Can we trust “facts” when they get in the way of truth?

The general election campaign is awash with misinformation. It’s time to sort the “facts” from the truth, says Tim Gibson

By Tim Gibson

There’s something wrong with our political debate just now. I’ve written about that topic elsewhere, and don’t intend to cover the same ground here.

But what I will say is that a lot of the heat of the debate rests upon a mishandling of the truth. It’s a philosophical problem rather than a political one.

    I’m concerned with the accuracy or otherwise of assertions made by politicians and their supporters for its own sake.  

That’s quite a claim, so let me substantiate it. I’m concerned with the accuracy or otherwise of assertions made by politicians and their supporters for its own sake. But I’m interested, too, because of what it tells us about the way “truth” is viewed in contemporary society.

Of course, I care about issues like the future of the NHS and anti-Semitism, and am attentive to any story that addresses them. They speak of important concerns for our country.

But at a more fundamental level, I’m interested in what these sorts of debates show us about the nature of truth, and the ways it is handled in political discourse.

That sounds pompous, doesn’t it? But, really, it’s at the very heart of this campaign. It has to do with the rampant subjectivism at work in so much political debate. All we’re seeing is an expression of opinion, a series of subjective judgments that have little grounding in objective reality, and even less concern to locate such grounding.

That’s worrying enough in its own right. If politicians, the people who are trusted to make decisions on the basis of the will of the electorate, whose opinions they are forming through their electioneering, aren’t worried about the facts, it’s a big problem.

But an even bigger problem is that it has led to an erosion of truth in general: a downgrading, such that no one is concerned about anything other than the expression of personal opinion. It greatly impoverishes public debate.

More worrying still is the attempt to dress up information that is the very opposite of truthful as grounded in fact.

Jeremy Corbyn appears on TV waving a redacted document that he claims prove the NHS is “up for sale” in Boris Johnson-led UK-US trade negotiations. Reasonably enough, everyone assumes that’s exactly what the document does say.

In fact, the detail is more nuanced: namely, that the people involved in those initial discussions (representatives of Theresa May’s government, not Boris Johnson’s) recognise that the US delegation would like the prices paid for pharmaceuticals to be a consideration in any trade deal. It doesn’t say they’re going to let that happen, still less sell off chunks of the NHS.

But, because Mr Corbyn brandished a piece of paper, his assertions took on the status of fact. Even though the facts are actually a little different.

    ...there’s something especially troubling about a society in which truth is not only downgraded, but misrepresented.  

It’s the same on every side of the political divide. Mr Corbyn’s stunt came after he was put in the dock by broadcaster Andrew Neil for Labour’s complicity in anti-Semitism. But, as the BBC has recently made clear in its reporting, most people accept that there is no evidence that Jeremy Corbyn is himself anti-Semitic. The charge against him is that he's failed to show leadership in relation to those parts of his party where anti-Semitic sentiment has been expressed. 

This nuance is often lost when his critics try to characterise him as anti-Semitic. It’s easier just to assume he’s racist than it is to engage with the detail of the debate.

And that’s where notions of truth and truthfulness come in. Because there’s something especially troubling about a society in which truth is not only downgraded, but misrepresented. A world in which subjective opinion and mere assertion take on the status of “fact”.

There is only one way to combat this: find reliable sources of information and consult them thoroughly before reaching judgment about a story.

The Full Fact website is a good place to start: an independent charity, dedicated to countering the culture of misinformation.

We also need to think carefully about the nature of truth. We need to recognise the difference between ideology and reality. And we need to understand how to handle the tension between the subjective and the objective.

The only way to do all this is through constructive dialogue, rather than the shouting match that has been this general election campaign so far.

© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

Published: 3 December 2019

If you enjoyed this article, you may like: We need a better politics, and it needs to happen in person

You may also enjoy: Want to get into classical music? These five pieces will help

Jobs currently available

New job
Sector: Creative Arts and Design
Salary: £25,000 - £28,000 per annum
Location: Kelvedon
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909686
About the role

Are you an experienced Designer looking for your next opportunity?

Are you proficient on a MAC?

Just Recruitment is recruiting for a Designer on behalf of a company based on the outskirts of Kelvedon.

Your duties will include:

  • Producing good, eye-catching design concepts
  • Striving for creative output that is to the highest standards in execution and application
  • Upholding best practice ideas and aiming to consistently deliver the best design output
  • Good problem-solving and contribution towards concept idea generation
  • Proficient Mac operating and creative software skills
  • Strong design and visualisation ability
  • Contributing to creative team development with inspiration, insight and design trends found in the wider creative industry
  • Good communication skills and able to articulate work and ideas to the Creative and Client Services teams
  • Supporting the delivery of pitches and presentations
  • Well-rounded contribution to all design projects

This is a full-time, permanent role working Monday – Friday 09.00 – 17.30.

If you are interested then apply today!

Read more
New job
Small Plant Engineer / Mechanic
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: £20,000 - £26,000 per annum
Location: Earls Colne
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909734
About the role

Just Recruitment is seeking a Small Plant Maintenance Engineer to join a company on the outskirts of Halstead, Essex.

