The Dim-Post

June 26, 2016

Marginally less-uninformed Brexit post

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 2:38 pm

Like I said, I didn’t pay much attention to the Brexit debate. Partly because I was busy, but mostly because I thought there was zero chance the UK electorate would vote to change the status quo (I’m still a little sceptical that organised capital will allow it to happen). So I didn’t track any of the polling, or arguments. Since the result I’ve been reading various op-eds and think-pieces, and loads of left-wing columnists, mostly UK based. The New Statesman. The Guardian. Viral comments on social media, etc.

I’ve been pretty unimpressed with the state of left-wing ‘analysis’, which mostly consists of a single inchoate sneer of petulant, elitist rage at the stupidity of the ignorant, racist voters for not voting the way their intellectual superiors told them to. There was obvious glee at the panic in the financial markets, which are suddenly an arbiter of left-wing political wisdom, somehow. Countless claims that the moronic Leave voters didn’t understand what they were voting for, and now regretted it, which is not borne out post-referendum opinion polls which indicate strong sustained support for their decision. Anti-democratic arguments that because the young voted Remain, the Leave votes of older voters were somehow invalid, even though turnout among young voters was abysmal.

But I did think this Will Davies piece on ‘The Sociology of Brexit’ was very good. You should read the whole thing. But this struck me as plausible:

More bizarrely, it has since emerged that regions with the closest economic ties to the EU in general (and not just of the subsidised variety) were most likely to vote Leave.

While it may be one thing for an investment banker to understand that they ‘benefit from the EU’ in regulatory terms, it is quite another to encourage poor and culturally marginalised people to feel grateful towards the elites that sustain them through handouts, month by month. Resentment develops not in spite of this generosity, but arguably because of it. This isn’t to discredit what the EU does in terms of redistribution, but pointing to handouts is a psychologically and politically naïve basis on which to justify remaining in the EU.

In this context, the slogan ‘take back control’ was a piece of political genius. It worked on every level between the macroeconomic and the psychoanalytic. Think of what it means on an individual level to rediscover control. To be a person without control (for instance to suffer incontinence or a facial tick) is to be the butt of cruel jokes, to be potentially embarrassed in public. It potentially reduces one’s independence. What was so clever about the language of the Leave campaign was that it spoke directly to this feeling of inadequacy and embarrassment, then promised to eradicate it. The promise had nothing to do with economics or policy, but everything to do with the psychological allure of autonomy and self-respect. Farrage’s political strategy was to take seriously communities who’d otherwise been taken for granted for much of the past 50 years.

I get that there was a lot of racism and xenophobia in the Leave campaign, but to merely dismiss it and its success as the fruits of racism explains nothing. Also, this:

One of the most insightful things I saw in the run-up to the referendum was this video produced by openDemocracy’s Adam Ramsey and Anthony Barnett discussing their visit to Doncaster, another Labour heartland. They chose Doncaster because it looked set to be a strong pro-Leave location, and wanted to understand what was at work in this. Crucially, they observed that – in strong contrast to the Scottish ‘Yes’ movement – Brexit was not fuelled by hope for a different future. On the contrary, many Leavers believed that withdrawing from the EU wouldn’t really change things one way or the other, but they still wanted to do it.

This taps into a much broader cultural and political malaise, that also appears to be driving the rise of Donald Trump in the US. Amongst people who have utterly given up on the future, political movements don’t need to promise any desirable and realistic change. If anything, they are more comforting and trustworthy if predicated on the notion that the future is beyond rescue, for that chimes more closely with people’s private experiences.

Tony Blair had an op-ed in the NYT, dumbfounded at the result and the baffling refusal of the voters to listen to ‘the experts’, which is as perfect a piece of irony as you can find. Davies also writes:

The attempt to reduce politics to a utilitarian science (most often, to neo-classical economics) eventually backfires, once the science in question then starts to become politicised. ‘Evidence-based policy’ is now far too long in the tooth to be treated entirely credulously, and people tacitly understand that it often involves a lot of ‘policy-based evidence’. When the Remain camp appealed to their ‘facts’, forecasts, and models, they hoped that these would be judged as outside of the fray of politics. More absurdly, they seemed to imagine that the opinions of bodies such as the IMF might be viewed as ‘independent’. Unfortunately, economics has been such a crucial prop for political authority over the past 35 years that it is now anything but outside of the fray of politics.

Economics is now a branch of political and corporate marketing – in the public sphere at least. When an economist argues something is ‘good for the economy’, what they almost certainly mean is that it’ll be good for whatever sector or interest they represent, and bad for everyone else.

I would have voted ‘Remain’, and I think that Brexit vote will probably be quite bad for the British economy, and many of the people who voted Leave. But I’m basing my analysis on the same experts and conventional wisdom that are routinely misleading or wrong. The experts told Greece that austerity would rebuild their economy. It’s pretty easy to see why an eight-year long combination of austerity, recession and high migration would lead to this outcome in the UK, and why working class voters doubted that the EU Troika had their best interests at heart.

