Monday, 30 January 2017

Post Truth Politics Rules!


No French politicians keep their promises, and no one expects them to do so, but the ideas of Benoit Hamon, the newly elected leader of the French Socialists, are in a different league from the others.  He says that he wants to pay everyone 750 Euros/month by 2020 regardless of their income or resources. Before then all young people between the ages of 18 – 25 will be given 600 Euros/month without pre-conditions. He also intends to reduce the working week from 35 to 32 hours.

Let’s not bother with discussing how this might affect an already ailing French economy, or what is likely to happen to the generation of young people who don’t have any need to work or contribute to society.

There seems to be little concern about how this will be financed and the 1 Euro socialists don’t care!  They paid this token amount and signed an online statement saying that they shared socialist values and were immediately eligible to vote in the socialist primaries!  So once again an attempt to open up important decisions to the democratic process has backfired.

Democracy only works when voters act responsibly and can distinguish between truth and lies.  First we had the £3 Labour Party voters who have chosen an un-electable and ineffective leader; then we had the Brexit vote, led by unscrupulous lying politicians like Johnson and Gove; then we had the election of Trump, who can’t open his mouth without lying; and finally (for the moment at least) Benoit Hamon, who is promising policies which are impossible to deliver.  Once again post-truth politics rules!

It was crazy to decide about the complex subject of the European Union by referendum and it’s equally crazy to allow people to choose political leaders in primary elections without the voters having paid their full membership dues and having been party members for at least a year! In my view such things shouldn’t be up to the Party to decide, but should be regulated under electoral law.


It’s unlikely that M. Hamon will get through to the second round of voting in the French Presidential election but he will split the left wing vote and allow Marine LePen, the National Front candidate to get through easily. In the past everyone has always united against the NF for the second round.  Recent events in the feverish world of post-truth politics suggest that we shouldn’t count on that happening this time!

Friday, 27 January 2017

Trump moves to bury the science of climate change


Alongside his flurry of executive orders (see below) Trump has also moved to curtail the freedom for US Agencies dealing with the science of climate change to announce their findings on their websites without “PoliticalReview” 
So you can expect their website information pages to be buried where you can’t find them and any new evidence to be similarly interred. I think that you can also expect their funding to be withdrawn unless it proves that climate change is not anthropogenic.
Spokespeople like Sean Spicer will soon be announcing that media reporting of climate change facts is biased and disloyal. He’ll almost certainly find some scientists who have been paid by the fossil fuel industry to muddy the waters with false statements to back him up.  If you can lie about the size of an inauguration crowd, rubbishing complicated science will be easy! 

Six journalists have already been arrested and charged with being in the area of the inauguration day riots.  We are at the beginning of George Orwell’s 1984 and the Ministry Of Truth.


In case you haven’t kept up here is a list of the executive orders signed by Trump in his first week of office as compiled by Fox News. My! Hasn’t he been busy!

•  Multi-pronged orders on border security and immigration enforcement including: the authorization of a U.S.-Mexico border wall; the stripping of federal grant money to sanctuary cities; hiring 5,000 more Border Patrol agents; ending “catch-and-release” policies for illegal immigrants; and reinstating local and state immigration enforcement partnerships.

•  Two orders reviving the Keystone XL pipeline and Dakota Access pipelines. He also signed three other related orders that would: expedite the environmental permitting process for infrastructure projects related to the pipelines; direct the Commerce Department to streamline the manufacturing permitting process; and give the Commerce Department 180 days to maximize the use of U.S. steel in the pipeline.

•  An order to reinstate the so-called "Mexico City Policy" – a ban on federal funds to international groups that perform abortions or lobby to legalize or promote abortion. The policy was instituted in 1984 by President Reagan, but has gone into and out of effect depending on the party in power in the White House.

•  He signed a notice that the U.S. will begin withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. Trump called the order "a great thing for the American worker."

•  An order imposing a hiring freeze for some federal government workers as a way to shrink the size of government. This excludes the military, as Trump noted at the signing.

•  An order that directs federal agencies to ease the “regulatory burdens” of ObamaCare. It orders agencies to “waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement” of ObamaCare that imposes a “fiscal burden on any State or a cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden on individuals, families, healthcare providers, health insurers, patients, recipients of healthcare services, purchasers of health insurance, or makers of medical devices, products, or medications.”


What a loathsome man he is!


Sunday, 22 January 2017

Lies or Self Deception - Trump’s Inauguration Day 2017


Trump has started his presidency in the same way as he ran his campaign. He has claimed that there were record crowds when the evidence is the opposite.

