In defence of the people

Long-read

In defence of the people

The only problem with democracy is that there is not enough of it.

Roslyn Fuller

Share

When I began to study democracy over a dozen years ago, few of the so-called cultural elite were in a rush to argue against it as a form of government. After all, practising democracy was what made them the ‘goodies’. Yes, they may have made a lot of mistakes, they may have lied once or twice, but when the other options were dictatorship and Communism, all they had to say was the magic word ‘democracy’ and the grumbling over these indiscretions would quickly subside. Not only did the elite at this time not question the value of democracy — they actively promoted it as the self-evident, one, true path. It was seen as the end of history. The very word possessed such talismanic power that you could even get away with attacking whole countries and killing all kinds of people just so the ones who survived could have democracy.

Then these gatekeepers of good manners lost a referendum (Brexit) and an election (Trump) and decided that democracy was totally passé. The volte-face they performed was rather breathtaking in its coordination, like a little shoal of well-disciplined fish avoiding troubled waters with mindless accuracy.

Philosopher Julian Baggini proclaimed in the Guardian that ‘Plato and Aristotle get a bad rap these days for their rejection of democracy. But the substance of their objections was spot on.’ The Independent ran articles arguing that some things are just ‘too important to be decided by the people’, and accusing British MPs of hiding ‘behind the vapid UKIP mantra – the so-called will of the people’. According to political-science professors there was ‘nothing democratic about Brexit’, which was to be regarded as a ‘great pretence of democracy’, since quite suddenly ‘the notion that 50 per cent plus one [was] an acceptable threshold [was] a fiction’.

Journalists told us that it was ‘time for the elites to rise up against the ignorant masses’, that the Brexit referendum was a ‘blunt axe wielded by disenchanted and poorly informed citizens’, that we were about to be overrun by the ‘tyranny of the mob’ and that (just in case anyone had missed the point) ‘the problem with democracy is voters’.

A volley of academics chimed in to decry the idiocy of the masses and offer various solutions that would mitigate the effect of ‘the people’ on government. Brookings Fellows Jonathan Rauch and Benjamin Wittes argued for politics to return to ‘smoke-filled rooms’ with candidates hand-picked by party insiders. Professors Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels’ research that purported to show that people are so irrational that elections are won and lost on everything from shark attacks to the weather gained a rapturous audience. Georgetown philosopher Jason Brennan’s plea for disenfranchising the stupid and ignorant was treated as some kind of plausible innovation. And pundits contemplated, with seeming seriousness, Canadian Daniel A Bell’s argument for the West to turn to a Chinese model of government by an unelected virtuous elite.

In my new book,In Defence of Democracy, I spend some time on demolishing these arguments – lavishing particular attention on ‘Sharknado’ (Achen and Bartels’ claim that Woodrow Wilson lost voters in New Jersey in the 1916 presidential election because a Great White shark was munching down their tourists), as well as Bell’s argument for a virtuous elite that turns out to require about as much virtue as landing a middle management position at PwC does (yes, that much), and could, according to him, be instituted if the West were ever really rattled by a major terrorist attack (think he forgot to use his inside voice on that one).

Not only do very wealthy oligarchs tend to democracy-scepticism, suddenly the chattering classes are also convinced that the big problem with democracy is… people

The long and the short of it, however, is that for the first time in a long time, not only do very wealthy oligarchs tend to democracy-scepticism — suddenly the chattering classes are outstripping them in their conviction that the big problem with democracy is… people.

Now, you may be thinking if the problem is indeed ‘people’, what alternative alien race are anti-democrats planning to populate their wondrous societies with? Aren’t they people, too?

Yes, but they are the right kind of people. The problem is the other people, who, according to anti-democrats, are stupid, irrational and unwilling to take the time to develop informed preferences.

Voters today, as Achen and Bartels put it, harbour thoughts as irrational as those of Ancient Egyptians blaming the Pharaoh for the Nile failing to flood, and are unable to ‘distinguish the effects of shark attacks and droughts from the effects of tax policies and foreign wars’.

Now, having never met anyone in my life who has actually confused the effects of a shark attack with the effects of, say, a sugar tax (and this despite the fact that I am a veritable lightning rod for attracting weirdos), I’m pretty sure this is just the kind of theory academics come up with in order to sound interesting.

In reality, the average person, being, it must be said, per definition average and therefore not much to write home about, is really quite stable and straightforward, with preferences that seem fairly sensible. Rather than running off on a tangent following every encounter with aquatic predators, his or her opinions tend to be fairly grounded and resilient.

Indeed, way back in 1998 an American study concluded that, ‘Public opinion is remarkably well-structured and overwhelmingly partial to the policy status quo’. When asked to choose between different public-finance options, the majority of participants consistently chose to cut defence spending while rejecting other options like raising or lowering taxes, increasing the deficit or decreasing domestic spending ‘usually by overwhelming margins’.

