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by Noah Carl
Tuesday, 15
August 2023
Campus Wars
11:30

The Guardian uses selective polling on campus free speech

The paper is desperate to disprove the idea of cancel culture
by Noah Carl
A new survey claimed that 86% of respondents felt “very free” or “free” to express ideas. Credit: Getty

Last week, we received the results from 2023’s National Student Survey. For the first time, students in England were asked, “During your studies, how free did you feel to express your ideas, opinions, and beliefs?” No less than 86% said “very free” or “free”, while only 14% said “not free” or “not free at all”. This result has been taken by some commentators as proof that concerns over free speech and cancel culture are “unfounded”. But they’re mistaken: it proves no such thing. 

To begin with, the result doesn’t tell us much we didn’t already know. As the education researcher David Kernohan points out, “every time we survey students about freedom of speech issues, we find that around 14% of students have concerns”. For example, in the 2023 Student Academic Experience Survey, 14% of respondents disagreed with the statement “I feel comfortable expressing my view even if others disagree”. And it was exactly the same in 2022. 


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What’s more, students in that survey had the option to give a neutral response — and 21% of them took it. Which means that only 65% actually agreed with the relevant statement. There was no option to give a neutral response in the National Student Survey. If there had been, it’s likely the percentage saying “very free” or “free” would have been closer to 65%. 

Indeed, the question itself is a rather blunt instrument. A natural way of answering it would be to do a mental tally of instances where one did not feel free to express oneself, and then decide whether that number was sufficiently large to justify answering “not free”. Given that most topics in most subjects do not lend themselves to controversy, it would hardly be surprising if the typical student could only recall a few instances. 

When you ask students more specific questions, as other surveys have done, you find substantially higher levels of self-censorship. In a survey commissioned by the Policy Institute at King’s College London, for example, nearly 50% agreed that “the climate in my university prevents some people from saying things they believe because others might find them offensive”, compared to less than 40% who disagreed. And in a survey commissioned by the Alliance Defending Freedom, 27% said they had hidden their views about important issues while at university. 

Likewise, Thomas Simpson and Eric Kaufmann asked a sample of students whether Leave and Remain supporters would be comfortable expressing views in class: less than 50% said Leave supporters would feel comfortable, whereas more than 80% said Remain supporters would be.

We already have ample evidence from surveys, academic studies and high-profile cases that freedom of speech is under threat at English universities. It would have been astonishing if a single new survey had overturned all this evidence. And in fact, it hasn’t.

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Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 month ago

The Guardian has long, self-serving form in creating a story that fits their narrative based on the headline figure of a piece of research or polling, yet the research, if one reads it, bears almost no relation to the story extrapolated from it.
It’s not honest journalism.
One of my several bans from posting on the Guardian came from my pointing out an article they’d published that was a blatant misrepresentation of the polling on which it was nominally based.
The article trumpeted a headline figure which they dishonestly used to promote their |Green agenda, whilst ignoring every single ‘inconvenient truth’ that was in the detail of the research. It is as poor a journalistic practice as taking a quote completely out of context and then using that to make a story.
The article stated “More than 80% of registered voters support the Green New Deal proposal being pushed by Congressional Democratic lawmakers, a new poll found.”
The actual research paper was barely quoted in the rest of the article (though there was a hyperlink if you chose to follow it).
If you only read the article you’d be left in no doubt that there was overwhelming cross party support for this Green New Deal. 80% is a pretty substantial majority.
If you doubted the likelihood of such a figure and chose to read the research on which the article was based, you’d get a somewhat different picture.
Firstly, the size of the sample: You’d imagine it would need to be a pretty large sample if they were looking to extrapolate nationwide attitudes from it in a country whose population is north of 320 million people. So, how many, I wonder?
20 Thousand? 10 Thousand? Surely not as few as 5 thousand?
Nope – 966 people.
Actually read the research and you’ll find “The poll surveyed 966 registered voters and has a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.”
Read on further and you come across this little nugget of info: “82% of registered voters had heard “nothing at all” about the Deal.”
Yet none of that was reported – what we are told is that there is overwhelming bipartisan support for the Green New Deal – which is, as evidenced, a blatant misrepresentation of the truth.
Newspaspers used to champion the principle that Democracy requires an informed electorate, but informed with all the facts, not simply the cherry-picked facts that fit a partisan agenda.
To suggest there is overwhelming (80%) support across the political divide as a reason to introduce a chosen policy is – without question – irresponsible, and frankly dishonest.
Break down how the research was conducted and the picture gets worse. It was a piece of push-poll research to which 966 people responded. It is pretty safe to assume that those who chose to respond already had some interest in the subject matter. (Most people don’t wish to advertise their ignorance on a particular subject, thus those who responded to that first line of the survey were likely predisposed towards environmental issues). Even with that rider, 82% had no knowledge of the proposed GND. Thus we are already outside the territory of being able to extrapolate any meaningful picture of national attitudes.
But – and this is where the article becomes so misleading – the sample size, the fact that it was a push poll, or that most respondents had no knowledge of the GND, was never mentioned.
The framing of the questions is also key – if asking someone, “Do you think environmental issues are important?” they will very likely say “Yes”, if you then lead them through a series of questions, also likely to be answered affirmatively, and then finish up with, “So would you support the raft of measures in the Green New deal”, you have practically cornered the person surveyed. They will be contradicting the answers they’ve already given if they now say “No”.
It’s an old trick and one that less reputable think tanks use all the time to achieve answers they want. I’m not accusing this particular piece of research of being dishonest in how they framed questions (though it might have been – I have no way of knowing), but it is a practice that certainly does go on.
I’m confident I could get you an answer that painted a wholly different picture, if I was cynical enough to try. When research as flimsy as this is used to back the narrative, and thus drive policy, it should be called out. Why are the press not doing their job? Why are they constantly presenting research findings that fit their editorial narrative without applying any objective filter that might give their readers a chance to form their own opinion?

