Lies, Damned Lies, and .. Political Rhetoric

Britain voted to leave the EU, and the 48% of British people that voted remain went all wobbly, then turned into hate filled monsters spewing fire in the direction of the 52% Brexiters, for the hate filled xenophobic racist bigotry some of the 48% perceive in them.

I’ve no way of knowing how many of the 48% have gone crazy with hate, but they are certainly loud. It really isn’t the end of the world for the UK, though you’d think it was from the rhetoric. Look at Aleppo. Remember two World Wars?

We’re damned lucky to live in Britain, even a Brexit Britain. We have to get over our disappointment and deal with it, whether it’s committing to the leave process or trying to persuade the nation to remain in the EU despite the referendum – not such a good idea.

But the haters, with their powder dry, primed and ready to blow, watched the Tory government hold their conference. Correction – the crazies watched and misrepresented, and the gullible lapped up the misrepresentations.

There is always room to criticise a government – none are perfect and there’s always room for improvement, and opportunities to take a different route. That’s what an opposition should focus on. The gross misrepresentations are plain dishonest and bring into disrepute the offenders themselves more than their targets.

Amber Rudd gave her conference speech, and despite the text of her speech being available, people seemed to hear things that weren’t said by Rudd, their Babel Fish translators set to Demonic.

Just in case you want to check any of the details of what Rudd said, here’s the text of her speech. I’ve listened to it on iPlayer too, so the text is what she said, barring the odd stumble.

So, with that available, how could she possibly be misrepresented?

James O’Brien Reads Adolf Rudd

Here’s one of the angry loons. James O’Brien. I’ve never listened to him before, don’t know anything else about him, but even if he’s the most rational person on earth, he isn’t in this clip. Have a listen, it’s worth it.


Just a bit of angry rhetoric? Not quite. Here’s the text of what he said. First, the opening from the LBC web page:

This startling observation stopped James O’Brien in his tracks – the eerie similarities between Amber Rudd’s plan to list foreign workers and a passage in Mein Kampf.

The eerie similarities? If that’s so then LBC’s programme listing has eerie similarities to Hitler’s passage in Mein Kampf – at least LBC’s programme list is actually a list.

So, what did O’Brien say? Well, here it is. But bear in mind that Rudd said nothing like this, didn’t say a thing about lists, about a nations existence and greatness, a sharp line of distinction, didn’t give an anecdote about a plasterer, … And yet O’Brien re-reads this in parts, emphasising the meanings from Mein Kampf, with not a jot from Rudd’s speech.

“Very important that firms declare how much of their workforce is foreign because they’re just domiciled in this state simply as earners of their livelihood there. They’re not members of the nation, they’re not members of the foundation and the support of the nation’s existence and greatness.

You have to have a sharp line of distinction between those who are members of the nation and those who are just domiciled here as earners of their livelihoods.”

No, that wasn’t from Amber Rudd’s speech yesterday, I’m really sorry, that’s from Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler.

A sharp line of distinction between those who as members of the nation are the foundation and support of its existence and those who are domiciled in the state simply as earners of their livelihood here. Do you recognise that need for a sharp distinction? Do you feel it? Do you applaud that today?

Do you cheer it because you’ve heard some meaningless anecdote about plasterer whose wages have gone up by roughly the same percentage over the last ten or fifteen years that almost everybody else in the British workforce has? You see the need for that sharp line of distinction? Are you going to swallow that today?

A sharp line of distinction between those who are the foundation and support of the nation’s existence and greatness. And those, like almost everybody I’ve encountered so far today, who were just domiciled in the states simply as earners of their livelihood here. What do you think will come next?

If you’re going to have a sharp line of distinction between people born here and people who just work here, you’re enacting chapter two of Mein Kempf. Strange times.

“sharp line of distinction” – quoted once from Mein Kampf, and then repeated four more times. Who would come away from this thinking that phrase wasn’t part of Rudd’s speech?

This is like reading Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s speech and presenting it as Malcom-X. No. It’s worse than that. Because despite the differences, at least King and Malcom-X were on the same subject. This Holocaust precursor from Hitler was actually about hate and demonisation. Nowhere did Rudd demonise or even criticise foreign workers in speech. What criticism she did include was entirely about the current UK methods of managing foreign workers. This is a particular malicious and dishonest clip from O’Brien – and plenty of people have bought it hook line and sinker.

