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, February 28, 2007

Great Political Porkies of Our Time (Pt 1)

There's a few people out there who've said this is little more than an exercise in Blair bashing. There are also a few who've dared us to give examples of misleading/misrepresentative statements/lies.

In an effort to show we're not anti-Blair, we're anti-lying, our first example harks back to the heady halcyon days when Thatcher was little more than a coiffured pimple on Jim Callaghan's bum. This also serves as a great example of how hard it is to legally pin down a lie when you're dealing with wily politicians.

Believe it or not, VAT is a relatively new concept, originally introduced in the 40's it became known as the Value Added Tax we now love so dearly in 1973. As stealth taxes go, it's a cracker. Every purchase you make as a consumer gives 17.5% of its value to Gordon Brown and Co. That means if you work an 8 hour day, five days a week - last Friday, you spent 7 out of 8 hours working for the government (and that's after they've taken a bite out of your salary for income tax and N.I.). If you're paying income tax at 40%, you're working for the government nearly 3 out of 5 days a week .

In Callaghan's day, Britain had one of the highest rates of income tax in the world but VAT was at 8%. Thatcher tabled a motion for a vote of no-confidence in Callaghan's Labour Government and by one vote forced a general election.

In the run up to the election Thatcher promised income Tax cuts, "Bollocks" said Callaghan (bear with me, I'm paraphrasing here), "You can only afford to cut income tax if you double the rate of VAT".

Thatcher's response was steadfast - "We will not double it !"

Thatcher won the election in May and in June, Geoffrey Howe's first budget upped VAT to 15%. Now that's not doubling it. Technically Thatcher didn't lie.

The recent spat between Dominic Lawson and George Osborne (Shadow Chancellor) over Osborne's denial that
Thatcher promised tax cuts in the '79 manifesto is a decent example of Orwell's Ministry of Truth in action. An inconvenient truth and the politicians re-write history.

Here's the cutting from the '79 manifesto.

Would Thatcher have been caught by our "Misrepresentation of the People Act " ? And if not - should she have been ?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

the Lord Chancellor (again ?)

Amongst the appointments we've been making to see MPs, the Lord Chancellor has in fact re-scheduled for next week. We're assured this had nothing to do with the extremely rare footage we previously un-earthed of an apparently youthful Lord Chancellor wearing a pre-judicial wig whilst mucking about with his flatmate of the time - Tony Blair.

If you've no idea what we're on about, check out the beginners guide and our Manifesto (so to speak).

Meantime the debate continues (unabated ?? Ed) over the wording of the Misrepresentation of the People Act. Hopefully we'll have it in decent shape to present to Lord Falconer for next week.

Monday, February 26, 2007

State of Mind

Some suprisingly strong debate over the "Misrepresentation of the Peoples Act", especially from the legal community. In particular, what state of mind, or "mens rea" constitutes an offence or defence...

"Elizabeth said...

For this Bill to work, you would need to remove the inconsistency with regard to the mens rea required to constitute the offence. Section 1 states the offence may be committed "recklessly or with intent to deceive", whereas in Section 3.2 lack of intent to deceive can be a defence, effectively excluding the possibility of a conviction for recklessness. So, which is it? Intent or recklessness? A choice needs to be made..."

Seems to us, our elected representatives have a responsibility not to be reckless to the truth, therefore "lack of intent to deceive" shouldn't be a defence - but hey, it's your act - you decide.

Friday, February 23, 2007

the Rogue MP (rogus parliamentarianus)

From left to right they are ;

Adam Price | Bob Marshall-Andrews | Norman Baker

Parliament's usual suspects.

Whoever we speak to - friends, politicos, media-types - the same names keep coming up.

"Everyone else 'll feed you the same line,"but we are accountable."

"If anyone's going to support a bill called "the Misrepresentation of the People Act" - it's one of these guys - they'll just get it.".

There are distinct types of MP. Parliamentarians, constituency MPs, rebels, party animals... the list goes on. Basically it denotes a mindset, an attitude toward their role.

One of the joys of our current system is that the responsibilities of an MP aren't defined anywhere. There's no job description. Technically they're our elected representatives in the legislature. They represent our sovereignty and as such are in Parliament to legislate on our behalf, in our interest. Professor Conor Gearty (the motherlode of constitutional law) put it very neatly when we spoke to him.

An MP is supposed to spend his time scrutinising legislation, either governing or holding the government to account (that's a whole different Post). We elect them for their judgement, their opinion - not as a mouthpiece. In days gone by constituency work would be seen as acting like a glorified social worker - technically for your local councillor to do.

With the rise of the party and party whip (basically - the party controlling which way an MP should vote) - in many cases the MP spends his time dealing with constituents and is only in Parliament to do his party's bidding in the chamber. Ask most MPs about the details of legislation and they'd have about as much idea as you and I - the party figures it out for them. That may be OK with you if you're comfortable with your party's official line - it may not.