One thing I do know about politics is that when you lose you need to figure out why, and figure out where and how you went wrong; not just throw a sustained tantrum and change nothing.

75 Comments »

  1. Good post, There is also the argument on immigration, that the liberal globalists (of which I count myself one) have spent at least 20 years arguing “immigration is good for you because it makes a country more cosmopolitan and internationally connected, and also [some say] a moral duty, and if you are against it you are racist”. My regular use of this argument over many years (or at least one like it) was a reaction to the vile way Winston Peters raised the issue in the early 1990s. I suspect other liberal globalists in the UK and US are reacting the same way to the vile Farage and Trump. But it is a false argument. Immigration is a choice. No country has to take anyone in if they don’t want to (except I guess UN refugee quotas). But for 20 years no one in authority in New Zealand has really made the case for why immigration is good for us – just if you’re agin it your a racist, provincial xenophobe. Yet as I look back over the last 25 years in NZ, I am not sure that Peters was wrong on the substance of the issue (but I still maintain his argument was disgusting in form). Why should the UK take in anyone who arrives from EU countries that have a per capital GDP nearly half of theirs? (I’m thinking Bulgaria or Romania and even Greece and Poland.) I can see there are good reasons that can be put, but they never have been.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — June 26, 2016 @ 2:59 pm

  2. Because you can’t quote a piece with the line “[t]hink of what it means on an individual level to rediscover control” and not have this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVc29bYIvCM

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — June 26, 2016 @ 3:16 pm

  3. My observation when we were in Europe (admittedly a couple years ago now) was that many of the regions we visited were substantial recipients of EU largesse. Most of the people who received this were pretty scathing about the competence of the bureaucracy who administered it, and the blatant rorts that they and their neighbours were involved in.

    If there is indeed a strong correlation between Brexit and those who receive money from the EU, it’s because those people best see the actual process by which the EU works and weren’t impressed? Many people (even the poor and supposedly stupid) can see quite easily when something is wasteful. The fact that it’s wasting money on them isn’t necessarily a reason to vote for it. Sure, this goes against the theory that everyone votes their own self interest, but I’ve never been a big fan of that theory anyway.

    Comment by PaulL — June 26, 2016 @ 3:21 pm

  4. I think xenophobia is the symptom, a decades long sustained and systematic narrowing of meaningful civic engagement down to the point it was only available to a financial and political elite is the disease. I don’t think that this would have been the vote if there were still secure jobs, a strong democratic union movement connecting the working class to the liberal establishment, and a broadly available higher education system geared toward class mobility.

    Thatcher and Blair are more to blame for Brexit more than Cameron, Farrage, et al, as it was the former two who guided the damage to civil society that has allowed this to happen. On this point I think that disposing of Corbyn, whose election as leader was representative of the same rejection of establishment managerialism, would be about the worst thing Labour could do.

    Comment by Rob Egan — June 26, 2016 @ 3:24 pm

  5. “Most of the people who received this were pretty scathing about the competence of the bureaucracy who administered it, and the blatant roots that they and their neighbours were involved in.”

    Not surprised. The EU still spends more than A THIRD of its budget on handouts to farmers. See http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/cap-post-2013/graphs/graph1_en.pdf It boasts this is down from 50%.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — June 26, 2016 @ 3:25 pm

  6. But for 20 years no one in authority in New Zealand has really made the case for why immigration is good for us

    I think the argument is just that its an effortless way to grow the economy. Labour and National haven’t ever campaigned on it though, even though a lot of their growth seems to have been immigration driven.

    Comment by danylmc — June 26, 2016 @ 3:41 pm

  7. One thing I do know about politics is that when you lose you need to figure out why, and figure out where and how you went wrong; not just throw a sustained tantrum and change nothing.

    Well, yes, if you happen to be a political party and there is a next election coming in the near future. Not really much sense to do so in the Remain campaign, as this is a one-off and it also spans political parties.

    Besides there will be so much to clean up in the aftermath, and events are happening so fast, there will be hardly any time to do any post-mortem analysis.
    Tory leadership crisis, Labour leadership crisis looming, EU leaders insisting that the UK should leave asap.

    The UK is a bit like the dog that kept chasing cars. Now all of a sudden it has caught up with it and bit into the fender and now has no idea what to do.

    Comment by eszett — June 26, 2016 @ 3:50 pm

  8. Danyl, I think that’s right. And it means the existing population base (which, shall we generalise, was Pakeha, Maori and Pacific in 1990, with a few mainly Fijian Indians and pre-1949 Chinese families) has not had to address our own failure to improve our productivity. Am I being racist? Won’t be long before someone says so!

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — June 26, 2016 @ 3:52 pm

  9. Yep, good post, its never wrong to try and figure out what happened when you lose and this has for to go a bit beyond the self flattering – we just needed to communicate better or the opposition are bastards. But I would also query the following:

    “The experts told Greece that austerity would rebuild their economy.”

