But this is where we are now. In Putin's world, the post-Trump world, you never have to apologise for anything.
Ignorance. It's the new thing. Not even ignorance - total unbridled, unapologetic ignorance.
Last week, one Daniel Kawczynski tweeted the following: "Britain helped to liberate half of Europe. She mortgaged herself up to the eyeballs in process. No Marshall Plan for us only for Germany. We gave up war reparations in 1990. We put PS370billion into EU since we joined. Watch the way ungrateful EU treats us now. We will remember."
There was just one problem with this statement - it was utter, total rubbish.
The Marshall Plan was the American system of payments of more than $12billion agreed in 1948 to help rebuild Europe after World War II. In reality, Britain received about 20 per cent of the money, more than any other country. We received $2.7billion - a third more than West Germany.
And who was this keyboard warrior Kawczynski? Was he an angry Brexiteer? An EDL thug? A madman used to conducting his political debates while clutching a pint of lager in the car park of a flat-roofed pub? Why no - he's the Conservative MP for Shrewsbury. Within a few days, his tweet had received more than 10,000 replies, most of them pointing out just how wrong he was.
And what was his reaction? Did he delete the tweet? Apologise? Delete his Twitter account? Again, no - the tweet is still proudly up there, over a week later. And the MP for Shrewsbury went on the BBC to defend his lies.
"The tweet was actually talking about all the things that Britain has done for Europe," he said. "Let's not forget we liberated part of Europe in the Second World War. Unfortunately, many European countries are not treating us as fairly as Britain has treated Europe over centuries. I was trying to get across that Britain has been very fair and very generous."
Kawczynski stormed off another radio show live on air when he was pressed on his lies. Of course, possible that the honourable member was not intentionally lying in his original tweet. But the moment it was pointed out to him that he was wrong, the moment he had a chance to do some Googling and find out some facts about the Marshall Plan, he didn't delete or apologise. He amplified what he had said. He doubled down.
Like most people, I was a little sketchy on the details of the Marshall Plan myself. (Hey, it was 1948 - my mum was five.) But here was a "teachable moment", as they say, and a little research proved illuminating.
It turns out that by the 50s - the good old days many Brexiteers would like to return to - Britain's investment in industry and infrastructure came to nine per cent of our GNP, as opposed to Germany's 19 per cent. Inevitably, German industry thrived, constructing new autobahns and totally re-engineering and electrifying their rail networks. Meanwhile, we stuck with steam haulage, clapped-out tracks and a totally inadequate road and telecommunications network.
Britain chose to spend its Marshall Plan money propping up a huge military we couldn't afford so we could play with the big boys of the new world order - Russia and the USA.
Britain's defence expenditure for 1950-1 - the final year of Marshall aid - was 7.7 per cent of GNP. Meanwhile, Germany and Japan's defence spending was precisely zero.
Contrary to what Kawczynski claimed, Britain wasn't treated badly or unfairly. In what was to become a familiar pattern, we ruined ourselves.
But this is where we are now, isn't it? In Putin's world - the post-Trump world - you never have to apologise for anything.
The churn is relentless. So many lies are being told so constantly that it's not possible for us to dwell on anything for very long. Lies that would have ended earlier political careers are forgotten in a day now.
It has been said that some evils are so powerful that they can cheerfully withstand identification as evils. Money would be the most obvious example.
Lying must now be added to that list. One of the things most of us were told forcefully as children - you don't tell lies - no longer holds water. You can lie. Openly and proudly. And you can not only get away with it, you can flourish and prosper.
Of course, the headline "MP CAUGHT LYING" isn't even a headline at all. It has ever been thus. But I do miss the good old days when being openly caught lying would have consequences. Where Kawczynski would have lost his job.
And then you remember he's the MP for Shrewsbury, an area so fiercely Conservative and pro-Brexit he could get up and say, "It's a disgrace that Britain lost World War II and still has to pay the EU PS200billion a week" while in blackface and dressed in a Nazi outfit and he'd still get re-elected.
They say you get the politicians you deserve. What did Britain do to deserve a lying buffoon like Kawczynski? Oh yeah, we voted for Brexit. We ruined ourselves. Just like in the good old days.
LESSON TO LEARN Tory MP Kawczynski
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|Publication:||Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Feb 10, 2019|
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