Be careful what you tweet!

A stern message arrives on my pc tonight, purportedly from Essex Police. Some finger-wagging copper there has apparently decided to put his digit to good, er, digital use and posted on twitter the following stern warning:

“We won’t tolerate senders of false messages intending to incite disorder, or cause alarm. Don’t tweet what you don’t know to be 100% true.”

At least, i think they have. It looks authentic but, as the Essex Press Office aren’t currently answering their phone, it is hard to tell. And that’s a shame because i did so want to ask them quite what this all meant.

As in: i get the bit about intent to incite disorder or cause alarm. Both such acts would, i am sure, be covered by one or other existing statutes and be criminal offences. However, the Officer responsible then spoils it all by adding the second sentence – almost a modern cover of “careless talk costs lives” – as though passing on inaccurate information is the same thing as the first two.

What a load of silliness.

If repeating what one didn’t know to be true was as criminal as deliberally setting out to incite disorder or cause alarm, there’d be a few more police officers in the cells tonight, what with the release of increasingly plausible evidence that the lad shot last week did not, as some police seemed initially to be reporting, fire first…but was simple victim of a police marksman.

And if repeating that which is untrue or not known to be 100% true was criminal (which it wasn’t, cause if it were, approx 99.9% of all tweeting would cease forthwith), what then should we make of the fast propagating viral meme doing the rounds right now that insinuates Boris Johnson and David Cameron are hypocrites for condemning violence on the streets whilst openly admitting to it in their time as students at Oxford.

I quote:

“Things got out of hand & we’d had a few drinks. We smashed the place up and Boris set fire to the toilets.”
David Cameron, 1986.

Yep. I have lost count of just how many lefty/progressive/radical friends have passed that one on tonight, either via Facebook or thru Twitter.

Only chances are… IT ISN’T TRUE!

Or at least, that is the case if one is to believe the blogger who goes by the name “a short introduction to cycling” (and as researched by andrea this pm), who writes:

“I have been alerted by a journalist at the Telegraph that what I wrote above has now started to be requoted due to the current unrest in London. Perhaps I should feel flattered that what I wrote as satire back in December is still being argued over. However, I am now more than happy to kill the joke.

“The “quote” written above is not true. I wrote it at the time to poke a bit of fun at the PM and Boris when they were condemning the student riots. It was not supposed to be anything more than that.”


So is this claim that Johnson and Cameron openly owned up to doing naughty things whilst in the Bullingdon untrue?

Or is the claim that it is untrue itself untrue?

Don’t ask me: i only write this stuff.

The only solution, it seems, is to hand the entire matter over to Essex Police to investigate in the morning and if it turns out people have been passing around material they didn’t know 100% to be true…well, then they should be prepared to feel the full force of the law!



3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    kathz said,

    The quotation doesn’t ring true to me. However it would be interesting to know if the former members of the Bullingdon Club currently in positions of power participated in the acts of drunkenness and vandalism for which the club is celebrated. If they did, I would like to know what enabled them to grow out of such activities and if they did not, I would like to know how they managed to make a stand or change the Club’s culture while they were members. This would be genuinely useful and relevant information in trying to understand and deal with the current riots – and might help them to address the rioters directly and with understanding.

    I’m using this cached article from the Telegraph (not satire and pretty restrained in what it suggests) as a source.

    Incidentally, while I find the Bullingdon Club pretty vile, membership of the Bullingdon hasn’t always prevented people from leading useful later lives. For instance, I have some admiration for Tim Beaumont (Lord Beaumont of Whitley) who was also a member – and there are several others who outgrew their student activities.

  2. 2

    Natacha said,

    I suspect, even if it isn’t true, the content is true. If Cameron had nothing to hide I’m sure he would have made that clear by now. One can therefore only surmise that it is something he does not want to have discussed. The suggestion is that he is acting hypocritically by condemning violence when he himself participated in violent disorder when he was young. The fat that he has not made any statement saying that he was not involved in these activities when a member of the Bullingdon Club suggests he has something to hide.

    • 3

      janefae said,


      That’s just downright silly and quite unworthy of you: have you expressly stated that you wouldn’t firebomb Julie Bindel? No? Then maybe you have some explaining to do!

      I agree that there is an issue here and its worth looking at (as my very next post will do). But basing a campaign around something not said or expecting politicians to deny every single allegation laid at their door if the allegation is actually 100% baseless is just not reasonable.


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