    Well, for the EU establishment, particularly the German segment and lots of other countries that were pissed off at having to bail out Greece’s public spending habits, that was the price of staying in the system – the EU and the Euro. But there were plenty of others offering other advice, including those within the EU who were saying a lot of less of the austerity was needed to avoid disaster and ensure Greece had a stronger economy that could provide the tax revenue to meet at least some of its obligations. There were also plenty more who were saying leave the EU and the Euro and you will be out through the other side of the adjustment a lot faster. So the views were not monolithic.

    Comment by Tinakori — June 26, 2016 @ 3:53 pm

  10. Great analysis from someone who was there:
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jun/25/boris-johnson-michael-gove-eu-liars

    The money quote:
    “I am not going to be over-dainty about mendacity. Politicians, including Remain politicians lie, as do the rest of us. But not since Suez has the nation’s fate been decided by politicians who knowingly made a straight, shameless, incontrovertible lie the first plank of their campaign. Vote Leave assured the electorate it would reclaim a supposed £350m Brussels takes from us each week. They knew it was a lie. Between them, they promised to spend £111bn on the NHS, cuts to VAT and council tax, higher pensions, a better transport system and replacements for the EU subsidies to the arts, science, farmers and deprived regions. When boring experts said that, far from being rich, we would face a £40bn hole in our public finances, Vote Leave knew how to fight back. In Johnsonian fashion, it said that the truth tellers were corrupt liars in Brussels’ pocket.”

    Comment by Spitfire — June 26, 2016 @ 4:28 pm

  11. Since the result I’ve been reading various op-eds and think-pieces, and loads of left-wing columnists, mostly UK based. The New Statesman. The Guardian. Viral comments on social media, etc.

    That’s fine Danyl, but it doesn’t really help you understand how this happened. For that you’d need to delve into all the stuff you don’t want to read – the Daily Mail and the rest. And not over the weekend, but decades. A generation of relentless Euro-phobia has had a vastly greater effect on public opinion than some Guardian columnist who protests too much. Like the sneery liberals that turned you off Twitter, they can be irritating, but they are marginal.

    The public were fed a constant diet of deceit (as conceded by some Leave campaigners even in the 48 hours since). We can point that out with a sigh, or with a sneer, but “tone” isn’t the real issue here. Truth is.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — June 26, 2016 @ 4:35 pm

  12. “The public were fed a constant diet of deceit (as conceded by some Leave campaigners even in the 48 hours since). We can point that out with a sigh, or with a sneer, but “tone” isn’t the real issue here. Truth is.”

    Ah, the masses were duped! So that that’s why Leave won. I think Danyl correctly identified the technical term for that kind of thinking as a “sustained tantrum”.

    Comment by Tinakori — June 26, 2016 @ 5:04 pm

  13. Why is it a “tantrum” to object when somebody lies?

    Are you claiming that the Leave campaign didn’t lie? Serious question.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — June 26, 2016 @ 5:15 pm

  14. Anti-democratic arguments that because the young voted Remain, the Leave votes of older voters were somehow invalid, even though turnout among young voters was abysmal.

    Would that be the same oldies who as young voters overwhelmingly voted “in” back in 1975?

    They at least had decades to evaluate the wisdom of their earlier judgement and found it wanting.

    JC

    Comment by JC — June 26, 2016 @ 5:16 pm

  15. “Economics is now a branch of political and corporate marketing – in the public sphere at least. When an economist argues something is ‘good for the economy’, what they almost certainly mean is that it’ll be good for whatever sector or interest they represent, and bad for everyone else.”

    Literally everyone else? Taken literally this betrays an astonishingly cynical, inward looking and pessimistic world view I’m afraid. Is this the kind of thinking that leads so many apparently intelligent and sincere people to be against proven good concepts like free trade. “Oh it’s good for business so it must be bad for people”

    Comment by Bill Forster — June 26, 2016 @ 5:35 pm

  16. This is why I always read your blog, Danyl. Keep it up!

    Comment by MarkS — June 26, 2016 @ 6:04 pm

  17. Check out a guy called Ian R Crane & Brexit on YouTube. You may well write him off as a tinfoiler early on, but pundits need to sample (not just nibble but consume) all sides or any argument, no?

    Mike King Prosperity PLUS Dunedin 034774993 021442811

    >

    Comment by Mike King — June 26, 2016 @ 6:48 pm

  18. But for 20 years no one in authority in New Zealand has really made the case for why immigration is good for us

    Things tend not to go well when you try and stop people migrating.

    As an island we get to feel (unrealistically I think), like Britain, we have control and that fosters an insulation outlook.

    Comment by NeilM — June 26, 2016 @ 6:56 pm

  19. I buy hobby items from the UK, often from small one man suppliers, and I have seen a few comments that apart from the current increase in cost of materials with the GBP tanking, they’re going to be in a better position selling to the continent as their tax\tariff burdens will be less. What I take from this is that the “common man and woman” may actually have serious reasons for voting leave that all those sneering are still failing to understand.