Catherine Conroy
Catherine Conroy
1 month ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

I gave up on the Guardian after, among other things, their dishonest reporting of the Wi Spa incident.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
1 month ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

I found myself coming close to defending them (ugh), a thousand, if randomly selected, isn’t a bad sample size but you saved me very quickly by demolishing the results of the survey.
Very nicely done.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Rather unsurprisingly there was never any such headline in the Guardian. No doubt old Paddy made up the rest of his post as well.
Quelle surpise!

Richard M
Richard M
1 month ago

I can’t speak for his other claims, but presumably Paddy is referring to this Guardian article, so the article does exist.
The headline statistic quoted in the strapline is “Yale researchers say 81% of voters they polled support a Green New Deal to create jobs and work toward renewable energy”
The Green New Deal has reignited the climate debate – and voters support it | Julian Brave NoiseCat | The Guardian

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard M

An opinion piece by someone called Julian Brave NoiseCat?!?!?
You are joking, right?

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 month ago

Rule one: You do not talk about Constrained Speech.
Rule two: You do NOT talk about Constrained Speech.
And since no one talks about Constrained Speech it doesn’t exist…

Gerald Arcuri
Gerald Arcuri
1 month ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Rule three: see rules one and two.

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
1 month ago

I work in a university. Cancel culture is very very real. It’s getting worse every year. For the first time, I’m seriously considering not sending the kids to university – certainly not to study anything humanities or social science discipline.

Gerald Arcuri
Gerald Arcuri
1 month ago

Act on your serious consideration. For the sake of your children. Let them learn welding. An old country and western song had this lyric, “Mothers, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.” Nowadays, we could sing, “Mothers don’t send your babies to university.”

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago

“I’m seriously considering not sending the kids to university”
I’m sure your kids are seriously considering telling you to get lost and that they can make their own decisions.

Jane Awdry
Jane Awdry
1 month ago

Sure. But they’d have to find and fund their own accommodation, food, entertainment & travel. Maybe they can just magic it all up…

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago
Reply to  Jane Awdry

Maybe you relied on your daddy when you went to university (assuming that you did) but I certainly didn’t rely on mine, and I really doubt that even if pops is paying the bills that he gets to “send” his kids anywhere.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
1 month ago

You must stop doing this and saying sensible things, it’s most disconcerting

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
1 month ago

Agree with your sentiments – but many needy people like this feed off irritated responses – best to just ignore them.

Last edited 1 month ago by Ian Barton
Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
1 month ago
Reply to  Jane Awdry

There are these things called loans and, I any case, I support my daughter in her choices, she’s pretty sensible and, even if I disagree with her decisions, I know she’s capable of making good ones.
My wife had parents who spoke your language but she got fed up two years into her course and, to my great benefit, left her country of birth and met me!

