David Garcia on Tue, 17 Dec 2019 12:34:31 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Populist anger is ‘a gift wrapped in barbed w

In the immediate aftermath of the UK election result Iain Dunt, journalist and angry voice of Liberalism, when asked 
whether “The campaign is definitive proof that you don’t need to in any way adhere to the truth in campaigning you can just 
refuse to be scrutinised not do interviews and just steam on through” ? 

After a long pause..and a deep sigh Dunt replied: “Yeah it is… that doesn’t have to remain the case..that is something we fight.. 
but what has happened is that, that technique has been vindicated. He (Johnson) avoided scrutiny, he wouldn’t do interviews, he lied 
relentlessly and he tried to smear and destroy and tarnish the reputation of those who tried to hold him to account. So now in the future 
people will look at this (people over-seas and in other parties) will look and think THAT WORKS, and he Dominik Cummings and 
everyone around him will think that works so we’ll keep on doing it. So yes its been vindicated for now.. our challenge our task is to 
defeat it and that is one of the stories of the next 5 years of our lives.” Dunt is right and every one on the left complaining about  BBC 
bias will look back on it nostalgically as Johnson eviscerates it. He has already declared his government is boycotting the BBC flagship 
Today program.

But what Dunt’s militant liberalism misses is that the technocratic verities of ‘experts’ guiding us with evidence towards legitimate truth 
claims have been discredited. The endless fact checking that flooded the election did nothing to reverse a generalised epistemic 
cynicism as political parties even began creating their own fake fact checking sites. Its not primarily the quality of the evidence that 
matters its how (and how fast) they circulate. Many people who voted for Johnson’s had already priced his lies into market place 
of wild assertion and spin. In a landscape of lies, they reasoned, you may as well opt for the apex predator. As David van Reybrouk the 
Flemish advocate of deliberative democracy through citizens’ assemblies recently declared “Populist anger is ‘a gift wrapped in barbed 
wire. Its people shouting please let us be involved’ ”. 

David Garcia

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