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January 15, 2019



But Chris, surely the Left has been shaping the agenda in precisely the way you suggest with its obsession over matters of identity?

Irrespective of the merits, another Guardian article about trans rights or people with disabilities missing out on disabled roles in Hollywood carries an opportunity cost in terms of NHS coverage too, no?

Dave Timoney


The number of articles on matters of identity in the Times/Telegraph/Mail etc vastly outweighs those in the Guardian. Who is setting the agenda there?

A cynic might suggest that the performative wokeness of the Guardian is all part of the scam, and that's before you consider their indulgence of transphobia.


@FA2E: Don't you think that's a little paranoid?

Dave Timoney


A paranoiac thinks the truth is hidden. A cynic thinks it's in plain sight.


"Back in 2015 less than 10% (pdf) of people thought relations with the EU were the important political issue – far fewer than cited the NHS, economy or crime. And yet a handful of cranks have succeeded in making Brexit (a word almost unheard in 2015) dominate politics to the exclusion of all else."

No, the people were asked their views on the question of Europe, and to the surprise of the entire Establishment, they didn't agree with the Great and the Good. If the people didn't care tuppence about being in or out of Europe then the Remain campaign full of its terrible predictions of what would happen if we left would have scared enough back into nurse's arms to win the day for the Establishment.

The true fact is that 52% of the country felt so strongly about something they're been entirely ignored on by the mainstream political parties for 30+ years (Labour went pro-Europe in the mid 80s) that they were not scared by Remain's Project Fear, with its jeremiads of pestilence and brimstone, and still turned out to vote Leave. Many of them people who have been missing from the ballot booths for decades (I wonder why that could be?). Someone like me who has been anti-EU since the late 80s, who have never had a chance to vote for a mainstream candidate who articulated my views, ever, as my first GE was in 1992, have finally been given a voice, and there 17.4m others like me, and we're not going to be denied.


The link about the 1% capturing the whole system is not working, just so you are aware.


"But Chris, surely the Left has been shaping the agenda in precisely the way you suggest with its obsession over matters of identity?"

Those aren't the left, they're bourgeois liberals.

The most telling example of the left's failure to trouble bourgeois hegemony is its inability to even demarcate its own frigging ideological borders.


The EU issue became one because of immigration. Now you might think that immigration itself is another issue manufactured by the right, but Corbyn is correct in saying that there are some legitimate concerns about immigration (population growth and associated congestion) which are patronising to totally dismiss.

However, you are right on with the main point: even if Remainers got their way, the fundamental problems that gave rise to Brexit remain in place. I am not sure that the mainstream establishment (which includes a lot of their advisers, including rational expectations economists) really have a grasp of these problems.


During the period before the Referendum, when British voters were apparently uninterested in the EU, large numbers of them were also voting UKIP. Strange, that.

In the 2014 European Parliament elections, UKIP received the greatest number of votes of any British party, producing 24 MEPs. In October 2014 Conservative UKIP defector Douglas Carswell won the seat of Clacton in a by-election; and in November Mark Reckless won the Rochester and Strood by-election. In the 2015 general election, UKIP secured over 3.8 million votes, replacing the Liberal Democrats as the UK’s third most popular party.

But apparently this massive surge in votes for a single issue anti-EU party didn’t mean voters were interested in the EU issue at all.


"There has been a majority in the British public for leaving or for reducing the EU's powers since 1996, and immigration has been named as one of the three most important issues facing Britain since 2001."


Rentoul was/is right.
There was no way but this since the EU is incapable of doing anything except moving "forward" to "ever closer union".
Just look at the farce of Cameron's "renegotiation".




I think the dominant agenda is “woke capitalism”. That’s what Procter & Gamble’s Gilette ad is about. It’s the strategy The Economist magazine has advocated for ages: be as “woke” as possible on culture war issues, in order to distract people away from discussing your corporate price-fixing duopoly with Unilever.

