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March 09, 2016


John Springford

Thanks for the link.

I agree the potential costs could be 1-2% GDP, if the divorce is not rancorous. But is that big or small? It might help to think about the supply-side policy decisions the government could take to raise output to an equivalent degree. Perhaps a big deregulation of the planning system, but I can't think of much else.


I agree the short term risks and benefits are lower than both sides would have you believe. The remain camp have said (Rose) that in a leave vote nothing would change for 5 years.

I think though that the risks / benefits revealed over the following 8, 15, 30 years could be considerable and these under estimated due to the usual cognitive biases and inability to gauge compounding. A 0.25% higher / lower growth rate through either option makes the economy 5% bigger or smaller after 20 years or nearly 7% if .33%.

This is material particularly given changing demographics and ever growing proportion of the population over 65.

Dave Timoney

You're assuming that the question of EU membership should be addressed largely in terms of the economic trade-offs, but it is clear that for many voters the central issues are social change (mainly, but not only, immigration) and sovereignty (however nebulous). The under-supply of wonkery may reflect a lack of demand.

As you have previously pointed out, the economics are probably marginal and sufficiently subject to error to be a wash, while any attempt to address sovereignty in substantive terms risks opening up a constitutional debate (who really is sovereign in the UK?) that the establishment (if not Rupert Murdoch) wishes to avoid.

Strategically, it makes sense for the government (and other remainers) to drain the debate of all substance on the grounds that we'll then be more likely to vote for the status quo. The danger is that leavers become increasingly focused on immigration. While Project Fear was largely a matter of pensions and savings in Scotland (and the anti-English stuff was exaggerated), the EU vote could become very nasty very quickly.


The BBC have defended themselves from those like me accusing them of Brexit bias in their coverage especially but last night was a classic example. But it was oh, so typical.

It was not the serious economic consequences of Britain leaving the free trade market of Mr Carney's contribution to our representatives; instead it was covered from the start off as a conflict story. Mr Carney steps into the row and we had Lawson talking about him in derogatory and quite personal terms. Classic BBC bias never the facts so much as the alarmist political spin of the Eurosceptics driving the story.

Does the BBC get this from the disproportionate Eurosceptic Right wing press of course as with the GE last May they are driving the agenda not an independent team of News professionals at the public broadcaster. Who was who called the BBC news professionals 'the Daily Mail on legs'

Of course the BBC are giving the Brexit tribe more coverage because they are skilled masters of running the news agenda and are there on the ball day in day out. The Stronger In Europe brigade look like amateur in comparison to the Tory right wingers leading the BBC by the nose.

Deviation From The Mean

I think leslie is correct about BBC bias. Compare this to the Scottish independence debate.

The fundamental problem with this article is that it assumes we live in a system of objectivity, where neutrality wins the day. We don't! We live in a class system where interests come into conflict and behind every view lay an interest.

If a wonk tells you something he has probably been bought off somewhere along the line, whether this was literally bought off or bought off via the bias inherent in the education system.

What is missing from this debate isn't some fabled neutral panel of experts but a developed and advanced working class position. The question is, where are the working class experts who can articulate the interests of the working class?

Matt Moore

Great post.

The ability to conduct (or even understand) ground-breaking analysis, the ability to condense it into its key arguments, and the ability to deliver those arguments forcefully in a public forum and rarely combined in a single individual.

Krugman comes to mind, but not many others.


«a developed and advanced working class position»

As T Blair wrote very well in 1987, working class voters (or at least those who think themselves so) voters are an electorally irrelevant minority.

The "Remain" vote will carry the day when they point out that leaving the EU would mean lower property property prices via much lower sales to EU non-domiciled investors, who like very much the idea that they have a right of residence and much the same rights as locals where they buy their investment.

Lots of greeks, spaniards, italians, ... upper middle class people are taking out their savings from their insolvent banks to buy southern english property...


As to the general argument of this post, most people look at the distributional (political and economic), not overall, impact of (political and economic) issues, mostly as to impact on themselves.

So they would like perhaps to be advised of that, but of course «behind every view lay an interest» so the wonks will usually mislead on the distributional impact.

If voters wanted reliable opinions (and advocacy) on the distributional impact on themselves they would PAY FOR IT, not expect it to come out of the free-of-charge hard work of experts who are selfless philosopher kings.

It is pretty obvious that business and property interests do pay generously for both advice and advocacy via their lobbying groups, it is notable how dumb the mass of voters are who don't do that.

Democracy is meant to make sure that voters accountable my making them pay the price of their own voting choices, good or dumb that they be. It usually works :-).

gastro george

The other reason for Cameron to avoid a detailed discussion of the "sovereignty" issue is that, apart from the immigration obsession, the Brexit camp's main idea of sovereignty is to screw the working population by abolishing the Social Chapter and human rights legislation.


«correct about BBC bias»

A standard talking point of conservative leaders has been that the BBC has had a leftist bias and the license tax cannot be used to support a party-politically biased state broadcaster, and therefore that the BBC should be abolished and all those biased campaigners for the left working at the BBC should be sacked.

I suspect that the BBC establishment have got the message loud and clear and to motivate the conservatives to keep the BBC around are trying hard to demonstrate how unbiasedly useful they are.

For example by resonating and amplifying every bit of bad news about J Corbyn and other opposition figures and every bit of good news about the government, while reporting both sets of news without any leftist bias :-).

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