The Professors passion for "The Science of Deceit" started here...

Employed by the Ministry (in a covert capacity) to help introduce the law ending dishonest politics, you can see his hand all over the posts of past.

Current political circumstances have forced him to reveal himself and as we speak, MPs are signing up to re-introduce The Elected Representatives (Prohibition of Deception) Bill for debate with over 80,000 voters supporting them.

Posts before Jan '08 are purely for the record (with hindsight they make fascinating reading). Posts after May 13th mark the Professor's return.

Meet the Professor

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

De-briefing Martin Bell

Bell shares our view that Parliamentary self-regulation doesn't cut the mustard. Even Parliamentary watchdog Sir Philip Mawer (the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards) said there was a gap beyond reason when it comes to investigating our Government, and frankly, they're the guys we really need to be able to hold to account.

More importantly, self-regulation is innapropriate - if we (the people) give our sovereignty to our elected representatives then we should have the right to revoke it under certain circumstances. One such circumstance is when our elected representatives lie (for political gain as opposed to the public interest).

The law we mention in our interview with Martin Bell is current in the state of Southern Australia. The critical section states ;

"A person who authorises, causes or permits the publication of an electoral
advertisement (an "advertiser") is guilty of an offence if the advertisement
contains a statement purporting to be a statement of fact that is inaccurate and
misleading to a material extent."
Not much, but it's a start and sets a precedent - if you publish a lie for political gain it's a criminal offence. When we visited Professor Conor Gearty - the Motherlode of Constitutional law, he advocated the same thing in no uncertain terms.

It would seem the way forward is to get a bill passed - one that makes it illegal for our elected representatives to lie for political gain. One that we can invoke.

The very idea is daunting. How do you do such a thing ?
. No government would pass such a bill. We need all the guidance we can get before seriously considering an attempt. Our intention is to find some kind of equivalent, a blueprint - some Bill that managed to make it's way onto the statute books despite the government.

Suggestions on a postcard please.


  1. You may struggle to find a blueprint. By definition - there aren't many statutes on the books that Parliament DIDN'T want to pass !

  2. blair you slaaaaaag. why can't you tell the truff 'en? (Tone is going to have to get used to prison slang)

  3. Check out the Freedom of information Act

  4. legal eagle said...
    "You may struggle to find a blueprint. By definition - there aren't many statutes on the books that Parliament DIDN'T want to pass ! "

    errrr, I'm afraid to say legal eagle may have a point !!

  5. What about the Code of Conduct - what kind of legal status does it have? Is it not tied to a statute?

  6. aaaaargh WHAT A WASTE OF TIME!!! Get real jobs people and stop banging your heads against iron walls.

  7. regarding the above...

    don't think your the "bill" they are looking for

    iron is russia mate

    sure they can happily(if only by annoying established figures) bound over the red brick walls being faced



  9. FOI's about to get shafted mate. Suspect yours (even if it sees the light of day) will go the same way.

  10. I think the real problem here is not so much question of revoking the sovereignty we give away, but of not giving it away in the first place. Frankly I think we are naive to think that the people we elect will ever do what's best for us. Mostly they will do what's best for them, and the best you could possibly hope for is for them to do what they THINK is best for you. Considering that man tends to be an arrogant, opinionated, ignorant animal, one can't really hope for more than that.

    I'd say the most effective way of getting a bill like this passed is by using the public and the media. If you can convince an MP that passing a bill like this will generate enough goodwill to win him an election, for example, he will support it. And the only way to do that is to get a critical mass of public support and media interest behind it. What it boils down to, basically, is pressure through the doctrine of direct action.

  11. regarding the above (posted by dead_elves)

    dead_elves said "the people we elect will never do what's best for us. Mostly they will do what's best for them" Would that it where that simple, but 'the people we elect' and their interests are not neatly seperated from 'us' and our interests. 'What is best for them' as dead_elves puts it, tends to coincide with what is best for the part of us that they care about most. What it boils down to then, is that not all of 'us' have an interest in making it difficult for'them', the polititians, to lie.

    This is not a simpe conflict between 'us' and 'them'and it is not just the polititions that 'we' are up against if we want to hold them accountable.