Why did world’s richest man Jeff Bezos buy the Washington Post? Again, it seems to be so he can keep the political discussion dominated by “woke” culture war issues and away from the regulation of corporate near-monopolies like, say, Amazon.

George Carty

Soreko, could the real problem with Britain be that too many places are car-dependent?

The more time people spend stuck in traffic jams, the more likely they are to come to the conclusion that they live in an overpopulated country (which was one of the key factors in the Brexit vote).

Keith Macdonald

Is Neil Morgan Piers Morgan or is there some other horror I have so far been spared?

Your central point is right. At the minute the only thing to do is to ignore the clowns unless you can completely demolish them, preferably in a legal action that costs them money.

I do think that progressives really do have an issue with the BBC, particularly its reliance on our heavily biased national press. There is too much use of print journalists as supposedly independent commentators. In fact a political journalist working for the Sun, Mail, Telegraph or Express is really a paid propagandist for right-wing politics.

The BBC also feel that they have to follow an agenda said by the national print media with occasional nods to Twitter to show they are keeping up with young people. Editorial policy and the news agenda should be discussed much more openly and the BBC forced to justify its choices.


@George Carty

Immigration basically became an issue (and an issue for the Far Right to exploit) for two reasons.

The first was simply the sudden increase. Apologists say that the real problems was austerity policy. But this is a red herring. It was naive to think that immigration that suddenly increased as greatly as it did would not become a political risk, especially if overall economic and other conditions became adverse (eg we had a Tory Government and austerity policy). The decision to not impose transitional controls when the EU expanded was foolish, risky and ill-informed -eg. about the likely intentions of the populations of the A8. This is another good example of why econometric models and neo-classical theory should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Secondly, it is the nature of the immigration. It consists of labour flows. in the context of underemployment, zero hours contracts etc, this sudden and dramatic inflow gave rise to the perception of a disconnect between the political classes and low income groups. Quite simply, as Ms Duffy says, why do we need all this new labour from Eastern Europe if people here cannot get jobs? The response of the political classes has been to say that they "are doing jobs natives don't want to do". I do not think this is a clever answer and it is given rise to resentment.

The EU became an issue after its expansion eastwards because it has been a major source of economic migration (as opposed to refugees which is a very different issue). People believe that unless Britain left the block there was simply no way of controlling the inflow. Before eastward expansion and the sudden rise of (both EU and non-EU immigration), neither immigration or the EU was at the top of people's concerns.

I think the sudden large scale inflow is at the root of the problem. The other is the perception that, as you say, Britain had already for a long time felt too crowded in many places, and people do not want yet more roads, houses, and cars - factors that affect people's lives, but not measured by GNP.


Yes there are legitimate issues with the practicalities of absorbing large scale economic immigration in a short period of time. Even the supporters of such large scale immigration tend towards internally contradictory arguments e.g. there's not enough subsidized housing and other benefits, schools are oversubscribed, the NHS is crippled by Baumol's cost disease and low productivity business models are depressing the bottom end of the labour market. But at the same time we need to add infrastructure the equivalent of a medium sized city every year to accommodate immigrants and their dependents so they can predominantly fill low skill/low wage positions required by a low productivity economy.

That's before we open the can of worms on cultural issues around integration.


I remember a “Viz” comic story about an imaginary boy band called “Boys R Us”. The four boys are singing in a shopping mall when a Svengali manager introduces himself, explaining that he can make “Boys R Us” the biggest band in the world. The boys eagerly agree to let him manage.

It turns out that the manager’s master plan for success is to gradually replace every single band member with another who’s better looking and more co-operative. Eventually, all that’s left of the original band is the name. At the end of the story, all four founder members are unemployed and broke, watching a TV in a showroom window. They see “Boys R Us” collect a Grammy award for the best-selling album of the year. “Yes, we made it!”, says one of them, wryly.

A lot of globalist arguments explaining why their preferred policies are good for “the economy” feel like those of the boy band manager. Yes “the economy” will be doing great, but you’ll have less and less of a place in it.

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