When the post-truth era really began

Edward Spalton:

Not that I think everything was truthful before this! George Orwell based his Ministry of Truth on the wartime BBC.

Retired Greek Ambassador Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos said my evaluation was right except I had overestimated the institutional importance of the WEU which was something of a talk shop according to Greek officers. The operation went past it rather than through it.


I can add some quotes here but it really needs to be read in its entirety.

Those who were shocked by the referendum vote to leave the EU and by the election of Donald Trump have attributed their disappointment to a “post truth” style of politics. The reverse, I suggest, is the case. However imperfectly, a majority of voters grasped that the long-accepted “liberal” narrative was simply untrue.

Increasing suspicion of the official line on anything was massively increased by the revelation of the untruth of Tony Blair’s and the US government’s claims about “Weapons of Mass Destruction” in Iraq. But the organs of disinformation had rather a successful practice run in 1999 over the invasion of Yugoslavia.

This was so effectively promoted in the mainstream British media as to have quite a high public approval rating. Tony Blair was always aware of the tremendous electoral boost which the “Falklands Effect” had given to Mrs. Thatcher and this was the closest he came to achieving it.

Of course, the Falklands war was about repelling a genuine invasion of British territory and liberating its inhabitants from a truly fascist regime. Yugoslavia was very different, as I pointed out in the following article from 1999, to which I have added a few notes with benefit of hindsight.

He then starts with NATO [article from October,’99].

7 comments for “When the post-truth era really began

  1. Voice of Reason
    November 29, 2018 at 12:44 am

    And yet, Tony Blair, labeled above as ‘left’, allied with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who are most certainly not. What did they all hope to gain from this?

  2. November 29, 2018 at 9:46 am

    I think it really started in John Major’s time (although the Hillsborough disaster with its official truth conflicting with the actual truth may have been a very early indication of the control of truth and media mentality). When managament-speak changed to include words and phrases like “stakeholder” and “going forward” is really an indication of the corporate and media changes. John Major’s government commissioned the Nolan report into standards in corporate life, which strangely seems to have been a catalyst when the standards really started to slip. The control of risk morphed into the control of everything including the truth.
    By the time Tony Blair got into No.10 the mentality has perfused into the Civil Service although it was probably a willing victim. It was the start of the time of arse-covereing, risk-averse, truth manipulation. Tony Blair’s government just pushed the boundaries of what they could get away with. Successive governments have pushed further from then on. The rise of 24Hr news feeds has also promoted news as drama: to hold onto viewers, everyone is a victim, the left wear white hats and the right wear black hats, the truth is what the media say it is and what makes good drama. The news is tabloid in nature: Trump is Satan, Brexit is wrong, UKIP are far right, Corbyn is a cuddly old duffer, Theresa May is incompetent, Boris Johnson is a Clown… so it goes on.
    Not so coincidentally, the organisation Common Purpose started in 1989 with the stated aim of targetting leaders and emerging leaders and training them. Also not so coincidentally during this time the weaponisation of diversity emerged and the homogenisation of management across public services and the private sector.

    • Voice of Reason
      November 29, 2018 at 4:32 pm

      Watching from the US, I have noticed the British politicians copying the US techniques over the past 40 years. That includes lots of lying. We here, after all, are a nation of conmen, used car salesmen and evangelists.

      • November 29, 2018 at 5:23 pm

        Back in the Nineties, the phrase “Being economical with the truth” came into being.

        Basically implying a politician was refraining from telling the whole truth. After all the best lies do have a grain of truth in them…

        But this has sparked old memories and I think it will end up in several blog pages about how and when the truth finally died and investigative journalism stopped.

        My memory of events is around the time of the first Gulf War. Where CNN especially, but also all the other networks went jingoistic and all patriotic. Journalists traded truth for access.

        24 hour news feeds are greedy for news and how do you feed that instatiable appetite? You need constant news updates. If you’re out of the system you have no news.

        So that becomes a control mechanism…

    • djm
      December 5, 2018 at 2:23 pm

      Mark really like your comment.

      Your blog is also very readable. It would go down well on going postal for sure !

      Kind regards

  3. November 29, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    Not the Nolan report, but the Committee on Standards in Public life chaired by Lord Nolan. Sorry, foggy memory.

  4. November 30, 2018 at 2:33 am


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