In other words, over 20 years ago, Americans wanted to cut their bloated and euphemistically named ‘defence’ spending and use that money to fund public services while maintaining tax levels, rather than do what American politicians have done: continue to increase defence spending while engaging in a wholesale war over whether they need to raise taxes on the middle class or gut public services.

What Americans wanted back in 1998 was simple, painless, and arguably could have saved everyone a lot of trouble. Perhaps having the brakes applied to the otherwise limitless military-industrial complex would have mitigated enthusiasm for the attacks on Iraq, Libya and Syria, in turn avoiding waves of destabilisation, mass migration and the power vacuum that allowed terrorism to flourish. At the same time, the funds saved could perhaps have taken the worst edge off meth and opioid addiction, violence and declining infrastructure.

Good thing elites were around to make sure those kind of straightforward policies weren’t put in place and to save voters from their ignorant irrationality.

That study is not a one-off, either. Benjamin I Page, co-author of the famous ‘oligarchy study’; tells us that ‘Americans’ poll-measured, collective policy preferences have generally been real (not coin flips or doorstep artefacts), stable, consistent, coherent and responsive to best available new information and reflective of citizens’ underlying values and interests’.

A third scholar, Morris P Fiorina of Stanford, claims that voter preferences tend to move very slowly, and that on many issues, including ‘hot-button issues’ like abortion, they have hardly changed since the 1970s. While party activists have hardened their positions into complete pro- and anti-choice camps, most ordinary people remain somewhere in the middle.

That shouldn’t be too surprising: given the constraints of the time-space continuum we inhabit, the conditions of life don’t change much, and absent a change in conditions, a change in opinion is unlikely.

Photograph of the Great Chartist Meeting on Kennington Common, London in 1848
Photograph of the Great Chartist Meeting on Kennington Common, London in 1848

There is a similar case to be made for Europe. Studies show that the majority of Europeans, including the British, are still generally onboard with top-line EU goals like promoting peace within Europe and are willing to credit the EU with achievements here.

When asked what would be the single greatest consequence that an EU collapse would bring with it, a surprising number of respondents stated this to be losing the benefits of a trading bloc to counter superpowers like China and the US. Indeed, in France and Denmark this was rated as the greatest potential loss by more respondents than selected losing the Euro or the ability to travel freely across the EU.

So… people like to be able to travel across the EU, they find the Euro handy and they see the value of the EU in protecting them from hyper-globalist competition from China and the US, where labour laws are considerably less stringent. So far, so good.

But there are a ream of other things that the EU does and aims to do, like forming a European army; deregulating and privatising public infrastructure, like the energy sector and postal services; limiting national governments’ ability to subsidise industry; disempowering elected national lawmakers; updating the common fisheries policy; and, of course, rather watering down some of the traditions that so many Europeans are so attached to through harmonisation. The moment in time where Europeans really said yes to these things after an open and honest discussion is hard to pinpoint, making one wonder if they ever really said ‘yes’ at all.

The last time any substantial number of Europeans were asked for their opinion was during the referenda to adopt the so-called Constitution of Europe in 2005. While 10 referenda were planned, only four were held: two in favour of adopting the constitution (Spain and Luxembourg) and two against (France and the Netherlands). Subsequently, the project was abandoned and only Ireland would get a referendum on the constitution’s replacement, the Treaty of Lisbon, which it also initially rejected.

Following the Constitution of Europe debacle, it would have been possible to start talking seriously about the potential benefits of immigrant labour in propping up pensions, or the precise use-cases for a future European army, or what advantages Europeans expected to reap from a trading bloc. But I’m guessing these expectations would on the whole not involve lower wages and less steady jobs, or the slow dismantling of the welfare state. I’m guessing that many Europeans don’t want to get into the kind of pax-Americana adventurism that that nation decided to inflict on itself, or allow Germany and France to get more involved in their erstwhile African colonies. At the same time, some of them might want other things, like transfer payments from rich to poor regions. Since no one ever seems to ask in any really conclusive way, I guess we’ll never know.

But if over a quarter of western Europeans are able to twig ‘trading bloc’ as the single greatest potential loss of the European Union falling apart, despite this being a neglected narrative, it doesn’t seem like they’ve missed the theoretical benefits of membership. It’s that some of them are just not in love with the EU package on offer. And since the EU takes a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude on this, some people will inevitably choose the highway.

Britain’s Leave vote may be the result of a jumble of factors, but it wasn’t just some irrational, ill-informed bad-hair day. Commentators should really have been tipped off by the fact that more than 3.8million voters (12.6 per cent of those who cast a ballot) supported UKIP in the 2015 national election, and over five million (30 per cent) supported the Brexit Party in the 2019 European election. That is a pretty resilient vote spanning four years, and holding up in the face of a persistent media barrage focusing on the negatives of Brexit.