    Comment by Robert Singers — June 26, 2016 @ 6:56 pm

  20. A lot of good stuff in that analysis but the fact remains that an enormous number of older people were sold a fantasy narrative founded on the most base of appeals, and equally, an enormous number of younger people didn’t vote at all because to them, they feel that they have no say in their future whichever way the decision went.

    Either way its the politics of nihilism and desperation. I find that very sad.

    Comment by Gregor W — June 26, 2016 @ 7:18 pm

  21. “I think the argument is just that its an effortless way to grow the economy.”

    I think that may have been an unintended consequence of what has always been an attempt to meet employer demand for moderately and highly skilled labour, a variant on the reason we had such high migration from the Pacific islands in the 60s and 70s. It was never an overt argument for our migration policy, which was supported across parties, which is why the dissenter, Winston Peters, was able to cultivate this as an exclusive franchise for NZ First. Labour has recently tried to go there too, but aside from being very,very clumsy I doubt that anyone believes they are serious.

    “Are you claiming that the Leave campaign didn’t lie? Serious question.”

    Buried within your plaintive appeal, Sammy, is the assumption that lies, or creativity with reality, are something that can be exclusive to one side of an argument. Sadly, Sammy, both sides tell porkies in issues of consequence. Do you not watch VEEP, an excellent documentary about life in the White House that has a far closer resemblance to reality than House of Cards or the West Wing?

    Comment by Tinakori — June 26, 2016 @ 7:32 pm

  22. Robert Singers at 19, agreed. You don’t get to 52 with disaffected “left behinders” alone.

    Comment by Matthew W — June 26, 2016 @ 7:32 pm

  23. I agree, Danyl, that `sociology of brexit’ analysis was excellent. The petulance of the remainers and inability to accept the verdict of democracy seems tacit evidence of their subservience to the Eurocrat globalist control system. Rightists defending privilege, colluding with leftists adamant that obedience must prevail over autonomy.

    The pendulum swing from statism back to decentralisation ought not to be misinterpreted as anarchy, even considering anarchy is conventionally misrepresented as chaos. Political theoreticians ought to advocate a balance, a centrist view. We need order; we don’t need the paralytic conformism that the establishment seeks to perpetutate.

    Bill’s point (#15) is valid. However the historical benefits of free trade are discernible only to the few who learn from history! The ideology of free trade fails in the real world when used by political forces seeking to ensure their sectarian interests prevail over the common good. Since the ’80s we’ve seen the left & right operate in collusion on this basis. Voters now know the `rising tide that lifts all boats’ is a myth.

    Brexit wouldn’t have happened if the leavers felt like neoliberalism had actually delivered any trickle-down to them. Fake democracy combined with fake wealth-sharing has only worked as long as enough mainstreamers are too stupid to see through the sham.

    Comment by Dennis Frank — June 26, 2016 @ 7:38 pm

  24. I’d have to agree with Rob Egan about Brexit being a symptom. People left behind by the gains of economic globalisation have a right to be angry, but it does matter who the anger is directed at. It’s much easier to get angry at foreigners and those at the bottom of the food chain instead of the rentier class who’s responsible for much of the current mess, for the simple fact that the rentier class can afford to spin its way out of bad publicity.

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — June 26, 2016 @ 7:56 pm

  25. Brexit wouldn’t have happened if the leavers felt like neoliberalism had actually delivered any trickle-down to them.

    One has to wonder about a courageous stand against “neoliberalism” that delivers a stunning victory to the right wing of the Conservative Party. Hooray! Now Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage will dismantle “neoliberalism” in England and build a new worker-friendly economy! And then you wake up and wish you had actually drunk so much you couldn’t remember anything…

    Comment by Psycho Milt — June 26, 2016 @ 8:28 pm

  26. “ooray! Now Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage will dismantle “neoliberalism” in England and build a new worker-friendly economy!”

    Yeah, this is the big question mark over the whole ‘protest against neoliberalism’ idea. If your worldview puts Michael Gove in the anti-neoliberal corner, it’s time to ask yourself some searching questions.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 26, 2016 @ 9:21 pm

  27. I threw in the following article here a few months ago about Mr Trump, written by an expat Englishman living in the US: Donald Trump, Class Warrior. But one quote in particular echoes the video set in Doncaster, except that Crook is writing here avout the people he’s met in moving to West Virginia:

    Yet, contrary to reports, the Trump supporters I’m talking about aren’t fools. They aren’t racists either. They don’t think much would change one way or the other if Trump were elected. The political system has failed them so badly that they think it can’t be repaired and little’s at stake. The election therefore reduces to an opportunity to express disgust. And that’s where Trump’s defects come in: They’re what make him such an effective messenger.

    It’s not just the pro-Remain left that were gleeful about the market wobbles after the vote. I’d be willing to bet there were vast numbers of Leave voters who were positively giddy at TV interviews with horror-stricken City types talking of the potential raging bonfire about to consume them.

    Comment by Tom Hunter — June 27, 2016 @ 12:01 am

  28. > “I agree, Danyl, that `sociology of brexit’ analysis was excellent. The petulance of the remainers and inability to accept the verdict of democracy seems tacit evidence of their subservience to the Eurocrat globalist control system. Rightists defending privilege, colluding with leftists adamant that obedience must prevail over autonomy.”

