Blog Archive

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Post Truth Era Fact Checks, Ken Clarke on triggering article 50, Lion

    Post Truth Era: Fact Check #1

The Claim 

Nigel Farage MEP, speaking on LBC radio in February echoed comments made by President Trump about Sweden being the 'rape capital' of Europe because of its liberal immigration policies. He said “Pro-rata, Sweden has taken more young, male immigrants than any other country in Europe and there has been a dramatic rise in sexual crime in Sweden, so much so that Malmo is now the rape capital of Europe.”

The Truth and nothing but the Truth 

Part 1: TRUE
It is probably true that pro-rata Sweden has taken more immigrants than anyone else.

This chart from Eurostat shows immigrant numbers into Sweden

Part 2: FALSE

In Malmo, reported rapes per 100,000 inhabitants peaked in 2008, 2010 and 2011, but the figures were higher for those pre-refugee influx years than in 2015 and 2016.

In addition, the reported rape figures were not higher in the Malmo municipality, compared with two other major urban municipalities in Sweden: the capital Stockholm and Gothenburg in the west.

Source: BBC, Eurostat, Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention.

In My Opinion

This is a frequent trick used by people who peddle fake news such as Trump and Farage; you mix some hard facts together with your fabricated news to make people believe it all to be true.


Post Truth Era: Fact Check #2

The Claim 

"Still think he wasn't a threat, Mr Blair? Fury at Labour government's £1m compensation for 'innocent' Gitmo Briton who fled UK to blow himself up in Mosul".  Daily Mail headline in February (see picture below).

The Daily Mail is attacking Tony Blair and his government on their front page over their decision to get a British prisoner in Guantanamo Bay released in 2004. This man, Manchester born Jamal al-Harith, went on to join Daesh in Syria and then Iraq, where it is believed he recently blew himself up as a suicide bomber.

Mail Online February 2017

The Truth and nothing but the Truth

It is true that this man was in Guantanamo Bay, that the British government pressured the US to release him, that he (and some others) were paid an alleged £1m in compensation between them, that he went to join Daesh and has reportedly been killed fighting with them.

But what makes this story and the way the Mail reports it unpalatable and outright offensive are the following FACTS:

Fact 1

The Daily Mail was one of the leading campaigners to get this man and others released in 2004. They worked with Amnesty International, a Parliamentary group and others who campaigned to get the British prisoners released.

Fact 2

The compensation package was agreed in 2010 by the Conservative-LibDem coalition government and nit by Tony Blair.

In my Opinion

The Mail clearly stinks of hypocrisy in this matter and is either intent on destroying Blair or just incapable of reporting facts. Blair was right to write a letter pointing this out. Another example of mixing hard facts with lies and fabrication.


Well done to Ken Clarke for voting with his conscience; he was the only Conservative MP to vote against triggering article 50 to leave the EU. I am the first to accept that the British people narrowly voted to leave, but they did not vote to leave at any cost and we need MPs like Ken who reflect the will of their constituents and stand up for what they believe in. Rather than blindly following the party line (the whip) and doing what they are told regardless of what they and their voters believe.

Ken made a brilliant Alice in Wonderland speech which may well come back to haunt us in 5 years time:

“The promises of riches after Britain departs were Alice in Wonderland fantasies. Apparently you follow the rabbit down a hole and you emerge in a wonderland where suddenly countries around the world are queuing up to give us trading advantages and access to their markets that previously we have never been able to achieve as part of the EU. Nice men such as Presidents Trump and Erdoğan of Turkey – both of whom were visited by the prime minister last month – were impatient to do deals with us despite their history of protectionism. No doubt somewhere there is a hatter holding a tea party with a dormouse in the teapot. When we see what unfolds after we leave the EU, I hope the consciences of other members of parliament remain equally content.”

Ken Clarke delivers his Brexit speech in the House of Commons

As he finished his speech, he was applauded and cheered from the opposition benches – the first time, he says, he has ever been clapped in 47 years as an MP (“you’re not supposed to be applauded at all”). We will miss Ken when he eventually retires; he is one of the longest serving MPs and Ministers and often referred to as the 'Big Beast' by the press.


We went to see the film Lion, which is based on the remarkable true life story of a 5 year old Indian boy who got separated from his family, sent to an orphanage and then adopted by a family in Australia. It is very moving in every way - the acting, the filming, the places, the people, the story - and at times hard to watch.

The most remarkable thing about it is the fact that pretty much every event really happened and you couldn't make up a more compelling story. I enjoy films of this nature that are true.

Poster for the film Lion


Quote of the Month

For my quote this month, a piece from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland seemed apt for several reasons including Ken Clarke above and some discussions I have been having at work:

Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
(Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 6)

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