Brexit and the case for an Election Misinformation Act

by Ray_North on November 23, 2017

I was sitting in my car yesterday when I heard the headlines from Philip Hammond’s budget – like everyone else, I heard the depressing figures for growth and wages and living standards, and initially, I just let them pass me by because I wasn’t surprised by them.

Then, I considered them further and the implications of a continued prolonged downturn in our economic fortunes and the effects that this would have on the services that we rely upon, the prospects for my children, the chances of us creating the type of society that we can all be proud of.

And it was at this point that I wanted to scream.

Then, sadly, as I often do, I found my mind wandering back to Brexit – for which Philip Hammond has had to put to one side £3billion of money to enable us to cope with our withdrawal from the European Union – and I remembered the Brexit campaign, and the promises that a vote for Brexit would see £350m per week spent on the NHS.

And I wanted to scream even louder whilst placing my fist in my mouth and chewing my knuckles in anger and exasperation at the way in which the people of the UK have been treated.

I remember saying at the time, that this was palpably nonsense, I remember saying at the time that it couldn’t possibly be true – that even if it was justifiable in terms of maths or economics, the Tories ideology would prevent them from ploughing that amount of money (over a billion pounds a month) into the public sector.

Sadly, that claim, together with many others that were peddled with flagrant lack of honesty by the Brexit campaign proved to be enough because now, 18 months or so down the line we are embarking on the most ill-advised political misadventure that our country has ever seen at a time of breathtaking economic turmoil.

Should we just stand by and allow this all to happen?

Well, actually, save for a massive campaign to halt Brexit, there appears to be little we can do to stop ourselves from being pulled over the cliff. And when that happens what will the likes of David Davis and Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson do? Will they come before us and ask for forgiveness? No, of course not. Will David Cameron apologise for his appalling lack of judgement in putting his own personal ambition before the needs of the country? No.

There will be no comeuppance, there will be no remorse.

And, the absence of any kind of process by which an electorate can hold to account those who have knowingly made false claims and counter claims to them is, in the twenty first century, troubling.

In British Law, we have no crime of Electoral Misrepresentation. If someone knowingly lies in the pursuit of votes, and in due course obtains those votes, we, the people, have no sanction in criminal or electoral law to use against them.

In New Zealand and South Africa there is written into their constitution a rule by which a politician who knowingly propagates false information during the course of an election can be charged with fraud.

In the past, such a law has been resisted in this country, with the argument being used that often facts cannot be readily checked and that, in any case, the people are too clever to fall for lies.

Well, sadly, in the days of Twitter and Facebook, false news and depressingly poor and partial media, it is extremely easy for a politician to hide behind something that is demonstrably false, and it is all too easy for the falsehood to become, over the months, a ‘truth’, like ‘Vote Brexit and get £350m a week more for the NHS’ and the other lies about how we were going to be ‘flooded by Turkish immigrants,’ and how our courts are being undermined by foreigners.

It is time that we enshrined into statute a law that any politician or political party who knowingly repeats a fact in the course of a campaign that he knows to be false, or has no reason to believe is true, with the intent to gain votes is guilty of a fraud. At the very least, this law would ensure that all politicians are more careful with the propaganda that they pursue, and disasters such as Brexit might have been averted.


Brexit Britain – Where Did It All Go Wrong?

by Charlie_East_West on November 17, 2017

How did Brexit happen?

This is a question that will be analysed and debated for decades to come. It’s complicated.

Many Leave voters right across the country feel disenfranchised but they wrongly believe that the EU is the cause.

It is the decades of UK government neoliberal economics that are the true problem – which have created a society where the rich get richer and our communities and public services pay the price.

The tragedy in all of this is that the EU isn’t the source of the problems facing Britain.

The hollowing out of industrial communities and rampant privatisation by the Tories in the 1980’s sowed the seeds. The financial crash of 2008 followed by a decade of austerity with the destruction of many public services and a drop in real wages then created a new generation of poverty, job insecurity and resentment.

Sadly, many people appear to have forgotten this, or at least failed to consider the source of these problems. Instead, millions of people have been manipulated by right wing media into believing that the blame lies with the EU and/or immigration. This is also wrapped around jingoistic British Empire delusion.

It’s a classic manipulative deflection strategy by the Tories and their media puppeteers such as The Sun, Daily Mail, Express and Telegraph. And sadly, it has worked.

But the media that supports neoliberal economics will never tell Leave voters that.

There is a big diffusion of responsibility and shift of blame from government on many issues to distract and mislead the public from their own faults, corruption and shortcomings.

To achieve this, these media outlets demonise the EU, benefit ‘scroungers’ and immigrants to deflect from the failures of government.

Tragically, millions of people read this and then believe this. They think that they (or Britain) has lost control. They want to take control back. But, tragically, instead of blaming the real source of their problems – economic and industrial policy failure by successive governments, they’ve been brainwashed into thinking that somehow, the EU are to blame.

