getting under the skin of Brexit

A lot of political discourse these days consists to yelling insults to the other side across an unoccupied no man’s land of the vacated centre. The Ermine is/was a Remainer, largely from the economic point of view, but I thought I would use Kindle Unlimited (KU) to try to get a understanding of what the other side thinks. I’ve already used Brexit Central, but the advantage of KU is that political screeds often end up on Kindle Unlimited, so you can sample a lot fast. 1 I wanted to try and get inside the heads of the majority, to let people develop their arguments, rather than take the soundbites. Plus people are more civilised when they think they are talking to the converted.

There’s a lot of dross on KU, some of the Brexit stuff confirmed the Guardian’s stereotype of the Brexiter as old racist white guys who hated immigrants. I wish I could remember the authors or the books in question, they yattered on about “common sense” but were basically latter day Enoch Powells without his rhetorical gift, and disliked all immigrants including white Eastern European ones. This kind of author made themselves known from the first paragraph.

I wasn’t after that, I was trying to get a handle on the case for Brexit. Two KU authors helped me get an idea, one was Daniel Hannan’s Why Vote Leave, with an honourable mention for supporting cast to his jingoistic book How we invented Freedom.  The other was Andrew Mather, who falls definitely into the category of old white guy 😉 One should always be wary of people who cite their membership of MENSA2 in an indirect appeal to authority but one should equally be wary of inferring the general from the particular, people who are wrong in some aspects aren’t therefore wrong in all. Mather’s book was

Brexit: Why We Won: What Remain will never understand about the Leave victory

which seemed to be a good place to start as a Remainer trying to understand the leave result. These aren’t the only decent books from Brexiters, but these were the ones I read rather than skimmed. I came away from the exercise with more respect for the internal consistency of the leave argument for its supporters.

The price I paid for this project is that Amazon now thinks I am  on a diet of the Daily Express, Breitbart, and this is the sort of reading they offer up, I guess one has to suffer for one’s art 😉

Last time there was a bit about trigger warnings, global warming conspiracies and social justice warriors, so I seem to getting less intolerant with distance from this exercise. I didn’t realise that Brexiteers swam in such waters 😉

Amazon is of the view that there is some correlation between Brexiteers and climate change denial, and oddly enough those that rail against speed cameras repressing their inner Mr Toad. It’s a funny old world, and it shows the toxicity of the way filters amplify extremes. In the analogue world you would walk past the billboards for the Tories, then the one for Labour, whereas on the Internet there’s some guy running ahead fo you swapping out the opposition’s ads for ads for cars, lingerie and PPI claims before your sensitive head gets troubled with uncongenial points of view.

Some of the problem of Remain’s argument was that it was bloodless and talked in terms of abstractions,  ‘the British economy’. I quite like this description of how dialectic tends to swing between the poles of abstraction and reflection, which puts the issues more poetically than I could.

The [British] economy is an abstraction, and for the last thirty years or so it has gone along with the assumption that neoliberal assumptions of free trade, globalisation and lower taxation are all good, and indeed ‘the economy’ has expanded greatly as a result. The Britain I graduated into, less than a decade after the last EEC referendum, was far poorer in general than the Britain of 2016, but not everyone was poorer than now in every way. As JMG described, the issue with abstraction is

it becomes impossible to miss the fact that the supposed universality of the world-theories of abstraction has been obtained by excluding countless things that don’t fit. Some of those excluded things are bits of data that contradict the grand theories, but some are much vaster: whole realms of human experience are dismissed as irrelevant because they don’t fit the theoretical model or the methods of inquiry that a given age of abstraction happens to prefer.

Let me take one example of human experience – youth unemployment. I graduated into Mrs Thatcher’s first recession, and found my first job a month after unemployment reached its high-water mark, worse for that age group than at any time since. I was unemployed for six months. The experience left enough of a mark that I never took that chance again,  finishing work from one company on Friday and starting at the next on Monday, until I went to work for the very last time 30 years later.

Youth unemployment – I was in the second worst 18-24 line, only now is graduate cohort unemployment as bad as it was in Thatcher’s first recession. From the LSE’s Centrepiece, Summer 2011 which bizarrely asserts that there is no connection between immigration and unskilled youth unemployment, blithely discounting a 0.43% rise in the latter per 1% increase in the non-UK proportion of the workforce. That observation doesn’t fit their abstraction.

And yet the 1980s regime was reasonably compassionate to the unemployed compared to the punitive minefield that it has become now. I recall I had to fill some forms, go for an interview at the start, probably stay in touch every week with a UB40 form. The job I did get I applied for from an ad in the local freesheet paper, rather than the Jobcentre and the DHSS lady pretty much agreed that their job ads weren’t targeted at graduates. Retraining was better supported in the 1980s too – many people have fond memories of the Enterprise Allowance, which gave people a year of basic income to make a business work3. The equivalent of this is now universal credit, demanding a weekly minimum income floor. Cash flow in a business is too volatile for that sort of micromanaging tossery.

So despite the fact that “the economy” is doing so much better now than it was in the 1980s, my experience as a young adult from a working-class background experiencing a period of unemployment was a hell of a lot better than it would have been now4.

The abstraction doesn’t match the experience

Globalisation has made a lot of things cheaper and better, and forty years of technical progress has also done its bit. The internet on your smartphone used to look like this.


Yet there are some common things about the human experience in the UK that are a lot worse now than they were if you are not well off, despite the better economy:

  • Going to university – because now they tell you that you owe fifty thousand pounds at the end, without being decent enough to call it a graduate tax, because the word tax is toxic.
  • being unemployed, because, well, Iain Duncan-Smith and a vicious system when jobcentre staff have to achieve a certain sanctions target and make people feel shit about being on the dole.
  • being unskilled – because unskilled jobs are precarious and rarer.

It’s therefore perhaps reasonable that if you are poor and getting no love from the way the current abstraction of “the Economy” is being managed, that despite the likelihood of the British economy taking a bath as a result of putting more barriers between us and the people we do most business with, you may feel that your end of the boat will go up. It’s in no way irrational to vote against the interests of the economy if that is the case.

It’s not all about the money

Both Daniel Hannan and Andrew Mather make this case strongly. It’s a bigger issue for Brexiters who aren’t poor. Hannan makes a good case that Britain’s Common law legal system is very different from the legal system of most of Continental Europe with its roots in Roman law. I am unfortunately not well enough educated to know if he is generally right, I read his second book about inventing freedom to get more detail. He summarises the difference in principle of common law being what is not forbidden is allowed, whereas Roman law tends to be what is not allowed is forbidden. Brits will therefore bitch about excess regulation they didn’t need in a shared system, where Roman law systems will need the regulations for permission.