But while elites have been strong on the negatives of what they don’t like, they haven’t spent much time on why their preferred option – in this case remaining in the EU – is so great. Instead, like their American counterparts so frequently do, they insist on offering a relatively bad package that doesn’t fully take account of underlying preferences. People aren’t opting out, because they are ignorant of the consequences of their actions, but rather because ‘elites’ have decided they don’t need to make a compelling case for why their ideas are good ones, as one would need to do in a democracy. They believe their ideas simply are good and people who don’t agree with them need to be cancelled.

As the 1998 American study on public opinion put it:

‘on the face of it, the problem the public creates for policymakers is that it does not want what its leaders seem to want… the portion of the electorate that seeks something for nothing is decisively in the minority. Most people recognise that they cannot have budget trade-offs both ways.’

Since then, years of participatory budgeting exercises – where citizens get to decide on how a portion of the budget is spent – have shown this to be true. Because they aren’t ignorant idiots, people tend to choose sensible and boring things during participatory budgeting exercises, like disabled access to the public library or repairing the street lighting, and they do so from Brazil to Paris to China.

Ruling elites believe their ideas simply are good and people who don’t agree with them need to be cancelled

Participatory budgeting, which is available in digital form and therefore can be rolled out en masse, has also shown something else – that the trap of lousy alternatives elites offer up is no longer necessary.

In the internet era, the days of ‘ban-all-Muslims Trump’ vs ‘Goldman Sachs Hillary’, and ‘neoliberal EU’ vs ‘no EU at all’ are fast sliding into the past. There’s simply really no need for binary choices presented at intervals of years.

‘Elites’ like to talk about the possibility of a second Brexit referendum so that they can overturn the first one and forget it ever happened, but modern technology means that Britain could have held a hundred referenda in the time the Brexit bickering has been going on. Three years would have been plenty of time to go over the pros and cons of multiple trade strategies quite thoroughly. Everyone would know where everyone stands and there would be a basis of aggregate opinion upon which to move decisively forward in whatever direction.

But since this would be based on what average people want, average people would likely start to add a lot of interesting issues like tax evasion and protecting jobs into the mix. You’ll notice there are no calls for this. Indeed, there is merely a push to castigate the majority for not wanting exactly what the elite want them to want in precisely the form it is offered, and to get rid of democracy wholesale as the only logical solution to this ‘problem’.

It’s exactly because democracy on a larger scale is now possible, because communications have become so simple and cheap that elites have come out to try to preserve their privilege by axing what is probably one of the greatest achievements of Western civilisation: one person, one vote. We’ve seen above the kind of hatred they are willing to spew in order to get that, and the kind of strange theories they are willing to spin in their attempt to relieve people of their rights – precisely because technology would enable the exercise of those rights on a more continual basis and would no doubt reveal voter preferences that they prefer to ignore.

I could say that what elites really need to do is get people on board with their programme, but most people never will be on board with it, for the good reason that it isn’t in most people’s interests. Changing your electricity company every 12 to 18 months to avoid being shafted is a right pain in the neck that no one gets around to – not in most people’s interests. Corporate forum-shopping for low wages isn’t in most people’s interests. Gutting health services – not in most people’s interests. Sky-high property prices that set off a real-life game of Monopoly – not in most people’s interests.
There’s a big, unbridgeable disconnect between the average person’s interests and elite interests. And in a direct democracy that would be settled quite quickly, in the interests of the average person.

It’s not because the average person is too stupid and can’t identify his or her own best interests that elites are so down on direct democracy – it’s because we are too smart.

Dr Roslyn Fuller is the director of the Solonian Democracy Institute and author of Beasts and Gods: How Democracy Changed its Meaning and Lost its Purpose. Her new book, In Defence of Democracy is out now.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Share

Comments

Carl Scott

2nd October 2019 at 4:16 pm

American academic here interested in the varieties of democracy-pessimism. This piece starts very strong. I liked its report of the appallingly tendentious misapplication of Aristotlelian and classical thought by Baginni to today’s scene…Baginni is like so many of our oligarchic elites who do not understand that nearly no-one among the “populists” and “nationalists” of today are for pure democracy. What the people are for is constitutionally-channeled democratic say. A la’ the opinions of the late Justice Scalia. And then, Fuller’s piece got intriguing but slightly scepticism-triggering with its report on “participatory budgeting.” “Well, I will need to read her book,” I’m thinking. But then–well, the piece fell off the ledge into across-the-board openness to government by internet-enable referenda. Sounds like under Fuller’s preferred system, we’d be voting every week on something! And this is accompied by statements of utmost faith in the average voter, that anyone who’s reflected on either the classical or modern historical literature about democratic decision-making can only be stunned by. What a swing to the opposite extreme! I will still seek out her book, but with much less expectation of wisdom. Far better academic guides for folks who rightly find themselves unashamed to be labelled “populist” in this era of Brexit-undermining and impeachment-fever would be the French political philosopher Pierre Manet, starting with his small book Democracy wihout Nations? Also good is the legal scholar James Allan, with his book Democracy in Decline. These scholars attack our de facto oligarchs where it hurts most, but without delusions about rehabilitating the reputation of nearly-purist democracy.

