Reading Orwell’s 1984 was a formative experience for me. It helped determine my adult mistrust of the concept that we’re “all in this together”. The concept of Doublethink leaps out as the means by which this sort of fabrication might prevail.

Doublethink is the act of ordinary people simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct. Somewhat related… is cognitive dissonance, where contradictory beliefs cause conflict in one’s mind. Doublethink is notable due to a lack of cognitive dissonance — thus the person is completely unaware of any conflict or contradiction.”

Just recently SDA have been engaged in negotiations with, oh – let’s just say “gov.uk”. Our old contract is being replaced by a “new model contract” through which doublethink runs as if it were a stick of Brighton rock.

Examples of the new doublethink:

“The singular includes the plural and vice versa” (ouch; I thought these were discreet concepts)

“The reference to a gender includes the other gender and the neuter” (ditto)

“The words ‘in particular’ and similar words shall not limit the generality of the preceding words and shall be construed as if they were immediately followed by the words ‘without limitation’” (erm… so “in particular” = “without limitation”?)

This would be laughable if it wasn’t so sinister. Hang on – let me practice my doublethink – yes… actually it’s laughable and sinister. And it gets worse as you plough on, into the details where white begins to merge into black. Here we go:

“The Authority shall not acquire any right, title or interest in or to the Intellectual Property rights of the supplier or its licensors…”

…except that the supplier must…

“Hereby grant to the Authority perpetual, royalty-free and non-exclusive licenses to use the supplier software (and background IPRs) for any purpose relating to the services (or substantially equivalent services) or for any purpose relating to the exercise of the Authority’s (or any other Central Government Body’s) business or function.” (My italics.)

So just to be clear: they don’t want anything except complete and perpetual carte blanche to use suppliers’ IPR throughout Government! And STILL it goes on:

The Authority… may assign, novate or otherwise transfer its rights and obligations under the licences granted… to any body (including a private sector body) which performs any of the functions that previously had been performed by the Authority. (Yes, my italics again)

For the avoidance of doubt (a phrase which makes frequent appearances in this New Model Doublethink, sorry, contract) when you sign this thing you’re letting the Government use your stuff – or just give away your stuff for others to use – for ever. So next time you go head to head with, say REDACTED to provide the service you invented, don’t be surprised when they give you the finger. What they’re saying is “We sort of said we didn’t want your stuff (and then we sort of insisted we did) and, hey, now we’ve got it for free, forever… well, these guys are our mates/cost less (given we’ve got your IPR)/have another couple of years to run on their contract (and we’ve got your IPR).”

Oh – a final poke in the eye: the document you’ll be signing is doublethought thus:

No warranty is given by the REDACTED as to the completeness of this document or its suitability for any purpose. (Their bold and underline, so it must be important.) I take this as saying “This document nails you to the floor but we don’t even acknowledge that it’s fit for purpose.”

I guess that one man’s* doublethink is another man’s cognitive dissonance

(*where reference to a gender includes the other gender and the neuter).

Doublethink!

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