The Mojito Affair highlights a warped sense of priorities

I have to confess that until all the headlines about Diane Abbott yesterday, I had no idea that the relatively innocent act of sipping a Mojito on a tube train was illegal, thanks to measures brought in by Boris Johnson when he was Mayor of London.

But my main reaction to this spectacular non-event was to wonder what on earth the world has come to when sipping that Mojito is worthy of a public apology and acres of virtual and actual newsprint when lying and cheating your way to a narrow referendum victory is not.

March 29th was the day when we were scheduled to leave the EU. I wake up every day grateful that I am still an EU citizen and am hopeful that I will always remain so.  Leaving would break my heart. I can only imagine how it would have felt on March 29th if we were leaving to know that Vote Leave had dropped their appeal against a fine imposed by the Electoral Commission. 

The BBC reported:

An Electoral Commission spokesman said: “Vote Leave has today withdrawn its appeal and related proceedings against the Electoral Commission’s finding of multiple offences under electoral law, committed during the 2016 EU referendum campaign.

“Vote Leave was the designated lead campaigner for the leave outcome at the referendum.

“We found that it broke the electoral rules set out by Parliament to ensure fairness, confidence and legitimacy at an electoral event. Serious offences such as these undermine public confidence in our system and it is vital, therefore, that they are properly investigated and sanctioned.

“We have been advised that Vote Leave has paid its £61,000 fine and look forward to receiving the sum in full.”

The fact that Vote Leave cheated has achieved remarkably little traction. This is something that could easily have affected the legitimacy of the referendum result. We are still poised on the brink of taking a regressive and harmful step on the basis of a result obtained by cheating.

If this was a football match, the press would be screaming about the injustice. Something that actually matters and affects all our lives? Not so much.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Including the then Government’s leaflet which clearly recommended voting remain, Remain outspent Leave by more than two to one. If anyone thinks that that was unfair on Remain then I can only wonder what some people think would have been fair. Ten to one like in the previous referendum ?

  • Chris Bertram 21st Apr '19 - 12:36pm

    @Mark Seaman: how much do you think the campaign against the EU every day every week every year by most of the national press was worth? Whatever the government spent, it was never going to compensate for that.

  • How much did the right wing tabloids which are most of the tabloids spend on the vote leave campaign? Every day we’re treated to EU and migrant phobia from these papers much of it lies and will be proved as such.

  • I’m afraid the right wing press won. Now while some of them are starting to repent, it is a slow super tanker turn as they try to change their readerships view. It is intresting to see it didn’t take long to get rid of Darce after it became apparent he was “bad for business”. Desmond dropped the Depress stable onto Reach Plc, who keep the anti EU screech up, but only to keep what few readers they have, rather than through ideological commitment. The press spent 40 years blaming the EU now they are starting to change, but all they are doing is switching to blaming the UK polticians ( at last they are targeting the real villains) alas their good guys are the likes of the Moggs and Farages of this world. Twill not end well, too much delusion, too little reality and too many conflicting desires.

  • Richard Underhill 21st Apr '19 - 2:16pm

    marcstevens: “Every day we’re treated to EU and migrant phobia … much of it lies and will be proved as such.”
    Please see ‘This Blessed Plot, by Hugo Young, Britain and Europe from Churchill to Blair’
    1998, ISBN 0 333 57992 5, Page 152 et seq.
    Lord Chancellor Lord Kilmuir spelt out in detail in the House of Lords and so did his successor Lord Dilhorne.
    “The Bow Group, under the direction of Geoffrey Howe, produced a legal study which foreshadows with great exactitude the effect the Treaty of Rome has had on British Law” (The Rome Treaty and the Law, July to September 1962).

  • Richard Underhill 21st Apr '19 - 2:27pm

    In a letter to Ted Heath Lord Kilmuir remarked “I find the constitutional objections serious” which did not mean that he found them “conclusive”.
    “I am sure it would be a great mistake to underestimate the force of the objections”
    ” These objections ought to be brought out into the open now, because, if we attempt to gloss over them at this stage, those who are opposed to the whole idea of joining the community will certainly seize on them with more damaging effect later on”.
    In the 1997 election the Referendum Party exhumed Lord Kilmuir’s letter from the files.
    So there was no secret of this, FOR THOSE WHO WISHED TO KNOW.