steve moxon

28th September 2019 at 6:21 am

What the elite don’t seem to get is that in a democracy those in charge really are there on sufferance. Blatant denial of the official mode of registering ‘the people’s will’ ultimately absolves the people of the rule of law in respect of what is needed to rectify the situation. The people are entitled to escalate direct action against those acting to block clear democratic will up to and including lethal force.
Bremoaner MPs would do well to reflect on this when they feign being ‘triggered’ by the word ‘surrender’.

Janet Mozelewski

28th September 2019 at 4:41 pm

Indeed. They may find that the people who voted Leave are ‘triggered’ by the word Tax.

Steve Gray

27th September 2019 at 7:28 pm

I’m absolutely loving this bit :

‘In reality, the average person, being, it must be said, per definition average and therefore not much to write home about, is really quite stable and straightforward, with preferences that seem fairly sensible. Rather than running off on a tangent following every encounter with aquatic predators, his or her opinions tend to be fairly grounded and resilient.’

… This sounds a bit like condemnation with faint praise. ‘Quite stable… Fairly sensible… Not much to write home about..’

I recall someone using the term ‘poverty safari’, to describe that type of field trip where an academic of some sort dons a hoodie and ‘goes down’ from the old alma-mater to sample life on Beasley Street, as someone else once called such places.

Granted, we’re not going to ‘don’t leave me alone with White Van Man !’ extremes here but there is a bit of a ‘they use tea-bags and eat white bread – shudder !’ about the above representation of ‘ordinary’ folk, isn’t there ?

Geoff Cox

28th September 2019 at 7:42 am

Hi Steve – no I don’t agree. Average should mean average which is ok. I’m fed up with everyone gushing and cheering over – well average stuff. Part of the downturn in the media is hyperbole.

Steve Gray

29th September 2019 at 5:24 pm

Geoff,

If we acknowledge that we live in a not-so-heady melange of an ‘expert-ocracy’, in which ‘average’ basically means ‘unqualified to have an opinion’ and celebrity culture, in which ‘average’ basically means ‘non-entity’, then ‘average-ness’ does begin to look like a bit of a ‘spoiled identity’ – the lot of those who self-proclaimed Jupiter Emmanuel Macron called ‘people who are nothing’.

I would suggest that identitarianism is a knee-jerk response to the dying away of that kind of politics which would say ‘Joe Public isn’t not a thing’ , one person one vote, one person’s decision, for them to make – duke or dustman, celebrity, professor, or man-in-the-dole-queue. I say that because identity politics does seem to have a flavour of ‘wait, what about me!? I’m special too !!’

To illustrate my point about Mr and Mrs Average being run-down, consider how alone -and radical – Brendan & Co sound, in the broad swathe of opinions that come our way through the tv, papers, etc, when they state that they think each and every one of the 17.4 million people who voted Leave thought really carefully about their vote and made a considered decision.

As a foot-note, the more I think about it, the more I realise that ‘average’ actually refers to the numerical majority – so dismissing the abilities of the average person to participate in democracy in a meaningful way, is tantamount to restricting that kind of participation to a select few ‘above-average’ individuals.

Ven Oods

29th September 2019 at 8:41 pm

“they think each and every one of the 17.4 million people who voted Leave thought really carefully about their vote and made a considered decision”
That’s really only relevant if you don’t think it could apply to some of those who voted Remain.

Steve Gray

30th September 2019 at 2:39 am

Ven,

There’s not many people in the political realm or media who pooh-pooh the intellectual wherewithal of Remain voters, particualrly the better-off ones. They tend get a very good deal, indeed.

Jamie Spary

27th September 2019 at 7:03 pm

Anyone who has seen ‘hot fuzz’ knows it’s for the ‘greater good’. Some of the worst things in history have been done by people with good intentions.

Christopher Tyson

27th September 2019 at 4:01 pm

I generally do not go back to correct my reference, I mean we can all use google to check things. But I checked the quote I referred to here, Greene’s well use quote refers to a ‘splinter of ice in the heart of a writer’. I said shard of glass which is more likely to kill you than make your writing more entertaining, so I think that needed correcting.

Melissa Jackson

27th September 2019 at 12:12 pm

An interesting note regarding shark attacks etc – Such reasons are only sought for when the people didn’t vote the way they were supposed to. When their side wins, no-one goes searching for absurdist reasons why. They presume (correctly) that they have been elected on their policies and personal character and so push on with their agenda. Other reasons are only sought when they lost, and when they reject the possibility that they simply aren’t as popular as they hoped.