    Yeah. Also, Danyl would like to remind you to vote for the Green Party!

    Comment by Steve — June 27, 2016 @ 1:07 am

  29. That so? : )

    No need. I’ve voted Green nine elections consecutively. It’s even possible that the leftist parliamentary alignment could produce a change of government next year, regardless how unlikely that still seems. Centrists like me fly below the media radar. The antique binary political spectrum prevents political scientists from discerning our reality. Swing-voters, centrists, change govts. If Peters can figure that out, academics ought to be able to as well. Still waiting for the penny to drop…

    Comment by Dennis Frank — June 27, 2016 @ 1:24 am

  30. “Centrists like me fly below the media radar. ”

    LOL

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 27, 2016 @ 6:54 am

  31. I think the argument is just that its an effortless way to grow the economy.

    Migrant exploitation and “growing the economy” are subtly different.

    Comment by Ross — June 27, 2016 @ 7:04 am

  32. If this vote is caused by “neoliberalism” blah blah and not primarily cultural reasons and concerns about the lack of democracy in the EU despite its commitment to “ever closer union”, why did Labour voters tend to vote Remain and Conservative voters tend to vote Leave? Don’t assume the voters didn’t know what they were doing.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — June 27, 2016 @ 7:35 am

  33. “why did Labour voters tend to vote Remain and Conservative voters tend to vote Leave? ”

    If there’s one theme to political developments in the English speaking world in the last couple of years it’s the realisation that neoliberalism is unpopular with most conservative voters.

    (Although to answer your specific point, plenty of Labour supporters did vote to leave – in fact without Labour’s leave voters, Remain would have won handily. Hence why Corbyn’s feet are being held to the fire)

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 27, 2016 @ 8:02 am

  34. I’ve voted Green nine elections consecutively…Centrists like me fly below the media radar.

    Been down so long it looks like up to you?

    Comment by Joe W — June 27, 2016 @ 8:11 am

  35. why did Labour voters tend to vote Remain

    Labour voters tended to vote remain, but are about four million former labour voters, who are now UKIP voters, who overwhelmingly voted Leave

    Comment by danylmc — June 27, 2016 @ 8:22 am

  36. I think it’s reasonable to assume voters didn’t really know what they were doing. Take the rapid growth of the Second Referendum petition, now up over 3 million. The “post-factual” mood-reading appeals of the Leavers, like taking the wasted 350 million pounds and spending it on the struggling NHS. That’s just not gonna happen, is it? Will Davies’ essay alludes to the section of left-behind people who feel they have no realistic future, so their Leave votes gave them an opportunity to be destructive, pure and simple. Then you have the xenophobes who naively thought a Leave vote would immediately return them to a reassuring England for the (white) English. Add that to the pre-referendum polls and money markets all suggesting Britain would stay in the EU and it meant meant that voters felt able to send their politicians a message without having to worry about the consequences. Because they didn’t think they would win.

    Comment by McNulty — June 27, 2016 @ 8:35 am

  37. I think it’s reasonable to assume voters didn’t really know what they were doing. Take the rapid growth of the Second Referendum petition, now up over 3 million.

    Time to dissolve the people and elect another.

    Comment by danylmc — June 27, 2016 @ 8:39 am

  38. McNulty, that online petition is utterly irrelevant. Would you suggest that of 1 in 5 of those who voted for the Lockwood flag signed an online petition asking for another referendum it would have somehow undermined the integrity of the flag referendum result?

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — June 27, 2016 @ 9:12 am

  39. Matthew – I remain unconvinced that people really knew what they were voting for. But as individuals they certainly knew what the very voting against (lots of different things it seems). Brexit became a political Golden Hammer.

    Comment by Gregor W — June 27, 2016 @ 9:24 am

  40. “about four million former labour voters, who are now UKIP voters, who overwhelmingly voted Leave”

    What makes you think they will now vote UKIP?

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 27, 2016 @ 9:31 am

  41. Gregor W, yes that is probably right. It is always fraught to say what “the voters” have done. To misquote Thatcher, there is no such thing as “the voters” – every individual voter has their own story about what they are doing. But is entertaining speculation nonetheless to try to make generalisations.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — June 27, 2016 @ 9:40 am

  42. @Danyl and Hoots: I am not saying I think the petition is right or that it’s democratic. It is pretty desperate and of course it’s bound to fail. What I am saying is its very existence is evidence of an “Oh shit! WTF have we done?” kind of vibe in Britain.

    Comment by McNulty — June 27, 2016 @ 9:43 am

  43. From what I’ve seen the primary motives for voted exit were concerns over sovereignty and immigration.

    Blaming neoliberalism is a bit like blaming neoliberalism for gay marriage.