Mrs Ermine confirms that in France, where she lived for some years, you need to get your paperwork right before you set up a business even if it is an a self-employed writer. Whereas in Britain you just do it, and only have to fill in the paperwork by October of your second tax year. A British expat immigrant to Spain says you have to be accredited even to be a tour guide out there. Sounds like a rum way of carrying on to me…

Which brings us to the vexed issue of sovereignty, and the EU does have a problem here – it was established with a tendency to technocratic direction, and there is a democratic deficit. There isn’t that much point to the European Parliament because unlike what you’d normally expect of a parliament it is actually the European Commission that is responsible for proposing laws.

There probably should have been a drains-up on how it was designed when the original Six EU members were enlarged, and there definitely should have been one before Maastricht in the late 1990s. James Goldsmith was perhaps twenty years before his time – and unlike Nigel Farage seemed at least capable of making a rhetorical argument. He made his case in this interview on Breakfast with Frost

and because twenty years ago the process of abstraction had not gone as far as it has gone now, he had to make his case as a logical argument.

He still failed to define the question on the referendum, and there is of course the same distasteful aspect of rich people deciding they can buy a particular piece of political change, though it came to naught in the end. It’s a shame, because if we were going to have this fight on the sovereignty side, the case was stated far better 20 years ago, rather than Nige dog-whistling about Us being swamped by a river of Them,

and Jacob Rees-Mogg babbling about vassal states. What is it about rich barstewards and their born-to-rule progeny – William Rees-Mogg, erstwhile editor of the Times and his spawn Jacob, and James Goldsmith and the fruit of his loins Zac G. Presumably the people who will be digging my grave will have to worry about being ruled by Sixtus Rees-Mogg and one or more of Zac Godsmith’s brood. What the hell is is also with rich toffs pissing out stupendous numbers of kids, too, 6 and 5 and counting, respectively?

It’s tough to make the case for the EU being a democratic organisation even in academic papers rather than polemics5. Once the national veto was lost to qualified majority voting in the Maastricht treaty you do lose some nation-state right to self-determination. That’s corrected somewhat by the introduction of a method to secede from the EU with the Lisbon treaty, although the architect of Article 50 didn’t think it was necessary to clear off:

“In Britain there was, among Euroskeptics, the theory that one was tied to one’s oar with no escape and rowing to the unknown destination of ever-closer union,” he said. “That Euroskeptic theory was always nonsense because you don’t need a secession article to secede. If you stop paying your subscription, stop attending the meetings, people would notice that you’d left.”

Lord Kerr, author of Article 50

He designed it as a way for the EU to eject renegade states by removing their voting rights, effectively making them an offer to leave they couldn’t refuse. Go figure…

Democracy – well how much have we really got?

Before we cast stones all over the place let’s remember that for all the stirring stuff about England being the mother of Parliaments we have a two party state roughly oscillating between the poles, which appear to be getting further apart at the moment. We don’t have any form of proportional representation, which means my vote has counted for aught more times than it did. We seem to have an plutocracy where an awful lot of important democratic things can be bought, possibly including Brexit. In a study of democracies issues in the UK included “majority representation in parliament, which creates distortion between votes and actual seats in parliament, [and] a media that is skewed by private-sector interests” – the study has turned into this project.

It’s a bit rum for Jacob Rees-Mogg to go charging about talking about vassal states when a lot of Brits are vassals of his type of aristocracy, but let’s look the other way for a moment. It’s still fair comment to note the EU could have been designed better in terms of representation of the people’s interests as opposed to technocratic expendiency. Whether there’s enough common cause across the EU to make a workable democratic union is a question that won’t be Britain’s problem in a year’s time. Nobody seems to have a taste for the sort of fight that would be needed to change the treaties of the EU. Not gonna happen, however desirable.

It’s about control and jobs for Brexit protagonists, but not necessarily at the same time

Control, a.k.a. sovereignty, matters for rich people and a smaller number of others who just care about that sort of thing more. It matters to the wing of the Tory party that produced John Major’s bastards, surprising how little has changed in the intervening 23 years – then it was 6

Just think it through […] You are the prime minister, with a majority of 18, a party that is still harking back to a golden age that never was, and is now invented […] I could bring in other people. But where do you think most of this poison is coming from? From the dispossessed and the never-possessed. […]We don’t want another three more of the bastards out there. What’s Lyndon Johnson’s maxim?

Plus ca change, eh? Sovereignty is a really big deal for ‘these bastards’, probably because they are the elites and what they say goes, so they feel dispossessed of their right to rule by EU upstarts competing in their power space. Hence all the bitching about human rights and exceptions to the working time directive, a plutocrat has the God-given right to squeeze their wage slaves and sweat the asset. Nevertheless enough others care about sovereignty as a matter of principle, even if they don’t feel their right to rule threatened.

The jobs angle is different. We aren’t talking about British jobs as a whole. Say you are a London plumber – all these damned Poles increasing the supply of plumbers isn’t going to help you. People can go on about the Ricardian advantage as much as they like, but in the end when there was less globalisation there were a lot more unskilled jobs available in Britain7. No doubt there will be readers spitting bricks that correlation does not equal causation, but that plumber doesn’t give a toss about all those highly paid jobs in the City.

Many Brits in Boston, Lincolnshire, don’t give a toss about the economy. They see migrant EU labour in their areas while their kids are on the dole. Some of that is possible because migrant EU labour is only doing it for a while to make a decent wedge so they are prepared to sleep five to a room in their twenties. That’s not so attractive for Brits who remember a time when this was not the case fifteen years ago when they started primary school. Economists will say that’s Schumpeterian creative destruction at work, but in the end we have a myth of continual progress, and it hacks people off when this expectation doesn’t match up to what is happening. The Adam Smith Institute has a panegyric to capitalism telling us that it has brought more people out of poverty than anything else. It’s probably true, but as the Economist says,

China’s middle classes and the world’s rich have gained handsomely in the era of globalisation. It also remains true that the lower middle classes in rich countries have fared less well.

It’s not necessarily irrational, if your end of the boat is sinking, to vote for things that may damage the economy in general if it stops your end going down. Or even if it fails to do that but delivers a punch on the snout to people doing better than you 😉

I’m not in favour of Brexit, but I understand a little bit more

I never really liked the common Remain narrative that just over half my fellow countrymen were racist twits. Britain is a relatively tolerant country IMO. 5% of ’em may be racist twits, 50%, no.

I detest what Brexit has done to my personal interests – it devalued the value of my pension by ~20%, I will have to apply for Schengen visas just to get off this septic isle just as I enter the phase of life where I will be doing more international travel. Some of the things Brexit voters care about I just don’t – I am not after unskilled work and I think that the winds of automation will have a far greater effect on employment than EU immigration.