You can go and find some post-hoc reasoning after if look. But even if you can prove an effect, and can prove an effect only to your preferred team, you are still very much on the hook for the loss. After all, if your voters are so easily put off by sharks then maybe there was some deeper problem in your campaign. Perhaps you could have gone with a more popular platform, and then it wouldn’t have mattered?

To put it another way; while it is vulgar to bring her up the death of Jo Cox had an impact on the Brexit referendum. But because the impact was towards Remain, no-one really talks about it. Less extreme factors happen constantly. And yet they are not considered worth discussion unless they are part of an upset result.

Imagine if there had been a rain of frogs in the 1997 election, but that it mostly supressed Tory vote and the result stayed much the same. Would this been see as the idiot voters, making ridiculous voting decisions?

As my father told me when I was little – “A bad workman blames his tools.” Or perhaps more saliently – “The hammer only goes where you swing it Lissy…”

Matt Ryan

27th September 2019 at 10:53 am

Well, democracy is a least worst option rather than the best. A benevolent dictator is probably the best option (if they didn’t get corrupted by power).

Problem is that 50% of people are thick (bell curve of intelligence) and so tended to vote in a tribal way be that for Blue or Red parties (with some Yellow and a little Green). Didn’t matter what crap the party did (see years under Major/Cameron/May or Blair/Brown) they still continued to vote for the same donkey if it had the right coloured rosette on it.

So what happens now? Can these people change their mind and vote for a party to change things (Purple perhaps)?

Stephen J

27th September 2019 at 11:38 am

What a revolting little comment.

Matt Ryan

27th September 2019 at 11:41 am

Great – so educate us on which part is wrong (rather than what you don’t like).

Stephen J

27th September 2019 at 12:21 pm

Well firstly, I didn’t say it was wrong, you are entitled to your opinion, as I wish I was.

What I find to be revolting is your assertion that 50% of the electorate is “thick”.

I am assuming that you do know that there is a difference between the meaning of the words “intelligent” and “educated”?

The point about people’s votes is that most, the vast majority are not that interested, they are basically conservative… i.e. they don’t want much to change. They vote for one of the main parties on the basis of recent performance. The party that messes us around the least amount is the one that many vote for.

More recently, both major parties (with the accent on Major) have wanted to do rather a lot, they have both wanted to hand over the competences that they have been charged with managing to a foreign body.

As I hinted, this really began in earnest with the Major government, which was the first one that was micro-managed by the EU, which successfully inserted its man into position, once Thatcher had displeased them so much.

The electorate have very few tools to hand, if they want to show their displeasure, but voting for UKIP in ever increasing numbers was one very good way, and Cameron panicked and called the referendum.

Whereupon, we leisurely walked down to the polling stations and surprised the elites muchly. This was something that was not derived from implicit thickness, on the contrary, it was something that was on the to do list for the majority for a very long time. It was in fact a sign of coolheaded calculation.

… and we haven’t finished yet.

Jim Lawrie

27th September 2019 at 11:49 am

The bell curve shows 50% above 100 IQ and 50% below. You are making the mistake of assuming that below 100 is “thick”. Below 85 is where difficulties start to occur. Additionally the distribution is different for women, as are their scores.

You seem not to have the IQ to understand these matters, or the application to discover them, so it is probably best if you do not speak of them, or use them incompetently to attack the people in an article in defence of the people.

Janet Mozelewski

27th September 2019 at 12:45 pm

Indeed so. And that is before we start on other qualities like mental stability, empathy, a sense of natural justice, selflessness and humility. All those qualities go into the pot of sound decision-making. Without them intelligence is more a danger than a boon. In fact the appalling spectacle we are witnessing is directly related to self-regarding people who feel intellectually superior acting as though that makes them morally superior as well.

Winston Stanley

27th September 2019 at 3:14 pm

IQ results are normalised relative to each other to fit into a distribution pattern, and “85” is relative? The bell curve is only artificially symmetrical? 100 is simply median and relative, UK IQ rose for decades and has since fallen. “Difficulties” depends the difficulty of the problem to be solved? I doubt that a particularly high IQ is needed to function successfully in contemporary society, 85 is likely no problem.

Jim Lawrie

28th September 2019 at 11:17 am

Winston Stanley IQ results are not normalised relative to each to produce artificial symmetry.

Each result is plotted on a chart and the dots joined up. If these charts were projected onto a surface the size of a football field, we would see a jagged line. On a piece of A4 it produces a curve. Same way as an exponential curve would be a jagged line.

You think you can waffle away facts that you don’t like.

British IQ has fallen because the imports are less intelligent and our best people are leaving. The same thing is happening much more rapidly in Ireland and in Scotland.