    Comment by NeilM — June 27, 2016 @ 9:46 am

  44. The majority of those who voted for Cameron to become PM, have now voted for him to resign, a year later.

    That’s the only possible conclusion, if the voters knew what they were doing. It was entirely predictable. (The alternative conclusion is to note that many Tory voters are shocked at his immediate departure, which suggests … )

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — June 27, 2016 @ 9:49 am

  45. …evidence of an “Oh shit! WTF have we done?” kind of vibe in Britain.

    Among those with something to lose, who plainly underestimated those who didn’t.
    Elvis Costello’s “Hand In Hand” springs to mind:

    No, don’t ask me to apologise.
    I won’t ask you to forgive me.
    If I’m gonna go down,
    you’re gonna come with me.

    Comment by Joe W — June 27, 2016 @ 9:50 am

  46. What I am saying is its very existence is evidence of an “Oh shit! WTF have we done?” kind of vibe in Britain.

    That would only be borne out if you could correlate exit and/or non-voters positively with those signing the petition.
    My gut feel is that’s not the case for the former but probably correlates – at least partially – with the latter.
    I see nothing indicating that those that that voted to leave seeing the current wailing and gnashing off teeth as anything other than positive reinforcement.

    To your point, it’s bound to fail anyway.
    The only alternate path would be if whomever takes over as PM doesn’t kick off Article 50 proceedings.
    It wouldn’t cause a constitutional crisis but the fallout would be bloody messy.

    Comment by Gregor W — June 27, 2016 @ 9:58 am

  47. One thing that has always struck me about these sorts of contentious political processes is how often there’s a very close 50/50 split of opinion.

    Given all the many possible influencing factors leading to any one position there’s somehow a balancing effect.

    Comment by NeilM — June 27, 2016 @ 9:59 am

  48. Re comment #44: Neil, I agree that the primary exit motives were sovereign autonomy & excessive immigration. The role of neoliberalism in catalysing the result lies in failure to deliver the long-promised benefits.

    You may want to respond that the benefits have been delivered the past three decades. I think that’s partially true. The key point is the widespread perception amongst people in all western countries that such benefits have been mostly delivered to a select few. Brexit voters would not have voted to leave if they were satisfied with what their left & right governments had produced for them personally. The inertia of mainstreamers is legendary – only the deepest disgust and alienation can shift them.

    Comment by Dennis Frank — June 27, 2016 @ 10:01 am

  49. Testing this I quite like it.

    Comment by Seb Rattansen — June 27, 2016 @ 10:38 am

  50. oops, please delete above🙂

    Comment by Seb Rattansen — June 27, 2016 @ 10:39 am

  51. The question is, Seb, what were you testing and how much did you like it?

    Comment by Gregor W — June 27, 2016 @ 10:59 am

  52. A. Geddis – I think Isolation would have been a better pick.

    Of course the reasons are complex – but if I had to pick one I’d suggest too many decades of rightwing Governments in a row have failed a rigid class riven country that never had the revolution it desperately needed (I mean in the last 200 years or so)

    Comment by rodaigh — June 27, 2016 @ 11:12 am

  53. @rodaigh,

    Better yet – Something Must Break

    Two ways to choose,
    On a razor’s edge,
    Remain behind,
    Go straight ahead.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — June 27, 2016 @ 11:17 am

  54. EU regional development aid ? This project says it all really.
    ‘One project supported by the Fund is the Golf Club Campo de Golf in the African Spanish exclave Melilla, located right next to the border with Morocco where African refugees regularly attempt to enter the territory of the EU by climbing a triple fence with razor wire. In 2009, Ecologists in Action called the location insulting and asked the EU to investigate why more than €1.1m was given to the project by the ERDF. The petition was dismissed, because the objectives of the golf course to “increase tourism, create jobs and promote sport and sporting values” was compatible with the goals of the ERDF”

    NZ has similar ‘values’ in that golf clubs get a large benefit from public purse, and even funds to run tournaments, and we arent even in the EU.

    Comment by ghostwhowalksnz — June 27, 2016 @ 11:22 am

  55. The key point is the widespread perception amongst people in all western countries that such benefits have been mostly delivered to a select few.

    Issues of distribution and inclusion are significant but I think any political/economic path leading to a more integrated Europe would lead to a nationalist backlash.

    Comment by NeilM — June 27, 2016 @ 1:17 pm

  56. “I think any political/economic path leading to a more integrated Europe would lead to a nationalist backlash.”

    Exactly. If you are promoting an “ever closer union”, transferring more power from existing more-local political authorities to more centralised ones (including, eventually, even monetary and fiscal policy) you have to accept that you have to take people along with you and you will eventually have to give them a proper vote to decide who will be making those decisions. Responding that those who are concerned about “ever closer union” just lack proper appreciation of The European Ideal or European Project or – worse – are just racist buffoons – is not going to build the necessary acceptance or even acquiescence for what you want to do. And I’m not making a moralistic point here: it’s a matter of practical politics that people don’t like moving from what they perceive to be a democratic system to one they perceive not to be. The immediate arrogant response from the Eurocrats I expect is just reinforcing the sentiment of those who do not like the direction the EU Commission and Council have been taking for some decades.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — June 27, 2016 @ 1:48 pm

  57. Regardless, in the 70s it was seen as a trade pact with only about 9 members and has now morphed into something akin to an unelected massive bureaucracy with 27 members and acting as the main source of legitimate government. Its hard to imagine this wouldn’t be challenged and voted on at some stage.. particularly when an economy like Germany would only have a GDP per capita good enough to make it into the bottom 10 US states.

