Vox Political – Comment moderation, censorship and outright deceit

Vox Political

I’ve followed Mike Sivier’s Vox Political for a number of years. Not so much for the quality of content (many posts are nothing more than an image and a couple of paragraphs), but because his prolific output is a good resource for catching up on things that the MSM have deigned not newsworthy, or I may have missed elsewhere on the interwebs.

Mike appears to be an avid Remainer, and is oft seen to rehash misleading and irrelevant tropes in support of his rejection of the 2016 referendum on our EU membership. The overarching premise of why I have turned to writing my own blog post as a reaction, is that he appears reluctant to engage honestly through his comments section.

My readers should be aware that I am new to commenting on his site. Indeed, I have posted two responses on one post, and one on another. Both posts relate to Brexit, and both of my initial responses to each post were withering refutations of the claims or allusions made in each post.

The first comment made, was in reaction to his use of Tom London’s Tweet (see above) expressing his opinion that the People’s Vote is the “least worst option”. I can’t be sure of Mike’s motives here, but my experience of comment moderation – where my comments are in counter distinction to the tone of the post – is that they are only cleared for publication to serve as a basis for straw-manning my points. Mike’s behaviour is entirely consistent with that, considering he refused to publish my comprehensive counter to his own response, and has not published a comment made on a later post.

It is his blog, of course, and he is free to moderate comments as he sees fit, but when you are publishing misleading propaganda, as he continues to do, the effect of censorship only makes the argument against his position all the stronger. But what good is a strong argument if people don’t get to see it? Well, that is the underlying purpose of this post.

You will see from this link, that Mike did indeed publish my initial comment. The reason I repeat it here, is that I don’t trust him to maintain the degree of “openness” he has shown me up to this point, and that he may at some point delete it entirely.

As a Leave voter myself, I am just as concerned about what the Conservatives wish to push through upon our exit from the EU as any other concerned and informed citizen is, but a People’s Vote is most assuredly NOT the least worst option.

If disenfranchising the voters of the single largest national election in British history, by supporting another vote that realises that, isn’t the worst single option, I suggest you aren’t paying attention, or you don’t understand democracy.

I have heard it said on numerous occasions that the PV isn’t the rejection of democracy, but that it is more democracy. But this is superficial and dangerously disingenuous. If its purpose is to support democracy, then why – should it be successful – does it implicitly disenfranchise the voters of the 2016 vote? It sets a precedent for the proposition that setting aside any future elections a minority didn’t vote for, has no validity. In short, it is using the methodology of democracy, to usurp democracy, full stop.

By all means, support the PV if your wish, but I caution those that do. What you are supporting is the rejection of democracy, out of hand. Whither then your voice, your rights? You will have been the architect of your own disenfranchisement, and will have set for yourself the cushion at which to kneel to an eternal Conservative government that will gladly take you at your word on this matter, remove your right to vote, and add it to those rights you fear you will lose by not supporting the PV. Hyperbole? Ask yourself this: What extent do you feel this government will go to, to remain in power, when offered a legal precedent that usurps the nation’s expressed wishes in national votes? Then ask yourself if that is a worse option than the PV.

Beyond dangerous and disingenuous, it is perhaps the most stupid proposition I could imagine.

And Mike’s response

The referendum wasn’t an election. And another vote would not disenfranchise those who took part in the 2016 vote – in the same way that a general election does not disenfranchise those who voted in the previous one.

I voted in 2016 and would appreciate another chance to vote on this, in the knowledge of everything we have learned since then – all the lies and illegalities from the Leave campaigns.

You may suggest that every election campaign features lies, if not outright illegalities, and nobody demands a new election when they are discovered. This is because politicians tend to say that circumstances have changed and they must adapt to new situations. In the case of the referendum, this option is not available as it is a statement of will from the British people. The only way to find out of that will has changed in response to new information and the circumstances that now present themselves is to have another vote.

