On the referendum #24G: Grandstanding MPs and the Zoolander inquiry

The Select Committee doing the inquiry into fake news asked me to give evidence over a month ago.

I said I would be happy to but explained that I could not do those dates and also explained legal issues re the Electoral Commission’s 3rd inquiry which means that lawyers of multiple parties have told me to keep my trap shut until they’ve finished, which is unlikely for months to come.

I also made clear I was happy to give evidence once this snag was out of the way.

Instead of discussing dates in a cooperative way, they went silent for weeks then threatened me this morning with a ‘Summons’. (They have also published claims today about the attitude of the ICO and EC towards me giving evidence which those organisations have never told me.)

I said that if they took such a foolish step — and an unnecessary one given I wanted to give evidence — they would be demonstrating their priority was grandstanding PR, not truth-seeking. I also suggested they bring Wylie and Zoolander back to the Committee to explain the multiple factual errors and inconsistencies in their stories so we could all be clear about what exactly they are really claiming. So far the inquiry on fake news has helped spread fake news across the world.

Minutes later they sent their Summons and asked for confirmation I will change my mind and appear on the date they already knew I could not make.

No, of course not.

I said that if they issued a Summons instead of discussing possible dates like reasonable people, then it would be obvious they are not interested in friendly cooperation to uncover the truth. So I will not give evidence to this Committee under any circumstances. (I may to other Committees depending on behaviour.)

One of the many things about government that could be improved is changes to the Committee process and powers. They should, like in America, have the power to compel attendance (!), but they should also have processes that push them towards truth-seeking behaviour rather than the usual trivialising grandstanding. Committees also need resources for specialist help as they are unable to question witnesses properly on many issues.

If they really wanted to get to the bottom of things, they would have continued discussions over dates, not sent an ineffectual Summons to the media. Their desire for a quick headline has robbed them of hours of TV… 

Ps. For those who missed it, Facebook analysed Vote Leave advertising on Facebook during the referendum and concluded that not only did Vote Leave NOT use the data wrongly appropriated by CA, but that we COULD NOT HAVE DONE. So far, no correction from Observer/C4.

3 thoughts on “On the referendum #24G: Grandstanding MPs and the Zoolander inquiry

  1. Parliament is issuing ‘summonses’ that are not summonses in the sense that most reasonable people understand the word to mean. This itself is fakery, which is then spread in tendentious breathless style by Remain media as if those they are campaigning against have committed some crime. The Guardian today printed an absurd sentence (among other absurd sentences in a confused article https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/may/17/vote-leave-strategist-dominic-cummings-refuses-to-appear-before-mps ) saying that the DCMSC had “issued a formal summons through parliament’s serjeant-at-arms, demanding that Cummings appear…” with the implication that it has some standing: the inclusion of the serjeant-at-arms in this pantomime story is presumably to give it some sort of faux archaic credibility. What of course gives the game away is the sentence further down in the story, long after most have given up with the tedious non-argument, where it is suggested that the existence of a faux ‘summons’ can be used by the media to shame individuals for not turning up. Hypocritical tax dodging corporations like The Guardian purvey fake news on a daily basis against those they disapprove of: the idea that they are in any position to shame anyone who is actually obeying the law and making a commonsense judgment is beyond belief.

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    • Rodrik, I really object to your characterisation of Cummings’, and to your general attitude.

      Nothing done by Cummings’ has been below board, or even below the belt.

      Even the most misleading slogans created by Cummings’ (and that is his job description – he is a political marketeer, not a philosopher or technocrat) are mere exaggerations or simplifications, which compare favourably to the basically dishonest machinations of many professional politicians – predominantly, at the moment, the Remainers.

      Moreover, the worst that is said of Cummings’, in interpersonal behaviour, is that he is sometimes rude, and in self defence he explained the context in which an allegation against him was made, and that this defence outed the accuser as gay.

      This compares well to the spontaneous campaigns of hatred that bedevil politics, and which tend to be sadly directed, if not at Cummings’, then with people living on his side of the political fence.

      So you appear to hate Cummings’ because he did something that, by any conventional measure, was good and praiseworthy. He lent his skills to a political campaign for a cause in which he believed. He followed his conscience.

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