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
1 month ago

Damn, I agree with you much that it pains me.

Paul T
Paul T
1 month ago

Look at you putting “seriously” in your comments like you know what it means.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
1 month ago

Cancel Culture should be referred to by its real name: bullying.

Gerald Arcuri
Gerald Arcuri
1 month ago

Or bigotry.

Jane Awdry
Jane Awdry
1 month ago
Reply to  Gerald Arcuri

That word has been taken – and over-used to the point of meaninglessness – by another ideological faction, so perhaps we should steer clear of it. ‘Bullying’ is a word with the right kind of earthbound reality that I think describes perfectly the current suppression of ‘non-acceptable’ speech.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jane Awdry
Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago
Reply to  Jane Awdry

Do you guys need a safe space where you can be racist and no one will mind?
I suggest any gathering of right wing people should be what you are looking for.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
1 month ago

So, would you point out the actual bigotry in these comments for those of us who are a bit slow on the uptake?

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
1 month ago

I doubt it – this commenter seems to lack the intellect required to construct – let lone express – a reasoned position on any subject. Their “cheap shot” posts do however serve the useful purpose of reminding me of the generally high quality of the majority of UnHerd commenters – as opposed to those on other more purile sites.

Last edited 1 month ago by Ian Barton
Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Puerile.
You’re welcome!

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

QED

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
1 month ago

In any such survey, most of the power to determine the result resides with the person setting the questions. The remainder resides with the person setting out and presenting the responses.
This is why governing establishments are almost universally distrusted by their populations. Much of what are laughably described as “Expert views” is in fact collations of this sort, some from people who actually know something about the subject, and some from people who don’t.
“The Science” is often little better, since the scientists producing it are generally paid by the people who want the data to point in a certain political direction. To achieve this is as simple as posing the right questions to the scientific researchers and making sure that the the paymaster is the person who arranges and presents the data to the public.
Trust once lost, can be very difficult to ever regain, and it has been well and truly lost by the entire UK establishment over the COVID response, HS2, the Climate Change response, Immigration, you name it. And it isn’t party political, or just the UK. Governments, whole parliaments, Civil services, and supranational bodies, have all colluded in what amount to a tissue of lies over all of the above, and more.
Western establishments, both individually and en masse, have corrupted themselves beyond redemption, it seems to me. It is difficult to see how the trust of populations will ever be regained.

Last edited 1 month ago by Albireo Double
Gerald Arcuri
Gerald Arcuri
1 month ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

I believe it was Comrade Stalin who said, “It doesn’t matter how people have voted. What matters is who counts the votes.” QED

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
1 month ago
Reply to  Gerald Arcuri

Exactly so…

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 month ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

At some point the other shoe has to drop. One cannot run a nation without some minimal level of buy-in from the people. At some point, the vicious cycle of rebellion and suppression sets in: public anger and resentment fuels rioting/protests/civil strife, which leads to suppression measures, which builds further resentment, and so on. The cost of this cycle comes to occupy more and more of government’s time, effort, and resources, leaving other obligations short changed or entirely ignored and the problems associated with these pile up and create further resentment, while at the same time the overall negative public mood begins eating away at the productivity that sustains a society. The road from sipping tea at Versailles to being marched to the guillotine is a good deal shorter than people, particularly our ruling class, seems to realize. We’re already seeing the beginnings of the cycle in a lot of places. Farmer protests in the Netherlands, truckers in Canada, Jan 6th in the US. France, being the revolutionary pioneer as usual, is already ahead of the curve, having gone a couple rounds of protests already with the yellow vests and recent strikes.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 month ago

One of the problems in sociological research right now, is that researchers are required to engage with their topic within a theoretical framework of some sort. Many students choose race, queer or feminist theory and so straight from the start their research is already skewed toward a certain outcome. This means that researchers will most likely select from a participant pool that will confirm their theory, even if the outcome is not representative of the greater population at large.
In recent years research has moved away from Positivism (objective reality) to Interpretivism (reality is created by perceptions and lived experience). ‘Pure objectivity is impossible so why bother’ is the mentality behind this. Moreover, ‘neutral’ research is increasingly seen as the preserve of the ‘white man’ (aka the Master’s Tools), which means that if research isn’t agenda driven, it is playing into the hands of the oppressor class. As such, academics, especially those working within the humanities, are caught in an ideological echo chamber. This has always been the case to some degree, but what is truly alarming is how much of their ‘weird’ theories are being injected into the mainstream, especially within journalism and politics. Many articles in the Guardian are written in this way by people who have graduated college with all kinds of nonsense theories, hence the skewed polling data (which will be massaged in such a way so as to confirm a preconceived agenda).
As an ex-professor myself I am saddened by this state of affairs. It has devalued a profession I once took pride in.

