Monday, 15 August 2016
A democratic correction is long overdue
Remainers have made it quite clear. There is nothing they would like more than to derail Brexit. I don't think they will succeed but I invite them to try. After all, it will be good to know who among our politicians and journalists have a sneering contempt for democracy. And yes I know, the argument is ongoing and you can lay down plenty impressive sophistry as to why a second vote might be needed but the bottom line is that you don't like the result and won't rest until you have put the majority back in their place.
Helpfully, some have even gone as far as saying exactly that and make no effort to conceal their contempt, but they just haven't thought it through. Remainers boasted all the way through the referendum that we are "leaders in Europe". Do they think, if that is indeed true, that we will ever again enjoy the same standing when it is commonly suspected that Britain is only one plebiscite away from pulling out? As to mechanics within the EU, I think we would have spent any good will and future leverage.
Moreover, should they succeed in keeping us in, Brexit really is then only a matter of time until the leavers can mount a successful revolt. We are talking when, not if. When that happens, there will be no trust left for a measured and negotiated exit. We really will pull the plug on the whole show.
Secondly, there is no better way to demoralise an already disenfranchised public than to tell them that their votes are only accepted if they vote the right way. I can't see how politics could ever claw its way back. No MP on the remain side would ever be truly safe.
And what of our international standing? Britain makes a point of pontificating and lecturing other countries about the state of their democracy. What standing do we have if a vote of such a magnitude is overturned? As much as anything that diminishes the EU's standing as well as our own.
In the end Brexit is going to happen. The PM seems fairly adamant and it doesn't look like various procedural interventions will derail it. If anything does derail Brexit it will be the irreconcilable disagreements between leavers. Even now leavers can't agree on the basics and some hold some childish and deeply simplistic views as to how we leave.
All we can do in the meantime is keep restating the case that Brexit was indeed necessary. And if you want to know why you have to look at the reasons why leavers won. It can't have been because of the universal charms of Boris Johnson and it certainly wasn't because they made a more convincing argument. Remainers salve their wounded pride by telling themselves that the plebs are just thick and racist and so fell into the arms of Rupert Murdoch and his corporate media agenda. But ultimately, it is that narcissistic delusion that underpins why we voted to leave.
When you have all of the EUs dependencies and the establishment impressing upon us that only doom awaits should we defy their wisdom, there is no other response than to tell these people to go fuck themselves.
This is, of course, is viewed as anti-intellectualism - which is another remainer conceit. But I'm not at all surprised. When Michael Gove told the cameras that we've had enough of experts, what he actually meant, and entirely correctly, is that we have had enough of individuals leaden with prestige telling us that there is no alternative.
During the referendum we saw Professor Michael Dougan exalting his own virtues to the point of nausea. Admittedly he has a fairly comprehensive grasp of the issues, but you don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to detect a hint of dishonesty and deceit by omission. A more humble approach might well have made his arguments more convincing but in the end he was lying through his teeth and quite obviously so. So the essence of what Gove said is that we have had enough of self-interested liars. Whether remainers like it or not, Britain has had enough of the present political settlement and ultimately their instincts must be trusted and respected.
You really don't have to be an LSE graduate to know that the economic fundamentals are not sound. I remember one sunny day in Bradford in 2007, I walked around the city and noticed that Bradford looked unusually prosperous. We suddenly had open air cafes and there was a buzz about the place. It was unusual for Bradford. It was on that day I remember thinking that this had to be false. It didn't feel right. After all, we weren't making anything, or the beneficiary of some great innovation. What we were witnessing was illusory. The faux-prosperity of a binge on cheap money, overextending on mortgages and buying Chinese tat. I had no real economics education but I knew just enough to know something was up and it could only come crashing down.