However, there's a breed of MPs that somehow manage to spend time with their constituents and won't necessarily tow the party line. The above line-up are at the head of the class in this group, particularly Bob Marshall Andrews - he's Labour.

You can look up your MP and check out their voting record here. If they have a decent track record of independent thinking - let us know.

We're working our way through the register and getting diary dates for as many who'll see us.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Doing the Parliamentary Dance

If finding an MP to support the bill isn’t hard enough, getting a bill like this through Parliament is next to impossible. If you don’t believe us - check out what Maurice Frankel (the man behind the Freedom of Information Act) has to say about it.

The stats on non-government bills aren’t good. Since 1983 a total of 2,451 have been attempted, of which 277 made it through. Needless to say - none of them were attempting to make lying by our elected representatives a statutory offence.

Here are the stages a bill has to go through - once (if !!! - Ed) we find an MP.

1. First Reading - the title of the Bill is read out and copies of it are printed.

2. Second Reading - the House debates the general principles contained in a bill.

3. Committee Stage - the House subjects the Bill to a line by line examination and amends where necessary.

4. Report Stage - the Bill that’s been amended during the Committee Stage is reviewed.
5. Third Reading, here the House looks at and debates the final version of the Bill.

6. Lords Stages - similar to the various stages of the Commons. Both Houses of Parliament must agree on the final text of the Bill.

7. Royal Assent - the Crown formally assents to the Bill in order for it to pass into law.

Our one consolation is the fun we’ll have asking MPs if they believe in honesty and accountability to the electorate - then asking if they’ll support a bill enforcing it.

Again, keep e-mailing/posting suggestions if you think you know an MP who'll put up or shut up.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

We hate Blair ?

Yesterday we were accused of being little more than a Blair-hate campaign. The brave (and anonymous) commenter told us we needed to grow up...

As such, we would like to un-reservedly apologise for any offence we may have caused over the last few months. We also take on board our past immature behaviour and indiscretions - for which, once again, we sincerely apologise.

hat-tip to peter kennard for the holiday snap

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Finding an MP

No turning back now. Parliament's back from recess (have you ever had a look at the Parliamentary Timetable ? - they get half term, whitsun, easter, summer holidays...). E-mailed/phoned requests for interviews have been made. The search is on for an MP who'll propose "The Misrepresentation of the People Act".

The way MPs staff answer the phone is giving us an interesting insight into the MPs they're working for. We're compiling a chart of MPs office misery. Norman Bakers office seems the most chirpy - must be something in the water. Alternatively, it could be what Peter Oborne had to say about him this Sunday.

The Act itself is getting minor tweaks as we speak. Rather than re-post each time we change a comma, we'll update the first post. Keep any suggestions/comments coming.

Again, any suggestions for MPs who'd support this, let us know.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Quote of the Week update

“Mine is the first generation able to contemplate the possibility that we may live our entire lives without going to war or sending our children to war.”

the Rt. Hon. Tony Blair MP
NATO-Russia Summit, May 27, 1997

Puts Friday's quote into perspective. Hat-tip to Ms Sankey for pointing it out.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Quote of the Week

"People want honest politics and they are going to get it."

the Rt. HonTony Blair MP
1997 Election Campaign

You think ?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Misrepresentation of the People Act (Mk 1)

Here ya go...

The Misrepresentation of the People Act




Ensure honesty, transparency and accountability from

the representatives of the People and their employees.

The obligation for honesty and transparency in matters of government by those elected to represent the People and their employees is absolute. They act on behalf of the People, their sovereignty flows from the people and is conditional upon such honesty and transparency.

S.1 Where an elected representative of the people or an agent employed on their behalf recklessly or with intent to deceive, publishes or causes to be published in their employment in office, a statement or account which to their knowledge is or may be misleading, false or deceptive in a material particular, they shall be guilty of an offence under this Act.

S.2 It shall be an offence under this Act for a representative of the people, or agent employed on their behalf to –

  1. Publish a statement, promise or forecast which he knows to be misleading, false or deceptive in a material particular, or

  2. Dishonestly conceals any material facts whether in connection with a statement, promise or forecast published by him, or

  3. Recklessly publishes (dishonestly or otherwise) a statement, promise or forecast which is misleading, false or deceptive in a material manner.

S.3 It shall be a defence for any person charged with an offence under section 2 to show that at the time of the offence he -

  1. did not know, or could not have been reasonably expected to know that his act or conduct would create an impression that was false or misleading, or

  2. had no intent to deceive or conceal, or

  3. had no part in causing or permitting the publication of the statement or any part thereof, or

  4. could not reasonably be expected to have known that the statement to which the charge relates was inaccurate and misleading, or

  5. took all due care to ensure the accuracy of the statement, or

  6. acted in the interest of National Security.

S.4 Where a person causes any wasteful employment by knowingly making to a person a false report tending to show an offence has been committed, or tending to show he has information material to any police enquiry, he shall be liable for this offence on indictment only.