So you are mistaken. A new vote is not a rejection of democracy but an affirmation of it. In the light of what we know now, it seems clear that anybody opposing such a vote is rejecting democracy – and I wonder why they would do so.

You claim that another vote will pave the way for an eternal Conservative government that will remove the right to vote – but haven’t you noticed that this is exactly what the Tories are trying to achieve? Be assured that among their first actions after Brexit will be legislation to remove your hard-won rights. You will only have yourself to blame if you stand against a measure that could prevent that.

I question your suggestion that those who support a people’s vote are stupid. It seems to me that this is an attempt at peer pressure – because nobody wants to be considered lacking in intelligence.
And, as you can see, supporting a people’s vote isn’t stupid – it’s simply a different viewpoint, and one that takes account of all the circumstances.

Now, there was a lot to unpack there, but I took the time to approach his concerns. Hence the length of my counter, which despite having a link, informs me my comment remains in moderation.

The notion that the referendum was an election – as you put it – is a straw man. I neither suggested it was, nor can I conceive of a situation that that would equate that to anything I was raising. You are attacking a point I didn’t raise. In my usual guise as a counter apologist, you’ve already lost the argument.

As for the idea that a new vote – which approaches the same question in principle, if not in practice – doesn’t disenfranchise those that have already voted on the issue, is moronic. If the winning vote in 2016 isn’t realised – specifically because there were another vote on the same principle – then those 2016 votes will have been actively disenfranchised. And I include those votes that supported Remain. EVERY vote would have been actively disregarded in favour of a new vote. This is an indisputable fact.

So what, I hear many argue? We have elections for a government every five years, then we get to change our minds. Yes, but not until the result of those elections are both recognised and acted upon. If we don’t leave the EU, the winning vote will not have been acted upon, despite it being recognised both in law, and by Parliament. It represents the end of democracy as we know it.

I couldn’t care less if you would appreciate the opportunity to vote again on the issue. The only people that would support such a notion, are those that would agree with your perspective that their minority democratic vote wasn’t sufficient. And while that may well be true, there is no argument that can be made that supports the idea that it would be democratic. You had your vote, as did I. You just want your vote to have an Orwellian pig weight, that mine doesn’t. Frankly, fuck you for thinking that is even an option for anyone.

You are not anywhere near an idiot, so I feel strange having to point the following out. The fact that lies and frauds were carried out in favour of Leave, in no wise disregards the fact that lies and frauds were carried out on behalf of Remain also. More importantly, though, unless you can establish a legal case why these lies and frauds factually influenced the result, in a manner that isn’t true of any other election we have ever had, you are again making the point that our democracy – such as it is – is of no value. The campaigns are not synonymous with the result. They never have been, and they never should be. Our democracy stands on the basis that we get what we HOPE to get, not necessarily what we want or need. But I guess you already realise that.

There is literally nothing to stop people having another vote on the issue, but the thing you forget is, that we ALWAYS get what we voted for, before we get to vote on the same issue again. Brexit has not been delivered, so there is no democratic basis to have another vote on the issue again, until it is realised. This is an unassailable fact, and I have to say I am fed up having to repeatedly make the same point to otherwise reasonable people like yourself. Don’t even go there.

Your rejection of my argument is based solely on the idea we get to change our mind when we are in full command of the facts, but this – again – is disingenuous. We might like to think we are informed about votes in general, but there is absolutely no requirement for this to be the case in reality. I shouldn’t have to remind you, we have a deeply unpopular government. The “people” voted them in, and we got them. What you are proposing is we should have another vote, based solely on the idea that you didn’t like the outcome of the 2017 election, and that we shouldn’t have a government at all, because we have rejected the notion that elected them. So much for the premise of democracy!

The only affirmation of the 2016 referendum, would be leaving the EU. The only way this couldn’t be true, is if people wanted to set aside democracy to overturn that result. That is NOT democracy, it is the outright rejection of it, and you should know better.