And that’s how Brexit happened.


Is This The Most Clueless Conservative Party Ever?

November 13, 2017

Despite my praise for Richard Ratcliffe and the very measured way he is dealing with the total mess being made by the Foreign Secretary, we cannot get away from the fact that we are currently being run by a government so poor that it is starting to give the Trump regime over the water a […]

Read the full article →

In Praise of Richard Ratcliffe

November 13, 2017

Richard Ratcliffe would be quite within his rights, some might say, to go around to the Foreign Office, seek out Boris Johnson and give him a ruddy great bunch of fives; Richard Ratcliffe would be within his rights, most would say, to go on the airwaves and call for the resignation of the same Foreign […]

Read the full article →

#1091: 2017, Portugal, The Man – Feel It Still

November 12, 2017

As a rule I hate my kid’s music. They’re little, they’re yet to listen to anything that remotely has an edge to it, indeed most of it appears to consist of shouting the same lyric over again, because it doesn’t scan with the tuneless nonsense that passes for a melody. I suppose it’s not meant […]

Read the full article →

The Fallacy of National Sovereignty

November 10, 2017

Reclaiming our nation – they told us. National Liberation Day – is what Farage described it as. Finally making the UK independent again – is what they said. Throughout the debate on Brexit, we were told that a vote to leave the EU was a vote to reclaim British Sovereignty from the scourge of the […]

Read the full article →

#1090: 1988, Michelle Shocked, Anchorage

August 26, 2017

This year, my almost annual visit to the USA has taken me to “the largest state in the Union” – both the USA’s and my 49th state. There are a number of songs I could have picked to reflect this: perhaps Dwight Yoakam‘s North to Alaska (or the Johnny Horton original). Or, if I was […]

Read the full article →

A Tale For Our Times…..

July 31, 2017

Pick, as they say, the bones out of this…. I was in Court last week – the case involved a horrible road traffic accident, where a young Albanian delivery van driver had attempted to overtake a HGV when it was clearly dangerous to do so and ploughed headlong into the path of an oncoming car […]

Read the full article →

General Election 2017: now that we’ve stopped laughing, what next?

June 12, 2017

Forgive me readers for it has been bloody ages since my last blog. In that time, I have committed many sins, including the sin of confusion, hopeless optimism, blind despair, excessive elation, false elation and wicked gloating. Why? Because I, like every other poor bastard in this country of ours, has been subjected to the […]

Read the full article →

Georgia’s Sixth: Democrats First Test for Sunbelt Strategy

April 2, 2017

On 18 April, the southern US state of Georgia sees a ‘special election’ to find a new congressman. The election could be a key indicator for the way forward for the Democrats. One of the key questions for the Democrats to face in the aftermath of its electoral defeats last November is its election strategy […]

Read the full article →

What Brexit really means…

March 27, 2017

“Brexit means Brexit.” ~ Theresa May To many Brexiters, what Brexit really means is: The British Empire Rule, Britannia! Britannia Rules the Waves! Last night of the proms Sticking it up Johnny Foreigner Union Jack bunting Foreign muck The plucky Brit The Great Escape Dambusters Mother Country British bulldog Imperial chauvinism Born to rule Land […]

Read the full article →

Theresa May is the wrong prime minister at the wrong time

March 20, 2017

“I think the economic arguments are clear, I think being part of a 500-million population trading bloc is significant for us. I think, that one of the issues is that a lot of people will invest here in the UK because it is the UK in Europe. “If we were not in Europe, I think […]

Read the full article →

The United Kingdom: A Union of Unequals

March 17, 2017

I will always consider myself both British and Scottish. I have spent years wrestling with my own opinion on Scottish independence. I hoped that it would never come to this, but, from 2014 onwards, I made my progression from being a unionist to a supporter of Scottish self determination for the following reasons:- Independence is […]

Read the full article →

Corbyn’s Copeland Catastrophe?

March 1, 2017

There is no doubt that Labour’s performance in the Copeland by-election last week was historically bad: a government last won a by-election seat off an opposition in 1982. But Jeremy Corbyn’s most die-hard supporters have tried to explain this poor result away. Do their arguments hold any weight? You have read the headlines: this is […]

Read the full article →

Should the Lords have stopped Brexit?

February 27, 2017

There is an unfortunate irony that, sadly, one of the most interesting periods in national and international politics has coincided with us here at Allthatsleft going into self-imposed stasis. I write this, because I’ve been considering just how bad things could get – I write this because things that seemed absurd only a year or […]

Read the full article →

Trumpton, USA – A Place Called Hate

January 31, 2017

“I still believe in a place called Hope.” ~ Bill Clinton, 1992. In America 2017, hope has left the building. Hate has walked in, pimped out the White House with gold furnishings and started a real life version of Lord of the Flies. Obama was in the White House for 8 years, and managed to […]

Read the full article →

#1089: 2012, Viv Albertine, Confessions of a Milf

January 31, 2017

Last weekend, the lads of All That’s Left went away for a weekend in the country. As well as drinking what the experts tell us is the safe amount of alcohol for a month over 36 hours, there was a lot of music. One of my picks was this, my favourite find so far of […]

Read the full article →

Labour: dying before our very eyes

December 9, 2016

Another week, another by-election where the Labour Party candidate has seen his vote decrease. This week its Sleaford, where Labour eventually finished fourth behind UKIP and the stirring Lib-Dems. Should those of us on the left be nervous about this? Too right we should. Labour is currently embroiled in a slow and painful descent towards […]

Read the full article →

Can a Democrat be Elected as President in 2020?