On the other hand I get the sovereignty issue a little bit more, although to my mind if we are going to throw off the yoke of European diktats then we should just as keen to throwing off the yoke of the domestic oligarchy and vested interests. I understand a little more why EU membership sat less well with British cultural assumptions, the what is not allowed is forbidden versus what is not forbidden is allowed. Hannan made a fair case that we are the exception with this in the EU.

I believe the British economy in general will be damaged, and since I have no human capital left I will take more of a hit from that than many, although I have moved as much of that capital as I can into worldwide assets. On the other hand, there are two significant hazards ahead that Brexit may defend us from.

The first is large scale migration into the EU which Europe is currently lost as how to handle. It is causing internal tensions, and I can’t see how Schengen or freedom of movement will cope with that in the medium term, it’s got to go sooner or later IMO. Schengen was a child of the cosy club of northern European states pre 1995. I was in Malta a couple of weeks ago, and heard how Armed Forces Malta are in charge of defending the EU’s southernmost border. Those migrant boats unfortunate enough to end up there get given fuel and a tow out to Italian waters8, since Malta can’t handle the theory of the EU’s first state of refuge claim. Schengen looks a bit sick under that sort of pressure, even if it isn’t the primary problem.

The second is the problem of the Euro, there is clearly not enough common cause across Europe to sustain a common currency without more political integration. Greece and Germany simply feel too differently about how to live a good life. Things that can’t go on don’t, although they can go on a lot longer than they should. If the Euro blows then in the UK we will get on our knees and thank Brexiters, even if they got the right answer for the wrong reasons. An awful lot of capital and wealth will be destroyed in that whirlwind.

We don’t spend enough time listening to each other. I’m sure I’ve misrepresented a lot of the Brexit case here due to a limited understanding, but it’s clearer to me where it came from, and that in many cases it may have been a rational response to a lived experience. Only some of them, though a vocal and privileged sector, are trying to bring the 1950s back. Some just want jobs, homes, and a future. I’m not sure it was the EU that took that away, but it swims in the same sea as some of the other abstractions like globalisation and neoliberalism that may be good for humanity in general if the Adam Smith Institute is right,  but bad for particular sectors of it. The EU was the first one of those abstractions that was fightable. Still beats me what sucess looks like with Brexit, time will show whether the result matches expectations.

On a more general point, I recommend trying to understand a point of view you don’t agree with. It sharpens the mind, even if you don’t succeed well. The world is not clearly divided into people who are right and people who are stupid and wrong.

  1. I use KU by signing up, and then immediately cancelling, which gives me a month’s worth of access to anything in it for about £8, without having to worry about remembering to cancel. 
  2. That’s probably sour grapes anyway – the ermine is not bright enough for MENSA, I’m with Groucho Marx on this ;) 
  3. You had to produce £1000 capital (about £3600 in today’s money) and a business plan. Some communities have fond memories of those days, where the £1000 was moved from bank account to bank account to help many people benefit from EIS using the same £1k capital base ;) 
  4. Two other positive aspects of the experience were of course that I graduated without any debt, and that only 11% of school leavers entered university, so my degree was worth a lot more than it would be now for work it would be relevant for. 
  5. The Problem of “Democratic Deficit” in the European Union, K Dilek, International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Vol. 1 No. 5; May 2011 pdf 
  6. About J Edgar Hoover “It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.”  – keep your friends close and your enemies closer. 
  7. roughly half of my grammar school cohort left school at 16, taking what would now be considered unskilled jobs. They were probably richer than I was for a long time – they were earning decent pay for five years before I got out of university, and that’s a lot to catch up on. They were driving cars, living on their own terms and pulling girls earlier in life. And there was less globalisation then. For the equivalent peer group now globalisation has made consumer stuff a lot cheaper and Life a lot harder 
  8. The story was anecdotal, but the principle seems to be supported in principle by this newspaper story. It’s pretty obvious that Malta can’t be the EU’s forward base against migration. 

60 thoughts on “getting under the skin of Brexit”

  1. I can’t help feeling the worst aspect of it all is the divisions it has caused. In my own circle of friends and relatives the only people who voted for Brexit were my parents, they are racist and stupid, not only that but they know their son makes his living at least partly by doing work in other EU countries. The fact they would knowingly vote against my interests upsets me more than anything else. It makes it hard to empathise with their point of view.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a tough one, binary choices pretty much have ot be divisive. It’s a pity there wasn’t a bigger majority, an evenly matched balance was always going to be the most divisive.


  2. Q: ‘What the hell is also with rich toffs pissing out stupendous numbers of kids’
    A: Narcissism

    On a similar journey of attempted understanding, although not a right-wingnut, I looked at a lot of Jordan Petersen material on U-tube and found it very interesting even if I didn’t agree with all of it. His stuff on IQ is fascinating and could explain why about 50% of any given electorate irrespective of country, culture, religion etc., tend to reliably vote against their own best interests.

    I don’t think the problem was so much understanding the cry of pain in voting to leave, just why Europe was the default answer to any given problem in life; so it’ll be amusing to see what the ruling elite via their political mouthparts, blame their incompetence and corruption on from now on.


    1. > Narcissism

      There’ll be jobs for a lot of therapists then , parents who aim for mini-mes seems to screw up their progeny royally. They’ll carry hangups from the life not lived through adulthood, and then perhaps Philip Larkin will have his say 😉

      It’ll be interesting to discover the new scapegoat in a few years!


  3. Thank you. What a refreshing article. I wish more bloggers (especially, I suspect, those who live in that there London) and general members of the twittering fraternity would take a similar approach.

    For example Monevator’s near nervous breakdown after the result was painful to watch although he (I’ve always assumed it’s a he) seems to have calmed down a bit now he has a house to furnish and the world hasn’t ended…… yet

    So many people nowadays seem to live in a social media echo chamber of their own views. It’s very sad.


    1. I don’t think Twitter is terribly supportive of reflection and dialectics 😉 I was quite surprised by my sudden immersion in a different echo chamber on Amazon with the research for this, I’d expected the filter bubble to be integrated over months. There seems some time weighting to the most recent books, a bit like the exponential moving average against a simple boxcar average.


  4. @FIWarrior I think it’s safe to assume they will continue to blame the EU for all our ills.

    It is interesting how only the very poor and the very rich can afford to pop out so many children.


  5. Obviously the vote to leave has been incredibly divisive. The most interesting research I have seen is that 75% of university graduates voted to remain whilst 75% of those who did not go to uni voted to leave. This goes some way to explaining why London voted overwhelmingly to remain along with many of the university cities. Also why the majority of under 35s voted to remain.

