2007 - 2022

The Truth Team is Watching


There is always something slightly chilling about people or institutions that believe they have a special insight into the “Truth”. Philosophers approach the term “Truth” with caution, and the wisest or most acute philosophers of science of the modern era (like Paul Feyerabend) examined the concept only with skepticism, and modestly, with some trepidation.  The Scottish Labour Party, however not only believes that its representatives have a special insight into the Truth (no inverted commas required – this is Truth Itself), they even have a “Truth Team” who’s special purpose is to root out their opponents and expose them to Labour’s special insight into the Truth and provide demonstrations of their opponents’ falsehoods. When you think about it, this requires an extraordinary, querulous, deeply suspicious, accusatory, blame-seeking, finger-pointing, dark turn of mind; to set up a group of activists or researchers or spin-doctors; critically not to defend policy, create ideas or put a positive case for the Union, but to examine everyone else, in order to seek out fault, decide the Truth or Falsehood, the honesty or integrity, the good or bad faith of anyone who expresses doubt about the Union, who promotes ‘Yes’ arguments for independence, or presumably even supports a ‘Yes’ vote in the referendum; and to bring them to some kind of accounting before public opinion.

Scottish Labour do this because they have appointed themselves Prosecution, Judge and Jury over the Referendum Debate. Scottish Labour, obsessed by an entirely spurious, unattainable aspiration for “certainty” and transfixed by their own certain Truth, clearly believe that their eyes alone are able to penetrate to the very heart of Truth, and unlike anyone else, they alone possess an unerring capacity to judge falsehood in others and have the entitlement to sentence dishonesty wherever it hides. At the same time Scottish Labour has no agenda, and is above political interest; it is the final arbitrator of Truth. Truth-seeking against the enemies of political honesty is thus a task fit for a specially prepared Labour Party “Team” – a “Truth Team”. Does this remind you of anything?

“… … the three slogans on the white face of the Ministry of Truth came back to him…


… Only the Thought Police would read what he had written, before they wiped it out of existence and out of memory”.

This is Winston Smith, the protagonist struggling with thoughtcrime, face crime and newspeak in ‘1984’: George Orwell’s imaginative prophecy of the modern world, of political parties, of government, of spin-doctors. Smith’s job in the Ministry of Truth was to rewrite back-numbers of ‘The Times’ to correct Government mistakes or failed predictions with new predictions made after the event; “Winston’s job was to rectify the original figures to make them agree with the later ones”. All “history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as necessary. In no case would it have been possible, once the deed was done, to prove that any falsification had taken place”. How much like Britain today Orwell’s insight seems … …

And in 2014 in Britain, even out of office, we have the The Scottish Labour “Truth Team”. This is not it appears just a Labour “Truth Team”, but the Scottish Labour Truth Team. Orwell once wrote a review summarising Thomas Carlyle’s character, which by chance to me sums up Scottish Labour’s ‘peculiar temper’ as possessing: “the spleen of the unconscious egoist, the denouncer of this and that, the discoverer of new sins”. It chills the heart.

So lets look at just one of the Truth Team claims; the Scottish Labour website suggests in a short video that the SNP (and it is always the SNP, it seems that only SNP members will vote Yes according to Labour) is guilty among many apparent failings of “dishonesty” and the video freely advertises Daily Express and Sun headlines describing Alex Salmond as a “liar”. Labour insists “You Must be Told the Truth”; but the only Truth offered, verified by the authority of two tabloids, is that Alex Salmond is dishonest: Dishonesty is the Truth.

This is sadly typical of the intellectual low to which Scottish Labour has now apparently irretrievably sunk. So, how do we find out the “Truth”? To find out what the facts are; in Labour’s own words, to “Find out the facts and expose the myths”, a visitor to the Labour website is required first to click on ‘Get Started’. This option proves somewhat disappointing. Instead of the myths, facts (and presumably lies) being revealed in all their vast and lurid detail, what the seeker after truth discovers is that he/she must fill in an application form with personal details: “Sign up to the 2014 Truth Team and support the Scottish Labour Party”. I already feel a little like Winston Smith: on a list, under surveillance – trapped in a Web I do not understand. You work for them, or you are presumed to be the enemy.

