Skip to main content

Posts

Post Truth and Justice

The past decade has seen the rise of so-called "post truth" politics.  Instead of mere misrepresentation of facts to serve an argument, political figures began to put forward arguments which denied easily provable facts, and then blustered and browbeat those who pointed out the lie. 

The political class was able to get away with "post truth" positions because the infrastructure that reported their activity has been suborned directly into the process. In short, the media abandoned long-cherished traditions of objectivity and began a slow slide into undeclared bias and partisanship. 

The "fourth estate" was always a key piece of how democratic societies worked, since the press, and later the broadcast media could shape opinion by the way they reported on the political process. As a result there has never been a golden age of objective media, but nevertheless individual reporters acquired better or worse reputations for the quality of their reporting and the j…
Recent posts

We need to talk about UK corruption

After a long hiatus, mostly to do with indolence and partly to do with the general election campaign, I feel compelled to take up the metaphorical pen and make a few comments on where I see the situation of the UK in the aftermath of the "Brexit election".

OK, so we lost.  We can blame many reasons, though fundamentally the Conservatives refused to make the mistakes of 2017 and Labour and especially the Liberal Democrats made every mistake that could be made.  Indeed the biggest mistake of all was allowing Johnson to hold the election at all, when another six months would probably have eaten the Conservative Party alive.  It was Jo Swinson's first, but perhaps most critical, mistake to make, and from it came all the others.  The flow of defectors and money persuaded the Liberal Democrat bunker that an election could only be better for the Lib Dems, and as far as votes were concerned, the party did indeed increase its vote by 1.3 million.  

BUT, and it really is the biggest…

The Will of the People

Many of the most criminal political minds of the past generations have claimed to be an expression of the "will of the people"... The will of the people, that is, as interpreted by themselves. Most authoritarian rulers: Napoleon III, Mussolini, Hitler, have called referendums in order to claim some spurious popular support for the actions they had already determined upon.

The problem with the June 2016 European Union was that the question was actually insufficiently clear. To leave the EU was actually a vast set of choices, not one specific choice. Danial Hannan, once of faces of Vote Leave was quite clear that leaving the EU did NOT mean leaving the Single Market: “There is a free trade zone stretching all the way from Iceland to the Russian border. We will still be part of it after we Vote Leave.” He declared: “Absolutely nobody is talking about threatening our place in the single market.”

The problem was that this relatively moderate position was almost immediately outflank…

Brexit update...

The political discourse over most of my lifetime has been "who are these lying liars who are lying to me". It is incredibly rare to get an interview that tells you who a politician and why they believe what they believe. No wonder we get the "you are all the same" on the doorstep. The fact is that on all sides of the political spectrum and, indeed the Brexit debate, there are genuinely honest and caring people trying to do their best for their constituents and the country- often at considerable personal cost. 

That a small group of fanatics have been able to hijack politics, injecting poison and lies- yes Nigel "reach for my shotgun" Farage and Dominic "misleading" Cummings, I'm talking about you- is deeply regrettable. The media who create an equivalence between true and false in the interests of "balance" are at least as guilty as politicians themselves. The BBC prefers the "entertainment" of a political cock fight to th…

Breaking the Brexit logjam

The fundamental problem of Brexit has not been that the UK voted to leave the European Union. The problem has been the fact that the vote was hijacked by ignorant, grandstanding fools who interpreted the vote as a will to sever all and every link between the UK and the European Union. That was then and is now a catastrophic policy. To default to WTO rules, when any member of the WTO could stop that policy was a recipe for the UK to be held hostage by any state with an act to grind against us. A crash out from the EU, without any structure to cope, was an act of recklessness that should disqualify anyone advocating it from any position of power whatsoever. That is now the most likely option because the Conservative leadership, abetted by the cowardly extremism of Corbyn, neither understood the scale of the crisis, now had any vision of how to tackle it.

Theresa May is a weak and hapless Prime Minster, and her problems started when she failed to realize that there was a compromise that w…

Time Future contained in Time Past

"Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past."TS Eliot
Eliot is, I think, one of the greatest of poets, and as my own eye is distracted by ever more intractable problems in our political process, I have often taken comfort in the more nuanced and universal eye of a truly great poet.
This blog eschews detailed futurology, the present is difficult enough, and the future in detail cannot be accurately predicted. Yet there are ways we can think about the future. We can identify trends, we can make general statements, and as humans, most of all, we can use our imagination to shape the future.
Neither is this blog particularly relativist. There are some universal truths, and saying "it ain't so" does not change them. We can use the scientific method to establish facts about our existence. No matter how powerfully contrary opinions may be expressed, the facts remain supported by analysis and evidence, when mere…

Justice and Civility

For some time public figures have received threats. Rarely do they take them seriously, and in fact only very occasionally are they serious. However in recent years the political discourse has grown very ugly. Although neo-Fascists and populists have fanned the flames of popular hatred, in fact the crisis of "civility" goes back a pretty long way.  After forming a coalition with the Conservatives in the UK, the Liberal Democrat leader faced significant abuse: dog shit through the letter box and all the rest of it. This routine and increasingly extreme abuse against MPs has now become simply an occupational hazard. In the 1950s MPs were generally respected, which is why the profumo scandal was so impactful, but now they are pretty universally denigrated and derided. In fact I believe that the majority of MPs are decent and honourable people who by-and-large deserve our respect, there are very few prepared to express that point of view. 

However, it is fair to say that those MP…