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, October 31, 2007

End of Session

Many of your MPs responses (a big thanks for sending them in) seem to have considered the Elected Representatives (Prohibition of Deception) Bill a bit of a joke. Some (Andrew Dismore etc.) went so far as to call it a publicity stunt for the film – essentially on the basis that because there was never going to be enough time to debate it before the end of this Parliamentary session – when all proposed legislation fails.

Our response has never changed – Adam Price will be re-introducing the Bill in the next Parliamentary session which starts 6th November.

So if the objection was due to a presumed lack of intent, can we assume their support will be forthcoming ? We shall see.

We’ll be taking a break during recess and returning the following week – meantime keep the responses from your MPs coming in.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Cautious Optimism

We’ve mentioned Gordon Brown’s Green Paper, “the Governance of Britain” before. It’s a statement of intent making all the right noises about strengthening government accountability to Parliament, Freedom of Information etc. Published in July 2007, all we could really say was “time will tell”.

Jack Straw, in a Commons statement yesterday, made announcements that would seem to indicate there may well be some genuine movement in this direction - Freedom of Information especially.

All encouraging news. Our “Elected Representatives (Prevention of Deception) Bill may well be a step too far but Adam Price will be introducing it in the next session and todate we have the support of an extraordinary 31 MPs. It’ll be interesting to see if it’ll get as far as being debated in the house.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Mopping Up

We’ve spent the last couple of days phoning MPs and chasing them for an answer as to whether they support the Elected Representatives (Prohibition of Deception) Bill.

You can see the results on our MPs Scoreboard. If you’ve ten minutes to spare, it’s highly recommended - you wouldn’t believe how much fun you can have with a bolshy researcher/secretary. That’s not to say the majority haven’t been lovely (even sporting), but the drudgery of cold-calling is certainly worth it when you get a live one.

Must find out what it’d cost to get a Calcutta call centre on the case. If a Bill gets passed banning cold-calling from abroad in the near future - you'll know why.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Out of Time

Friday was set for the second reading of the Bill and as was expected, the house managed to get about half way through the second of 32 Bills for that day.

There’s no more time available this session to debate it in the house but public response has been so positive, Adam has committed to re-introducing it in a couple of weeks time, the 6th November at the start of the next parliamentary session.

Meantime, don’t stop e-mailing your MPs or forwarding their responses to us.

Friday, October 19, 2007

2nd Reading today !!!

The Elected Representatives (Prohibition of Deception) Bill is scheduled for a second reading today. Sadly there are 31 other Private Members Bills ahead of us so in real terms it's extremely unlikely we'll get any time on the floor of the House.

Downing street E-petition is doing OK but growth rate is definitely slowing - only 70 names added yesterday. Hmmm.

Had some very amusing e-mails forwarded to us - responses from MPs to their constituents over whether they'd support the Bill. We're collating them and will post a top ten shortly. Don't forget to send yours in - you can write directly to your MP asking them to support the Bill here.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Big Day Yesterday - The Bill went into the House

Adam Price, the MP who introduced the Bill yesterday, reports...

“Well, we’re past the first hurdle. Have been inundated with messages of support, we really have touched a chord. Lots of people been contacting their own MPs and the House authorities. We must keep this going now we’ve started.”

Meantime ; the Downing Street petition for the Bill seems to be gathering some momentum – well over 200 signatures in it’s first 24 hours (have you signed it yet ?) and we’ve got 19 MPs supporting the Bill. Is yours one of them ? Find out by entering your postcode here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Downing St. Petition

A very big thanks to all of you who've taken the time to e-mail their MPs and forward their responses. When we get a moment we'll post some of the more amusing comebacks.

Downing St. petition went up today. Don't be shy.

Monday, October 15, 2007

You can't have a law against lying?

Many of our interviewees initially reacted the same way to the question, "Why can't I prosecute an MP for lying ?. And this clip from the rough cut was before we'd even shown them the Misrepresentation of the People Act...

Pick of the Day

This just in from the publicity guys ;

"the Ministry of Truth" is either "Pick of the Week" or "Pick of the Day" in over 13 newspapers !!!!

D Day approaches

As October 11th (transmission date) looms, we thought it was high time you got to see a trailer.