  • John Tracey 21st Apr '19 - 3:37pm

    With all the problems facing the country, no wonder she needed a drink.

  • At the end of the day, she is Shadow Home Secretary (terrifying thought she could be Home Secretary one day) who was breaking the law (not a terrible law in my opinion given how much of a nuisance drinking by passengers on buses used to be, less so rail/tube lines). Unfortunately this is the sort of thing that happens for ministers and their shadow counterparts. Home Secretaries can’t break the law. Education/Health secretaries and their families can’t use private schools/hospitals etc etc.

    Since Diane Abbott has annoyed millions of people with her hypocritical finger wagging, preaching and condescending lectures, it’s very reasonable that she’s slated when she doesn’t act as holier than thou that she castigates everyone else for not being

  • What’s a Mojito?

  • Mix this classic cocktail for a party using fresh mint, white rum, sugar, zesty lime and cooling soda water. Play with the quantities to suit your taste

    Think I’ll stick to Mild or if I’m feeling exotic foreign Larger.

  • Mark Seaman 21st Apr '19 - 8:33pm

    Classic ‘Whataboutism’ seeking to ignore the reality of the spending balance during the referendum, which imparts almost magical powers to any pro-Brexit publications i.e the Daily Fail, and totally discounts any pro-remain media.

  • Peter Watson 21st Apr '19 - 8:54pm

    @frankie “Think I’ll stick to Mild or if I’m feeling exotic foreign Larger.”
    I thought Lib Dems demand bitter. 🙂

  • Mark
    It’s always got me that Daily Mail of Remainer mythology has greater persuasive powers than all the main political parties (except for a few leave MPs), The PM, business representatives, the entire EU, the president of the USA, and an endless parade of celebs! This is even as its readership is in decline! Similar magical powers are attributed to social media, but only if you ignore the dominance of it’s mainly young users.

  • Facebook average age is going up by the day. The key age is 25 to 34 hardly the youth you complain about. By the way the dailymail web site is number 22 in the UK hardly a hang out of the under 50’s is it. Still truth and Brexiteers seldom mentioned in the same breath.

  • The key age group for Brexit was over 40 years and old.. The Daily Mail, like all the printed press is fading, As I said we’re supposed to believe that these dying newspapers and a handful of MPS are more influential than the PM, the EU, the CBI, the president of the USA, all the major political parties and an endless number of celebs.

  • Brexit supporting papers, Daily Mail, Express, Sun, Telegraph. Hardly just the Mail now is it
    Don’t under estimate the power of the right wing media, especially on their readership. Now as a Lexiteer it is a bit embarrassing to accept your in bed with the right wing, but you are so suck it up they won it for you. Yes the press is fading, it is primarily read by the over 50’s who are fading with it, but they were the bed rock of Brexit. A fading generation as you said Glen, but still not going gently into that good night, rather trying to drag the young back to the 1950’s or earlier. Tis sad but true.

  • William Fowler 22nd Apr '19 - 7:23am

    Dianne Abbot ticks so many boxes re political correctness that surely she must be the natural replacement for Corbyn and enjoying a quick tipple on the train will surely endear her to a nation sick of petty rules…

  • No it’s you guys still stuck in the 1990s trying to spin war, failure and economic collapse as the end of history.
    But your glow sticks have faded and the bucket hat has grown too tight as you blunder into the good night.

  • Peter Martin 22nd Apr '19 - 8:13am


    …the over 50’s who are fading with it…… rather trying to drag the young back to the 1950’s or earlier…

    Just on a point of arithmetic. Anyone who’s over 50 only has to have been born before 22nd April 1969. So you’d really need the over 70 to remember the 50s and then that would probably be only the second part of it.

    The protesters against the Vietnam war, Apartheid, racism, sexism in the late 60s will be 70+ by now. The elderly aren’t quite the bunch of Empire Loyalists of Remainer imagination.

  • I feel very sorry for the average LibDem if they are this easily swayed by newspapers.
    Is it possible to accredit at least some agency of thought to our fellow countrymen/women?