Andrew Buckley
Andrew Buckley
1 month ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

A family friend was doing a Post Graduate Degree (UK) and her dissertation was on an area close to her heart (minority group theoretically). She asked my advice and to read through some bits (I’ve published a fair bit over the years).
My first comment was about literature sources and my view of always attempting to go to prime research or original source. She said she wanted to but her tutor specifically forbade this and provided a list of “authorised” books and papers.
Anyway, she got a distinction but this left her with a very poor opinion of the University staff and, in her view, reduced the status of her research.
Just another view/anecdote of the bias in Sociology research.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

Utter nonsense.
What makes you people dream up these stupid stories and think that anyone will believe them?

Jane Awdry
Jane Awdry
1 month ago

You sound as if you might have been the tutor…

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

Have heard this many times, including at my university.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago
Reply to  Dumetrius

Garbage.
Do you really expect anyone to believe that a post-grad tutor “forbade” a student from researching original sources? Utter nonsense, regardless of what you claim to have “heard”.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
1 month ago

Are you having a good day?

Are things going well in your general life, and as well, your private life ?

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago
Reply to  Dumetrius

I’m having a fabulous day, champ! Like I always do!
How about you? Is fantasizing ludicrous stories making you tired and grouchy? Seems that way…

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
1 month ago

I sense a ragged, lonely edge. It’ll all tip over soon. Too many Mandrax in your gravy perhaps. I am sorry.

Last edited 1 month ago by Dumetrius
Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago
Reply to  Dumetrius

Wee bit of projection going on here, methinks!
Cheer up, silly!

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 month ago

It happens. During my post-grad days I was required to write a policy brief for a school that had behavioral issues largely caused by minority students. I was told to frame it in terms of ‘whiteness’ (i.e. the white teachers’ racist attitudes were to blame for their students’ lousy behavior). The aim here was to remove all kinds of accountability from students, their parents, and the school, and to blame behavioral problems on the ‘systemic racism’ perpetrated by teachers.
The actual problem was that the school leadership refused to administer consistent discipline measures. The teachers hands were tied as to how far they could go with classroom management because they were not supported by the school leadership which was more concerned with image and ‘success’. Unfortunately, this was the completely foreseeable fallout of Obama’s 2014 ‘Dear Colleague’ letter which stipulated that schools would be ‘punished’ if it was found that their classroom discipline was causing grade disparity between racial groups. This had a knock-on effect in that affluent parents removed their children from these schools and moved to other areas with proper systems in place. Public schools are partly funded by property taxes so families moving away further exacerbates the problems such schools face.
This is the problem with progressivism on the whole. It’s a Ponzi scheme which steals tax dollars to fix the very problems that progressive policies caused in the first place. It perpetuates itself by sapping away at any notions of responsibility or self-governance among the vulnerable and then enriches itself by ‘empowering’ those that no longer know how to look after themselves.

Last edited 1 month ago by Julian Farrows
Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

” I was told to frame it in terms of ‘whiteness’ (i.e. the white teachers’ racist attitudes were to blame for their students’ lousy behavior). ”
Do you think anyone, even the drooling morons who typically post here, believes this garbage?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 month ago

I welcome disagreement so took the time to answer you respectfully and courteously, but you responded in a mean-spirited way. Whatever message you are trying to get across is entirely lost in your vitriol.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Because you are clearly lying.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 month ago

What do you think I have to gain from lying?