Citing and re-citing phrases from Mein Kampf and playing on those words and meaning as if they are Rudd’s, is a straw man argument clearer than many I’ve seen for a long time.

By all means disagree with the policy, but at least criticise the policy and not some trumped up misrepresentation.

It’s difficult to emphasise how bad this is. His repeat of the “sharp line of distinction” very specifically gives the impression it’s in Rudd’s speech. I’ve seen this clip posted on a Lib Dem Facebook page a few times, and people are buying it, reposting it, and becoming outraged at the ‘fact’ that Rudd is a Nazi.

At this point it’s worth looking at a tweet from O’Brien:

No kidding. I’ve added the twitter ‘exchange’ below as an update. Won’t defend his own misrepresentations but happy to point it out in others.

What Rudd Said

I’m not kidding about this. Some people are seriously claiming the Tories are fascists, and it isn’t being used metaphorically. A UK elected government, that will abide by UK election rules and hand over power if they lose the next election, that have none of the actual features of actual fascist governments.

Let’s have a look at what Rudd actually said in this context of foreign workers.

I believe immigration has brought many benefits to the nation. It has enhanced our economy, our society and our culture.

This is why I want to reduce net migration while continuing to ensure we attract the brightest and the best.

Because it’s only by reducing the numbers back down to sustainable levels that we can change the tide of public opinion … so once again immigration is something we can all welcome.

The test should ensure people coming here are filling gaps in the labour market, not taking jobs British people could do.

But it’s become a tick box exercise, allowing some firms to get away with not training local people. We won’t win in the world if we don’t do more to upskill our own workforce.

  • No xenophobic closing of doors, but a limit on immigration to manageable levels.
  • Actually making a case for immigration, at manageable levels.
  • Acknowledgement of the concerns that caused the Brexit win.
  • This is the only reference to a ‘test’, and it’s not a call for a test but rather a measure of policy effectiveness.
  • She’s actually addressing what many people have wanted addressing, the failure to train British citizens.

Labour and Lib Dems (I’m a member of the latter) have not been shy about demanding better education and training of our young people, and have been quick to complain about the lack of training. The current system sees some employers using foreign workers when they should be training British people. Note that this is necessary for British competitiveness – something Labour and Lib Dems sign up to.

These are not controversial points from Rudd. Prior to Brexit and Syria and Merkel’s cock up, this could have come from any of the major parties, not just UKIP. Labour and Tories have lower immigration targets.

The O’Brien misrepresentation and his responsibility for its spread on social media is the only controversial issue here.

Tim Farron – The List

This headline from The Times was actually posted on Twitter by Tim Farron, my leader.


Nowhere in Rudd’s speech was a list mentioned. And yet that’s what many people on the Facebook page Lib Dem Newbies UK think, because of this headline, tweeted by our leader.

May and Hunt – Hinting NHS Doctors From Overseas Only Welcome Until 2025?

This is on social media too, except people think May and Hunt actually want this.

Let’s get that Huff Post headline, and it’s sub headline:

  • Theresa May Under Fire For Hinting NHS Doctors From Overseas Only Welcome Until 2025
  • Hunt values foreign doctors currently here – but in future wants to make NHS ‘self-sufficient’

Can you see the twist? The bait and switch?

The term ‘self-sufficient’ means that we can supply all the doctors we need if we achieve the training targets that are required. It means not DEPENDENT on foreign doctors, as we have been. It means training more British doctors – which many people have been calling for.

It does not mean we have no doctors from other nations. In what other discipline, in science of engineering would we exclude the cross fertilisation of skills with other nations, through the exchange of employees, secondments.

But we can rely on the hateful to read ‘between the lines’. Note from the Huff Post piece how so much can be read into a word like ‘interim’ as well as ‘self-sufficiency’.

Many spotted what they saw as a clear signal from the PM that after the ‘interim period’, foreign-trained doctors would no longer be allowed into the NHS.

Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, responded by criticising the “arrogance” of May’s government.

Nowhere have the speakers at the conference shown any disrespect for doctors, as if ‘doing them a favour’. The opposite, they have spoken clearly of the benefits of immigration.

Oh, and …

And JK Rowling retweeted complaints from others furious at the new policy.

That’s it then. Tories are the devil’s helpers. Fascist xenophobic bigots.

