Lies – the new normal

One of the most troubling aspects of public discourse in Britain these days is how lying has become absolutely normalised. There was a point when people tried to sneak in a lie or two (disguised in the spin) – but hoped not to be found out. Now, people lie brazenly, openly – with no fear whatsoever of being called out. The media simply passes on the lies without comment. It really is a very strange reality. Just to get a flavour here are two examples:

Yesterday during a Euro 2020 football match an International footballer was suddenly taken seriously ill on the field of play. He collapsed and medics started to administer CPR. The BBC, who was broadcasting the match, kept the cameras rolling. I can understand in a way. The BBC is in the same game as commercial TV stations. Everything depends on ratings, and there is nothing like an International footballer dying on pitch to spark ratings. In fact the player is currently in hospital; but as they broadcast the pictures of him receiving CPR no one knew that he wouldn’t die. That is why any decent editor/producer would have cut the camera away. But ratings are ratings. Money is money. I understand. But what I find troubling is the blatant lie the BBC has told to explain their actions away. This is it:

We apologise to anyone who was upset by the images broadcast. In-stadium coverage is controlled by Uefa as the host broadcaster, and as soon as the match was suspended, we took our coverage off air as quickly as possible. [1]

On the one hand it is a ‘clever’ lie and on the other hand it is an obvious lie. It is true that “as soon as the match was suspended, we took our coverage off air as quickly as possible” and it is no doubt true that the BBC’s coverage is from a feed supplied or controlled by UEFA. And so with these two truths they hope to cover the lie. Of course the simple fact is that they were completely free to cut to the studio at any time. As well as the lie we can notice the attempt to be on the side of the victim. The BBC is a victim of UEFA…. There are a lot of people in politics and in large Public Sector organisations (and privatised monopolies) whose entire careers are centred around constructing these kinds of lies. Heaven help their souls. But the reason they can do it is because the media never challenges the lies.

Here is another example, from the Telegraph. The shameless Brexit actors in No. 10 who are trying to change what they agreed on Northern Ireland (that is the Prime Minister and his advisers – many no doubt hired for their ability to lie) are trying to create a story to embarrass President Macron of France. Probably they are trying to shame him into giving way and allowing them to rewrite the Northern Ireland protocol. This is the story – duly produced by the Telegraph:

A UK government source said of the meeting: “The Prime Minister said to Mr Macron ‘How would you like it if the French courts stopped you moving Toulouse sausages to Paris?’ “He replied that it was not a good comparison because Paris and Toulouse are both part of the same country. “The PM replied: ‘Northern Ireland and Britain are part of the same country as well’. He was pretty struck by it as quite revealing as to how they see the issue.” [2]

First of all; the Prime Minister’s ‘argument’ “How would you like it if you couldn’t move sausages from Toulouse to Paris” is fake. They agreed to precisely these terms. But it is the lie which is interesting. Macron replied that it is not a good comparison because Toulouse and Paris are part of the same country. The lie machine inside No. 10 swung into action. (Quite possibly this was a pre-planned ambush). This is “revealing” as to how Marcon understands the issue; they opine. The Telegraph duly explains that it shows that the French see N. Ireland and Britain as a separate country. In fact Macron almost certainly used the French word pays which while it translates as country has a meaning more tied to the land. It can also mean ‘district’ or even countryside. Macron probably simply meant to highlight that the comparison is not valid because there is no land continuity between Britain and N. Ireland as there is between Toulouse and Paris – a fair point.

This looks like a completely shameless attempt to embarrass Macron on completely false grounds. A fake. A stunt. This is the level at which the UK currently conducts international affairs. A total embarrassment. And, again, this is only possible because lying is the norm. They lied when they signed the Northern Ireland protocol. They lie about a conversation with the French President. Lies lies, lies. And the media either never questions the lying or, as in this case, plays along.

In current public discourse in the UK there is simply no distinction between truth and lies.

Notes

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/football/2021/jun/12/denmark-v-finland-match-suspended-after-christian-eriksen-collapses
  2. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2021/06/12/boris-johnson-infuriated-emmanuel-macron-suggested-northern/

Sock it to them Mrs May! – Irrational travel rules

Theresa May, Britain’s last Prime Minister, has made a cogent argument against the government’s chaotic policy of blocking international travel.

She makes several good points, including that it was easier for her to travel abroad last year before the vaccine programme than it is now with the vaccine programme having covered so much of the population (at least partly). And also that there will always be Covid variants. If the government is going to react to every new variant by closing the borders that is the end of international travel.

And finally, this:

I think there are some facts the Government needs to be up front with the British people about and ministers need to think a bit more about when making these decisions. We will not eradicate Covid-19 from the UK. There will not be a time when we can say that there will never be another case of Covid-19 in this country …  sadly people will die from Covid here in the UK in the future, as 10,000 to 20,000 people do every year from flu.

What she is saying is that now is the time to accept that Covid is the new flu. It is here to stay. It will carry off some thousands of people – mostly elderly or the already very ill, every year. People die. We all die. Get real. Are we going to close down our lives to prevent death?

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Propaganda blunder in the Guardian

Ukraine recently announced and showed off their new strip for Euro 2020. The shirts include a slogan which translates as “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!”. The Guardian reported:

Both phrases have become widely used in Ukraine in the military and among supporters of the 2014 revolution that ousted Viktor Yanukovych, who now lives in Russia…The Russian foreign ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, said on social media that the slogans on the shirts were nationalistic and that the slogan “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!” echoed a German Nazi rallying cry.

What Andrew Roth’s journalism did not extend to is the fact that these slogans are linked to the far-right in Ukraine. They were used specifically by far-right volunteer battalions in the war on Donbas. They are historically associated with Ukrainian nationalism during WW2 – and at this time (for a period – not the whole war) Ukrainian nationalists fought with the Nazis against the then USSR. Quite clearly this was a deliberate provocation.

Roth skirted round all this under the guise of neutral journalism. He mentioned that the Russian Foreign Ministry had said that the slogan was nationalistic but he didn’t say that this was in fact true. But it is true. And so, once again, we see that a liberal journalist – who so often is apparently outraged about e.g. the treatment of Navalny – is quite happy for Russians (except their liberal friends) to suffer abuse and outrages. In this case the journalist seems to have been quite happy to have blatant reminders of Nazism thrust in the faces of Russians – who lost 22 million people as a result of the Nazis; half of them civilians.

UEFA – the governing body for the tournament was able to look at history and today banned the provocation.

Navalny – banned and Guardian reporting

Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation and political networks have been banned by court order.

Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation along with his political network, have been found by a court in Moscow, at the request of the prosecutor, to be violating Russia’s laws on extremism. The organisations have been banned. In a separate move a law has been passed in the State Duma which will prevent anyone who has been involved in an extremist organisation from participating in elections for a period of time. This move will prevent people who were involved in the now banned organisations from standing in the upcoming (Autumn) Parliamentary elections under a new banner. [1]

This is the Guardian’s report on the banning in Russia of Alexei Navalny’s organisations. Andrew Roth has certainly studied the argument of the defence. (Most likely he has been briefed by the defence). The argument is that the law on extremism requires that the offence be accompanied by violence or the threat of violence and in this case the prosecutor has not established that – or even, indeed, tried to.

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