You have taken my points and twisted them – poorly – against me. While Brexit may well enable a resurgent Conservative party to erode our rights, without the basis of democracy, we have none at all worth discussing. Take that away from us, and what the Tories are proposing are insignificant by comparison. Perhaps you aren’t understanding where I’m coming from here, but that is your issue, not mine.

I didn’t say those that support the PV are stupid, I said the PV is stupid. I will not allow you to misrepresent me like that. It is the height of dishonesty. That said, it’s just that level of dishonesty that I have become all too familiar with when discussing this issue. There simply isn’t a reasonable argument for a PV that stands up to any scrutiny, without having people misrepresent reasonable and factual attacks against it. As such, the PV remains a categorically stupid position to hold, because there is no reasonable defence of it. I make no claims as to the intelligence of those that support it, because I’m not that fucking petty.

Let us, then, take account of the circumstances. We had a legally valid and recognised vote, that you wish to usurp. Own it.

It is quite reasonable, I suppose, to think that this comment wasn’t published because of some profanity, but then what was the excuse for not allowing my response to this article?

“happy and sad faces”?

This image was presented as an actual campaign on Mike’s blog, despite it not displaying an imprint of its author (a legal requirement in political campaigns), and – as we will see – it being entirely fake.

Mike’s 83 word post is presented under the rubric of “Will Brexiters get the message from this billboard campaign?” and contains typical Remain tropes. My response – while confronting the ramifications of those tropes – is based on Mike’s unstated but apparent allusions to them:

So, from this I can only assume that you believe a democratic vote includes those that chose not to vote at all, and that you believe that of those that declined, their intention was a rejection of Leave?

That would be an entirely new form of democracy, the likes of which has never been adopted by any democracy anywhere in the world, or at any time. And the fact that there were some 13+ million that didn’t vote, means only that we have insufficient information upon which to draw the conclusion this poster alludes to.

Perhaps you favour compulsory voting? Or a test to see that voters understand the nature of that they are voting on? With regard to the former, what penalties do you favour for not voting (or spoiling a paper), and where would you draw the line with regard to annulling a vote where these then criminals have made a mockery of this new democracy? One vote? 1,269,502? I trust your next General Election vote will support prison places for up to as much as a fifteen-fold increase in the prison population overnight? Or do you consider fining them for having the audacity to believe their winning 2016 vote was sufficient? Would it be retroactive, as you show no inkling of the idea that fairness is anything you hold dear? As for testing, should we all be properly versed on the intricacies of EURATOM, or perhaps we should hold the correct opinion on the new capital rules for the insurance sector (Solvency II)? Or have sufficient knowledge of future market conditions? Do we have to take the test as we vote, or will there be a round of exams for each of the 46+ million voters?

This poster isn’t so much a lie, as it is a bald assertion and a misrepresentation. One has to wonder, to what level your average “Remain” supporter will stoop to, in order to disengage from their cognitive dissonance everytime they are reminded they lost a democratic vote.

It was only after I received an email notification that another commenter had been through moderation, that I thought the image looked a little hinky, so I did a Google Image search. the only images returned on the first page of results showed an apparent single photoshop of a popular image found on Shutterstock

On the second, and only other results page, the image on Mike’s blog was used here, but according to the timestamp, it appears to be culled from Mike’s blog the previous day. I can find no other traces of it.

Quite where Mike found this image himself, is a mystery to me. I have, in the past, given him a lot of latitude on his posts, because our politics have a lot of crossover, but unless I am missing something here (which is quite feasible), it would appear Mike produced this image himself, and dishonestly presented it as an actual political campaign to further his demands for the dismantling of democracy as history records it.

I expect this sort of behaviour from creationists, not those that present themselves as considered political commentators.

One wonders if Mike would condone this sort of behaviour by an actual official campaign, and if he would be so keen to overturn the People’s Vote so quickly, for its fraudulent advertising? Or is it just him that is allowed to mislead the public?

I am dissappoint.