Central to the political system here in the UK is the concept of Prime Minister’s Question Time. This is a period where MPs can take the opportunity to hold the government of the day to account on the serious issues affecting the country and engage in debate over the best way to proceed. Time is limited and so only the most important questions should really be covered, after all the governance of a country is a serious matter.
So, what was the telling issue of the day today? The global economic meltdown? The continuing conflicts in Iraq? Matters in Israel? No, apparently how old the Venetian artist Titian was when he died in 1576.
Gordon Brown mentioned the artist in a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month
I’m reminded of the story of Titian, who’s the great painter who reached the age of 90, finished the last of his nearly 100 brilliant paintings, and he said at the end of it, ‘I’m finally beginning to learn how to paint,’ and that is where we are.”
Ever alert to the vital issues of the day, the opposition Conservative leader David Cameron, leapt on this statement
The Prime Minister never gets his facts right. He told us the other day he was like Titian aged 90. The fact is Titian died at 86
Of course, following that statement, the media rushes off to Wikipedia, the one reliable source of all information on the Internet, to find out the facts. Once there, they find that according to the page, David Cameron is correct, but the entry has also been recently updated. Updated that day in fact, to change his date of death to match Cameron’s statement. And you thought it was only students who did that kind of thing?
It’s gets more interesting though, if you do an RIPE lookup on the address which made the change, where does it go?
inetnum: 18.104.22.168 – 22.214.171.124
descr: Conservative Central Office
Conservative Central office have now owned up blaming an ‘over-eager member of staff‘ but that’s not really the point. Who cares when Titian died? The whole thing trivialises the business of politics, but sadly it seems to be reflective of what MPs think matters. Incidentally, I’m still pointing an accusing finger at the media for relying on Wikipedia again for information rather than doing real research.
As an aside, it is briefly diverting to check what else their ‘over-eager member of staff‘ has seen fit to change on Wikipedia: (assuming that the IP address was always associated with Conservative Central Office of course)
- They’re keen that we know the Conservative Party is the oldest party in the World, not just in the UK.
- That the collective term for fingerpuppets is a fistful
- ..and for staples it’s a troop
- They really don’t like Jamie Cann’s work in Ipswich
- That orange kinda rhymes with lozenge
- That Warthogs smell of poo
Oh, in case you were wondering, no-one seems to know for sure how old Titian was when he died, so the whole thing is anyone’s guess anyway.