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

God only knows but it seems like there are many Unherd posters who will make up any sort of blatant nonsense if they think it will somehow support their ludicrous positions and I imagine that is what you are attempting to do here.
The fact that these little flights of fancy are obviously nonsense doesn’t seem to stop you doing it.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 month ago

Thanks for your reply, CS, but I honestly didn’t make up the above event, although of course it is subject to the biases of my own interpretations. In this class, my fellow students and I were asked to interview teachers at a local middle school about issues of discipline and classroom management. After the interviews our professor asked us to reframe their problems within the context of whiteness and critical theory. I hated that this was made known to us after the interviews had taken place, because I now felt that the teachers’ words were being used against them i.e painting them as innate racists who needed to examine their own attitudes toward disciplining their students even though some of these teachers were black themselves. Whatever their pigmentation, all of these teachers were hard-working individuals who cared about their students, but they were exhausted and burnt out by the lack of support they were receiving. This policy brief my group had to draw up would just make things worse for them, even though we were initially led to believe it was supposed to be helping them.
There are reams of papers on this subject, all heavily ideological, but very light on practical tips or policies that actually improve schools or help teachers.
https://brill.com/display/book/9789004444836/BP000087.xml
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11256-020-00592-w
https://jume-ojs-tamu.tdl.org/JUME/article/view/294
The above links are just a few examples of Critical Race Theory scholarship. The problem with CRT is that is it lacks nuance in its critique. It assumes white privilege to be a fundamental truth and that all bad behavior from black students stems from white systems of oppression. By doing this, it removes all notions of ‘personal responsibility’ which further infantilizes black students and subsequently sets them up for personal failure.
Due to several other experiences such as this, I have become very wary of progressive research, polling, and publications like the Guardian because they seem more intent on scapegoating problems than actually solving them. In the past newspapers reported on the news instead of creating it. Unherd is not perfect, its articles are written by humans after all, but I appreciate the efforts to discuss these kinds of things freely – something which is not always possible to do in other news or social media sites that just seem to block or remove comments that editors disagree with. Without the freedom to be ‘wrong’, we deny ourselves the opportunity to be corrected or persuaded of other view points.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

What, where and when, exactly, were you studying when critical theory was introduced in this very strange way?

Jane Awdry
Jane Awdry
1 month ago

Your debating skills are lamentably lacking. Perhaps you went to university…

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago
Reply to  Jane Awdry

You clearly didn’t…

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 month ago

Opinion polls are a lazy way to develop public policy. They are almost always inaccurate and flawed by wording. Crappy opinion polls drove Canada’s Covid policy.

David B
David B
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I rather suspect it was the converse in that a predetermined policy drove wilfully dishonest polling.

Gerald Arcuri
Gerald Arcuri
1 month ago

This is like asking North Koreans how much they like Kim Jong il. Or asking an SS officer whether he was free to express feelings of disagreement with the Reich. Of course, if 90% of students agree with the restrictive speech policies of the university, they will “feel free”. Their speech is protected as long as they tow the company line. They are free to express the acceptable nostrums. But someone who marches to the beat of a different drummer will not feel free to express his or her opinions for fear of being ostracized.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago
Reply to  Gerald Arcuri

“This is like asking North Koreans how much they like Kim Jong il. Or asking an SS officer whether he was free to express feelings of disagreement with the Reich.”
Really, Gerry? Sounds like you are a bit of a drama queen to me!

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
1 month ago

Nanny Graun has been booting hundreds of profiles in the last month or so too. Many longterm commenters have gone. It’s very interesting ; obviously some sort of instruction to double down. At the same time the number of articles on their site where comments are allowed, has also massively declined.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago
Reply to  Dumetrius

They told you this? Wow!
Or are you just making this all up? “Instruction to double down”? What are you talking about?

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
1 month ago

You can see that the profiles that veered right or centre or old-school left, are no longer on the site.

It’s not hard.

I suppose they could all have been simultaneously mugged by squirrels, perhaps by some bizarre coincidence (?), I grant you.

Last edited 1 month ago by Dumetrius
Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago
Reply to  Dumetrius

Did the squirrels do the punctuation in your post?
But let’s ignore that and assume that someone who you haven’t seen post in a while MUST HAVE BEEN PURGED!

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
1 month ago

You don’t do the reading thing too well, do you ? The profiles themselves – many of them – are gone.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago
Reply to  Dumetrius

The Grauniad lets you see what profiles are active?
That’s a rhetorical question – of course they don’t!

