We need new legislation to address the overt disregard for truth in the UK, or at least get the conversation going. There are countless times where we have had elected persons who act too freely with words which has resulted in simply misleading people. It has been happening far too often recently and our democracy ceases to be effective if it is allowed to continue. There are many who think because it happens all the time then it is ok … but it’s not.
A perfect example was when the covid vaccine was announced and almost immediately, Brexit supporters said it was because we had left the EU which was put corrected … yet the tweets remain.
MPs are able to just say something without thinking and have no fear as to whether it is accurate or not. We should campaign for a democracy where MPs have to stop and think before saying something. This means introducing legislation that makes it a criminal offence for MPs to intentionally or recklessly say written or unwritten statements if they prove what they said at the time was true and accurate.
There was an attempt to tackle the issue of lying with a private prosecution of Boris Johnson by Marcus Ball. This failed, and the court found misconduct was about neglect of duties or abuse of state power. It was not sufficient to say that the statements were simply made in office. The alleged misconduct of an individual must have been while acting as a public official, not by simply being a public official. It is not enough occupying such a position even if that position comes with influence.
More from Yorkshire Bylines:
- Black people don’t ski! by Joel Baccas
- What happens when ‘the chaps’ are no longer ‘good’? by John Cole
- Boris Johnson and the British public: a case of coercive control? by Dr Pam Jarvis
Parliament has looked at false statements in the past, via legislation like the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Prevention Act 1895 and The Representation of the People Act 1983. However, we still see MPs freely misleading us. With the addition of social media, MPs are able to just say something even if it isn’t correct and once it’s out, it is out – misinformation spreads. When MPs are called out on something they said that was not true or accurate, nothing happens.
This petition calls for the introduction of criminal sanctions on MPs who mislead us. It is not acceptable that MPs are able to mislead the public with written or unwritten statements especially when they have influence. Sign it and let parliament debate it. If anything, the end game should be just to make sure that an MP thinks before making a statement.
You can sign the petition HERE.