Truth Bomb in a Time of Universal Deceit
“In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” – George Orwell
I’ve only been to Westminster once. It was to interview Alex Salmond. It’s a very strange place which radiates almost identical amounts of power and dysfunctionality. This week saw the power of tradition overcome any sense of decency or truth as the Labour MP Dawn Butler was thrown out of the chamber for failing to withdraw her accusations that the Prime Minister is a liar.
She was very specific.
She said: “Poor people in our country have paid with their lives because the Prime Minister has spent the last 18 months misleading this House and the country over and over again.” She highlighted disputed claims made by the Prime Minister, including that the link between Covid-19 infection and serious disease and death had been severed.
She added: “It’s dangerous to lie in a pandemic.”
“I am disappointed the Prime Minister has not come to the House to correct the record and correct the fact that he has lied to the House and the country over and over again.”
“At the end of the day the Prime Minister has lied to this House time and time again.
“It’s funny that we get in trouble in this place for calling out the lie rather than the person lying.”
Again and again she was asked to withdraw her remarks which she steadfastly refused to do.
The silence from the Labour front-bench was as deafening as the chorus of support for her that echoed around social media. It was like a dam had burst. Here was someone actually calling out the Prime Minister for his actions, someone actually taking responsibility, doing their duty.
We live in a country where calling someone a liar is considered worse than lying; where calling out a racist is worse than being a racist. We live in a country where ‘our’ parliament is so full of arcane procedures it is more like a 18thC Gentleman’s Club than a functioning seat of democracy. We live in a country where shameless corruption, greed, lying, and cheating are all fine, as long as it’s done by an Etonian buffon.
If Dawn Butler was taking some responsibility, others this week were not.
Jacob Rees-Mogg has since apologised “profusely” after he used an “extremely offensive racist term” in the House of Commons. The Commons Leader used the phrase “Yellow Peril” to refer to the Liberal Democrats in response to a question from an MP. The term is considered a racist reference to a so-called threat from East Asian people to the West. Mr Rees-Mogg claimed he did not know that what he had said that was racist – and added his use of the term was “out of ignorance”.
No-one believed him.
It’s all a big game to these people.
Just as it was in 2013 when Rees-Mogg was the guest-of-honour at the Traditional Britain Group’s Annual Dinner on Friday 17th May 2013, held at London’s prestigious East India Club (see below).
The group has its origins in the Western Goals Institute set up by General Sir Walter Walker – who was intimately involved in various plots of a military coup to bring down the Labour government of Harold Wilson in the mid-1970s – and the Tory Monday Club.
Traditional Britain founder Lord Sudeley praised Hitler, at a Monday Club meeting in 2006, for getting “everyone back to work” and stated that “the fact may be that some races are superior to others.”
Among its aims is support for the “time-honoured hereditary principle and our monarchy,” opposition to “communism, to socialism, to libertarianism, to anarchism” and support for “humane and voluntary state-assisted resettlement” of ethnic minority Britons.
Mogg later claimed “he didn’t know who the group were”.
No-one believed him.
Mogg – reputed to have inherited between £100 and £150 million – is the best paid MP in Westminster, ‘earning’, according to the Spectator, at least £216,000 a year on top of a vast, and undisclosed, income from his 15 percent share in Somerset Capital Management (SCM).
Rees-Mogg is a member of the Cornerstone Group in the Tory Party, whose motto is Faith, Flag and Family, and flaunts his patriotic Christianity, which includes opposition to abortion and homosexuality. He is a bitter opponent of social welfare, insisting that the state should be reduced to the barest minimum.
And so we have the scenes of a white multi-millionaire lying to the house about his own racism on the same day a black woman MP is penalized for the ‘insult’ of calling a liar a liar.
In this bizarre world Emily Maitless is accused of breaking “impartiality”. Emily Maitlis has said the BBC was wrong to find her guilty of breaching “impartiality” rules and accused the broadcaster of caving in to political pressure from Downing Street, in an interview with Press Gazette. The Newsnight presenter angered BBC bosses after saying that viewers were on her side and she would not let the current affairs show become a “public announcement tannoy” for ministers. She compared the speed at which complaints against her were pursued internally, “after a call from Number Ten”, to the 25 years it took for the BBC to expose Martin Bashir’s deceptions.
All of which might be considered milquetoast, just the routine now-normal exertion of state power. But in the context of the proposed changes to the Official Secrets Act these shifts are more chilling.
Under the proposals journalists could be treated like spies for reporting on matters of public interest under planned reforms to the UK’s Official Secrets Act.
The move has caused alarm at a time when press freedom is seen as being under attack in the UK following the raid by the Information Commissioner to find The Sun’s Matt Hancock-scoop source. Yesterday, it was revealed that foreign governments are targeting UK journalists with mobile phone spyware.
The Government said the reform was needed as the existing acts, with the last update in 1989, are no longer enough to fight the “discernible and very real threat posed by state threats”.
The Home Office consultation (which closes on Thursday 22 July) suggests journalists should be treated in the same way as those who leak information and those committing espionage offences.
It also looked at whether maximum sentences should be increased from two to 14 years.
The Home Office said it does “not consider that there is necessarily a distinction in severity between espionage and the most serious unauthorised disclosures, in the same way that there was in 1989”.
“Although there are differences in the mechanics of and motivations behind espionage and unauthorised disclosure offences, there are cases where an unauthorised disclosure may be as or more serious, in terms of intent and/or damage,” it said.
In other words journalism – and whistleblowing is being criminalised.
The NUJ has gone through official secrets cases the government could not successfully prosecute under existing law to show the danger we face. They include the police harassing Channel 4 for reporting on how undercover police officers had spied on Stephen Lawrence’s family. The Met attacking the Guardian for revealing that officers thought the phone of the murdered teenager Milly Dowler had been hacked and Belfast reporters facing prosecution for revealing links between the police and loyalist gangs.
Journalists have a duty to find out the truth. This is essential in any democracy which also only functions if public servants – such as politicians – have a sense of duty and if basic standards in public office are maintained. In Johnson’s Britain they are circling the sewer.