And to say that the 2008 crash was unpredicted isn't true. Nobody really believed what was happening was genuine. To have it that good for that long could only really spell one thing. Long and deep recession. And now that we have avoided catastrophe we have stagnated. We haven't made any radical changes to how things get done. For sure there is a bit more regulations and stricter rules regarding capital adequacy but we have no seen a paradigm shift. We haven't seen a remodelling of our economic policy and we haven't put any though at all into industrial policy. It seems to me like we're just waiting until the coast is clear to have yet another debt binge.
Even now, the Labour leadership contenders are in a world of their own promising yet more state spending based on borrowing without entering any new policy ideas as to how we pay for any of this - and the Tories are not that much more developed in their obsolete thinking. Nobody is coming forth with ideas on how we reboot trade and exports, and that is largely because we are used to deferring such policy to the EU.
And since our political establishment shows no willingness to alter course, locking us into the EU paradigm then it is we who must force their hand. And in this it seem the British public are far makore capable of making a mature decision than our politicians. They attempt to bribe us with more public spending and borrowing because they believe we won't accept anything else. If anything British voters are the stabilising hand preventing us from fiscal meltdown. They didn't vote for Miliband, they won't vote for Corbyn and they are not that impressed with what Mr Cameron had to offer.
We heard the economists and their dismal Brexit projections, we weighed up the risks and we made the mature decision. The economic paradigm must change - even if we must pay a price. For what the EU ultimately offers is more of the same. Crisis after crisis, bailout after bailout - all of which is designed to kick the can down the road rather than face up to the brutal truth. We are broke.
The likes of Owen Jones have it that Brits were foolishly voting for "more austerity" in voting for Brexit. But what if they voted for that knowing full well what more austerity means and what they are buying by doing so? That is something they had not considered.
I remember the week before the referendum an old friend contacted me. Now this lady, politically, is not the shiniest torch in the toolbox, but that's because she is otherwise occupied being a successful mother. She asked me for my opinion. My view before the referendum was that, yes, Brexit probably will cause a recession, but it will mean major political change and that in the long run we will emerge better off for having embraced what I believe was always inevitable.
I told her that we would probably have a recession lasting anywhere up to five years or at least some form of economic stagnation. She thanked me for my honesty before confirming that is what she already expected but was still planning on voting to leave. She was thinking about the world she was going to leave to her children.
And in the end that is how every parent will look at Brexit. This isnt about the next five or ten years. It's really a question of whether the public believe that the present political orthodoxy can deliver on the prosperity they have promised when all the evidence suggests we are going to limp from crisis to crisis with anaemic growth. It turns out the public are not buying the propaganda and I do not believe them in the slightest. They want change, they have demanded it and if it interrupts the plans of our political elites then that is more their problem than ours. It is their job to do as instructed.
We were told that it's better to stay in the EU and reform it. Yet when Mr Cameron went to do exactly that he failed. Moreover, he lied about it and expected us to swallow a fabrication. Labour's only answer was that that was more a failing of cameron than the EU. But when two parties have both acted in relation to the EU in defiance of the public will there was no reason to trust them further.
The Vote Leave campaign made a feeble case for leaving, but the truth is that the establishment had run out of credibility. That is why they lost. Promise after promise has been broken and they have connived to take us deeper into the EU without ever telling us the truth or seeking our consent.
For that reason they have been brought to account. We want Brexit because they don't. We are the ones capable of making adult decisions where they are not and we will stand to be patronised no longer. If there is a price to pay then we will pay it, but if there is a big price to pay then that is the price we pay for the hubris of our politicians who conspired to do this to us in the first place.
Brexit more than anything was an act of defiance. The people have decided that things have to be done a different way and since general elections result in no meaningful change then this is the only means at their disposal. We do not want the continuity of the social democratic consensus. We demand a change of direction.
Those conniving to maintain the status quo do so out of self-interest for their own short term gains entirely heedless of the message we sent. And since they hold the power, they are at liberty to do so. But if they expect to do so without grave consequences, they can think again. A democratic correction is long overdue. Postponing it could be quite lethal indeed.