The in & the out of it

“If you’ve got money, you vote In. If you haven’t got money, you vote Out.”

This quote was collected by a Grauniad reporter, from one of Manchester’s suburban slums. He could not find one “Remain” voter in the Collyhurst district. Earlier in the day, however, he had attended a graduate recruitment fair in the middle of the city, where his trouble was finding a “Leave” supporter. Typical quote from a scrubbed, besuited kid: “This is the twenty-first century. Get with it.”

(My Parkdale loyalties come to the fore. We are salt of the earth around here. They spread us on the streets in winter.)

The political coroners do their forensics as I write. They pour over the demographics from the Brexit poll. They acknowledge that their corpse has a couple more dimensions.

For instance: if you’re quite English you voted Out. If you’re a bit foreign, you voted In. If urban, In; if rural, Out. If young, you voted In; if old, you voted Out — the more certainly the older you are.

Or if you’re Scottish you voted In, to stick it to the English. Or if Protestant in Northern Ireland you voted Out, to stick it to the Catholics. Or if Welsh, you had more resentments than anyone can count, and so couldn’t decide until voting day, when you voted Out to stick it to everyone.

If you are an impoverished, sixty-third generation, English Protestant centenarian in a Manchester slum — who voted, In — I would like to meet you. We might not agree on politics or religion, but I love a character. And you probably also smoke and drink.

My own attention is rivetted upon the age factor. My resentment is growing for the young. Most of the elderly in Britain never wanted to be in the European Union in the first place. The British were dragged in by their politicians, who are mortally attracted to anything big. For forty-three years they were compelled to stay, by the tremendous weight of “expert opinion.” During this time, the young were indoctrinated.

It took more than a generation to click, but it finally did. The young can no longer imagine a world without complex bureaucracies, built upon simplistic ideas. (Morality, for them, is reducible to hygiene.)

What they need is a food shortage. And if Brexit can deliver that, all well and good.


P.S. a point which my Chief Texas Correspondent has elicited from me:

There are reasons why the economists have always been wrong in their predictions. (And see that supercilious rag, The Economist, for examples of their mindset.) However, it may make little sense to look to the past, in order to correct them today. For while they are still always wrong, they may be so for different reasons than they were in the past — as they feed the crooked timber of mankind through the perfectly straight rotating blades in their intellectual sawmills.

Will Britain be better or worse off, economically, as the result of Brexit? The answer is they don’t know; and between us, I don’t know, either. I do know the British were, commendably, taking a chance.

During the campaign, I was fascinated by attempts to manipulate fear in the electorate. This came from both sides, but the Euro-sclerotics did the better job. They purveyed the notion that, while the Euro economy may be the world’s slowest growing, there remain huge opportunities for wealth. But the bureaucrats do actually have the power to determine who will get it. Therefore, it is foolish to get on their wrong side.

It was not that Brexit would make the British economy any less efficient. Indeed, the new challenges would likely make it more. Rather, the opportunities for business would be diminished, with nearly half of exports in the European power to restrict or disallow or punitively tariff.

Note this subtle reversal, on the part of economists, of the classical “free trade” position, in which trade now becomes some unnatural thing, which governments may nevertheless encourage by treaty. To Adam Smith and company, trade was the natural thing, with which governments unnaturally interfered.

The premiss of the contemporary argument is that bureaucrats do control trade; and with this comes their “right” to determine who should get rich, and who should be ruined. That position is now taken for granted, by the young and all others of unphilosophical mind — not as an ideological, but as a natural principle. (They don’t think of themselves as socialists; rather as pragmatists of “open mind.”)

It seems to them the most natural thing, that the successful modern business should depend on comprehensive political suck-up; that this is much more important than competitive efficiency, to the man who sincerely wants to be rich.