Monday, 8 July 2019

Something quite rotten

The Spectator is a participant in a sustained campaign of lying. Of course they are wholly entitled to take a pro-Boris editorial line, as they always have, making excuses for his personal and political failings, but their persistent propagandising over no deal eventually starts to look like something more sinister.

From August, 2017, we get this from Liam Halligan entitled "No deal with the EU? Sounds like a good deal to me", followed by this deeply stupid outing from Brendan O'Neill. Then as recently as August 2018 after considerably more debate with more facts coming to light, The Spectator still wishes to impress upon us that "a no-deal Brexit is nothing to fear".

This month, though, we get a double bill, with David Paton asserting that "A Halloween no-deal Brexit is no longer a scary prospect" and Robert Tombs presuming to tell us that Ivan Rogers has got it all wrong. As ever it relies on the same handful of lies and sleight of hand techniques that chiefly rely on the ignorance of Spectator readers.

All of these issues we have been over countless times but still they persist. Even if I had the boundless energy required to offer a detailed rebuttal to every single claim, the same handful of lies and distortions remain the currency of choice within the Tory bubble. The Speccie has institutional prestige of its own and Fraser Nelson is regarded as a clever fellow, and the authors are carefully selected to add further gravitas to what they know to be outright lies.

Generally speaking The Spectator is read by card carrying members of the Tory party, who rely on the Speccie, The Telegraph and not much else for information. It is a coordinated and cultivated orthodoxy in the fullest knowledge that it will not be met with any scepticism. Increasingly politics seems to be geared around making the wider public politically homeless so that the decisions are made by the obedient few. They who think what they are told to think. 

There is now a cottage industry of fact checkers and Twitter hounds who will keenly demolish such offerings from the Spectator, but are never likely to be seen by they who live inside the walled garden, which alarmingly seems to include a number of MPs. It was once the case that if you did read The Spectator you were by extension part of an elite, party to the court gossip in circulation. Now though, it is an elite ignorance over which the Speccie's gatekeepers hold sway.

I struggle to think why any editor would knowingly engage in such a campaign of deception when the stakes are so high. One might hypothesise that habitual party loyalty drives it, largely because the consequences are not theirs to contend with. A failed education policy here and a botched policing policy there has no real impact on them so why ever should they take responsibility for what they publish? Here though, the matter is hardly inconsequential. This one turning point decides our economic and soft power standing probably for the next generation. Are they really so foolish?

One could very easily speculate that there was a more devious agenda at work; that they deliberately intend to crash the economy in order to get richer, or perhaps they just can't see beyond the next election and being so utterly blinkered believe Boris Johnson really is their saviour. Either way, The Spectator is abusing its position. If the supposed intellectual pillar of British conservatism no longer feels an obligation to establish the truth and they sleep well at night knowingly manipulating their readers, then there is something rotten at the heart of it.

Just for once I wish these people would simply tell us the truth. I could at least understand it were there was a steadfast moral principle driving this; that British territorial sovereignty must not be compromised for the administrative convenience of the EU, or perhaps an argument for protectionism, but dressing up no deal as a risk free and desirable outcome is twisted beyond the joke. It smacks of arse covering; to provide a thin pretext for a policy failure - one which they simply lacked the talent to avoid. Perhaps that is what makes Boris Johnson the ideal figurehead for this enterprise. Rather than being the culmination of a systematic failure of politics they can just blame it on Boris being Boris. They can try it, but we shan't forget who put him there. 

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