    Older people in their 60s (such as myself) and 70s were far less likely to go to uni…I think in the 1960s only around 15% of the population went to university…and in this age group the vast majority voted leave.

    As time passes and the dire warnings of the governor of the Bank of England, the Chancellor and other economic experts are seen to be false, I hope more remainers will gradually accept the inevitable outcome of the vote to leave. Whether we voted leave or remain, that is gone and the decision made by the majority.

    Its time to move on after nearly two years We need to find a way to accept the democratic outcome and unite to support the negotiations to find the best possible deal with the EU. It is less than a year to our leave date and possibly less than 6 months to negotiate a trade deal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was less than 15% – when I stared university in 1979 I believe that it was only 11% of school leavers who went to university. We should also remember that there were many more opportunities for skilled and casual labour work then.

      So there’s an incidental correlation between youthfulness and university degrees from the increasing take-up across time. Lord Ashcroft has a lot of analysis of these differences

      I personally think that most of the economic damage will happen after we actually leave, it’s a phoney war at the moment. However, I think it was Mather who made the point that fighting WW2 was a matter of sovereignty rather than what’s best for the economy, sometimes other reasons trump the money.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. It seems increasingly likely that the EU referendum was only won with illegal donations from right-wing plutocrats and help from the Russians. Plus lies. A sea of lies.

      The anti-EU minority never stopped fighting after losing a referendum in 1976. Why should we?

      Besides many of the people who voted to leave the EU will be dead soon. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. @tonyedgecombe I reckon you’re right, why would they stop using a winning formula?

    I may well be wrong, but I can’t help thinking that the rage against reality was the latest throw of the dice by the baby-boomers, having been the luckiest generation in human history by random chance wasn’t enough. The entitlement (not all of them granted, but a lot) in swaying a decision that will affect their living next 2 generations immediately and possibly the rest too, but not them, is breathtakingly selfish. It would be like me as a man dictating on women’s procreation choices in any way. I find it hard to empathise with that too.

    ‘only the very poor and the very rich can afford to pop out so many children’ Those in the middle are subsidising, so can only afford their own if they still have enough means left over. Patsy democracy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Do you think there should be an upper age limit on voting? If so where should the age limit be? How would taxing the disenfranchised be equitable? It seems a dangerous idea to me but perhaps you could clarify.


      1. @A Gartmore
        Hi, no, I wasn’t saying that at all, I am totally for democracy, just frustrated that in real life it’s always going to be flawed because we’re dealing with humans and therefore their frailties here. An age limit on voting has the same problem as making the aged retake driving tests without having committed any infringements, it’s arbitrary and so has to be discriminatory, effectively criminalising old age. (In the case of wanting safety on the roads, they should only be examined if they are involved in suspected dangerous driving, just like everyone else) In the same vein, teenagers shouldn’t be taxed when not allowed to vote, being a couple of years younger doesn’t make them stupid, certainly when compared to the voting record of their elders.

        So age is actually a red herring here, the issue is people who are in a majority (the size of which in this case rendered the result illegitimate either way; if you look at it objectively, statistically it’s a stalemate) having the power to completely change the lives of others on a coin toss to something they can hate. I think having a federal political structure with serious devolved powers as in the US or Germany is a massive advantage in greatly defusing tensions that could boil over into civil unrest. For example, with genuine regional autonomy, a remainer could move even just a short distance to a neighbouring jurisdiction that voted the other way, so they could live as they wished without it having to mean subjecting/forcing their opponents to live in a way that they would feel equally unhappy doing.

        The festering resentment of the losing side is lanced if they don’t have to suffer the consequences of the victors’ choice, so when brexit actually happens, if the economy tanks, remainers wouldn’t have to pay for what they didn’t even choose. A little understood flaw in nominal democracies is that the majority always end up forcing the various minorities to live as the majority prefer, so it’s actually majoritarian government, with any compromise disproportionately weighted for the norm. Tough if you don’t fit in.


      2. > A little understood flaw in nominal democracies is that the majority always end up forcing the various minorities to live as the majority prefer

        I guess it’s the price of peace though. For instance I am child-free so I resented paying taxes to make it fun for my colleagues to have go on their family holidays with £1700 worth of child benefit – these guys were earning well above the average wage and should pay for their own life choices, they could afford it. I was glad to see Osborne put a stop to that, but the keening noise showed it wasn’t a popular opinion. But up to then it was the tyranny of the majority, sometimes life is just like that.


      3. One year older than my age 😉

        Why stop ther? Hiw about a lower age limit, one year below my age….


  7. ‘It’s a funny old world, and it shows the toxicity of the way filters amplify extremes. In the analogue world you would walk past the billboards for the Tories, then the one for Labour, whereas on the Internet there’s some guy running ahead fo you swapping out the opposition’s ads for ads for cars, lingerie and PPI claims before your sensitive head gets troubled with uncongenial points of view.’

    I absolutely loved this description made me lol. I look forward to seeing Zuckerberg use this in Congress next week 😜

    Liked by 1 person

  8. My parents voted leave and cited the sovereignty argument as their mean reason. I still think it’s a bad argument. As I see it we joined a club of nations and accepted the laws and regulations in return for a favourable trading relationship. Given we can always leave, at what point did we lose sovereignty? If anything we’re losing sovereignty by leaving, because in the past we could influence the laws that were made, and now we will have to just accept them.

    If you join Fight Club because you want to fight, then don’t complain that the main rule is you’re not allowed to talk about Fight Club. And don’t lie to everyone that you can leave Fight Club and claim you’ll still be able to fight in it whilst talking about it. That’s not how Fight Club works.

    And whenever I ask which laws are so restrictive, so terrible, that we need to leave this important trading bloc on our doorstep, no one can ever give me a good answer. My parents complained that light bulbs don’t light up as quickly as they used to. I mean really, is it that big a deal? You’re happy to accept higher inflation and reduced opportunities for your children because your light bulbs don’t light up quick enough? One of my work colleagues complained that vacuum cleaners have a limit on their power because of the EU. She said that was the last straw. I mean, come on. Get a grip! It’s like complaining about your otherwise amazing roast dinner because you don’t like the cranberry sauce (okay my analogies need a bit of work I’ll admit).


    1. I think the soverignty argument is like Marmite, you either get that or you don’t. I don’t, but I read enough to come ot the conclusion that this is a really big and quite existential issue, one which went across age groups though it did seem more an issue for older people. The modern world is probably more collaborative – there’s an argument that the trend to more team-oriented working was a big part of why I couldn’t stand the way work was going. But I don’t really get the sovereignty issue personally, although I probably fall into the right age bracket 😉

      As for the bulbs, your parents need to meet the joys of LED bulbs and just replace all the suckers, it’s cheap enough 😉 I’m in total agreement with them CFLs are vile, and the early ones particularly so. That’s not a problem now. Your parents must’ve got together with a lot of other people though – the EU FAQ on bulbs speaks to exactly that grouse!


