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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…

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