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
1 month ago

To be honest, 14% being uncomfortable sharing their views seems rather a lot.
If that figure were 1% to account for the nutters it would be reasonable

R Wright
R Wright
1 month ago

“Last week, we received the results from 2023’s National Student Survey. For the first time, students in England were asked, “During your studies, how free did you feel to express your ideas, opinions, and beliefs?” No less than 86% said “very free” or “free””
It sounds like the 1936 German parliamentary election where one side won 98.8% of the vote. I am sure that was a symbol of free expression.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago

I assume these sort of surveys are still relatively new so impossible to know if any real longitudinal trend. For example it’s 40yrs since I attended University but I can remember it was one of the first times one came across L&G advocacy, and additionally greater push-back against racism and sexism (and thank goodness for that). Did that different environment immediately make some of my fellow students more reticent about expressing certain opinions? I’m sure it did.
I can tell you though that shortly after leaving Uni for the military the ability to express opinion drastically reduced!
As regards the willingness of Leavers and Remainers to express opinions – regardless of whether Leavers tend towards less woke views (whatever they are) their confidence will have been severely dented by the shambles of Brexit. If I’d been arguing vehemently for something that turned into a right mess I’d probably keep my head down for a while and go into a bit of self censorship.

Last edited 1 month ago by j watson
polidori redux
polidori redux
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

 ” If I’d been arguing vehemently for something that turned into a right mess I’d probably keep my head down for a while and go into a bit of self censorship.”
Why?

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Some embarrassment and a trigger for reflection I suppose. Who wants to illuminate one’s self stupidity too much? Fairly normal reaction I suspect to getting something so badly wrong and realising one’s been played.
Of course there will be exceptions.

Last edited 1 month ago by j watson
polidori redux
polidori redux
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

Where is the stupidity and who has been played? My support for Brexit was based on the arguments put forward by Tony Benn and Peter Short et al. They were right then and they are right now.
Perhaps you have forgotten in whose interest the Labour Party was founded.

Last edited 1 month ago by polidori redux
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

You are, naturally, entitled to your opinion but as far as “keeping heads down” is concerned, it’s Remainers who might wish to keep theirs down in case they finally lose them, as well as the referendum. Bringing the settled issue into play in any and every debate simply emphasises how bitterness is corrosive of the human spirit.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Come on SM you have to expect the critique of such a crucial once in a generation decision going to be constant and essential, especially if still time to make a better fist of it than the shambles to date. Were it a great success one suspects we’d be hearing about it daily.
And many decisions and choices will arise every year as we go forward on the form of Brexit. Good accountability requires it and surprised you’ve been snowflakey about this if you don’t mind me saying.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

You claimed that Leavers would’ve had their confidence severely dented by (or since) Brexit, but nothing could be further from the truth. What’s more, you know that from previous exchanges of views on here. The kind of wailing you and others from the opposite camp have lowered yourselves to leaves you bereft of all but insults. Thanks for demonstrating that, too.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Beg to differ. Whilst some regulars on here will be as wedded to Brexit fallacies as ever, and probably forever, Polls suggest that is no longer shared by a majority and many Leavers will be reflecting that just perhaps they’d been lied to, or hadn’t entirely understood things.
Realising one’s been lied too, or slightly ignorant of stuff one ought to have understood a bit better, generally doesn’t enhance confidence. Narcissists will be an exception of course, as perhaps will be those who were anchored to deeper philosophical position. But they are a minority. The other Leavers will be deeply perplexed at what has happened.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

The only people saying Brexit is a failure are those who were dead against it from the outset. Brexit is done and dusted. Hopefully by leaving the corrupt EU Britons will be better equipped to see the fault-lines in their own parliament and work toward improving it.
Brexit was beautiful in that we got to see real democracy in action even if it worked against the wishes of the establishment. Is it messy? Sure. But democracy usually is. Instead of being bitter about it, perhaps now is a time to set aside differences and work on forging a new future for this great little country with its rich history and wonderful people.

Last edited 1 month ago by Julian Farrows
j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Only people saying Brexit a failure were those dead against it? Err what about Farage then? ‘Total failure’ according to our Nige. Now you must admit that’s quite a tricky one to blank out although I’m convinced you will make a noble effort at it.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

No, it’s not easy to blank out because you’re conflating two kinds of failure here. There were those who believe Brexit failed because it shouldn’t have taken place in the first place, then there were those who believe Brexit failed because it was carried out badly. Nigel Farage believes the latter, but not because he was against it from the first.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

“you’re conflating two kinds of failure here”
I wonder how many types failure you guys have. I’m guess its a lot!