    Thats a poor return for giving up so much sovereignty.

    JC

    Comment by JC — June 27, 2016 @ 1:58 pm

  58. The EU seemed a good idea way back when. The eurocratocracy has proven it invalid as a political reality, but not as a concept. The principle of unity has merit, provided all who participate do so on a genuine common-interest basis. Working together for the common good in unison would have been the appropriate exemplary model for younger generations.

    No way would the elites be so authentic. Nor would their controllers allow them to do that – even if they were so inclined. It was never an option. The left/right sham is the only permissible way to conduct democracy.

    Some in the younger generations have deduced that this is so. Conventional to dismiss such folk as conspiracy theorists, but this too shall pass. Idiocy bred from ignorance only persists as long as opinion-leaders are too lazy to read history or unable to learn from it: “Nah, there was never was any conspiracy to assassinate Caesar. All those senators just happened to show up & stab him simultaneously. Just a coincidence.” Rational scepticism, way to go for tiny brains…

    Comment by Dennis Frank — June 27, 2016 @ 2:14 pm

  59. !What I am saying is its very existence is evidence of an “Oh shit! WTF have we done?” kind of vibe in Britain.”

    I’m pretty sure most of the people signing that petition voted “remain”.

    “One project supported by the Fund is the Golf Club Campo de Golf”

    Typical Brexiteer cherry picking. The EU has funded a lot of regional projects with unquestionable benefits. EU structural funds have contributed to integrating school systems in Ireland, rural road repairs in Portugal, and refitting the power grid in Estonia.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 27, 2016 @ 2:36 pm

  60. Can I point out that once again we have an example of a popular vote the outcome of which may have been determined by the decision of a large number of young voters not to participate. While the vast bulk of under 25s who voted supported Remain, that was still a minority of young voters. The majority – about 60% – either voted leave or didn’t vote at all. We see this happen time and time again and it always seems to adversely affect those on the left far more than those on the right – if Brexit can be seen in those terms. So while I think Britain made the wrong decision, I have little patience with wailing and gnashing of teeth from the disappointed. They didn’t get the vote out and they lost. They should now devote their attention to making sure Britain descends into chaos and remains there. That’s always fun.

    Comment by Nick R — June 27, 2016 @ 4:32 pm

  61. The problem with projects of unquestionable benefit is they are unquestionably good. Even were the EU never to have existed – the Irish would have educated their children, the Portuguese paved roads and the Estonians refitted their power grid.

    Comment by unaha-closp — June 27, 2016 @ 4:51 pm

  62. Fair enough, Nick, but by the same token, who is to blame for the much lower turnout for elections to the European Parliament? The people who don’t vote? You might think so – but no, it’s much easier to blame the so-called “undemocratic” EU for the democratic process that isn’t used.

    Institutions (from local councils to supranational forums) are often derided as unresponsive and unaccountable, but across the democratic world people are voting less, engaging less – until the easy answers like Trump or Brexit come along.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — June 27, 2016 @ 4:58 pm

  63. Irish would have educated their children, the Portuguese paved roads and the Estonians refitted their power grid.

    Hard to know, really. An awful lot has been accomplished in those countries with EU development funding.
    Certainly through access to EU capital, the benefits have probably been delivered a lot more quickly.

    Comment by Gregor W — June 27, 2016 @ 5:21 pm

  64. Colin James: “The post-1945 liberal-democratic hegemony of centre-right/centre-left parties in the ‘west’ is ending.” Hope he’s right. Could be a zeitgeist shift, could just be a loss of faith in the establishment, a mere drift in voter inertia.
    http://www.aspistrategist.org.au/brexit-trump-sub-zero-bonds-china-kiwi-perspective/

    “Brexit-ism and Trump-ism are symptoms of deep ills, reactions against all-knowing and all-owning elites who have presided over growing inequalities and other societal reshapings that have upset, disempowered, dispossessed or scarred ‘everyday’ folk who feel left out and/or let down, outcasts-in-their-own-lands.”

    British remainers, believing themselves safe in their bubble, are oblivious to the feelings of those who shifted the political terrain underneath them. Their petulant reaction reflects their narcissist disregard of the majority and what is happening in the world around them.

    Comment by Dennis Frank — June 27, 2016 @ 7:13 pm

  65. Lord Ashdown’s exit poll of more than 12,000 voters gives us the most authoritative analysis of the motivations that produced the result: http://lordashcroftpolls.com/2016/06/how-the-united-kingdom-voted-and-why/

    The identity politics section reveals that 79% of leavers identified themselves as English not British, whereas 60% of remainers identified themselves as British not English.