This protocol is clearly not an access to “truth” that is open to scrutiny by anyone outside the Labour Party, or to critical scrutiny by non-Labour supporters, available to those outside the faithful – people who might not prove ‘reliable’; the Truth can only be seen by supporters of the Sect, presumably kept locked within some secret sanctum sanctorum: which suggests a slightly creepy interpretation of “Truth” and a degree of commitment that Labour are simply not entitled to assume every seeker after truth, every sensible elector with a modicum of common sense would, or should, be prepared to accept blindly. You must offer allegiance to Labour first, even to find out what is the “Truth”; now that really is creepy.



[Editor’s Note: after a long and mysterious disappearance the Truth seem to have reappeared. You can follow The Truth here: @2014TruthTeam]

Comments (20)

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  1. Rosa Alba Macdonald says:

    With such witch hunty tactics (one presumes the idea too to keep their own bods on message) it seems unbelievable, then, that the likes of the erstwhile candidate for Angus or other sic characters were not etter managed (or identified).
    Despite this Labour has done itself so much damage.

  2. Virgil_Caine says:

    Aye but both sides play this game of ‘truth’ fabrication, it is peculiar Labour call it that but politics/governance is all about the manipulation and control of discourse in order to create docile citizens who do what they are told. Vote Yes, Vote No either way you are being told a story/fabrication.

    1. haggis68 says:

      If you think you are being lied to by YES, then tell us… Your concerns will be addressed. The evidence will be presented. But most of all, your voice will not be muted…
      If something concerns you, it will concern others. By answering your questions we answer theirs.
      Or is this post intended to undermine by association? NO are lying, therefore YES must be lying as well…

      1. Virgil_Caine says:

        No what I am talking about are the mechanisms by which nation states and more broadly politics work by. This is regardless of what state you live in, it is about building consent through discourse in order to control and govern populations, truth is therefore always set within a process that is constantly being redefined and contested. The work of Foucault neatly develops these arguments in relation to the development of nation states.

        1. haggis68 says:

          …and how would that apply to a modern internet savy public? Those who get their news from domestic media are dying out. (They have been since Watergate.) A new generation who routinely access foreign and amateur reports are taking their place. Manipulation requires a monopoly of media and the trust of the recipient. Once these are lost, a ruling elite will default to increasingly draconian measures until they are replaced. Austerity and the demonisation of the poor/unemployed are exactly this processes. This referendum is a chance to do the replacement without the usual bloody revolution…

    2. daviddynamo says:

      What do you believe in, Virgil? The Confederate Army; dixieland jazz bands; anarcho-syndicalism; or just trawling around, attempting to bring confusion to a straightforward Yes/No referendum?

      Please focus on the actual question facing Scotland’s voters in September – Should Scotland be an independent country?

      As for you personally, 1: are you entitled to vote in the referendum? 2: If so, will you be voting Yes?
      I am happy for non-voters to express opinions, but I hope they have something relevant to say. You so far have given us only nihilistic verbiage.

      1. Virgil_Caine says:

        It’s not nihilistic to want a more participatory form of governance, anarchistic yes! 1. Yes 2. Yes, does not mean I can’t still critique the structural processes that are taking place or would you like to silence that in a New Labour style too?

  3. Angus says:

    Is it easier for Scotland to be ‘controlled’ from a long distance away by people not directly accountable to the electorate of your country though Virgil, or is it more difficult?

    1. Virgil_Caine says:

      It will make no difference, someone in ‘power’ will still be trying exert processes of governmentality (this to me is the failing of nation states and representational democracy) whether in London or Edinburgh independent or together, left or right these processes of truth fabrication will continue.

      1. Ian Lowe says:

        Well, if you believe that nothing will make any difference, and they are all exactly the same, vote Yes – if for nothing more than providing the current incumbents in Westminster a ready lesson in the futility of things.

        I don’t believe that this ‘they are all as bad as each other’ is actually correct. I think that Holyrood is a more representational, less combative legislature where many of the rules and policies are being written with the knowledge of what has gone wrong before, borrowing best practice from around the globe. We do expenses better than Westminster, we do DNA retention by police better – given the chance, across all of parliament, we can do many, many things better.

        it’s worth a punt, if nothing else.

      2. Virgil_Caine says:

        Ian – I agree with your points but I’m talking about the mechanisms of control that all governments, whether close or distant work by and which the above paper discusses. This will not change with independence because at the moment the model of democracy proposed post-independence by current political elites isn’t that different from the Westminster model or any other representational democracy. You still vote for a party on a 4/5 year basis and then you have little direct say until the next vote. Hence when/if an independent general election takes places all parties will be playing similar games as they are trying to control discourse in order to present themselves as rational, trustworthy, competent etc.