An Associated Press combination of photos shows a view of the crowd on the National Mall at the inaugurations of President Barack Obama, top, on 20 January 2009, and President Donald Trump, bottom, on 20 January 2017. The Associated Press said both were shot shortly before noon from the top of the Washington Monument. Photograph: AP

I don’t know whether he lives in his own reality, and really believes what he says, or he’s still functioning in post-truth mode. Does he think that you can change reality by lying about it or is he deceiving himself?


Neither is a good attribute for the President of the most powerful nation on earth!

If he's prepared to lie about such easily verifiable facts how can anyone ever believe what he says about things that are less cut and dried. This leads to and feeds the distrust that many people feel concerning their politicians. It will rebound on Trump eventually, but it will also affect politics in general, making people more likely to drop out of the democratic process and support emotionally more appealing extremist groups.

But perhaps he’s chasing the ratings for his new reality TV show “Spot the biggest Trump lie”.

He’s so thin skinned that he can’t allow any criticism to pass without responding with an attacking tweet. Assuming that they haven’t taken away his smart phone, here’s a strategy for preventing him from harming us all.  Why don’t we all say what we think about him online? He would be so busy answering all the adverse comments with aggressive responses that he wouldn’t have time to start a war with China or Iran.


Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Challenge the Post-Truth Politicians


Michael Gove had plenty of air time this morning on the  BBC's Radio 4 to rehabilitate himself and try to appear more reasonable. His message during the brexit campaign could be summed up -"We don't need experts, they always get it wrong, forget the experts and just believe what I tell you and everything will be fine". 

Today he tried to qualify his rejection of expert opinion by saying that we shouldn't accept what experts say without question and what he wanted was fact based discussion in which experts could justify themselves by presenting their evidence. So I wonder why this was not how the campaign was conducted? Gove knows very well that any attempt to present complex evidence was rejected by him and his colleagues during the campaign in favour of the lies that were so much easier to promote. Evidence and facts went out of the window. The Today Programme presenter chose not to challenge him robustly and repeatedly on this point, like they usually do with politicians on this programme, why not?

I'm sure that Gove would be happy to accept the advice of medical experts, or even a plumber, should he have need of such trained and experienced people, but not "experts" who provide opinions which inconveniently contradict his own political beliefs. It's so much easier to rubbish the expert's advice, like he did during the brexit campaign, than to counter it with facts and expertise; but beware of following Gove down that road or you will end up in a morass of lies propagated by people like the brexiteers and Donald Trump. 

Go a little further in that direction and you will find yourself with autocratic leaders quite prepared to set up fake news websites, commit voting fraud, arrest journalists, judges and opposition politicians, or change the constitution to keep themselves permanently in power.

If you don't want that to happen, challenge every lie or sweeping statement that unscrupulous politicians of the post-truth generation, like Michael Gove, make when they rubbish people who disagree with them. Don't let them get away with a shrug of the shoulders or a humorous quip as a response.

This is the new front line in the fight to preserve western democratic values and if you think that I'm overstating the case look at the story of Turkey and its slide into dictatorship over the last fifteen years.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Yes You Can - Lie Your Way to Power


During his campaign Trump lied every time he opened his mouth but in the world of post-truth politics none of his supporters care!

He has insulted, Mexicans, muslims, blacks, latinos and women. He has incited violence from the gun lobby at his rallies, he cast doubt on the electoral process, saying that he would not accept the result if he lost, and he repeatedly accused Hillary Clinton of being a crook. He sacked his campaign managers when they tried to advise him. He has promised things that will never happen and probably not said what he really wants to do.  But his supporters don’t care!

What he has succeeded in doing is to ride a wave of anti-establishment discontent among the poorer paid resulting from their declining wealth due to globalisation and the closing of traditional industries.  So in protest they have elected an unscrupulous billionaire to represent them who will cut taxes for businesses and the rich, do nothing for the lower paid and dismantle healthcare reforms.  

This is just like Brexit, where labour voters in the north of England voted for the "Leave" liars because they could see their real incomes falling and public services disappearing. In a master stroke of populism the brexiteers blamed this on immigrants instead of Tory austerity policies. So traditional Labour voters will now live under the most right wing government since Thatcher, which will cut public services even more and will also allow wages to stagnate, because after Brexit they'll have lower growth, less corporate taxes and very limited choices. Meanwhile inflation will rise cutting real incomes still further.

One of the brexit lies
There no longer appears to be a place in the politics of the English speaking world for reasoned discussion and debate. You can lie your way to power either with false promises or by creating false scare stories. I fear that we appear to be witnessing some sort of revolution in which voters no longer question, or even need to believe, what candidates say so long as they confirm their supporters’ prejudices at every opportunity. Nothing good ever came from revolutions unless, of course, you like and approve of the violence and the inevitable authoritarian rule which follows. 