Featuring the (ex) Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer's response to the concept of a law (the Misrepresentation of the People Act) that would make it an offence for elected representatives to lie was...

Election Jitters

You may well have noticed the Ministry of Truth's subject matter is not entirely without political controversy.

Regrettably, this may well mean that if GB decides to call an election before our transmission date, there's little chance we'll be able to broadcast until after the result.

Nevertheless, the film is pretty much done and dusted, trailers are being cut and preview screenings are being scheduled as we speak.

We shall of course, keep you posted.

Countering Accountability

Unkind souls have commented that by confronting MPs with "the Misrepresentation of the People Act" those who disagreed with it could only be seen as defending their right to lie.

Hmmmm. Here's a summary of the counter-arguments we... encountered.

1) You can't have a law against lying - you can't define a lie
2) Politicians would be mad to lie - it'd be the end of their career
3) You don't need a law - you can go to the press
4) You don't need a law - that's what the general election's for
5) You don't need a law - Parliament holds the government and other MPs to account
6) You don't need a law - Parliament has plenty of internal committees etc. to deal with the problem.

Naturally, we examine these in the film, but don't let that stop you commenting with your thoughts...

For reference, here are the principles behind the Bill.

Hiatus Apologies

Sincerest apologies are due.

It's been some time since we last posted. We've been locked up in the edit suite, occassionally surfacing to catch lines like, "Prison population at record high" alongside "Straw to review/bolster 'Have-a-go hero' laws"...

We're figuring this is the final stage in privatisation of the prison service as well as the department of Justice etc. - Let the population deal with the criminals at home.

Obvious really.

In Switzerland, all new builds have nuclear bunkers in the basement - we'll just have cells. Catch a burglar, lock him up downstairs, problem solved.

Prisons can be sold off to the highest bidder, those lovely high central atriums will make for perfect casinos.

Forgive the rambling. We need more daylight. Lucidity shall return shortly after transmission.

Once Again - for Thee the Bell Tolls

Spookily, the "Filkin affair" Martin mentions rose it's head once more only this Monday in this article by Peter Oborne.

Recaps 3 - Martin Bell

The trail from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards led to seeking some advice from Martin Bell...

Martin Bell, the man in the white suit, is someone we trust.

He spent most of his working life in some of the worlds most dangerous war zones so his time as an MP should've been a piece of cake. He served on the Committee for Standards and Privileges (the watchdog for the conduct of MPs) and is one of the few to speak out against the treatment of Sir Philip Mawer
's (the Parliamentary Commissioner) predecessor - Elizabeth Filkin.

"The whispering campaign was not imaginary. It was real and intense. It coincided with her investigations into complaints against Peter Mandelson, John Reid and Keith Vaz, who were not only Labour MPs but government ministers at the time."

We asked him about the reality of MPs regulating themselves, Elizabeth Filkin and the idea of the People prosecuting the government when it lies to us.

To say we were surprised by his answers would be an understatement. We'll be posting the interview tomorrow.

Recaps 2 - First brush with Parliament

For those just joining the Ministry, when we asked solicitors the question, "How do we prosecute an MP for lying" the answer was a resounding "You can't" - try "the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards".

We did.

It was our first brush with Parliament...

Inspector Mawers (that's enough.Ed) - the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

If you read up on this whole self-regulation business it looks a bit like smoke and mirrors. Plenty of bodies, committees and commissioners - all independent to a man but all reporting to Parliament or the PM. Nice to be Judge and Jury at your own trial, eh ?

Needless to say,
when Sir Philip Mawer returned our call, it was a bit of a shocker. We never thought in a million years they'd let us near the Palace of Westminster - let alone interview its gatekeeper of ethics and morals.

Turns out Sir Philip's office is round the back of Westminster Abbey. Bathed in divine light, you enter through a hobbit-like gate set into a suitably intimidating wall with Westminster casting suitably ominous shadows.

Passing through that gate would be crossing the line from pissing about on the Internet to sticking our head above the establishment parapet. Were we really gonna tough it out with the guy who politics between Teflon Tony and hauling MPs over the coals ?

Who are we kidding ?

I'd had a curry before-hand and that didn't bode well.

We were in a lot of trouble.