  4. Tom Platt says:

    “Vote Yes, Vote No either way you are being told a story/fabrication.”

    The dangerous difference is that the “No” Scottish Labour message is beamed over the BBC, the UK state broadcaster, who most people feel obliged to support financially because of the criminalising consequences of not doing so. The message is reinforced by Westminster supportive mainstream media who will not worry about deleting any comments posted in which challenges their “truth”.

    The “Yes” story is relatively difficult to obtain and people have to exert themselves to obtain it. The biggest obstacle that “Yes” faces is getting its real message known and out there against all this BBC et al brainwashing and the distortion of the “Yes” real message that they deliberately undertake.. Alex Salmond was absolutely correct to time the referendum so late to allow time for the slow process of mouth to mouth and social media engagement. The danger is that even he might not have allowed enough time. .

    .John S Warren’s article is spot on.

    Orwell’s 1984 is with us in the Westminster Establishment controlled and manipulated UK. We need to vote “Yes” if we want to try to be free of it and organise our own Government.

  5. I find it hard to believe that all Scottish Labour MPs and MSPs continue to be so resolutely pro-union. George Mudie had the courage to admit his pro-Yes sympathies but only now he is due to retire. I think it just needs one so-called “big beast” to waver and the No campaign could come crashing down.

    1. Dean Richardson says:

      I don’t find it hard to believe, unfortunately. They’re all career politicians riding a lavish gravy-train, and they know that if they get turfed off their current gravy-train and can’t find another one to ride (which would be very unusual for such people), they might, horror of horrors, have to go find some proper work to do, which very few of them have the talent or work ethic to do.

  6. dcanmore says:

    ‘You must offer allegiance to Labour first, even to find out what is the “Truth”; now that really is creepy.’

    That’s exactly how the ‘Church’ of Scientology works. Both only want two things, your loyalty ad infinitum and your monetary contribution.

  7. arthur thomson says:

    Aye sure they do Virgil. War is peace. Shock and awe and all that. Your head must be spinning. My guess is that you use a dice to make your important decisions.

    1. Virgil_Caine says:

      Just need a coin for the indyref…

  8. Colin says:

    I used to vote for Labour and probably still would , until I read this:

    “We were set up as the party to represent the values of working people, working being the key word. We weren’t set up as some sort of charity to help the poorest in society – the long-term unemployed, the benefit dependent, the drug addicted, the homeless.” (Tom Harris, Labour MP for Glasgow South)

    Tell me the truth, if we don’t look after them then who will, or what will happen to them?

  9. John S Warren says:

    “Tell me the truth, if we don’t look after them then who will, or what will happen to them?”

    The answer? Nobody, not in this man’s Union; which is run from London, for London.

    Victor Hugo visited London in 1852. He was struck by the inhumanity of the city, and gave shape to his unease in some words he drafted after a late night walk along London Bridge:

    “Is it Hell?
    No. It is London.”

    The deeply prophetic Scottish poet James Thomson saw almost the same thing in ‘City of Dreadful Night’ (1874):

    “The City is of Night, perchance of Death,
    But certainly of Night;”

    Bernard de Mandeville wrote his poem ‘The Fable of the Bees’ (1705) as a cynical but nevertheless affectionate tribute to London, and in consequence developed a new economic theory which caught Adam Smith’s attention. Mandeville summarised this theory, based on his observation of the working of London, in “The Moral”:

    T’ enjoy the World’s Conveniences,
    Be famed in War, yet live in Ease,
    Without great Vices, is a vain
    EUTOPIA (sic) seated in the Brain.
    Fraud, Luxury and Pride must live,
    Whilst we the Benefits receive:
    Hunger’s a dreadful Plague no doubt,
    Yet who digests or thrives without?

    The only way to care for the forgotten in our country is to vote ‘Yes’ in September.

  10. yerkitbreeks says:

    Leaving the “Team” bit aside, has anyone noticed how MSM interviewees, mainly politicians such as A Carmichael, but also the likes of Scotland’s only psephologist, prefix their answers with ” the truth is “.

    I suggested to Wings that this might make for an amusing piece, but Stu’s reply was they all do it since they assume their audience will think they are lying !

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