Marx’s: “The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” Why do…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect