The Big Lie of 2019

There are lies, damned lies and statistics, we are told but there is another kind of lie – the Big Lie – one which attracts credence by repetition and one which has caused humanity to undertake some of its most devastating follies.

The Big Lie doing the rounds in 1914 was “Dolce et decorum est pro patria mori” – which Wilfred Owen called “the old lie”. It took the deaths of millions to disprove the lie over the next for years and the deaths of tens of millions more twenty or so years later to show that things were far more complicated than simply discounting the old lie.

But politicians seeking power have never avoided the Big Lie. It is far too an important weapon in their amoury to leave behind. The Big Lie seeks to instill fear in the minds of the people, usually fear of the unknown or unfamiliar. The Big Lie gains traction by repetition until it has been repeated so often that most accept it to be true. It works best in times which are eventful, uncertain and when the political balance of what has gone before is rapidly changing into chaos.

The Big Lie is used as a justification for all sorts of behaviour which in quieter times would never be tolerated. When the Big Lie gains hold it is unchallenged. When a Big Lie is unchallenged it becomes impossible to debate issues rationally.

The Big Lie of 2019 is that Brexit without a deal would be a disaster. Now it may be one, or it may well be the best thing that the UK has had for a long time. It is impossible to describe the Big Lie of 2019 as a truth because no one really knows.

Big Lies give justification in the minds of those who promulgate them into acting in ways that are not democratic and so it has been with the Big Lie of 2019. Parliament has passed laws to prevent a no deal Brexit on the strength that the Big Lie of 2019 is the absolute truth and thus provides the justification of going against the wishes of the majority of the people of the United Kingdom.

When power is up for grabs the Big Lie comes into its own.

I find it terribly sad and frightening that the Big Lie of 2019 is now treated by journalists who should know better as a statement unworthy of challenge.

Five Good Reasons for Secrecy

It is the theory of journalism that everything is the business of everybody. A desire for secrecy is met with suspicion, as though there are no good reasons for people to keep things secret. The concept is brought into focus by about eleven million documents were stolen from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca being reported as the documents being “leaked” by journalists and broadcasters who have unhealthy high opinions of themselves and their own moral purpose.

 

There are many corner of the world where “off shore” companies can be established. The Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Monaco have been at this game far longer than has Panama. The United Kingdom and France, despite all their self-proclaimed efforts of prevent tax fraud, have allowed these jurisdictions to continue, rather in the same way that Panama has operated. Continue reading

The Simple Truth Lies

If I were a scientist specialising in climate change, I would be rather depressed about my work. It seems that hardly a week goes by when some journalist gets air time on a serious news programme to dismiss anthropogenic climate change as nonsense. This happened on Thursday when Melanie Phillips spoke on the BBC’s Question Time. Continue reading

I am only doing my job and I know nothing

I have been able to watch some of the evidence given at the Leveson Inquiry, mostly by journalists. It struck me while watching then give their evidence just how focussed they are on getting their story in the papers to the exclusion of all else. Most of they use two defences to charges of shall I call it improper conduct. The first is that they were only doing their jobs and the second is that they knew nothing about the serious crimes that were committed. Continue reading