When a car turns a corner it is represented as a curve. But it is in fact a series of forced and grinding jolts. So a car used mainly for commuting shows uneven tyre wear from consistently being forced/turned more on one side due to roundabouts. We see it as a smooth curve, but the tyres tell a different tale.

Someone with an IQ of 85 will not become a tradesman. Someone with an IQ of 100 will not become a doctor. IQ tests, often described as aptitude tests, are used to stop time being wasted on trying to make it so.

Winston Stanley

29th September 2019 at 8:28 pm

“You think you can waffle away facts that you don’t like.”

What a silly thing to say. How about you reference every statement that you made?

For someone with such a supposedly high IQ you have a striking tendency to miss the point.

As I said, 100 is simply median and thus relative, as are the scores, such as 85, arranged around the median. The bell curve is artificially symmetrical. The meaning of 85 thus changes as the median changes. That is why the UK IQ is always 100, even though IQ has actually risen in recent decades and then fallen. Seriously, you never realised that? You accept that the native UK IQ can rise but not that it can fall and you attribute the fall in UK IQ to immigration but you have no actual data to support that, it is dogma.

> When current IQ tests were developed, the median raw score of the norming sample is defined as IQ 100 and scores each standard deviation (SD) up or down are defined as 15 IQ points greater or less,[3] although this was not always so historically. By this definition, approximately two-thirds of the population scores are between IQ 85 and IQ 115. About 2.5 percent of the population scores above 130, and 2.5 percent below 70.[4][5] (Wiki)

Jerry Owen

27th September 2019 at 4:46 pm

You refer to 50% of people as thick.. on what scientific study do you base your assertion, and of course what is your scientific definition of thick ?

Jane 70

27th September 2019 at 4:57 pm

Define thick, preferably with examples.

Winston Stanley

28th September 2019 at 1:30 am

“Thick” is trying to pass off Remain as the “democratic” verdict after Leave won. Examples would include T May, T Blair, D Cameron. Our PMs have never been that bright and they certainly do not think that we are.

Winston Stanley

28th September 2019 at 1:38 am

Nearly forgot J Major. We have suffered a right lot for a long time. It was bound to come home to roost eventually.

Ven Oods

29th September 2019 at 8:54 pm

“Nearly forgot J Major.”

Indeed. I find myself conflicted, in that the most interesting – and the most appalling – things about him are the same. He was a secret shagger who advocated ‘back to basics’ morality.

Jonathan Yonge

27th September 2019 at 9:57 am

This is very interesting indeed and raises sme questions:
– does everybody start life as a member of ‘the ignorant’ ?
– at some point people must transition from ‘ignorant’ to ‘wise’ ..
how does the transition come about ? Does someone decide or is it a test ?
– are the ‘wise’ people listed in a directory ?
– can people become ‘unwise’ and be delisted ?

– have the ‘wise’ MPs who urged membership of the Euro been delisted or have they been excused ? Who by ?

– can I join the ‘wise’ club please ? Tell me how …..

Dru Peacock

27th September 2019 at 9:20 am

This from an article by Robbie Gibb in the Daily Mail today.
Spread it wide and far. I wish political pundits would discuss this more. It utterly hilarious.
.
.
Loaded: 0%Progress: 0%0:27
Play
Current Time0:27
/
Duration Time3:44
Fullscreen

‘Not supporting or calling for a second referendum: Corbyn

Marr asks Starmer if Labour can guarantee another referendum
Every time I hear Labour politicians claim to respect the result of the referendum, I am reminded of a meeting in Whitehall this year.

In a final roll of the dice to deliver Brexit, Theresa May had opened talks with Labour in a bid to break the Parliamentary impasse.

Senior Cabinet colleagues and advisers sat across the table from a Labour delegation, led by their Brexit spokesman, Keir Starmer.

Progress was painfully slow as Labour, so fond of accusing the Government of running down the clock on Brexit, repeatedly tried to thwart attempts to find common ground and move forward. This reached an almost farcical level one April afternoon when Starmer opened his remarks by dismissing proposals, outlined in a discussion document, as ‘totally inadequate’.

“Gavin Barwell, then the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, sighed. ‘These are Labour’s own proposals,’ he said. ‘They have been literally cut and pasted from a document you submitted to us.’ There was a knowing and embarrassed laugh from the Labour side”

Philip Humphrey

27th September 2019 at 8:55 am

To me the collective wisdom of the people is usually greater than that of the “elites”. Nearly every disastrous policy in the last half century or so (for example deregulating the banks prior to the 2008 crash, out of control immigration, the Maastrich treaty) has not been voted directly for by the public. Most likely the public would have voted against if they’d had a real say. Never underestimate the stupidity of “intelligent” elites or “experts” when it comes to common sense or rational thinking. The ordinary average person may be just that, average, not that clever, and yet the population as a whole seems to have more common sense and genuine wisdom.