    As for victims and their whipped-up persecution – we now have a situation where ALL parties play the identity politics game; and it is not bringing us together – it is doing the exact opposite.

    A Leaver Gammon.

  • Daniel Walker 22nd Apr '19 - 9:20am

    @Mark Seamen “Including the then Government’s leaflet which clearly recommended voting remain, Remain outspent Leave by more than two to one.”

    Leaving aside the fact that a Government running a referendum is obliged to send out a leaflet about it under Venice Convention rules, that the leaflet was particularly dry, factual and uninspiring, and that it contained no lies, if we are counting the spend on it for Remain, are we to count Mr Arron Banks’ £12m pre-referendum spend then?

  • To Glenn and WG: of course the various media influence people ‘more than the PM and CBI’. Where do you think people hear/read what the PM is doing/saying? All carefully selected and spun through their own prism.
    The European Commission has an A-Z of Euromyths. There are hundreds of them. All drip-fed as fact to readers over a couple of decades. You reckon all readers of the newspapers responsible totally saw through them, do you?
    But then no one ever falls for propaganda, do they? (And there’s no such thing as a conspiracy theory, because everyone is too adept at thought to see through those).

  • What is to prevent a repeat of this illegal activity if we have another referendum? In our forthcoming local elections, if a candidate is found to have breached electoral law I think he could be fined and if he won disqualified and a re-rerun organised. Why is a referendum campaign any different?

  • Cassie
    TV mostly, far bigger audience than any newspaper.
    What I think is that we’ve had near three decades of EU advocates claiming economic success that haven’t actually happened, and wishful thinkers believing their own spin, about some sort cultural shift that is not supported by the evidence of attitude surveys. I think people are somewhat tribal, vote mostly out of self interest, want comfort, and that virtually no one is ideological in the way committed political activists are. I do not think that voting divides neatly along party lines as progressive or regressive. I think the divides are nearly all financial rather than attitudinal.

  • Innocent Bystander 22nd Apr '19 - 3:33pm

    Cassie and frankie,
    I was shocked to hear that you fell for that propaganda and were duped into voting Leave.
    What’s that?
    You weren’t? You didn’t vote Leave? You saw through all those Euromyths and the lies of the right wing press?
    So it was just stupid people who were fooled then? Not people like you.

    I was a remainer but I took it for granted that those who voted leave did so in as full a possession of the facts as I did and after consulting their own consciences. I am afraid that these relentless insults directed at 17 million people, who are at least your intellectual equals, is the reason why the liberal agenda is being pushed aside by other voices and why our nation is torn apart.

  • nvelope2003 22nd Apr '19 - 4:19pm

    Innocent Bystander: When we read articles and letters in the media by Leavers talking about Rule Britannia and claiming that other European countries are run by wicked despots who want to attack us when our history is full of the same type of wicked behaviour, if not worse – think of all those Spanish ships sunk by ours and our involvement in the slave trade, the cruelty of manufacturers until relatively recently – what are we supposed to think ? Some might be sincere but only out of ignorance but many seem to be positively nasty and full of hatred. Most of their leaders should be ashamed of themselves but of course they are not in the least ashamed and have moved their money into the remaining EU to avoid the disaster they think will happen here.

  • Cassie
    I’ve come to the conclusion that parts of the remain camp simply can’t believe that anyone could possibly disagree with them and that therefor they must be mislead or are wicked. Me. I think some people see the EU as a solution to the perceived “political problem” of nation states that isn’t really a problem, only got as far as it has in the UK by avoiding public votes, functions mainly on voter apathy and is trying to forge a sense of shared identity that isn’t really shared. I think national politics trumps supranational politics every time and quite rightly so.

  • Innocent Bystander 22nd Apr '19 - 5:41pm

    “what are we supposed to think ? ”
    Well were you ‘fooled’ or not? If you voted remain, then you were impervious to all the lies.
    So who was fooled?
    Lesser people than you?

    If you (and several other voices hereabouts) manifestly dismiss 17 million as gullible dupes they are absolutely entitled to regard you as the ‘elite’, in return.