S.5 A person guilty of an offence of misrepresenting the people under this Act shall be liable on summary conviction and or indictment, to be disqualified forthwith from being elected to stand as a representative of the people, whether elected or otherwise.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Gotta find us an MP

We’ve pretty much knocked “the Misrepresentation of the Peoples Act” into shape. One more tart up and we’ll be posting it tomorrow. Your feedback will be essential.

Now all we’ve gotta do is find an MP to support and propose it. Any ideas on sympathetic Parliamentarians, let us know.

We’ll be hitting the phones hard for appointments. We’ll be bringing you the interviews. It’ll be fun.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

a manifesto (of sorts)

We, the people, are sovereign.

We grant this sovereignty to our elected representatives in Parliament.

Whilst representing our sovereignty, our elected representatives have fundamental obligations to be honest, transparent and accountable to us.

For a breach of these fundamental obligations we are entitled to formal, legal, independent redress.

Existing methods of holding our elected representatives to account if they make misleading, misrepresentative statements purporting to be statements of fact or withhold material information are ;

  1. the general election
  2. not independent, legal or formal.

General elections are infrequent and inappropriate for holding individual elected representatives to account.

Other current mechanisms amount to self-regulation - conflicting with the rule of law and separation of powers. They are inappropriate for holding individual elected representatives and government ministers to account.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Geese and Gander

Parliamentarians aren't subject to the same laws as the rest of us when it comes to misrepresenting the facts, making misleading statements etc. . We've seen a whole bunch of explanations on this blog. Unwritten constitution, 300 years of history, self regulation...

Dominic Lawson found the answer in the Independent.

The fact is, they don't want to be subject to the same law as us. We've just seen the kind of fallout the 2006 Equality Bill can produce with gay adoptions v. the Catholic. Nevertheless, the government put it's foot down - "We are all equal. No discrimination. No exceptions."

So it's a little suprising to find that there are in fact some exceptions to the Equality Bill. They're a fairly well known collective, almost always in the news for one thing or another, but neatly summarised in Section 52 of the Act, sub-section 3.

Public authorities: general
(1) It is unlawful for a public authority exercising a function to do any act which constitutes discrimination.
(2) In subsection (1)-
    (a) "public authority" includes any person who has functions of a public nature (subject to subsections (3) and (4)), and
    (b) "function" means function of a public nature.
(3) The prohibition in subsection (1) shall not apply to-
    (a) the House of Commons,
    (b) the House of Lords,
    (c) the authorities of either House of Parliament,
    (d) the Security Service,
    (e) the Secret Intelligence Service,
    (f) the Government Communications Headquarters, or
    (g) a part of the armed forces of the Crown which is, in accordance with a requirement of the Secretary of State, assisting the Government Communications Headquarters.

Just about says it all really.

Hat tip to dizzythinks

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Maurice Frankel - Post Mortem

Maurice laid it out in no uncertain terms getting legislation passed is no mean feat - Clement Freud MP bribed to miss a vote, Thatcher cutting backroom deals with the government… little wonder it took 30 years to get his Freedom of Information Act through. – doubly so when you’re not in Government. Triple that if the Gov’s gonna do everything it can to block you.

Nevertheless – it’s starting to feel like we’re compelled to give it a go. Besides, it is a really good name – “The Misrepresentation of the Peoples Act”.

We’re gonna have to find ourselves an MP. One who believe’s honesty’s the best policy and is willing to propose a Bill for it.

Any ideas who that might be ? You can look up your MP, see their voting record, contact them etc. on .

Meantime, we’ll be putting the final touches to our Act before going out there to make complete twats of ourselves.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Chicken Falconer ?

Spent most of yesterday cooling our heels. Lord Falconer's had to re-schedule.

Probably for the best. Gives us a bit more time to prepare.

Had plenty of time to focus on the Bill. It's based in a raft of existing legislation and starting to shape up nicely. Even got a snappy title, "The Misrepresentation of the Peoples Act".

Heh, heh, heh.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Too scared to post

We're seeing the Lord Chancellor tomorrow.

Getting our shit together, questions, quotes research etc.

Bit nervous, but heard he's very nice.

Send in your questions for him. Additional subjects include ;

Position of Attorney General
Reform of House of Lords
Impending ammendments to Freedom of Information Act.

Back later. Off to toilet.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Thatcher and Maurice Frankel ??? Out-takes, behind the Freedom of Information Act

Amazingly, Thatcher was one of the first to push for the Freedom of Information Act as a Private Members Bill. Maurice Frankel shows us the files detailing behind the scenes bickering, fears, chicanery, negotiations and horse-trading that goes on. Also, the low-down on the current proposed gov't ammendments to the Act etc. Very rough and ready edit.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

a little off-subject

We managed to dig out some very early footage of the Lord Chancellor (we believe at the time he was flat-sharing with Tony Blair).

Let it never be said the man's without funk.

The wig was the clue.

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