    2. ‘Given we can always leave, at what point did we lose sovereignty?’ …….Yup, donkeys led by donkeys.

      I call this Cakeist logic, you know the rules to join, but still think you’re so special cos you used to have an empire until recently that waived the rules, so even though you ticked the box for read & understood on the form, they should have read between the lines & understood that you’re a very special snowflake, so deserve a sweetheart deal see? In the club, but don’t have to follow its rules, cake on demand – but not need a gastric band, children of a superior god – above any rules.

      When stuck in a supermarket queue & wanting to pass time talking to a neighbour, I first check they’re not buying the daily t***s & ass. I still have some rights too.


    3. I suspect that the sovereignty issue is important to many brexiteers of your parents age because they feel they were diddled by a bait and switch. They thought the EEC was about free trade and then it became something very different that almost nobody in Britain would have voted for in the 70s.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I think you are over-rationalizing it. People voted out because their newspapers told them to. (Sun, Mail, Telegraph). Only old people read newspapers. Newspapers are owned by right wing nutters.


    1. It’s perfectly possible that the balance was shifted, but not everyone who wanted out were influenced by the papers. Some people voted out because of deeply held views, there’s much more nuance that the simplifications of jobs. I used to work with one guy who had issues on the sovereignty side pretty much from the late 1980s onwards. He really wasn’t a swivel-eyed headbanger politically, but that was his particuar itch.

      I had a simplified view of the Out case, and I hope I have a less simplified view of it now. That hasn’t changed my view Brexit it will be a bad move from my perspective, but perhaps more understanding all round would help find a better/less undesirable way forward for most of us.


      1. “perhaps more understanding all round would help find a better/less undesirable way forward for most of us”

        I see zero understanding from the leave side. All I hear is “Brexit means Brexit” bleated out by the conservative government like “Four legs good two legs bad” at the sound of disagreement with a side order “Enemies of the people” on the front page of the Daily Mail

        And the truth is nearly two year after this magnificent endeavor our dear leader has not got a clue of what future relationship with the EU we should actually have “Canada +++” is a word and three symbols not a policy document

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Judging by the amount of time the tories enjoy power, the electorate must not be too averse to a good thrashing with the birch. As such, a few more years on the thin gruel of austerity should reduce their flock to only being able to peruse the Big Issue if they haven’t carked it by then. And then when a couple more media barons no longer disgrace the earth, the pendulum will swing back in favour of knowledge & enlightenment.

      I can accept others thinking ignorance is bliss, just so long as I don’t have to have it thrust upon me…….


  10. >A British expat to Spain says you have to be accredited even to be a tour guide out there.
    > Sounds like a rum way of carrying on to me…

    At the risk of sounding like the second coming of Mr Farage, that sort of thing is fairly common, and you’ll probably find that the accreditation is issued only from Madrid.

    A friend of mine is a fairly highly qualified cross country ski instructor whose ( UK issued ) qualifications should allow her to ply her trade anywhere in Europe. However she says that she’s got no chance of working in France unless she gets the equivalent French Ski Federation qualifications as well. Italy, Spain and Scandinavia are no problem apparently.

    ( Don’t worry about MENSA, Richard Feynman had an IQ of “only” 125 apparently 🙂 )


      1. That’s brilliant in its simplicity and elegance. And of course you couldn’t nip over the border to a neighbouring country and buy a VCR there because you’re the only ones using SECAM 🙂


    1. You will find numerous foreigners working in the UK whose qualifications are not respected either explicitly or implicitly by UK organisations

      Its just normal when you move countries

      You should get out more and meet some UK immigrants, might open your eyes a little


  11. @ Ermine. ‘I guess it’s the price of peace though/the tyranny of the majority, sometimes life is just like that’

    I fully agree, I don’t like it, but yes, it’s the world we live in & I don’t see a better system right now; for example, if you had a minimum intelligence requirement for voting, the resultant disenfranchised portion of the populace would simply riot, so bringing down the economy by ‘voting with violence’ as it were. Even if they understood it would destroy them too, it’d still be worth it to them to take their perceived enemy down with them because they have nothing to lose. (and yes I get the delicious irony, and yes it would be really funny if I weren’t going to also pay the price)

    So I see a destructive circle kicking off in the UK now, akin to civil disobedience, the resentful will retaliate (at the next opportunity) by voting in or otherwise instituting changes to target those who they believe hurt them last time their opportunity arose. The tit-for-tat resulting from that slowly brings everyone down and can be seen in a lot of divided countries with seemingly unsolvable stalemates; you only have to look to the island of Ireland to see a sadly poignant example.


    1. > can be seen in a lot of divided countries with seemingly unsolvable stalemates; you only have to look to the island of Ireland to see a sadly poignant example

      Or perhaps a surprisingly hopeful example of such a stalemate broken – take a look at this timeline. In my childhood IRA bombs on the mainland were regularly on the news, the last one was sixteen years ago. Let’s just hope that a Brexit solution to the border is found that doesn’t poke this particular hornet’s nest with a stick, eh?

      Most solutions to divisions with unsolvable stalemates involve talking to the other side, and try to understand what they are feeling and thinking without judging it through one’s preconceptions first. The Good Friday Agreement was the result of just that sort of process.


  12. A strong and laudable attempt to understand the other side of the argument.

    For me the sovereignty argument always made sense (but not enough to leave the EU — I mean if you believed you wanted 100% sovereignty you couldn’t argue with it). The racist argument also makes sense; in theory only Brexit gives us complete ‘control’ of our borders, however much we’ve neglected to enforce the control we did have in the past. And I’d agree that Brexit does protect us from your two very valid tail risks (albeit by exposing us to others).

    After that though, I still don’t see the vote as a good outcome, at all. If you want less immigration and a better UK economy — and you’re not a racist, but rather a reasonable person who just likes Britain to feel like Britain, which as I Londoner by choice I don’t really feel much of myself but I can respect as a point of view, and I don’t think is racism — then you have a problem, because you are going to have to compromise on something.

    Similarly if you want Britain to retain its influence in the world, then leaving the EU in many ways reduces that influence, in terms of we lose a lot of leverage.

    I think that’s my biggest problem with Brexit — and especially with the Leave campaign. For a few months people argued — and many people believed — that we didn’t have to compromise in this world.