  • Innocent Bystander 22nd Apr '19 - 6:22pm

    Hang on. I marched against the Vietnam War when I was a student and ‘sat in’ somewhere in the University. My age is somewhere between 67 and 69 but I refuse to admit it exactly.

    And that bit about the British dispensing global good sense is exactly what animates the liberal (small ‘l’) left today who require us to be the leaders in aid, climate, human rights, tolerance, jurisprudence, anti-bribery and as much anguished mea-culpa for whatever crimes the British have been accused of since the time of the Druids.

  • Paul
    Do you not think that it is possible that the EU is actually a manifestation of imperial urges resulting in a lot of former imperial powers clubbing together in a sort of grandiose secularised recreation of Rome.

  • IB, etc. Remainers didn’t fall for Euro myths because we didn’t want to. The stories didn’t chime with our world view, so we disregarded them.

    Lib Dems don’t have a single national newspaper presenting them with a one-sided narrative that they like. They therefore have to read a range of views, many of which they don’t agree with. And don’t especially trust any of them.
    I grew up reading my Dad’s Daily Mirror AND my grandparents’ Daily Mail. Makes for critical thinking.

    And don’t put words in my mouth, please. I have never accused anyone of being gullible. No one is saying 17 million people were dupes. Or that 17 million people fell for lies (it only needed 1.3million to do so anyway!) . I’m not ‘dismissing’ anyone. I am not insulting anyone. That is your projection.

    My original post was merely responding to suggestions that propaganda has no effect. Are YOU saying no reader of the Daily Mail ever believed a Euro myth? They’ll be disappointed that they’ve wasted years of time and effort publishing them, then.

    And Glenn, of course I can believe that people disagree with me. I have friends, and relations, who voted Leave. Most of my friends/relations are either staunch Labour supporters or Tories. They are each entitled to their views.I don’t think any of them are ‘wicked’. Or stupid. That’s projection again.

    As for being ‘elite’: I work in a very humble job, on the minimum wage.
    But feel free to continue projecting what you think I must be, based on your own world views.

    I am afraid Brexit will lead to workers’ rights and environmental protections being trashed by a right-wing domestic government and by us having to agree to trade deals on whatever terms suit the likes of the US.
    I do not think the EU is perfect, far from it.

    IB. A lot of colleagues in my previous (ie 2016) job didn’t know which way to vote, because they didn’t feel they knew enough to decide. Some of them were in two minds until polling day.
    Some people used the referendum as a protest vote against austerity, nothing to do with the EU at all.
    My aunt voted Leave, thinking we could just walk away, and go back to trading with the Commonwealth. She told me the other day: “I didn’t know it would be so difficult. No one told us.”
    So no, I don’t think one government leaflet and a two-month referendum campaign meant ALL voters were well-informed.

  • Peter Martin 22nd Apr '19 - 8:01pm

    @ Cassie,

    “Some people used the referendum as a protest vote against austerity, nothing to do with the EU at all.”

    This isn’t, strictly speaking, true. The poor economic conditions in the EU make it virtually impossible to balance our trade with them. The EU isn’t a good export market.

    We run a small surplus with the rest of the world but a large deficit with the EU. That overall deficit has to be financed by debt. The existence of the debt is then used as a powerful argument for the imposition of economic austerity. We all have to live within our means etc etc.

    I’m sure you’ve heard many arguments along these lines.

  • Fair enough. I still disagree.. I’m not sure who the elite thing was aimed at. but I never accuse people I disagree with of representing an imagined elite. I find that kind of thing a bit tinfoil hat.

  • Nonconformistradical 22nd Apr '19 - 8:42pm

    “I grew up reading my Dad’s Daily Mirror AND my grandparents’ Daily Mail. Makes for critical thinking.”

    I grew up with the long defunct News Chronicle (fairly liberal – and unfortunately folded and was swallowed by the daily fail) and the Express.

  • Innocent Bystander 22nd Apr '19 - 10:14pm

    “But then no one ever falls for propaganda, do they?”
    “Remainers didn’t fall for Euro myths ”

    These are your words. They came from you.
    The challenge will not go away. Why did you not believe these myths? Why did you not fall for propaganda? Why did 17 (or are you just accusing 1.3) fall for them?

