Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

Censorship is deadly


The danger of suppressing information and alternative views in matters of public interest is that it will likely lead to costly and lethal policy errors.

Alastair Campbell says it is a shame that the UK does not jail politicians for misleading Parliament. Can he have forgotten that Blair assured the Commons that he knew - rather than was personally convinced - Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction? Had due weight been allowed to dissenting opinion many lives domestic and foreign might have been spared; imagine TB losing the vote in a better-informed House and saying 'I get it' as Cameron did over Syria.

A propos, the EU has just unleashed its Digital Services Act. The Commission explains:

Disinformation is false or misleading content that is spread with an intention to deceive or secure economic or political gain, and which may cause public harm. Misinformation is false or misleading content shared without harmful intent though the effects can be still harmful.

It does not take a lawyer to see the scope in these vague terms for bullying and persecution - even proof of mens rea is not necessarily required. The process of defending oneself against charges under this Act could be a severe punishment in itself and the very possibility of such action is surely bound to have a chilling effect on debate and journalism.

We have seen something like this already in the US, where 'hockey stick' Michael Mann's lawsuit against climate change sceptic (boiling zealots may prefer the term 'denier') Mark Steyn grinds on after more than twelve years. What a good thing we can't come to a swift judgement by looking carefully at the litigants' faces; though I should love to have seen Judge Judy preside over the case.

The use of media influencers is particularly pernicious. In effect the forum has been partitioned and one half - sometimes by far the smaller - supplied with loud-hailers. Sometimes the latter infiltrate the crowd and call for the release of Barabbas so that the multitude imagines that is the consensus; such is one technique of the Behavioural Insights Team (oh for a leaker report on their thoughts and doings!)

The social and news media also abound with fellow-travellers who distort our perceptions of the truth and of society's general opinion. Here is an example from Wikipedia, which is often useful on less contentious subjects, discussing the distinguished geologist Professor Ian Plimer:

The above is a snip (captured on 26/8/2023) of Google's response to the search for 'ian plimer.'

To me this thumbnail is designed to denigrate Plimer so quickly as to discourage one from proceeding to the main entry. I say this because there is an item here that does not appear in the article: 'Movies: Greedy Lying Bastards.' You might think Plimer participated somehow in the movie - perhaps it is about the greenwashers who have been making so much money off eco-fanatics?

You could be tempted, as I was, to click on that link without reading in depth about Plimer. It leads to a Google search page and second down in the results is another Wiki entry, explaining that the film is about 'the climate change misinformation campaign waged by the petroleum industry and its funded think tanks.' There is no reference to Professor Plimer in this Wiki piece. The director is an environmental activist and the composer also 'wrote the score for An Inconvenient Truth,' part of Al Gore's campaign about global warming. What has all that to do with Plimer personally? Nothing that I can see - but the inclusion of the thumbnail link could be read as implying that he receives oil money for false propaganda on the subject. If stated overtly, such a claim might lead to a faster court procedure than Mann's.

The whole approach is like that of the girls in The Crucible: turn on the sceptics and threaten them. It's the third stage in what Christopher Booker described in 'Groupthink' - begin with a view that is inadequately justified, look for support from others, then persecute the naysayers. What matters is not the truth but what most people think, or at least what most people are encouraged to believe most other people think. Hence the reference in the thumbnail to 'scientific consensus' - which raises the question, how is that consensus arrived at? When 100 authors criticised Einstein in 1931 he replied, 'If I were wrong, one professor would have been enough.'

The Gadarene rush towards a very questionable conclusion as to the threat posed by CO2 has extremely serious implications for our health and wealth. We cannot afford to shut down proper nuanced debate, on this or many other matters.

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Director : Robert Oulds
Tel: 020 7287 4414
Chairman: Barry Legg
The Bruges Group
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Founder President :
The Rt Hon. the Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven LG, OM, FRS 
Vice-President : The Rt Hon. the Lord Lamont of Lerwick,
Chairman: Barry Legg
Director : Robert Oulds MA, FRSA
Washington D.C. Representative : John O'Sullivan CBE
Founder Chairman : Lord Harris of High Cross
Head of Media: Jack Soames