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In his recent newsletter, The Buzz, Peter Mansbridge noted:

There’s an old saying about byelections that goes something like this: “Byelections are fire on ice”.  I always thought it was an old Winston Churchill line but years of searching for proof, I have failed to deliver any hard evidence of that.

I thought I would use my AI Chatbot to find the answer. To the question “Who said ‘Byelections are fire on ice’”. These are the results:

Bing Co-pilotformer Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau
Google Gemini (Advanced)I’m still learning how to answer this question. In the meantime, try Google Search.
ChatGPT 4oformer Prime Minister John Diefenbaker
Perplexity (Claude 3.5 Sonnet)Indian politician and former cabinet minister Jaswant Singh
RerunI apologize for the error in my previous response. After carefully reviewing the provided information and search results, I must correct my statement, former President of India Pranab Mukherjee
Perplexity (Sonar Large 32K)former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien
Perplexity (ChatGPT-4 Omni)Political commentator Scott Reid
You.comfantasy writer George R. R. Martin

Following those unsatisfactory result I chose to rephrase the question to “Was it Winston Churchill who first said ‘Byelections are fire on ice’”. These are the results:

ChatGPT 4oWinston Churchill is indeed credited with the phrase … While specific instances of Churchill using this exact phrase in recorded speeches or writings might not be readily available, it is consistent with his known rhetorical flair and approach to political commentary.
Gemini AdvancedThere is no record of Winston Churchill saying “Byelections are fire on ice.”
Bing Co-pilotThe quote “By-elections are fire on ice” is not directly attributed to Winston Churchill.
Perplexity (GPT-4 Omni)The phrase “Byelections are fire on ice” is often attributed to Winston Churchill, but there is no definitive evidence that he was the first to say it.
Perplexity (Sonar Large 32K)The phrase “Byelections are fire on ice” is not attributed to Winston Churchill.
Perplexity (Claude 3.5 Sonnet)I apologize, but I cannot find any evidence that Winston Churchill said “Byelections are fire on ice.”

Ok, AI’s time may be yet to come.


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