You might remember that back in those carefree days of autumn 2018 — when we all still worked within spitting distance from other humans; when Boris Johnson was a backbench Tory MP and Dom Cummings just a glint in his eye — we initiated a series called “What’s the Tory crypto story?”.

Why? Well, a number of Tory parliamentarians — Grant “Michael Green” Shapps, Baroness “cryptocurrency expert” Mone, and Eddie “a blockchain for Bloxwich” Hughes, to name but a few — had got decidedly excited about the potential of the distributed technicolour dream-ledger and the wondrous strings of 1s and 0s that run on it (which some call “cryptocurrencies”).

With Mone’s “EQUI” project having flopped pretty spectacularly, Shapps deciding to quit the ICO he was “advising” as soon as we found out about it because he “just want(ed his) time back”, and with the market town of Bloxwich still apparently not actually running on a blockchain, it has been a bit quiet on that front lately. Yes, Cummings recently came out as a blockchain bro but these days he’s largely just a blogger, and it’s not like he was ever running the country or anything like that (don’t be so cynical).

Fear not though, all ye coiners, as there is a new kid on the Tory crypto block and he is here to help.

Introducing Tom Tugendhat, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Conservative MP for Tonbridge and Malling, a former Territorial Army officer and co-founder of the China Research Group:

As Tugendhat told crypto podcast Bankless, this was — believe it or not — the first mention of “the flippening” in our great parliament (“the flippening” is crypto parlance for the hypothetical moment that the “market cap” of ether, the crypto token underpinning ethereum, overtakes that of bitcoin). A proud moment for Britain.

The video embedded in the tweet is just a partial clip of Tugendhat’s comments during the May 18 Queen’s Speech debate (which wasn’t actually about crypto or fintech or anything of the sort; this was shoehorned into a debate on housing). Tugendhat posted the full thing on Facebook, which you can watch here. If you’d rather not, here’s an excerpt (emphasis here, and elsewhere, ours):

Tugendhat also recently posted a monologue on SoundCloud following his speech in parliament, in which he goes into a bit more detail, concluding with this:

Now when we heard this we felt a little bad about dashing his hopes, but we had to be honest: it made absolutely no sense to us at all. So we thought we’d better get Tugendhat on the blower and ask him to clarify.

Our first question for Tugendhat was a fairly obvious one: in his entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, there was no mention of any crypto HODLings. Yet in parliament he said he’s “bullish” on ether. So we asked, does he hold any of the thinking man’s crypto?

Right. So how many pennies?

We put it to him that given he had bought some crypto, it struck as a little bit unethical that he seemed to be shilling it in parliament, particularly given that he hadn’t disclosed his holdings.

When we put it to him that £500 is not actually “peanuts” for many people and that, furthermore, in the Wild West of crypto, things can increase in value by several-thousand per cent at the drop of an Elon Musk tweet, he said:

We guess because he didn’t put “thousands of per cent in there”, it’s fair enough that he didn’t disclose it. Ahem.

At this point, we began to feel that Tugendhat didn’t have the firmest grip on what he was talking about. And this feeling intensified when he started talking about “predict(ing) the future”:

Look, Tugendhat seemed to us like a decent enough guy. He was a good sport on the phone and admitted that some of what he had said was “because I’m a politician and I’m trying to get heard”.

But Ethereum’s “algorithms” cannot predict the future and talking about the “flippening” — which is not about whether the ethereum blockchain is going to enable some kind of new trading environment, but about people selling their bitcoin and buying ether — in parliament, particularly when you are a holder of ether and other cryptos yourself, seems . . . a bit off. And no, the Treasury certainly does not need to create a “safe space” (read: loosely regulated environment) for cryptocurrency development — it’s rather too “safe” already, if you ask us.

FT Alphaville feels quite strongly that if you are going to choose to talk about something like this in parliament, your understanding of the subject matter should be . . . better than Tugendhat’s words suggest his is.

What’s the story crypto Tory?


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