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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Theresa May and George Orwell

I don't know if Theresa May is a big reader, or even a student of political literature. Personally, my predilection has always been towards political biography.

I am currently reading 'George Orwell: A Life' by Bernard Crick, so the Prime Minister's speech at the Lord Mayor's banquet last night seems remarkably apposite.

The Guardian tells us that Mrs. May 'accused Russia of meddling in elections and planting fake stories in the media in an extraordinary attack on its attempts to “weaponise information” in order to sow discord in the west.'

One of Orwell's themes in his later career was the misuse of information. His Ministry of Truth turned the use 'fake news' in propaganda into an art form, though the term itself wouldn't be brought into use until many decades later. In both 1984 and Animal Farm he 'weaponised' information.

And let us not pretend that these techniques are the sole preserve of authoritarian regimes. The misuse and twisting of information is common in all political campaigns. It helped elect Donald Trump and it won the referendum for Brexit.

The key dividing line between what the Prime Minister alleged last night and the practises of her own party, is the interference of a foreign power in internal democratic processes. And there is nothing new about that either.

But as important as it is for the Prime Minister to air her concerns publicly and to expose the dubious practices of Putin and his government, she was engaged in her little own information war last night.

The government is in turmoil, Brexit negotiations are shambolic and going nowhere and Theresa May and her Ministers are driving the UK economy towards a cliff edge. When faced with an audience of business people, who manage thousands of jobs and millions of pounds of investment in Great Britain PLC, one would expect the Prime Minister to calm nerves and sooth fevered brows, in other words to try and put her government back on track. Instead, she talked about Russia.

In political and propaganda terms that technique is known as misdirection. Theresa May is as guilty as anybody of weaponising information. The only difference is that, for better or worse, she belongs to us and has her hands on the levers of power. Putin is meddling in areas that are not of his concern to secure his own interests. He needs to butt out, she needs to get her act together, and quickly.
Looking at the headlines in the papers they are split between Brexit and Putin (with other small headlines). As a result Brexit is reduced in the Right wing press papers distracting from the mess we are in.Unfortunately the Indie splashed Russia all over the front page I would say this misdirection ploy worked for May However this duplicity. the party should be aware of this duplicity in our campaigning.
Never throw a stone if you are sitting in a glass-house - but she is doing it ....
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