Jim Lawrie

27th September 2019 at 10:22 am

It is still the case that Blair and Brown successfully pass off the banking collapse as events beyond their control when in fact it was them who put the banks beyond their control by cutting out the regulatory framework of The Bank of England. In the name of being anti-establishment. In the same way as much of the last 2 weeks is being passed off as anti-establishment.

People in banking used to fear a call from the Bank of England and jump to. They laughed at its replacement and its people.

I remember in 1990 looking at a not very clear instruction from the Bank of England, rewriting it and asking them if that was what they meant. They asked permission to incorporate my version into their document and acknowledged my contribution. My employer gave me a promotion and a £5,000 pay rise on the back of it. 25% of my basic. Not the value of what I had done, but their esteem of a positive mention by the Bank of England.

Janet Mozelewski

27th September 2019 at 8:43 am

We all know rabid followers of the cult of the so-called liberal ‘elite’. Their lack of awareness and insight is breathtaking: they don’t foresee themselves being the next to feel the blast of this assault on democracy because they say all the right-on things on Twitter and follow people who spout all the right-on things. How ironic that they are so smug and superior when they can’t see their own fate.
To paraphrase Niemoller: First they took the votes from the elderly, and I did not speak out – because I wasn’t old.
Then they took the votes from the lower classes, and I did speak out – because I had a nice house and a good salary.
Then they took the votes from those perceived to have low intelligence , and I did not speak out – because I thought I was clever.
Then they took my vote – and there was no-one left to speak for me.

Jane 70

27th September 2019 at 5:05 pm

Actually, touching on your earlier comments about intelligence and its too narrow definition, I would say that many of our so called elites are displaying all the signs of a basic stupidity: they cannot think outside the box, they conflate truth with mendacity, they rely on emotional incontinence rather than rational discourse, resort to group think-(think?) , ad hominem attacks and a steady narrowing of what used to pass for public discourse.

They are unable to engage with us, the frustrated, exasperated folks who see through their bombast and pieties.

“You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks”

From Dylan’s ‘Masters of War’ : we, the plebs, can see through the lies and the shouts and we’ve had enough. Let us vote them out.

Jane 70

27th September 2019 at 5:39 pm

Wisdom, basic decency and insight are sadly lacking: name any politician worthy of being described as wise, modest and perceptive.

Frank Field and Kate Hoey are the sole qualifiers for me.

Janet Mozelewski

28th September 2019 at 4:52 pm

Now now Jane. You can’t go throwing quotes and references around like that. We are meant to be ‘thick ill-educated leavers’ remember?

Stephen J

27th September 2019 at 8:38 am

The “elites” are not to be trusted, there are not many of them and all of them have more tools that enable them to manipulate circumstances to their advantage, than ordinary folk.

Ordinary folk are mainly conservative. In recent years 40% have voted Labour, 40% have voted Tory, and the rest are either junior members of the elites, whose work is to indoctrinate the conservative rump, or lunatics of some sort, like socialists or watermelons..

When I say that people are conservative, I mean that people spend their whole lives building and feathering a nest, and quite frankly appreciate it so much that they would rather “conserve” it than give it to the 20%. Accordingly, they vote for the most conservative of the two main tendencies, which has more normally been the Tory party. There are however, a substantial number of folk, who could/would NEVER vote for the Tory party.

But like the thin red line or the thin blue line of the armed forces and the police, the elites are few in number when compared to the electorate. What then is the difference? Why is the former group comprised of people who think they have a better understanding of politics than the latter group? It could be true, but far more likely is that the clever people who believe they are superior, are so, because they say so, and their superiority is maintained all the while that they can screw a living from this position.

Those people are within the latter group in as many number as the former, not only that, but they are not using their skills to turn a buck, they are instead using them for their own personal, or family reasons.

In other words, the mob IS NOT A MOB, it is a cross section of every single type of skill, and it is heartfelt, and thoughtful when asked to deliberate. It is NEVER quite like those that would disparage us try to make out.

OUR DECISION to leave the treaties of the EU, will have elements of all the the ideas that remainders accuse us of, but the wisdom of crowds will also confirm that there is far more collective sensible and conservative thought input into the question than the elites could even dream of.

Honestly the idea that ordinary folk are happy to throw in their lot with a bunch of foreigners in order to form a mishmash of languages, traditions and cultures as a defence against the elites, merely demonstrates just how thick these elites really are.

That was tried once to great success, but the significant difference was that everyone, from every corner was taken away from familiar surroundings and set themselves to build a new world, with the same language and the same constitution.

The current attempt asks people to throw away all these natural prejudices and throw in their lot with folk who they can’t even communicate with.

It is for the birds.