    Well, we do, as the many times the Government has since rowed back on the various outlandish claims (“not a penny”, “no transition period”, “immediately trigger”, “no ECJ influence”, etc.)

    I’d say fair cop to the poster who said it felt like I was having a nervous breakdown. 🙂 It wasn’t quite so extreme, but it was a real shocker. It was the first time I think I really became truly swept up in the partisanship and self-identity stuff that has taken over the (online, mostly) world in the past few years.

    That said, I still think we can overdo this. The Leave vote was not a big resounding win, it was a 3-4% margin of victory. It’s abundantly clear that millions of people believed things that were patently untrue, if not absurd, that were told to them. The vote was undoubtedly highly influenced by varyingly bad actors (data, elites, newspapers) and yes, I agree that most British people are far from racist but I think at least a 5% chunk is and that’s in the mix, too.

    As for the coincidence of global warming skepticism and the 50-someting well-to-do Brexiteer, at the risk of revisiting my breakdown period, I nailed that long before Amazon! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. > many people believed — that we didn’t have to compromise in this world

      I think the compromise is showing up, though. I can’t recall a single red line that hasn’t been let go. I wish we could just take the EEA/EFTA way and get on with life, it seems to be the direction of travel.

      > I nailed that long before Amazon!

      Ah, butthat was your projected image. Amazon have got the raw data that shows a map just like it – because they know the correlations are there.

      The bit you missed about Barry was the speed cameras thang. WTF is that all about?


  13. @TI, ‘I’d say fair cop to the poster who said it felt like I was having a nervous breakdown.’

    The way I see it, if a neighbour starts a fire on their land & you believe it threatens your property, so that could seriously affect your life, it would then be sane to be seriously agitated, very rational. Their attitude that you’re panicking over something that may never happen, is ignorant in the extreme & anti-social.


  14. I can understand the sovereignty argument but I still don’t understand the immigration argument. Most of it seemed geared at non-EU immigrants. But the Dublin Convention basically completely “protected” the UK from non-EU immigration – there’s basically no physical way of getting to the UK without either going through a signatory of the Convention or applying for a visa directly to the UK (to which we can say go away). If its about asylum seekers, leaving the EU is irrelevant as its the UN convention that matters. Maybe Polish plumbers and Romanian builders were the issue, but given how chronically short we are of skilled labourers (and nurses and agricultural workers) it seems like market forces rather than freedom of movement is the problem.


    1. > given how chronically short we are of skilled labourers (and nurses and agricultural workers) it seems like market forces rather than freedom of movement is the problem.

      One of the things I did learn from this exercise is that abstraction has been used to repress a lot of people lower down the pecking order. “The economy” and “market forces” are not forces of nature like sunlight and gravity, they are political constructs with boundary conditions and assumptions, ours just happen to be neoliberalism at this time. Politics is basically about who gains and loses, and it sets the rules we play the game by . The article The Twilight of Authority by John Michael Greer was quite illuminating in a US context where this problem shows up as Donald Trump. I think that the problem Remainers often have with the poorer end of Brexiters is firstly that we are the winners from the current economic rules, and secondly that we may not mix with people who have a very different lived experience.

      The current rules about how we talk about economics don’t let us talk about immigration causing problems for jobs, because if we take the British economy as a whole, skilled immigration probably does lift GDP, there are numerous academic papers that seem to make that case. Intuitively if x people in the UK make Y amount of GDP, importing some clever sods brighter than x probably lifts GDP more, proportionally. This is the story we tell ourselves, and it’s dandy.

      You’re not even allowed to think the opposite, but there’s a fair amount of evidence that immigration adversely affects poor people on low wages

      In the UK, studies suggest that immigration has a small impact on average wages but more significant impacts along the wage distribution – low-waged workers lose while medium and high-paid workers gain


      Research from University College London finds that an inflow of immigrants the size of 1% of the UK-born population leads to a 0.6% decline in the wages of the 5% lowest paid workers and to an increase in the wages of higher paid workers.

      The readers of blogs on financial independence are likely to be among the higher paid workers, who may observe the lift from immigration. But the 5% lowest paid workers are an awful lot of people. These are also the people who have been targeted with austerity in the last few years, and they are probably very pissed off being told immigration does not affect their jobs and lived experience.

      Our shortage of skilled workers? In Ipswich I used to walk past the training college of the Construction Industry Training Board, which closed sometime after 2000. Why is it no longer there? Because the construction industry doesn’t need to train young people into it, just hire from the EU, it’s probably cheaper for people to learn CITB skills in Poland. There was a time when companies used to train the young people they hired, rather than bitching about making schools teach employability. I was trained how to use a lathe by the graduate entry program of the first major company I worked, though I was never a machinist. Firms did that so their graduate engineers didn’t go tell people to make something that couldn’t be made. Britain used to train its workers on the job, which is how we used to get those skilled workers we are short of now.

      Nowadays companies don’t have to bother. At a white-collar level they get the parents of interns to pay for the training companies used to do, at unskilled levels they buy in. Inherited wealth matters more now than it did when I was a kid, which is how the child of a fitter and a SAHM gets to retire early and pontificate about these things. I was fortunate, I wouldn’t have a prayer of doing that had I been born 40 years later.

      I can understand how people look at 40 years of neoliberalism and market forces and think that this isn’t working for me. I’m buggered as to what the right solution is to that conundrum, and I do take the Adam Smith Institute’s idea that humanity is better off overall, but I also understand how many Brits can come to the conclusion that “this isn’t working for me and my kids”.

      To turn the statement about market forces around, we are chronically short of skilled workers, because employers aren’t prepared to pay a market clearing price. That’s fantastic if you are an employer or you aren’t trying to be one of those workers, because in aggregate your stuff and services are cheaper. If you are one of those workers – say from the same stock as that half of my grammar school cohort who cleared off at 16, you are stuffed.

      We remainers have hurled abuse at many of these people, telling them they are stupid and that they are racist. Looking at the economy as an abstraction, that is the most obvious explanation, and a lot of UKIP is undoubtely racist, as shown by that poster behind Farage. But behind the abstraction lies an awful lot of people hurting, and I don’t think that anybody who voted leave because they felt they or their children are finding it harder to get jobs at the lower end of the scale was being irrational. I do think they were voting against the economic interests of the country as a whole, but I don’t think they were being stupid. There wasn’t any way they could make their hurt heard to UK politicians enough to change their lives for the better. They were stuffed before. They may still be stuffed. But telling people immigration doesn’t hurt jobs when the evidence of their own lived experience contradicts that isn’t likely to get them on side.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Ermine, thanks for the thoughtful reply. Perhaps I was lazy when I said “market forces”. What I’m talking about is a lot of what you mentioned, the pursuit of neo-liberalist economic policies without due consideration for the impact between different cohorts of society. It’s entirely possible to have a society that welcomes immigration but doesn’t let the lowest paid lose out. That we haven’t created that society isn’t the EU’s fault, but it lies solely at the feet of our own politicians.