It’s impossible to know what Trump will do in office, but I’m sure that he’s more dangerous than bumbling, lying Boris Johnson. The media and politicians appear to have accepted that post-truth "Trumpism" is the new normal and seem prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. We will have to wait and see how he handles the inevitable crises that will soon come, particularly from the East and his friend Putin. Expect some sabre rattling on the borders of the Baltic States.

Hillary Clinton won 1.5 million more votes than Trump in the popular vote, but due to the USA's electoral college system she lost the election. I can't help thinking that if she had won, Trump and his supporters would be claiming the result was fixed, screaming for a McCarthy style witch hunt and dreaming up grounds for impeachment. Liberal minded Democrats don't do that, but perhaps they should learn quickly how to fight loud and dirty! 

Meanwhile the only thing that reasonable and rational people can do is to challenge every lie that you hear from whatever source!


Saturday, 5 November 2016

Enemies of the People


Now, amidst a media storm following the announcement of the High Court judgement requiring the government to obtain the consent of Parliament before triggering the start of the brexit negotiations, the foreign-owned right wing tabloid press accuse High Court judges of being enemies of the people for protecting parliamentary sovereignty. But even  Nigel Farage has agreed that the brexit referendum  was only advisory and not legally binding and so it needs a formal legal process, in the form of an Act of Parliament, to confirm it. 

What are we seeing here: ignorance, stupidity, arrogance, doublethink, or the first steps on the road to authoritarian rule by editors of the tabloids behind their chosen right wing leaders? In choosing their headline in 2016 did the Daily Mail deliberately intend to use the tactics of the Nazis in 1933?

What do they want, an executive who can overrule parliament when it suits them, or when the unelected tabloid press want them to?

They claim that brexit means taking back sovereignty from the EU but what sort of sovereignty? The UK is a parliamentary democracy which was established over centuries through hard fought battles between Parliament and the King, including a bloody civil war in which many died. But the tabloids, by launching personal attacks on the judges who supported the supremacy of Parliament, appear to want to throw out all that in favour of government by referendum and executive decree. 

It’s a dangerous road to start down. People don’t vote in referendums because they've made a careful evaluation of the facts. They vote from their emotional instincts and they are easily whipped up by populist politicians who invent lies to support their case and pour scorn on experts. But then the tabloids know this because they were part of it during the brexit campaign, as were some government ministers!

And why are ministers silent concerning the hysterical reaction of the tabloids? Could it be that they are scared of the damage that they could suffer as a result of challenging them, or is it because the tabloids are favouring the government’s position?

It’s in the nature of executive power to want total control and that’s why any democracy has checks and balances built into it, like an independent judiciary and a second chamber in Parliament. If you undermine these safeguards you are facilitating the would-be populist leaders who don't tolerate opposition or reasoned discussion.

Both the government and the tabloids should remember that 48% voted Remain and that the 52% who voted Leave does not represent an overwhelming mandate in favour of a hard brexit. Brexiteers, by talking up their case in this way, like May did at the Tory conference, or the right wing press is now doing, are likely to provoke a backlash. Perhaps the High Court judgement is the trigger.

This whole episode is yet another example of the press exerting power without responsibility “the prerogative of the harlot down the ages”!

Saturday, 1 October 2016

The 1-2-3 of Post-Truth Politics


After Johnson and Gove’s Brexit lies and, following with interest, and some horror, Donald Trump’s presidential bid, I've come to a better understanding of the method of campaigning that has been labelled “Post-Truth Politics”.



First you invent a lie which a significant number of people are likely to believe.
  1. Next you repeat it frequently to your followers.
  2. If you are eventually challenged that you have lied, you change the subject or brush it off with an insult (Trump), or a shrug of the shoulders, or a bit of good natured humour (Johnson), or you pour scorn on the expert who is trying to correct you (Gove).
  3. Then you continue to repeat the lie.
  4. By the time it’s become absolutely clear that you have lied, you have established a new post-truth factoid which your followers now firmly believe.
  5. Meanwhile you invent another lie and keep the process moving on.
If you are fortunate, this extremely cynical approach to campaigning will result in personal rewards such as the post of Foreign Secretary for Johnson (why Teresa?) or even more worrying President of the USA!!

In the UK, the post-truth age has its roots in the “Spin” that became a normal and even an essential part of Tony Blair’s period in office.  Post-truth politics is taking to extremes the selective portrayal of facts and the burying of bad news commonly practised by the Spin Doctors in Blair’s government.

It’s no wonder that many younger people don’t trust politicians and don’t feel that they are represented by anyone.