« Yes, the BBC is biased | Main | Finance, technology & power »

October 31, 2017



"Many of the angry older white men who professed to be outraged by MPs’ expenses claims are themselves not wholly unacquainted with imaginative accounting."

That's seems fair enough given the fundamental underpinning of representative democracy appears to be "we're better than you." If they're neither morally superior nor smart enough to not get caught it kind of narrows the fields our tribunes might claim to be exemplary in.


P. Staines is putting a dead cat on the table to distract for something - presumably Brexit.

Jim Harrison

In the U.S, at least, it is pretty clear that any report about dirty politicians benefits the Republicans even if it is about the bad behavior of a Republican because such scandals reinforce the belief that "they're all crooks!" Universal cynicism benefits the genuinely corrupt, and low turnouts are always good for the right.


Guido wants to have his cake and eat it too. He posts a list but omits names. He then claims he knew about all but three of these allegations. This last claim means he is vetting the list and confirming it checks against his prior knowledge of these cases.

The reason folks like Affleck and Damon got burned after their statements on Weinstein is because part of the current outrage is directed not just at the pervs, but also at the culture where people know it happens and do nothing.

Guido escaped public indignation on releasing his list but he should be careful if he tries to play righteous truth-teller about this. He has been part of this culture and is trying to change sides without being spotted.


I think one thing to keep in mind in the Clinton-Trump contest was that as grotesque Trump was, Clinton was also no saint. She had a long record of suspected corruption dating back to early political beginnings and then later there were justifiable concerns about links with cronies at Goldman Sachs. In some ways it was a vote against hypocrisy and business as usual.

Arthur Murray

"The Sun" and the "Daily Mail" would be full of leaks if the 58 impact studies—the ones that the Government is refusing to release—showed that Brexit was going to have a positive effect. So not much sunlight shining onto the effects of Brexit.

We are being told that the UK’s position in the Brexit negotiations will be strengthened by keeping the studies secret.

Isn’t it likely that the EU has done its own impact studies and knows exactly what is going on?


My guess is that in this case sunlights going to help change the norms for the better.

Luis Enrique

there's also the possibility of a reactionary response if people perceive an overreaction

Remember Trump's locker room talk. Baffling though it may seem, there were evidently some women who found the reaction to the offence more objectionable than the offence itself (the fact many men felt that way is much less surprising). Perhaps because they thought it was hypocritical, or perhaps they found the gravity of the offence exaggerated, I don't know. I don't know how many women reacted in this way - 53% of white women voted for him, but who knows what the split is on this particular issue. My point is merely that sunlight can sometimes send many people in strange directions.

I've heard some women today saying they think the reaction to hands on knees and unwanted sexual advances is excessive. I guess the current furore may push some women away from feminism, even whilst I imagine most readers of this blog would regard the end of tolerance of sexual harassment, if that's what's happening now, as a milestone for feminism. But if recent years have taught me anything it is that more people than I ever imagined think in ways I find utterly incomprehensible.


Chris, do you think there are any parallels between Brandeis' quote ("Sunlight is the best disinfectant") and Mill's arguments in relation to free speech? If so, do you think the Ostermaier and Uhl study has implications for free speech advocates?


Also, do you think norms can be shifted if things are shown to be more widespread than previously thought? Or is the impact of exposure bound exogenously?

Lidl Janus

I suspect part of the problem is that, with the connivance of the media, all kinds of information is being chucked into a giant story blender, and so people are hearing about a) how this is really shocking, and b) how someone put a hand on someone's knee. When everything from completely-legal affairs to rape accusations to already-apologised-for remarks all go into the mixer, the resulting paste probably tastes, to the half-aware public, like bullshit.

I suppose sunlight is the best disinfectant if and only if it's aimed at the actual pathogen. I'm reminded of the exercise, some years ago now, when the DCLG had every council publish all of their purchases over £500 in the name of transparency, the alleged theory being that armchair auditors would comb through every order of printer paper and consulting work to uncover irregularities. Readers here will be shocked/amazed/bored/sexually aroused by how much this didn't happen.


I have no difficulty believing serious offences have taken place and been covered up by powerful people. But I'm suspicious some reports are over-exaggerating mild lechery, and perhaps 'Me Too' is encouraging self-interested attention seeking in some quarters.

I know some will find my view offensive, but I doubt I'm the only one hearing alarm bells over the conflation of serious assaults with milder stuff. Feminists get unfairly ridiculed because extreme positions on the fringes unwittingly trivialise genuine misogyny. Same thing could happen here, seriously unacceptable behaviour getting swamped by the tenuous bandwagon claims. Serious actions like rape won't get the deserved response because they're lumped in with lewd remarks and knee tapping.


«locker room tal ... some women who found the reaction to the offence more objectionable than the offence itself»

Some men have never heard women's "locker room talk".

«some women today saying they think the reaction to hands on knees and unwanted sexual advances is excessive»

Sexually attractive men might not be surprised.


«Scrutiny encourages not so much ethical behaviour as conformity to norms.»

So far no comment on the outrageous implicit assumption by our blogger in the above.

The comments to this entry are closed.

blogs I like

Blog powered by Typepad