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In recent years, “keeping the receipts” has come to refer to a somewhat paranoid diligence, whereby someone mentally stores the evidence of another’s behaviour, should they ever need it in future. The phrase has particular bite in the context of social media and smartphones, which produce constant digital records that can be filed away for future reference. A society in which people hold “receipts” on one another can scarcely be a happy one, and will eventually enter a vicious circle of suspicion, once it becomes clear that everyone is maintaining dossiers on everybody else. But when dealing with known liars and frauds, it would be remiss not to keep some kind of paper trail.

Peter Oborne is a consummate receipt-keeper. His efforts to hold political elites to account go well beyond those of regular reporting, and have snowballed over the last 20 years into a one-man moral crusade against lying in public life. He tackled the issue head-on in his 2005 book The Rise of Political Lying, the same year that he presented a Channel 4 documentary Why Politicians Can’t Tell the Truth. He reveals in his new book that “by the time the Blair premiership ended in 2007, I had got into the habit of keeping a file of political lies”. The figure who has come to dominate that file during the past five years is our current prime minister.

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