    2. Apart from the fact that within a relatively short time, any non-EU immigrant is generally able to apply for citizenship and a passport, so the UK was only “protected” for a short period.


  15. The point above about democracy & European institutions is not very coherent though ?

    * You argue that the European Parliament should be able to initiate legislation in addition of approving it. So implicitly you argue that it is the sole depository of democratic legitimacy and that a majority in Parliament should be sufficient to control entirely the legislative process ( similarly to the House of Commons ).

    * But at the same time you regret that the UK head of state doesn’t have a veto anymore since the switch to qualified majority. That position implicitly says that in your view at least some of the democratic legitimacy should reside in the council of the head of states, and that full consensus rather than majority is preferable.

    … and these two views are why the current system was setup with a hybrid double control : Commission nominated by the head of states but approved/dismissed by parliament, and mediating between the two.


    1. > The point above about democracy & European institutions is not very coherent though ?

      It doesn’t have to be. I am a Remainer, from a largely heuristic approach- the EU works well enough for me, I am reasonably convinced by the trade argument, the travel is nice, the UK secured indefinite exceptions from the Euro which I would otherwise be frightened of, and I thought the more jingoistic angle of BoJo and the harking back to the 1950s crew was absolute bollocks. So I didn’t put too much work into it.

      Nevertheless the sovereignty argument exercises many Brexiters, and if I as a Remainer get hold of the wrong end of the stick then the unclarity about roles in the EU should be put in terms voters can understand. I went and took a look at the EC website in the light of your comment. It starts off with

      The European Commission is the EU’s politically independent executive arm. It is alone responsible for drawing up proposals for new European legislation, and it implements the decisions of the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.

      and right off the bat I am confused as hell, because this is politically independent, and yet it alone proposes new legislation, which to my mind is a political thing and the whole reason we choose governments. Politics is about setting the ground rules – once upon a time you could own people as well as chattels and burn heretics, we have changed the rules and this is no longer allowed, through political change.

      Either there is a massive disconnect between the UK adversarial system of government and the general and more collegiate approach in most of the rest of the EU on which this is modelled, or I am incapable of getting it.


  16. I am a former Unilever employee so I follow its fortunes. Recently Unilever decided to consolidate the head office in Rotterdam instead of at Unilever House. One of the reasons cited was to better insulate the company from takeovers by hiding inside the EU.
    So the UK loses. The Unilever wonks just don’t like the possibility of the UK becoming a buccaneering tax haven I guess.
    Unilever planned to consolidate Food R&D in the Netherlands and Personal Care R&D at Port Sunlight. That decision may be under review as well.
    When a company that has been in the UK for more than a century makes decisions like this it is chilling.
    As you know I am a big UK fan and I hope all will be well. But I wonder…abstraction or no abstraction.


    1. I totally agree with ULVR, I would do the same. I can hardly criticise, I shovelled as much of my money out of the UK towards global world equities in the runup, though I kept my FTSE100 individual shares, these are big enough to earn most of their revenue abroad anyway. What’s good enough for me is good enough for Unilever.

      I don’t think Brexit is a good idea for the UK or its economy. I don’t believe the sovereignty argument on its own would have carried the day. But the persistent shafting of the sector of society that can see the damage low-skilled immigration is doing to their life experiences, only to be told this doesn’t exist has resulted in a blowback, and I can’t say any more that these guys were being irrational. That blowback pushed the result over the edge IMO, although there was a lot of lying and dog-whistling by the Brexit camp.

      I don’t think it was the EU that stiffed these guys, UK politicians did that, and blamed the EU. The enlargement to include poorer countries in eastern Europe was handled badly by Tony Blair. The EU money could have been targeted more at these communities and their specific pain. We could have been less in thrall to neoliberalism and acknowledged that unskilled immigration harms low wage earners at times.

      But it didn’t happen. We screwed up, and we have to take the hit. It’s a largely British screw-up, and we will probably be a little bit poorer for it in the years to come.

      It was interesting to read that Port Sunlight has a historical connection with part of Unilever, after the name of Lever Brothers’ soap 😉


  17. I find it quite possible to understand why people voted for Brexit. You have listed most of the main reasons. But I believe that most of the drivers have precious little to do with the EU, and that the Leave campaign championed a long developed ‘big lie’ that blamed our problems on the EU.

    I think there is no chance of people who voted for Brexit getting what they think they were promised. No EU regulations? Well we want to trade with them. No immigrants? Well the problem was clearly not important enough for the UK Government to tackle as it made no use of the controls that were available under EU rules, and continued to allow lots of of non-EU immigrants in.

    We have designed an economy that needs plenty of immigration (and indeed if IMF and OECD are to be believed, Western developed countries are going to need more as the population ages). There is zero chance that immigration will be materially lower after Brexit.

    I could go on listing the things that people voted for that will not happen (£350m a week for the NHS anyone?). So my question is what happens politically when the leave voters don’t get what they thought they were promised?

    In the actual Brexit voters I have encountered (I live in a strongly Brexit voting area), they have real grievances; de-industrialisation, zero hours contracts and casualisation of work, austerity and destruction of public services, the housing crisis etc. The problem is I have not yet found one expressed grievance that is the result of EU policy and activity, rather than UK government choices.

    So as a Remainer I am left saying, OK I understand what you voted for, but you are clearly not going to get it, and in doing what you have done you have probably made matters worse for yourself, and certainly worse for me and my family. So what are we going to do?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. OK I understand what you voted for, but you are clearly not going to get it, and in doing what you have done you have probably made matters worse for yourself, and certainly worse for me and my family. So what are we going to do?

      I fear there’s nothing we can do. Some things have to get worse before they can get better. Brexit is the living proof of H.L. Mencken’s aphorism that

      Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.


      1. Sadly, I think you are right. I do fear for the reaction of disappointed leavers. Their natural argument will be that ‘their’ Brexit was sabotaged , and it could get ugly with even more polarisation. Remainers will be reminding them that ‘their’ Brexit was never actually on offer and it was all a con. That will not be received well.


  18. This is rather a long read but is quite an insight coming from one of the key people in Vote Leave:

    “Leave won because of a combination of 1) three big, powerful forces with global impact: the immigration crisis, the financial crisis, and the euro crisis which created conditions in which the referendum could be competitive…”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Being at a lose end, I actually read this post. It feels like a fairly well reasoned argument as to what actually happened in the campaign. Although having explained that people give simple explanations for highly contingent outcomes (the ‘branching tree’ of political possibility), he then fails into exactly the same trap by giving his explanation as the true one.

