Monthly Archives: March 2018

The will of the people is to be half out, half in – but how many of us will honestly say so?

There are lots of articles on Brexit today, one year before the leaving date. But most of them blame half the UK population for voting “the wrong way.”

They will say how the other half were stupid, manipulated, ignorant, angry, complacent, and so on. Followed by, “if only they had realised …” the lie about £350million a week to the NHS, the manipulation of Facebook and Twitter, the conspiracy of big business, the false promises, and so on.

I disagree. Two years on, we need to start an honest conversation with people we don’t happen to agree with. It doesn’t have to be long, technical or detailed.

My summary is:

1. The people voted half in, half out. And after all we have learnt since polling day, this sentiment has not changed much at all. Another referendum would also be half in, half out.

2. We need to respect every vote, not just the votes of people who agreed with us. Until we do so, the divisions across the UK will continue to fester: urban and rural, richer and poorer, younger and older, north and south.

3. So, we need to become a half member of the EU, like the people of Norway agreed years ago. We can call it associate membership, which as in any club gives us lower subscriptions and less involvement.

4. And we need to take this honest, inclusive and healing communities approach into the negotiations. So, if the negotiations fail the fall-back isn’t a catastrophic No Deal, the fall-back is a Norway cut snd paste.

5. So, from now on our politicians should negotiate amendments to a Norway cut and paste – maybe less about reindeer programmes say, and more about tweaking financial services, world trade and free movement. Which is actually still quite a hard set of asks.

Half in and half out.

In French, moitié, moitié.

In English, pragmatism.

Lies, damned lies, and economics

“A groundbreaking report published today by economists reveals that the crisps industry in Britain is worth £2.7 billion to the economy, supporting 350,000 jobs directly and a further 1.2 million jobs indirectly, exporting 4 million tonnes a year throughout the world, and featuring in many Michelin star restaurants. Fred Scroggins, Minister for Savoury Foods, said today, ‘I am delighted that Britain leads the world in crisps, securing jobs and growth for our nation and providing a bright career for many generations to come.’ The Director of the Crisps Growth Sector Hub said, ….”

Is this made up? At one level, obviously yes.

But at another level we can recognise it as a somewhat tired template for so many lobbying reports. And this can create a weariness with economics generally in the public. Some fancy person with a laptop and spreadsheet can easily justify these numbers with their patent methodology.

An interesting take on this approach is written by a group of student economists, some now graduated, who queried this received wisdom especially when their university courses still made no reference to the economic crash from 2007-08 onwards. Business as usual is no longer sustainable, they said, and these old-style econometrics were past their sell-by date. To be fair, a minority of tutors agreed with these students, but the weight of the past is still proving hard to shift.

The book is called Econocracy – worth a read –