This is the state of rhetoric in British politics. This is far worse than the policies that the Tories actually have – and that’s from a Lib Dem party member.

What’s Going On?

I posted a comment regarding the ‘list’ point on the Lib Dem page, saying this is not what she said, that nowhere did she mention a list.

I had someone respond asking if I’d heard the speech. Well, I’d grabbed some of it, not all, live. But I had read through the text a few times today in order to check before I wrote my comment. I said:

No. But I read the full text. Where did she say anything about lists?

My respondent said:

She said it. They must have missed that from the text.

So, I went off and listened to it, on iPlayer. And sure enough, as I said earlier, barring stumbles or word order, the transcript is word for word.

This is odd. Someone had listened to the speech, and after seeing all this other misrepresentation, decides she heard Rudd say she was making a list, when Rudd had not. Crazy. Totally fabricated, imagined.

Checking it twice? She’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice? I can imagine that had that been put in The Times that some people would have imagined she had said that too. What’s happening?

I seriously think you should consider this: The Memory Illusion by Dr Julia Shaw

This hate rhetoric is infectious. In principle it’s little different than arguments over theology: the reading and interpretation of texts. People read into very clear explicit texts just what they want to get out of it. The ramping up of the hate reaches levels of dishonesty you wouldn’t expect from decent people. But I see my decent Lib Dem leader now joining the hunt, a baying hound.

UPDATE 2016-10-13 – James O’Brien

I dropped the above criticism in O’Brien’s Twitter stream once or twice soon after I posted it here and had no reaction from him – O’Brien owes me nothing, fair enough. I’ve posted it elsewhere, but I haven’t trolled O’Brien with it. Then I saw this retweet of an O’Brien tweet …


UPDATE 2016-11-17 – THE TIMES

The misleading stories continue. This headline from The Times today:


Thanks to The Guardian for pointing out this anti-Brexit BS. From the Guardian piece:

The startling claim on the Times front page is misleading, because it counts people born abroad rather than non-UK citizens

UPDATE 2016-11-21 – THE NHS BUS


The left are still at it with the stupid £350M NHS Bus. Even in tweeting a video clip, Chuka Umunna includes a bit where his opponent even explains it.

Was the bus a dumb campaign gimmick? Yes it was. Was it misleading? Yes it was.

Did anyone take it seriously? No they didn’t – neither Leave or Remain – it was a campaign slogan, shown to be nonsense pretty quickly.

But, several months on, this is where we are up to with ‘The Bus’.

“You said £350 million for the NHS. It was on the bus. You promised.”

“No we didn’t. It was a campaign headline, on a bus, illustrating how much goes to the EU, not a funding promise.”

“But you said £350 million for the NHS. It was on the bus.You promised.”

“No we didn’t. And, it was the gross figure, not the net, as many Remainers were quick to point out.”

“But you said £350 million for the NHS. It was on the bus.You promised.”

“No we didn’t. On top of the gross v net difference, the sub-headline of the bus gave one example of where some of that money could go.”

“But you said £350 million for the NHS.It was on the bus. You promised.”

“No we didn’t. You can’t be so stupid as to take a bus headline as a funding promise from of cross party campaign.”

“But you said £350 million for the NHS. It was on the bus. You promised.”

“Sorry Chuka, I’ve got other things to get on with now.”

“But you said £350 million for the NHS. It was on the bus. You promised.”

It’s not just Chuka that keeps on playing the broken Brexit record. It was a dumb bus campaign. It was shown for what it was within days, when Boris was interviewed, on the bus, and agreed it was gross not net, and that the net would not be going on the NHS alone.

You know how we are often told we need to study more philosophy and critical thinking, by philosophers like, say, A C Grayling? Well, if only they took their own medicine. Grayling has been retweeting nonsense like this, and other desperate Remain propaganda since the referendum.

If we’re going to get anywhere, either making a go of it outside the EU, or finding good reasons to stay, we need to look forward to that, rather than reliving the EU referendum endlessly.

We’ve just seen Trump become president of the US, after reeling out far more misrepresentative rubbish than the bus headline, and we’ve already seen him backtracking on some of it. Do you honestly think anyone gives a damn about The Bus?

If you seriously think this meant far more than it did, take it up with the CPS.

Chuka, Grayling, if you’re not going to take it up as a serious issue, grow up and move on. Focus on what to do next rather than this childish rehash.


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