Making social science accessible

15 Mar 2018

Politics and Society

Symmetry is a sign of health and beauty, so we search for it everywhere. We naturally think that our opinion is as valid as anyone else’s, and mistakenly assume that both sides of an argument have equal weight in media coverage, but this isn’t necessarily the case, especially when as often with a contentious issue, a large imbalance in reporting occurs.

I recently participated on a panel on Brexit at the Scottish Parliament. As usual in the EU debate, there were four Remainers against one Brexiteer, and the Chairman was a Remainer.

The three professors and the journalist on the panel with me, all said that Brexit would be ruinous, and sought grounds to overturn the leave decision, leaving me the sole voice in favour.

Why are the referendum ‘losers’ who disparage the vote always so heavily over-represented, when for most people Brexit will have no greater negative impact than many other ongoing political and economic challenges to which they are already accustomed?

Tony Blair’s recent well-publicised incitement to overturn the Brexit vote reminded me of Y2K hysteria. We were told that a change of date could mean that computers would crash, the economy would collapse, we would lose our jobs, planes would fall out of the sky, shops would run out of food and the supply of water, electricity and gas would be stopped.

We were enjoined to audit our computer systems and supply chains and to make extensive but completely ill-defined precautionary preparations. The predicted doomsday eventually arrived and passed without incident, but Blair’s Millennium Bug scaremongering wasted a vast amount of money and effort, and the educated alternative optimistic perspective was ignored.

Remainers only want Brexit if it doesn’t change anything, and want to continue to submit to the protectionist trade terms of the EU, with its iniquitous regulations and bureaucracy, even though remaining now guarantees the inevitable end of our rebate, joining the euro, submission to a EU state, accepting an EU army, and destroying any last vestige of the UK’s independence.

EU doom-mongers also believe that we should pay the EU to continue unequal trade in physical goods, remain subject to EU governance, and yet still have our financial sector deprived of passporting rights.

Given that prosperity depends upon defending the realm, maintaining an independent judiciary and having small government, staying in the dictatorial EU runs counter to everything that Britons traditionally hold dear; and guarantees economic ruin. The Brexit vote was for change, not for things to stay as they are. There will be winners and losers, but overall the British people will benefit.

They understand this and most accept that the EU will do us no favours, and that we are better to leave without delay, and without a punitive deal, when we are the EU’s biggest export market and run a massive trade deficit. Yet despite this being the majority opinion, their voices expressing optimism about our future outside the oppressive EU, are not being heard.

Outside the protectionist corruption-tainted EU with its obscene Common Agricultural Policy that dumps surplus produce in Africa to ruin their farmers, we will have access to more competitive suppliers and the cost of food, clothing, shoes and so on will fall.

Lower import costs will reduce our balance of payment deficit and inflation, allow us to use our resources more productively, increase our disposable per capita income and reduce our long term real interest rates.

All this will increase our capacity to invest and make our nation healthier and more competitive. While jobs may well be lost in many activities, that will allow us to create new jobs and invest more productively in growth opportunities.

All this has to happen anyway to maintain our competitiveness, and despite any EU obstruction, British agriculture, industry and our financial sector will be better able to adapt and thrive outside.

Importers complain loudly about the impact of Brexit, as do multi-national corporations, academics, civil servants, and others who fear that they stand to lose, and all plead their special case like the unelected officials in Brussels who threaten us with disaster and dire retribution.

Amidst this clamour it is easy to forget that the vast majority of British people are either unaffected or see many advantages in leaving the EU and are not trying to make their voices heard.

They accept that we are leaving, so they are not busy spreading scare stories or panic-mongering like those who favour remaining. It is entirely up to the bully boys leading the EU to determine how they wish to treat us, and only they can decide how much they value us an ally and trading partner, whatever we wish, and we will cope with whatever they decide.

Everything we value in our modern world has been created by free enterprise and genuine free trade. The advantages of leaving the closed and failing EU market, ideally without any restrictive agreement, means that we should disregard the hysterical clamour in the media of those who wish us to remain, or do a costly deal, or delay or nullify our exit.

The lack of symmetry in this debate should be clear to anyone with an open mind or who understands the big picture, and illustrates, perhaps counter-intuitively, that those arguing the loudest are a minority with the weakest case. As your maw used to tell you, “empty vessels make the most noise”.

By Ivor Tiefenbrun MBE, Scottish manufacturer. This piece originally featured in The Herald.


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