The sister of a colleague is having trouble with the truth, liars, lies, lying & falsehoods. She doesn’t know what they are. She has over a million Twitter followers & a huge media profile.

I worry for my colleague. Her sister. And the UK. I thought I might try to help.

The @OED will, I hope, forgive me for the inevitable process of simplification I’m about to apply to their learned entries. But I’ll try to avoid recreating the farrago of nonsense we’ve been seeing on the subject of truth & lying.

Let’s start with the meaning of “true”. /2.
This is quite easy really. For those not easily distracted by inverted pyramids of piffle.

To be true is to conform with reality & fact.

Which brings us to “truth”.

Truth is that which is true. Real. Factual.

Phew. We’re getting somewhere.

Bear with me. /3.
Let’s try our hand at “false” & “falsehood”.

If you were a person who criticises lawyers who get the better of you, but hires them to help you bend the rules, you’d be in heaven, looking for definitional loopholes.

If you had a moral compass you’d see “false” means “untrue”./4.
Getting warmer. “Falsehood”. Milton: “Let truth and falsehood grapple. Who ever knew truth put to the worse in a free & open encounter?”

A serious leader or commentator would stand for truth.

Lesser beings would first need to realise a falsehood is an untruthful statement. /5.
How about a “lie”?

Shall we just cut through it all? Perhaps with a smile. Whether or not that’s characterised by a great wordsmith as watermelon-like.

A lie is a statement which is untrue, or intentionally false.

Look carefully. Especially colleagues’ sister. Thanks. /6.
The verb to lie means to tell a lie. Or to make an intentionally false statement.

Pretty easy now. Or perhaps not. If you’re in the habit of describing entirely innocent people as looking like bank robbers. Or part of the postal infrastructure.

Let’s move on. /7.
This is quite exciting. We’re about to find out what a liar is.

We know a liar can’t be present in the House of Commons. The Speaker wouldn’t allow it. And no one’s permitted even to say it.

What a relief.

Because a liar is someone who lies. Tells falsehoods. Is untruthful./8.
Thank you @OED. What would we have done without you?

To recap.

A liar is someone who lies. Or tells falsehoods. Is untruthful.

The question of a liar’s intention isn’t an escape route from the requirement, on decent people, to tell the truth.

I’ll leave it at that. /9.
But not quite.

I said “the sister of a colleague”. That’s no longer true. If a “colleague” is someone working in the same corporation, institution or organisation, the strictly correct statement now is “former colleague”.

I wouldn’t wish to tell a lie. However small. /10. End
(Correction to tweet 6: “colleague’s sister”. Obvs).

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More from @AndrewPRLevi

1 May
Many thanks for comments received on Amb E-J von Studnitz’s recent article (see attached🧵👇) about Russia & Germany.

These are important reflections on an existentially significant matter for the Euro-Atlantic alliance & the world.

My initial thoughts in response. A short🧵/1.
The biggest challenge raised by the analysis in the article is the apparent complete lack of willingness of the Putin-Russian power elite to engage in hoped for manner. It would surely be to the benefit of Russia if it did. /2.
And, as the article convincingly sets out, there’s no (good) alternative for Russia. But it would be disastrous to Putin & his power grouping. Or, at least, they couldn’t have any confidence that it wouldn’t be. /3.
Read 11 tweets
30 Apr
Russia & Germany - what next?

It’s a perilous moment in the internal & external development of Russia.

Few understand Russia & Germany better than Ernst-Jörg von Studnitz (below with Mikhail Gorbachev).

In a recent article he says Nordstream 2 & old thinking must go. A 🧵/1.
Published originally in German (below) in the Redoute Papers series, Ambassador von Studnitz’s article is presented in English, in this short🧵. Each page accompanied by a one-tweet summary/ commentary by me. It carries sharp messages for German & other western policy-makers. /2.
Drawing on deep historical understanding & over half a century’s experience dealing with Russia, including as German ambassador in Moscow 1995 - 2002, Dr von Studnitz examines the Germany-Russia context facing a new Chancellor in Berlin this September. Old approaches are out. /3.
Read 11 tweets
29 Apr
Margaret Thatcher gave the impartial, professional Civil Service a big shove down the slippery slope of politicisation & cronyism, decades ago. Previously, Harold Wilson had given it a modest kick. But it was her 1985 assault which set the stage for the current crisis.

A 🧵/1.
Via Robert Armstrong, the then head of the Civil Service, she insisted the Crown was indistinguishable from the government of the day. So, service to the former was to be understood as service to the latter & vice versa. /2.
The actual “Armstrong Memorandum” (subsequently updated) was & is a deal more sophisticated than that. And, at one level, it’s a non-point. Ministers are set above civil servants. No one denies it. But, of course, it wasn’t meaningless. Far from it. The intent was clear. /3.
Read 18 tweets
16 Apr
Many thanks for responses to this tweet 👇

I’ll add some context in this short 🧵.

First, why did I send it?

Because of widespread confusion & even delusion on two points:

(a) no one outside the UK voted for Brexit. Not Ireland. Not the EU. No one. The problems .../1.
...arising from Brexit aren’t for them to solve.

Claiming what you’ve messed up can’t have been you & it’s someone else’s business to clean up may (sometimes) be amusing or even charming in a three year old. Not a in national government, or .../2.
... among major media outlets & millions of adult voters;

(b) the fact two of the UK’s primary constituent parts (“home nations”) voted Remain, along with many of the UK’s main cities, including London, is highly significant. Because it’s one of the principal factors .../3.
Read 13 tweets
15 Apr
It’s a pity to see Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, someone who often has insight to offer, shredding his credibility in @Telegraph with near hysterical claims of a Brexit miracle.

One can only imagine the ... input received from on high which persuaded him to write it.

A short 🧵/1.
It’s notable that Mr Evans-Pritchard’s positive predictions for relatively higher UK than EU growth depend on the UK vaccination effort being more effective, sooner than the EU’s. And on large numbers of Hong Kong migrants settling in the UK. /2.
The former remains to be seen. There’s a lot of excitable betting on the UK hare beating the EU tortoise. Let’s wait a short while to find out. (Germany vaccinated 740,000 people yesterday).

The latter is, of course, every Brexit voter’s dream. /3.
Read 6 tweets
14 Apr
It’s truly painful to watch James Dyson delivering a hodgepodge of pure nonsense about the benefits of Brexit. He founded & leads a successful business. Yet every “fact” is wrong.

All he has left is emotion.

He must know it.

What does it tell us that he says it anyway? A 🧵/1.
He may believe “independence of spirit” & personal determination explain his success. He has both, in quantities which set him apart from most people. Yet even if it were the reason (spoiler: it isn’t), compared to the UK his business is tiny, simple & profoundly different. /2.
Sir James’s personal qualities helped him through key challenges, as the individual central to Dyson Ltd. /3.
Read 31 tweets

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