Jane Awdry
Jane Awdry
1 month ago

Why are you even bothering to post? It’s adding nothing to the conversation..

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 month ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

I don’t think that your repost tallies with your statement “The only people saying Brexit is a failure are those who were dead against it from the outset” which did not distinguish between two parties expressing failure.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Pointing out logical fallacies is a bit wasted on this crowd…

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 month ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Perhaps not, I hadn’t yet read about Nigel Farage’s dismay with the way Brexit had been carried out. I kind of agree with him. It could have been executed better. The current government seems pretty half-hearted about getting Britain out of the EU. However, that’s not the same as saying the decision to leave the EU was a bad one.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Exactly same argument that die hard Communists make about why Soviet Union and Marxism failed – ‘just wasn’t done properly’.
It’s a weak argument.
The whole gambit was full of holes and the wrong answer to the right questions. Nonetheless stuck with it now.

Peter B
Peter B
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

Don’t worry, JW. We’ll muddle through and survive, in spite of ourselves. The British way.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

“I hadn’t yet read about Nigel Farage’s dismay with the way Brexit had been carried out.”
Garbage! You just got busted in an obvious lie and are now making a very lame attempt to cover your posterior. It isn’t working…

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 month ago

No, I actually hadn’t read about Nigel Farage’s views on Brexit until Tony Price mentioned it. Brexit is not something I really obsess a lot about.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Nonsense. It was well publicised and you clearly care enough about Brexit to make multiple posts on the subject. You expect us to believe that you didn’t notice when your hero called your obsession a total failure? Pull the other one, sunshine.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

A ‘noble’ effort. But you know as well as I it’s full of holes. Nige said Brexit a failure, a total failure in fact. He semi-excused that by implying poorly undertaken but the outcome the same – a failure, and a failure is a failure whether predicted before by some or not.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

Your posts should carry a trigger warning JW.

Peter B
Peter B
1 month ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Trigger warnings … that reminds me … I accidentally watched BBC2 last Saturday evening and caught the end of an intro to the next [unscheduled – I assume the ghastly cricket “Hundred” must have finished early or been rained off] program as containing material that might be “considered offensive”.
So which program was this ? The first ever episode of Dad’s Army.
That’s also a trigger warning for the Warmington on Sea platoon when they only had one rifle between them …
BBC censors and killjoys – they don’t like it up them, do they ?

Gerald Arcuri
Gerald Arcuri
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter B

The new Puritans of the Left. I forget who said this ( Orwell? ), but his definition of a Puritan was a person who was afraid that someone, somewhere, was having a good time. Dad’s Army is a hoot! I’ve watched every episode… multiple times. I wonder what this censorious censor makes of “Yes, Minister”, Maggie Thatcher’s favorite sitcom? Cheers!

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Gerald Arcuri

I agree and love Dad’s Army. Arthur Lowe’s comic timing – perfection.
But my Grandfather and his brother detested it and they’d actually fought in the Desert and Normandy. Interesting and a recollection from childhood.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter B

Slight digression, but did you pick up on the story of Tories banning civil servants from inviting speakers to conferences who were critical of Govt policy? I think the Moggster had issued a confidential internal memo giving this guidance. No doubt later that day he was grumbling about some BBC bias too.
Folks can’t have it both ways.
BBC has Tory appointed Chair and many of it’s NEDs. Still almost certainly the most balanced and transparent News agency in the World.

Last edited 1 month ago by j watson
Peter B
Peter B
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

I’d heard something around that. I’m not awaer of all the facts, but there clearly were cases where that advice made sense – why would you invite protest groups to government-sponsored conferences where their only objective was to undermine the policy of the elected government ? If these lobby groups don’t like the government policies, the time-honoured mechanism is to stand for election and test if your “better alternative” has greater support.
I’m curious how you have access to Sir JRM’s confidential internal memos. Is this normal ?

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter B

Was leaked apparently to Kenan Malik who had been cancelled.
Of course inviting a bunch of nutjobs in to present probably not sensible, but good Policy needs stress-testing and hearing the alternative argument critical.