December 8, 2016

Last month, the Democrats faced the most unpopular presidential candidate in the last thirty years, and lost. The victory of someone as dangerous as Trump against such an experienced figure as Hillary Clinton, the unexpected nature of the outcome by most commentators and the fact that she won the popular vote by over 2.6m have […]

Read the full article →

#1088: 2016, Leonard Cohen, You Want It Darker

December 6, 2016

It seems like years ago since I last posted a song. And, it’s true, in that time, much seems to have happened, and most of it seems to have been bad. One of the worst things has been the death of Leonard Cohen – one of the true giants, a poet, a musician, a legend, […]

Read the full article →

Speeding Down To Trump-ton

December 3, 2016

We are only 48 days away from the beginning of the Presidency of Donald Trump. For me the very idea still seems so absurd as to be almost conceptually impossible. How could any electorate vote for someone so singularly ill-suited for office? But as every day goes by with more freak show appointments from the […]

Read the full article →

#1087: 1978, Kate Bush, The Man With The Child In His Eyes

December 2, 2016

2016 really has been a godawful year in so many ways.   Perhaps the winner of the ‘worst year since the Second World War’ competition.  Politically – Brexit, Trump, the Labour Party descending into an unelectable leftist cult, the rise and rise of Marine Le Pen in France.  Artistically – the deaths of David Bowie, […]

Read the full article →

What does the Richmond Park By-Election tell us?

December 2, 2016

I don’t know what to make of Zach Goldsmith – man of principal or man of huge arrogant ego? A couple of years ago, I’d have given him the benefit of the doubt and plumped for the former, but, after his mindless London Mayoral campaign, I feel that perhaps Zach Goldsmith is just a poor […]

Read the full article →

Cine-East Film Club Presents #70: 1964, Dr Strangelove (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb) (Stanley Kubrick)

November 30, 2016

General Jack D Ripper: ‘Mandrake, have you ever seen a commie drink a glass of water?’ Group Captain Mandrake: ‘Well, no, I can’t say that I have’ Three weeks after the US Presidential election, it is still hard to come to terms with the fact that the American electorate (or at least that part of […]

Read the full article →

‘Taking Our Country Back’: A Day in the Life of Nigel’s Slogan

November 18, 2016

Perhaps it’s the lawyer in me, but I’m not a big fan of slogans – Making America Great Again: how? And what do you mean by ‘great’? Working Hard and Playing By the Rules – don’t even get me started on that load of nonsense. But, what is perplexing me, and has indeed perplexed me […]

Read the full article →

Too Much Polling Can Make You Blind

November 15, 2016

If it had happened once, then ok, maybe they could be forgiven, but in the last few years, pollsters have consistently fed us information that has at best been unhelpful, and at worst, down right wrong. The last general election was too close to call they said – no it wasn’t, the Tories won quite […]

Read the full article →

The rise of the Alt-Right: This is not normal

November 15, 2016

John Oliver laid into the result of the US Presidential election, on The Last Night Tonight he said, “A Klan-backed misogynist internet troll is going to be delivering the next State Of The Union address. This is not normal. It is fucked up.” Exactly. We have got to a point where major elections or referendums […]

Read the full article →

Lazy assumptions about Trump and Brexit voters is bigotry on the other side of the coin

November 11, 2016

One of the most disturbing themes to come out from the post Brexit and post Trump landscapes is the lazy assumption that all Brexit / Trump voters are bigots. While I don’t agree with their direction of vote, I am uncomfortable with a narrative that moves towards the demonising of all Brexit/Trump voters. Such assumptions […]

Read the full article →

Brexiters Voted Our Country Down

October 13, 2016

Damn us Remainers for expressing concerns based on factual evidence on the economic alarm bells ringing since the EU referendum. We now have a pound sinking faster than Donald Trump’s election prospects, inward investment flatlining, a slump in the housing market, inflation concerns, increasing retail prices and tax revenue decline concerns as a result of […]

Read the full article →

#1086: 2016, Kate Tempest, Europe Is Lost

October 10, 2016

Pretty good angry analysis of so much of what’s going wrong from the poet/rapper Kate Tempest. I’m usually a bit more positive but quite hard when you put it like this and with everything going on. “I can’t see an ending at all, only the end” Um…

Read the full article →