    Of the leavers, 81% thought multiculturalism is a `force for ill’, 80% thought the same of immigration, likewise for social liberalism, 78% likewise viewed the green movement as a `force for ill'(!), 71% had that same view of the internet(!), 69% had it of globalisation. Yet the leavers’ view of capitalism was balanced: 51% negative, 49% positive!

    Of the remainers, the favourable views ranked as follows: 79% immigration, 71% multiculturalism, 68% social liberalism, 62% globalisation & the green movement. They had the identical balanced view of capitalism as the leavers, while they also had a balanced view on the internet (51% for, 49% against).

    Their is no evidence here of any rebellion against the capitalist system: rather, voters seem entirely neutral about that. Looks like the rebellion derives from a cultural divide: a massive chasm, more like. The testimony of those polled reveals a schism in the nation polarising those who embrace multiculturalism, immigration, globalisation & liberalism, against those who loathe these things. Much like the USA…

    Comment by Dennis Frank — June 27, 2016 @ 8:16 pm

  66. The beating up on left-wing commentators just comes across as self-hate. Hence the congratulations from several right-wing contributors.

    Comment by Myles T — June 27, 2016 @ 9:12 pm

  67. “Even were the EU never to have existed – the Irish would have educated their children, the Portuguese paved roads and the Estonians refitted their power grid.”

    It is impossible to prove a negative, but I think this comment is startlingly naive. Being able to access funds, especially as a small country with uneven wealth distribution across the regions, is not easy.

    “Lord Ashdown’s exit poll of more than 12,000 voters gives us the most authoritative analysis”

    I didn’t see anything surprising there. Is there anybody out there really shocked that Brexiters are unlikely to be comfortable with immigration?

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 27, 2016 @ 9:19 pm

  68. No, but what’s surprising is the extent of the divide. Imagine what would happen here if anyone spent sufficiently to produce a similar poll. With both wings of the establishment addicted to immigration, discovering that more than half the country views it with revulsion would spook our current crop of political leaders thoroughly.

    It would suggest that the only reason Peters is still a minor player is because he has been too tentative in articulating how the majority feels!

    Cameron thought the NWO globalist agenda a fait accompli & failed to commission Ashdown to produce the poll prior to launching the referendum. More fool he. Would a competent political leader rely on the superficial impression you mentioned? Why employ political consultants who just tell you what you can hear for yourself down at the pub? It’s why Farrar operates a polling company, right?

    Comment by Dennis Frank — June 28, 2016 @ 9:11 am

  69. Gregor: “The question is, Seb, what were you testing and how much did you like it?”

    Let your imagination run wild…🙂

    Comment by Seb Rattansen — June 28, 2016 @ 10:22 am

  70. Good analysis, Dennis. I notice 4% of UKIP voters in that survey voted to stay in the EU. Hmm… gg democracy!

    Comment by Seb Rattansen — June 28, 2016 @ 10:28 am

  71. Being able to access funds, especially as a small country with uneven wealth distribution across the regions, is not easy.

    NZ is a small country. Access not being easy, is part of what confines our spending to worthwhile things – infrastructure, health, education.

    If access were easy then we could spend on everything, no need to worry, we’d just be able to borrow some more. We would be able to do this forever and ever, like they did in Europe – until 2009.

    Comment by unaha-closp — June 28, 2016 @ 10:29 am

  72. “Brexit-ism and Trump-ism are symptoms of deep ills”

    I remain glum about MMP but I do think it provides us with a safety valve that insulates us to some degree from Trumpism. Winston Peters hit his record voting in the 1990’s when fairly large numbers of people were sick of both parties’ economic policies and he’s doing OK now as people look at housing and immigration and the state of Labour.

    JC

    Comment by JC — June 28, 2016 @ 10:41 am

  73. “Good analysis, Dennis”

    Yes, I found his talking about the NWO really helped drive the point home and add intellectual weight.

    I think politicians in NZ would be not at all shocked to find half the population is opposed to immigration. I know it’s comforting to think of one’s own views as shocking and mind blowing, but the idea that immigration isn’t good is very much a storied part of the political landscape, and even the least competent politicians are aware of it.

    “NZ is a small country.”

    Yep, and would you say the New Zealand government never has to make tough decisions about which public goods to spend money on? Infrastructure, health and education all fully paid up, no further worthwhile expenditures to be made? Honest doctors, teachers and engineers would turn down extra funding because it’s not needed?

    (And NZ enjoys a healthier tax base than many EU countries did in the early 00s, especially in Eastern Europe)

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 28, 2016 @ 1:50 pm

  74. Yep, and would you say the New Zealand government never has to make tough decisions about which public goods to spend money on?

    No, I think that they have had to make tough decisions and that is a good thing. And for all that the outcome has been good.

    If we give politicians an endless supply of money and let them spend freely, inevitably problems occur. Europe today, with its austerity, is a result of politicians gone wild.

    Do you think people will turn down additional free funding because it is not needed? Don’t be absurd, there is always room for another golf course somewhere in the budget.

    Comment by unaha-closp — June 29, 2016 @ 11:03 am


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