Friday 24 June 2016

Reasons not to despair yet

Well. My first reaction when I woke in the night and heard the news was a rather cowardly thought that I should take down the blog post I put up yesterday afternoon.  Certainly, as far as predictions are concerned, I ought to hand in my blogging licence.

I leave it up as a testament to my own - what? Stupidity? Naivety? Not sure. Either way, it stays.

And one reason I want it to stay up is that I have a feeling that, within it somewhere, there are the seeds of a more enlightened interpretation of the referendum result.

So let's leave aside the worries that Marine Le Pen has congratulated the British. And let's not blame Jean-Claude Juncker for his boneheaded "no more reform" on the eve of the poll (Brussels has a great deal to answer for, after all). We can leave all that for another day.

There are three reasons for stepping back from abject despair this morning.

1.  History. If you look at English history, there are moments - over and over again - when we break from mainstream continental institutions, perhaps most notably when Henry VIII broke with the Pope and went on to privatise the welfare system (dissolve the monasteries). When we sent Philip of Spain's advisors packing from London when Queen Mary died (his wife) in 1558.

When we broke with the French in 1940, largely because they rejected Churchill's call for a merger between our nations - the real, spiritual beginning of the EU - it was also greeted with relief back home.

We similarly rejected cultural unity in broadcasting in 1945, despite winning the wireless war, as I describe in my book V for Victory.

Paradoxically, we don't look back on those moments as national disasters, though they may have seemed so at the time.

2. The paradoxical nature of political change. This is what William Morris wrote in A Dream of John Ball about the grammar of change:

"I pondered all these things, and how men fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name."

That is the way politics works. When you win, you turn out to lose and vice versa. If the business of Brexit turns out to be a disaster, even just in the next few days, then those who engineered it will pay the price - made to pay, even by those who voted for it and shouted "Traitor!" at their opponents in the street.

3. The signal for the big economic shift. This has been, says Giles Wilkes, the most concrete political reaction to the 2008 banking crisis (though financial speculators seem to be doing pretty well out of it). I think that is true.

I have been blogging for some time about the next big economic model shift, which arrive pretty regularly every 35-40 years. The last one was 1979, so I had been wondering what kind of shock was likely to precipitate the next one. Now we know.

Especially now that the Daily Mail has turned its rage onto the speculators. It seems insane that we should vote for self-determination from political interference but not from economic.

It may be painful, even frightening, but by the end of this process I believe we will have a new economic dispensation which accepts that the benefits of economic success can and must spread to those involved in it - not through the welfare system, but directly in the way economics works. Of course, we will have to wrestle for that, but that is my interpretation of what the vote means.


So there we are. Three takes on the emerging crisis which lead me to be less despairing. But let me explain why. 

Because the geography of Brexit is pretty clear, even just to the Lib Dems (the party's new heartlands voted to Remain and its old heartlands to Leave).

Because I have a gut sense that the future belongs to those who interpret this result in the most noble, positive and liberal way - to those who understand that it is not a vote to close us down or cut us off. People will listen to those who grasp this as a revelation of people's higher motivations. For a fairer nation.

I'm a Liberal as well as a liberal and I hope that Tim Farron will move on, see beyond the specific institutions involved and articulate the new liberal world.

See my book on the Southern Railways disaster too, now on sale for £1.99 (10p goes to Railway Benefit Fund).

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CarolS said...

Oh David, if only

Oh, la,la said...

Yeah, David.
You were not the only one who got it wrong, you are in good company.
Looks like it's going to be the young vs the old .
With the old on buggered pension funds.

Plus, Boris' victory speech did not make any sense ( he campaigned for Leave right, I wasn't totally sure listening to him).
I heard a lot of - I voted Leave because but I thought Remain was going to win- sweet.
My favorite has been " is it going to be alright with the £ ? "
Me : I don't know, you voted Leave, can you recall the small print?

Oh, la la said...

So Boris, that article 50, alors, ├ža vient?
It was one of your pledges, like the EU money for the NHS, and only skilled immigrants of your choosing in.
The silence is killing me.
I have to go on DM site for news.
I have read that Peter Oborne thinks Farage might get a peerage. That Peter Oborne?
I don't know what water filter system they have at DM but I would have it checked for ergot.

Anonymous said...