      What I found more disturbing is that he presents the key winning messages as claims that resonated best with the prejudices of the target audience. The accuracy or otherwise of the claims is an irrelevance. So the important thing was to persuade key figures to focus on Turkey/NHS/£350m, and to stiffen their resolve if they weakened. Further, to trash anybody who questioned the claims. The fact that these were deliberate lies, and known by all the leaders of the Leave campaign to be lies, does not seem to bother him. The important thing is that they worked.

      What I have never understood about Dominic Cummings is what he found so objectionable about UK membership of the EU that justified these particular means.


      1. I liked that article too. I got the impression from the article that it was just an interesting exercise in the dark arts for him. I read another article where he was absolutely fascinated by the data mining side of things and what you could do saying one thing to one lot of people and something else to another.

        There’s an article in CAM83 on page 15 titled “We need to consider what it means for democracies to fail forwards.” where he says there it’s likely that there will be novel pathologies, rather than a rerun of the 1930s

        But far from following the familiar pattern of military takeover or collapse in the rule of law, it is likely that democracy will fail in the 21st century in ways that we are not yet familiar with. Our democracies will not implode. But they may simply fade away, hollowed out by forces of technological progress and social
        division that we lack the power to understand, never mind resist.

        The digital balkanisation of the shared experience summaried by Greg’s comic, and talented experimenters like Dominic Cummings may be one part of such a novel failure forwards.


  19. I try and bear in mind the following observation when arguing on the internet:

    Having said that, I think Neverland’s simple explanation a good start.
    In my day-to-day life as a London dwelling software engineer I simply don’t encounter Brexiteers. Everyone I know is still angry about it.

    The last time I did encounter someone who voted leave was when visiting my mum (in a region with essentially no immigrants) – one of her friends literally said “We voted leave so the NHS could get more money and with Turkey joining the EU in the next few years there will be another wave immigrants entering.”


  20. Hear, hear RobH! Ermine, your writing is refreshing in your preparedness to genuinely set aside your position for the sake of more fully understanding others, even while it may not lead you to a different conclusion. Attending to, ‘listening’ and reflecting upon in a deeper, emotionally honest manner seems unusual in the blogosphere, and these kinds of thoughtful reflections are why I continue to value your writing.

    FI Warrior, we live in such a narcissistic age that therapy, unfortunately, is a thriving business.


  21. Laudable effort to investigate other points of view Ermine. If only more people followed your example.

    I am a remainer and agree with you and the other posters who express exasperation because many people voted for Brexit despite the EU not being the cause of the policies they disliked so much. Yes there are problems with the EU such as the democratic deficit but we had a great deal within the EU. We got the good stuff but had opted out of the Euro and Schengen idiocy.

    However I think this misses the main issue which is that politics in the West has become like buying a Ford model T. You can have any colour you like as long as it is black. It doesn’t matter who you vote for you get neoliberal policies. A large percentage of voters in the West have concluded that these policies are inimical to the wellbeing of them, their families and community. There has been nothing they have have been able to do about it. The EU referendum here and the Trump candidacy in the US allowed them to register their disapproval in a meaningful way at last. They are hoping that the elites will finally get the message.

    If you are still on a roll with your reading I would recommend “Why Liberalism Failed ” by Patrick Deneen. It is the clearest description I have yet come across of why the West is in the mess it is in and goes beyond the false left/right divide that drains so much meaning out of the current mindless back and forth in politics today.


  22. WOW I love how you tackle brexit. I agree with the comment above, its commendable that you are willing to look at all sides. So far all the media has given us is sensationalism and sarcasm


  23. Just came across an article arguing that a strong factor in Leave/Remain orientation is comfort with ambiguity and change vs a desire for clear rules and boundaries

    Author suggest these different worldviews are so entrenched that facts and arguments will not shift positions.

    Interesting, if worrying. As someone on the flexibility end of the scale, who cares more about achieving a positive outcome than ‘the rules’, I wonder if this is why Theresa May’s behaviours make no sense to me at all!


    1. You see the same dichotomy in US debate, where desire for clear rules and boundaries is termed authoritarianism, and seems to explain why statements like the solution to school shootings is to arm teachers rather than gun control gain traction, whereas it looks barking to my effete non-US eyes.

      While I have sympathy for the notion that the plural to anecdote isn’t data I don’t think it’s that black and white. I’m personally uncomfortable with the idea of being a citizen of the world and get the citizens of nowhere comment though I thought it crass and unhelpful. I’m probably very poorly travelled, however, compared to most readers -widely in Western europe and the US, and never been outside those two continents. And closer to 60 than 50, but despite all these elements putting me in the inflexible end, I was a Remainer and would indeed still now pay money to preserve by EU residence ands travel rights that my compatriots have shorn me of without asking nicely, though I accept that isn’t an option.

      > I wonder if this is why Theresa May’s behaviours make no sense to me at all!

      I think this is simpler. The question was should we leave the EU. There was no ask as to how, and there seem to be as many ways how as there are factions in all political parties. The needle of the complass spins to whover yells the loudest right now, and yet knows no north.


  24. “What the hell is is also with rich toffs pissing out stupendous numbers of kids, too, 6 and 5 and counting, respectively?”
    – the trophy wife needs a purpose in life one supposes.

    Laudable crack at the Brexit nut. I voted Remain but was on the fence for a while as I did wonder if the move out of the massive EU trading bloc would enable us to be lighter on our feet as a nation and make better case by case decisions on economic treaties than as part of a bloc. Ultimately I decided this was a hope rather than a realistic expectation, and economies of scale plus trading power was far more sensible.

    The racism/ denigration of opinion debate will rumble for years. I went down various internet forum rabbit holes seeking enlightenment and understanding of why people made the decisions they did, only to be confronted by Donnie Darko-esque creatures I couldn’t understand. Perhaps trying to find logic where there is none or where it’s incomprehensible to those seeking it is the flaw.

    Re: MENSA. Once you get 2 standard deviations away from the mean the validity and reliability of any IQ test becomes circumspect, therefore MENSA becomes more of a self-gratification effort for those just scraping in. I assume that understanding of the former precludes the latter.

    Ultimately I’ve given up trying to reduce such a nebulous issue into something understand in 2000 words or less, and leave it to intelligent book authors. Too collosal and glacial to be worth worrying about anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many years ago as a lonely nerdy schoolboy I explored the idea of seeking validation by trying to get into MENSA. My Chemistry teacher was sympathetic, but clear “I joined MENSA and then left quite quickly. It is a mutual appreciation society for under-achievers”. That ended my interest.


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