Driven by data; ridden with liberty.
Whilst the dawn of the internet heralds new opportunities, social media allows for the contagious spread of false ideas and other misconceptions.
For instance, the following image has been shared on Facebook and Twitter. It claims Liz Truss MP (Conservative, South West Norfolk), the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said:
Our flood defences worked really well right up to the point at which they failed.
No source is given for this quote.
— Ian Hodson (@IanBFAWU) December 31, 2015
Mr Hodson, who is President of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union, claimed that Ms Truss said these words on “local radio”.
@Ryan_YH I understand it was an interview she gave to local radio station
— Ian Hodson (@IanBFAWU) January 1, 2016
However, no news organisation has reported these words, and searching for even part of this quote (“Our flood defences worked”) yields very few results. The earliest example of this quotation is from a blog by David Lindsay. This is Mr Lindsay’s post in full :
“Our flood defences worked really well, right up to the point at which they failed.”
The Right Honourable Elizabeth Truss MP, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
It is no wonder that in this Government, even Oliver Letwin can appear to be the intellectual in the room.
No audio nor video is provided, and no claim is put forward as to where Ms Truss MP made these attributed remarks.
Other results from search engines are similarly fruitless. In readers’ letters to The Scotsman , Edinburgh citizen Douglas Turner writes:
Anyway, Happy New Year to all other readers and correspondents, with special thoughts for anyone affected by the floods. Quote of the year must go to Tory MP Liz Truss who said “Our flood defences worked really well up to point at which they failed”. With competence like that…
A commentor, Peter Martin, on John Redwood MP’s blog  makes a similar claim, but again, without citation:
A recently reported comment by the Right Honourable Elizabeth Truss MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs doesn’t do much to instill confidence in this respect:
“Our flood defences worked really well until they failed”.
Until a primary source is provided, the reasonable conclusion is that the Secretary of State did not make the remarks attributed to her.
Consequently, a president of a trades union, and a Labour-affiliated ‘think tank’ , are using social media to publish erroneous claims about a Conservative Secretary of State.
It is possible to see a meme at the point of its inception, before it begins to spread virally.
 Lindsay, D., 2015. Right Up to the Point. Available from: http://davidaslindsay.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/right-up-to-point.html [Accessed: 2nd January 2016]
 The Scotsman, 2016. Letwin’s legacy. Available from: http://www.scotsman.com/news/letwin-s-legacy-1-3989154 [Accessed: 2nd January 2016]
 Redwood, J., 2015. Independent bodies are often wrong, damaging and expensive. Available from: http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2015/12/31/independent-bodies-are-often-wrong-damaging-and-expensive/ [Accessed: 2nd January 2016]
 Masters, A., 2015. The Think Tank with Sparse Thoughts. In Defence of Liberty. Available from: https://anthonymasters.wordpress.com/2015/06/08/the-think-tank-with-sparse-thoughts/ [Accessed: 2nd January 2016]
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