Boris Johnson has been caught out yet again – maintaining in his Daily Telegraph column that ‘No Deal’ – that is, crashing out of the EU blindly – is the most popular of all the options relating to Brexit among voters. (See https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/apr/12/daily-telegraph-forced-correct-false-brexit-claim-boris-johnson?CMP=fb_gu&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook&fbclid=IwAR0k5ewDqBW-NMpdCfr1Ec2G3JYQc5fxhpKQgpbge7e9fia4I48DuplN4Lo#Echobox=1555065848.) That’s an utter lie, of course. The Telegraph has published a retraction, but also excuses him on the grounds that he was ‘entitled to make sweeping generalisations based on his opinions’; and that anyway they should not be taken seriously as the piece ‘was clearly comically polemical, and could not be reasonably read as a serious, empirical, in-depth analysis of hard factual matters’. But isn’t that the whole problem with Boris: that he is merely ‘comically polemical’, and not to be trusted? And this is the man tipped to become our new prime minister when Theresa has fallen on her sword.
The trouble is that very few people seem to be bothered by this kind of dishonesty, as we have seen recently in Trump’s America. (Boris of course is a great fan of the Donald.) This seems to be the way politics and even everyday discourse is going just now, at least in the Anglo-American world. ‘Facts’ are valuable not for what they tell us, but for how they can be used. This indicates a fundamental and amoral irrationality in possibly the majority of people – call it ‘stupidity’ if you like, but that will only make you appear ‘élitist’ – which makes one fear for ‘democracy’; and probably explains the success of Brexit, as well as of Trump. It’s why democracy requires to be moderated, as I suggested in an earlier post (https://bernardjporter.com/2019/03/31/the-mob/); and also bolstered in its foundations by an education that encourages thinking; and by a genuinely free press. That’s the hard task before us ‘rational democrats’, of all political hues. (Lefties can be as careless of the truth as Conservatives.)
(Incidentally: I learned recently that the Swedish newspaper press is subsidized by the State, in order to prevent its monopolization by rich owners. That includes an excellent left-wing daily (Monday-Friday) called DN-Etc, with a full staff of editors and reporters, priced at just 10 kronor a day. We could do with something like that in Britain, to balance things up. Do I need to repeat that, according to most international surveys, Britain has one of the least ‘free’ presses in the world?)
The other thing that annoyed me today was the judge (magistrate?) in Assange’s bail-jumping hearing labeling him a ‘narcissist’. He may well be; but it’s no part of a judge’s function to come to this sort of judgment about him, and almost certainly indicates prejudice on his or her part. (Though obviously Assange was guilty of this charge.)