Peter B
Peter B
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

First up, the amount of leaking going on strongly suggests to me that the Civil Service is completely unprofessional and needs a serious overhaul. You’d get fired for that sort of thing in industry. And rightly so. Same applies to politicians for me. You want respect, you earn it.
So if they are filtering out the “nut jobs” (your words) and time wasters who are only there to stop stuff getting done, I’m fully on board with that. There are more than enough of those in the civil service already – people who are paid to implement the policies of the elected government, but feel themselves entitled to claim a personal veto.
But yes, all new policies need stress-testing by critical and experienced people and that really does add value. The quality of legislation and policy making these days seems very poor – not surprising given the excessive amount of policy and legislation created and indifferent capability of most MPs. I’d happily sign up to do some of this sort of work – it’s important.
There is, however, no getting away from the fact that doing essential stuff takes far too long in this country. We’re talking 10-20 years to build a new water reservoir in the Cambridge area. The Chinese would do it in less than 1 year. The [South] Koreans might hang around a bit longer and do it in 2. We’ve got to start prioritising really important stuff and just get it done.

Last edited 1 month ago by Peter B
j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Don’t worry I can see the funny side.
That said I only actually mentioned Brexit as Author referred to differences between Leavers/Remainers. I was triggered myself I guess.
I haven’t surveyed folks in any scientific way of course but certainly most of us will now have anecdotal experience of Buyers remorse conveyed by the less rabid about the project in the first place. The most rabid are destined to spend a lifetime with their Sunk-cost fallacy. Opinion polls seem to indicate that too. And as Farage said himself ‘Brexit has been a total failure’.

Peter B
Peter B
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

Brexit is a “shambles” only in your own mind and projections. In any case, anyone claiming that they can meaningfully pass judgement on a 15 year project after 2 years needs to stop and consider what they’re doing. Given all the obstruction and attempts to make Brexit fail (or more importantly appear to fail – the opponents are largely unconcerned with actual facts – a principal reason they could only persuade 48% to support them) by insiders and would be influencers (government, civil service, media), I’d say that the UK had proved reassuring robust and stable.
You may want it to be a “right mess”. And a lot of people with similar views to you are doing their damndest to attempt to make it so (and failing yet again). But none of that changes reality.
So no, I shall not be “keeping my head down”. Though I can’t guarantee being able to rise to your provocations every time !
As always, I do have some areas of agreement. But the discrimination of 40 years ago (I started university in the earlier 1980s) was very different from today’s “discrimination”.
Incidentally, in my own field (electronics), “discrimination” wasn’t a dirty word – it was actually a technical term to describe circuitry that seperated useful signals from junk. A rather important job in communications.
But perhaps it’s been renamed now. We’re in the absurd situation where the use of long-standing technical terms like “master-slave flip flops” is being questioned … but engineers always have real problems to solve …

Last edited 1 month ago by Peter B
Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

The biggest problem with all polls and surveys is how to handle ‘don’t knows’. The second biggest problem is that people in general are ignorant of what is going on.
Once I said that government by referendum was best but then I had the answer, “What happens if we have a referendum which says, “Push the nuclear button?” This is a stupid answer because you have to train people by starting small and you need a book of rules before you start. The referendum on Brexit was a big issue to start on – because the people who had to make it work were nowhere near good enough and they were more worried about their own careers.
Today, the corruption in Parliament is destroying us. Everybody is corrupt in the sense that their own career means more than anything, more than doing the correct thing. In a way (deliberate exaggeration), it was better when we were ruled by Lords and Ladies because they didn’t have careers, only principles. Today the political Left and Right lean so much that you get a crick in your neck when you watch them. Nobody has an answer to this dilemma.
It is time to forget Brexit. We have to withdraw from the ECHA, we have to use fishing rights to force France to stop the migrant boats – you stop the boats or we’ll stop the fishing. We have to use the internet to set up some rules whereby we can have government by referendum. Then polls will be very, very meaningful.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago

Running out of time to respond too much to this one CW, but was drawn to your comment about fishing. You spoken to any British Fishermen about Brexit recently? Oh and you aware how much of our Trade goes through Calais before we get into a right Entente Cordial t*t for tat?

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 month ago

Hold on! You say that “people in general are ignorant of what is going on”, and yet at the same time you want to have government by referendum, which you reckon will produce “very, very meaningful” results. Do you want people to take a test before they vote, to justify their participation?