Jim Lawrie

27th September 2019 at 10:42 am

” … their superiority is maintained all the while that they can screw a living from this position.” What we have seen since 2016 is their determination to maintain that cabal. In so doing they have revealed themselves to be anything other than clever or high calibre.

Geoff Cox

27th September 2019 at 8:05 am

The Brexit debate has become binary – it is now a fight to the death between remain and leave (well sort of leave). Had the remain elite (as opposed to remain voters) shown any sort of humility or willingness to accept the result, I (a hard independence type of guy) would have been the first to ask them to help in the formulation of a new way of doing things outside the EU. But sadly, they thought the leave vote could be turned and set about it with vengeance. It turns out they were wrong because Brits are slow to stir, but stand firm once committed.

On the wider point about people not wanting what the elite want – I asked myself yesterday “what gave the politicians the right to completely change this country in only one generation”? Mass immigration has been the cause and it has affected everything – roads, hospitals, crime, housing, the environment etc. The town where I was born is now unrecognisable and the old English are being outvoted at every turn. Who is behind this? Is it cock-up or conspiracy?

Jerry Owen

27th September 2019 at 8:48 am

It was a conspiracy , Arthur Neather labour MP admitted that mass migration was to ‘rub the right’s nose in diversity and render conservatism redundant ‘.

Gerard Barry

27th September 2019 at 12:11 pm

It’s amazing really when you think of it: Brexit, Donald Trump, the rise of the “far right” in Europe could all have been avoided if governments had kept immigration at sensible, sustainable levels. Instead, they went full-steam ahead with mass migration and are now criticising the voters for daring to vote for change.

Jerry Owen

27th September 2019 at 4:53 pm

Gerard Barry
Apparently Labour have adopted a resolution of open borders, closing down, immigration centres, votes for said same.
Labour have their finger on the pulse it must be said.. albeit a dead pulse.

Jane 70

27th September 2019 at 4:55 pm

And we can never speak about this can we? I used to be an Immigration Officer back in the day-before the open borders crowd took over-and can remember the frustrations we used to have when a Labour Home Secretary ruled the roost.

Since then ,I have watched in dismay as greater parts of our country and society become unrecognisable, while all the while we are lectured to, admonished and patronised.

Informed consent, or the lack of, is the crux: we have never given our consent to the massive changes now occurring and nor have we ever been consulted.

It now seems that the Labour party has lost the plot completely,since the conference delegates voted to remove border controls

https://order-order.com/2019/09/25/labour-votes-smash-border-controls/

This is complete and utter lunacy and we must challenge it.

Jim Lawrie

28th September 2019 at 11:44 am

The abandonment of borders and votes for all UK residents are direct attacks on the Brexit vote directed violently against the white working class. This will hasten a day of reckoning.

Gerard Barry

28th September 2019 at 2:32 pm

Sounds a lot like the Democrats in the US or several of the mainstream parties where I am (Germany). But you’re right of course, it is ridiculous. And to think the Labour Party is supposed to represent the interests of working class people – the exact same class of people that is often most affected by immigration in terms of downward pressure on wages, and spiralling rents as a result of housing shortages.

Christopher Tyson

27th September 2019 at 8:01 am

As Paul Simon famously sang ‘ a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest’. For three years we have been trying to explain to these people that we are not dumb and that we have our reasons, yet it does not sink in. The official line is that Boris Johnson used extreme language in the house of commons, this has been said so many times that it has become ‘the truth’. What Johnson said was ‘humbug’. Parliament was reduced to a quivering wreck by the expression of the word ‘humbug’. The problem wasn’t Johnson’s language, Johnson was subjected to emotional manipulation and sensed a trap, he reacted angrily and there are lots of saltier things he could have said than ‘humbug’. Johnsons ‘fault’ was that he did not succumb to the demands of the victim/therapeutic ideology, he did prostrate himself. Many have lost jobs and careers for failing to understand the demands of therapy culture. Status, authority, morality, acceptance come from accepting your own victimhood, and severe sanctions operate against those who do not accept the victimhood of others (and their own). The irony is that Johnson has not been removed from his job, his distraught critics are too cowardly to remove, though emotionally devastated it appears that they have not lost their ability to make political calculations, leaving Johnson where he is suit their political purpose, this cynicism undermines their claims to emotional hurt, openness and honesty, I think it was Graham Greene who said a novelist need a shard of glass running through their soul (misquoted I know, or something like that), politicians too, it’s all grist to the mill.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to comment. Log in or Register now.

More long-reads

The People’s Republic of China at 70

Austin Williams

The People’s Republic of China at 70

The revenge of the elites

Thomas Fazi

The revenge of the elites

The myth of Corbyn’s radicalism

Phil Mullan

The myth of Corbyn’s radicalism

‘We’re the magazine for the queen and the scaffolder’

Emily Hill

‘We’re the magazine for the queen and the scaffolder’