    I am a remainer and I only challenge in the hope of convincing fellow remainers to analyse what they are actually saying. My approach to leavers is to disagree with their conclusion and discuss the consequences. I don’t tell them they only voted as they did because they fell for lies and propaganda. The first approach is respectful but the second can only possibly be heard as an insult.
    What other way can the “Remainers didn’t fall for Euro myths ” but you did, be received as?
    BTW, it is completely different to say “I was duped into voting leave by a lot of lies” than “You were duped into voting leave by a pack of lies, but I wasn’t”. One is the admission of a mistake the second is pure condescension.
    Elitism isn’t defined by bank balance but by empathy for fellow human beings who could easily have seen the Daily Mail’s myths in the same dismissive way you did but still felt, on balance, the UK would be better outside the EU.

    I yearn for some reaching out, some respect, some compromise, some re-unification rather than this winner take all approach from both sides.

  • Innocent Bystander “I was a remainer but I took it for granted that those who voted leave did so in as full a possession of the facts as I did”

    Did you know about the Turkey scam? Several million people played a “free game” on Facebook, offered by the dark-arts Leave campaign, which offered prizes at nil cost, albeit with a very low chance of winning. To enter the game, a participant first had to read a piece of lying propaganda which said that Turkey would join the EU and send 75 milion migrants over to Britain. Then the participant had to answer Yes or No to the question as to whether they were in favour of that.

    Don’t tell me that those people were in full possession of the facts. Don’t tell me that they wouldn’t have been swayed by these lies. The genius of this trick is that the duped “game player” must actively comment on the lie they have been told, if they want to carry on and get a chance of a prize – and there wasn’t (of course) an option to say that the punter didn’t believe the lie!

    Don’t tell me that tricks like this wouldn’t have been enough to sway the whole vote. They were enough. They were the reason why a Remain lead evaporated in the closing stages of the referendum. Brexit is a fraud on Britain.

  • David Allen
    Did you here about the remain voters who believed the economy would collapse if people voted to leave, or the ones who thought Osborne would hold an emergency budget within days of a leave vote or the ones who thought an out going US president was still in charge of deals or those who believed Cameron would still be PM or the ones who believe that a people’s vote will settle the issues because leave voters will be secretly so pleased they won’t complain ad infinitum. So don’t tell me that no remainers fell for lies or propaganda. But according to you a game virtually no one heard of on Facebook must have swayed millions of voters but a government backed multinational campaign of fear mongering and threats had no effect.

  • Innocent Bystander 23rd Apr '19 - 8:07am

    Then why didn’t these powerful lies work on you? If they worked on others?
    Do you consider yourself as “those people”? Or are they the creatures below?

  • David Evans 23rd Apr '19 - 9:20am

    Sadly from Innocent Bystander another repeat of the “We know we fooled so many people with those lies – Now let’s use it to smear those who weren’t fooled” tactic.

    You should be ashamed of yourself Innocent. You are siding with those real “creatures below”.

  • nvelope2003 23rd Apr '19 - 8:46pm

    Innocent Bystander: I did not say those who voted Leave were fooled. All the information I have seen seems to indicate that they are mostly living in the past with a profound belief that Britain is somehow superior to other nations who they seem to think are plotting to destroy us by any means possible, including war. Maybe they are right but I do not think so. I was undecided at first but the actions of the Leavers has made up my mind. Democracy means the power of the people not the domination of one section of the people by a slightly bigger section. Mrs May, for all her faults, seems to understand this but Messrs Rees-Mogg etc do not wish to do so as they are obsessed with the past and believe leaving the EU will help their class recover its historic role of dominating and ruling this country. That is the last thing I want.

  • Well, Brexiter objections to concern that the Leave campaign violated electoral law amuses me, because they always refer to the Cameron govt leaflet … surely as two wrongs cannot make a right that’s all the more reason for a referendum? In this case I’d say embargo the press and media, control social media, leave both campaigns running with cash raised from supporters (or a fixed sum from central govt) – and prosecute anyone who lies or offers false prospectuses (Alan Sugar is right that Johnson should be prosecuted).

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