  • Due to the company’s location, you must be able to drive to be considered for this position.
  • Working Monday to Friday, 7.30am-4.30pm - Must be flexible to work shifts to assist with holiday cover/absence when needed.
  • Working as part of a maintenance team, primarily in the workshop, to ensure all site equipment (handheld and small tools) remain serviceable, safe and functioning correctly. (Knowledge and experience of two-stroke engines will be a distinct advantage as would welding/fabricating experience.)
  • Assisting with preventative and reactive maintenance when required on all machinery and production-related equipment.
  • Carrying out other tasks and duties as reasonably directed by your Foreman and Line Manager.

Key skills and experience required:

  • Experienced mechanic with a good all-round knowledge of mechanical and electrical principles.

The company will consider a graduate/college leaver with a genuine interest in Mechanics / Engineering, as they can offer in-house training and guidance.

A competitive salary is on offer with a wide range of additional benefits.

Performance-based yearly bonus scheme, with 50% paid in December and 50% in March.

23 days paid holiday plus the statutory Bank holidays.

Health insurance policy that contributes towards dentist/optician costs, physiotherapy etc. Recently-refurbished canteen serving subsidised healthy meals produced by our experienced chef.

Working Monday to Friday, 7.30am–4.30pm – Must be flexible to work shifts to assist with holiday cover/absence when needed.

Read more
New job
Mechanical, Electrical & Trim (MET) Technician
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: Competitive depending on experience
Location: Sudbury
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909711
About the role

Just Recruitment is recruiting for an experienced Mechanical, Electrical and Trim (MET) Technician on behalf of a company based on the outskirts of Sudbury.

You will be keen to get involved with all aspects of the Bodyshop.


  • To strip and fit damaged panels, interior trim and mechanical/electrical parts
  • To perform all work assigned in a timely manner, economically and to company and manufacturers standards
  • Assess faults
  • Job cards and assessment reports
  • Accessing and removing mechanical and electrical components
  • Removing and fitting non-structural body panels
  • Removing and re-installing mechanical and electrical systems
  • Vehicle valeting
  • To operate equipment and carry out all duties in a safe manner
  • To maintain equipment, protective clothing and work areas in a clean, tidy and safe condition
  • To maintain a high level of competence for the work to be undertaken by undergoing on-site training, attending courses at suppliers and manufacturers and reading technical bulletins as required


  • ATA or NVQ is essential

Personal qualities:

  • Reliable friendly and willing to continue gaining training to keep up with the latest technology
Read more
New job
Semi-Experienced Estimator
Sector: Property and Construction
Salary: £20,000 - £24,000 per annum
Location: Earls Colne
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909869
About the role

Just Recruitment is recruiting for a Semi-Experienced Estimator on behalf of a company based in Earls Colne, Essex.

Your main responsibilities:

  • To contact the clients, architects and engineers either by phone or email to obtain accurate information about their precast concrete flooring and/or stair requirement.
  • To produce accurate quotations that reflect the clients’ requirements.
  • To liaise with colleagues within the Sales and Estimating department regarding the project in order to increase the likelihood of securing the project.

Candidate requirements:

  • 1-2 years of experience within an Estimator position essential.
  • A good understanding of the Construction industry.
  • Additional knowledge of software such as Bluebeam and CAD software such as Autodesk is desirable although full training can be provided if necessary.
  • Outstanding time management skills with the ability to prioritise accordingly.
  • A confident and professional telephone manner is essential.

Working Monday - Friday, 40 hour week.

Free parking is available.

23 days annual leave plus bank holidays.

Read more
New job
HR Administrator - FTC
Sector: Recruitment and HR
Salary: £20,000 - £22,000 per annum
Location: Witham
Role: Part Time
Contract: Temporary
Job ref: 909861
About the role

Are you an experienced HR Administrator looking for your next role?

Just Recruitment is recruiting for an HR Administrator to join a company on a part-time basis (20-25 hours per week) to cover maternity.

Your duties will include:

  • Assist with the recruitment process, including advertising job vacancies and arranging candidate interviews.
  • Draft and send offer letters and contracts (new starter induction packs).
  • Provide the first point of contact and excellent customer service.
  • Resolve absence, holiday queries and first level benefits queries.
  • Process leaver information ensuring all relevant information is prepared, processed and issued on time.
  • Assist/distribute company announcements and ensure communication across the group.
  • Manage department e-mail inbox.
  • Assist with payroll queries.
  • Maintain and establish accurate e-filing and storage systems in line with GDPR legislation.
  • Respond to specific requests for information from internal and external clients at all levels.
  • Managing employee data such as maintain the staff database to include the input of new starters, leavers, holidays and sickness records, probation reviews.
  • Managing internal employee recognition scheme.
  • Attend and participate in the Staff and Works Committee meetings.
  • Organise employee training.
  • Maintain Temporary worker onboarding process.
  • Review company Suggestion Boxes.
  • Maintain organisational charts.
  • Assist the HR Manager with other duties in line with candidate’s skills and experience.

You will have experience in working with confidential information and in an HR environment, as well as have good analytical skills.

This is a part-time, contract position working 20-25 hours per week.

Interested? Apply today!

Read more