Leave vote, was another example of rejection of the establishment, and who are more removed than the EU, it's corruption compared to Fifa. Democracy and the use of referendums give people a voice, with only the hope that the people choose correctly. Quote, I think from Winston Churchill"Democracy is the worst form of government, apart from everything else." Although looking at the Middle East, Dictatorships can have their time and place. But for now we must trust the will of the people. Lastly your book Cancelled has some insight into what happens when an institution gets' to big and uncaring to those that are its very foundations.

Oh la la said...

At the moment, the only Churchill quote going is :

" The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter"

Yesterday I aslked a guy who voted Leave, who moaned that everyone was a financial experts now, if he knew what was the debt / GDP ratio, current deficit, trade deficit of the UK and he had no idea. I also asked him if he knew if he knew what it meant when your currency is falling and you don't export very much. Ditto.
He also had no idea what the UK made as a surplus. Do you think this crisis will be solved by Monday do you?
Please read the foreign press, The English don't look like plucky foreigners, more like Dad's Army.

Oh la la said...

Plus you voted in the most Milton Friedmanesque part of the Establishment that will be making you sing:

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I'm living
So different now, from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed

Anonymous said...

I'm from Canada, this is all the foreign press to me, the economic and even national turmoil the country is going through now will be resolved sooner or later, the reunification of Germany, although welcomed, was predicted to make Germany a basket case for up to 20yrs, taking on decrepit Soviet industry and impoverished population, Germany overcame this in record time and as we see flourish's. Sometimes the voting public can be ignorant but you can't call them ignorant, ignore them at your peril. There is always someone more informed than you.

Oh la la said...

Hi Anonymous from Canada,

East Germany is still poorer than West Germany 25 years on. It shows.
What is a record time for you?

GB is an island.
Tthe EU should take 2 years+ with trade negotiations so a headache at least until 2020.
The UK hasn't had to do those for 40 years.
The debt / GDP is around 90%, current deficit is 70 billions,trade deficit is 3.5 bilions ( improving) .
With those odds, would you call for a divorce to reconnect with singledom or would you lie down and think of England?
I am not a Lady by any means, so I would take it until my cash flow was better or was really good at code.

The only thing that makes dosh is financial services, linked to the EU. Brexit that goes ...elsewhere
Austerity measures in the Uk have caused death for the weakest and poorest who rely on food banks to survive.
Leave means dealing with a Sterling crisis , Scotland, Ireland, Gibraltar, choosing the best Brexit flavour and compliance with all EU regulations still , Brits in the EU, EU citizens in the UK, The complicated legal side of Brexit, the list is endless. All this cost. Who do you think is going to suffer months and years with financial uncertainty? Plus the UK will probably become even more of a tax evasion island.
The Leave had no idea they were going to win. Now they are crapping themselves because they begged Cameron to stay and be said No Way. They had no plan the shysters.

There are people who are more intelligent than I am, fine with that. I like intelligent conversations.
Yet I have the right to call people ignorant when they are. Opportunists like the Leave camp and Trump exploits the ignorance, anger, shame , grievances, and sense of impotence of their voters for their own advantage. This was not like voting for the latest karaoke puppet on the Voice. People have voted agaisnt their own interest for various reasons to make their voices heard. Boris is a chancer, Gove a loony. The North of the UK is in need of jobs and investments, where will the money be coming from for those after Brexit?
Reading the Sun doesn't make you smarter, it just makes Mr Burns richer ( he is the puppet master) .

My family has lived under dictatorship, some have died in polgroms and not even a century ago in camps. Some of us have a bullshit detector gene for our own safety.

Canada is not Europe, congrats on electing a dish that does yoga.

Where is that fracking article 50?

Peace on Earth.

Anonymous said...

Oh,la,la ... East Germany has some impoverished areas so does the North of England but these would be considered well off compared to the poorest parts of the USA, you have seemed to miss my point on democracy, the vast majority of the intellectuals, economists and politicians warned that Brexit would be a financial disaster, but 52% the biggest vote in decades chose to weather the storm with the hope of regaining lost sovereignty. And yes I am lucky not to have been brought up in the UK, as until the early 80s it was also an impoverished country, having fought 2 Wars it could have avoided but bankrupted itself for many years.

Oh, la la said...


The statues on Easter Island have sovereignty over their island too.

It's all ok, Mr Burns is really happy with Brexit.

Dad's Army power.

Say Hi to Justin for me.

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Oh la la said...


Please read Diana Athill's book, Alive Alive Oh!, chapter ' Oh, tell me, Gentle Shperd, where...'

Dad's Army Power.