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Should Martin Lewis be Prime Minister? Our politicians can't handle their celebrity

Would you trust them? (Dan Kitwood-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Would you trust them? (Dan Kitwood-WPA Pool/Getty Images)


December 29, 2022   7 mins

What are the largest challenges for UK politics in 2023? Inflation? Climate change? Vladimir Putin? You’d be a fool to dismiss them. But if we are to get the country into a better place, then here’s another big one: the collapse of political trust.

Two major reports — from 2020 and 2021 — showed a major deterioration in how much the British people trust our leaders. Both analyses go back a long way — to 1986 and 1944 respectively. And, perhaps most alarmingly, both were published before Partygate and the chaos of 2022 — it seems inevitable that trust has nosedived since their release. One is reminded of the claim, by one of Ernest Hemingway’s characters, to have gone bankrupt twice: “Gradually and then suddenly.”

Cynicism about UK politics hovers above the fray — both more important and less urgent than the average passing crisis. But its role is entirely negative, reducing the public’s patience, goodwill, and readiness to “put into” the system — commodities which are vital if you want to change things in a long-term way. When disaffection reigns, the winners are the politicians who have the least integrity: those most willing to flatter the popular notion that bad people run the world.

This eventually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, with those who genuinely lack scruples attaining high office. Hence the Prime Ministership of Boris Johnson, an abnormally unprincipled figure, who clambered the greasy pole through “boosterism” and “cakeism”, and ended up confirming the electorate’s deepest-held suspicions about the political class. Increase political trust, then, and you reverse the cycle of poor leadership. In the process you become better able to tackle the root causes of the energy crisis, the housing crisis, the refugee crisis, and countless other issues.

Yet before this is possible, we need to ask why trust is low in the first place. And for this to be meaningful, we must address two of the pat-answers often put forward. The first is that suggested by political partisans. This argues simply that the failures of the other side are to blame. In the case of the Left, the story might start with Iraq, and run through to the mishandling of Covid — taking in the lack of financial regulation pre-2008 and the Tories’ austerity and hostile environment policies. In the case of the Right, it may begin with “unchecked” freedom-of-movement and overspending in the 2000s, compounded by failure to meet the “tens of thousands” immigration target, deliver a radical enough Brexit or expel “wokery” from our institutions.

The problem with these explanations is that each pretends the failures they cite were forced through against a groundswell of popular dissent. Or that there was a perfect alternative. Or both. In a democracy such arguments rarely stack up. Many of the blows to trust listed either reflected the public mood or made sense based on the information at the time.

The second type of bromide comes from those who blame a lack of accountability. Preoccupations here usually involve the claim that our political class has become remote from those they serve. Start listening again and trust will return, the argument runs.

I have much more time for this view than for garden-variety political partisanship. Localism and devolution, in particular, are hugely important buttresses against disaffection. And serious, regular public engagement is vital. But the uncomfortable truth is that the UK has more locally-rooted politicians, more scrutiny and more opportunities for citizen participation than a few decades ago. Even before the Government announced its deal for the North East yesterday, significant powers were already devolved compared to in the past. Added to this is the additional transparency of a 24-hour news cycle and the Freedom Of Information act. And in 2016 we carried out the biggest experiment with direct democracy in history. The Westminster bubble itself is aware, to an unprecedented extent, of what the public thinks about every topic under the sun.

Some of these shifts will have stopped political cynicism from spreading as fast as it might, with politicians responding better to the public mood and corruption exposed more quickly. But the paradox remains: trust has continued to fall over the same timespan as many initiatives designed to enhance democracy or transparency have been rolled out. So, if a lack of accountability is not the answer (or is not the sole answer), then what is?

Low trust is ultimately down to social changes that are broadly positive: lower deference, a more informed electorate, a media aiming to speak truth to power, a diverse electorate (politically and demographically), the rise of Judicial Review processes to challenge decisions, the expectation that businesses publish executive pay, and the fact that politicians are cross-examined more often (via public enquiries and select committee grillings, with footage circulated on social media if they mess up). All of this points less to the absence of democracy than to a sort of hyper-democracy — a situation of relentless exposure, which decision-makers have not acclimatised to.

Meanwhile the public have learned, in the past decade or so, about MPs’ expenses, non-dom status, Partygate, phone-hacking, bankers’ bonuses, energy company profits and sexual misconduct allegations, to name but a few. These are not, for the most part, novel phenomena. But they might once have gone undiscovered. And even if they’re getting less common, all it takes is one high-profile example for us to conclude that they’re on the rise.

This mirrors the phenomenon dubbed Moynihan’s Law, whereby societies with stronger human rights perceive there to be more rights violations. The better the tools we have to interrogate the government — to probe, challenge or simply observe them in action — the more they will come up short. Fifty years ago, many parliamentarians only visited their constituencies a handful of times a year, for example. Yet a much larger proportion of the electorate trusted MPs’ motives.

Should we, therefore, accept low trust as a by-product of a more open society? As the price we pay for democratic vigilance? I’m not convinced. The first reason why is the one mentioned at the start: a country with rock-bottom trust, left to its own devices, will list towards populism and conspiracism. The poor conduct of those in office since 2019 is, I would say, a sign that this is already happening. Those best equipped for our hyper-democracy are the most brass-necked; those who believe that even a career-ending balls-up can be fronted out in a climate so fast-moving.

But the bigger reason why political trust matters is that it represents a social good in itself. It’s not just a metric to measure something else. A 2008 report by Demos explored this in detail, in relation to local councils. Deferring to sociologist Barbara Mistzal, it identified three benefits to trust. First, trust helps us to work with one another, creating legitimacy and toleration of shared decisions. Trust also brings people together, enabling social bonds. And finally, trust makes life certain and predictable, allowing us to form habits and routines. What’s striking today is how many of these things seem to be in short supply. Especially in a fast-changing, networked world. Especially post-Covid, with society atomised and online.

How do you breathe trust into a political system which has so little of it? If I had the answer then I would long ago have fulfilled Boris Johnson’s childhood goal and become “World King”. So let’s look instead to someone who has become one of the most trusted figures in public life: Martin Lewis.

Lewis is apparently seen by many voters as the sort of person who would be an “ideal UK leader”. The Times reports that he is more trusted than the average bank. What has Martin Lewis, a TV presenter allegedly worth £123m, done to deserve his reputation as a man of the people? I can see why, if you were a state-schooled MP representing the town where you were born, you might feel a little aggrieved.

Yet the truth is that Lewis’s background matters less than his conduct; in my view, the trust people have in him makes a lot of sense. To begin with, Martin Lewis is studiously neutral — independent both from commercial paymasters and from obvious political leanings. People trust him just as they would trust a neutral to give them an account of a football match, over a diehard fan of either side.

His lack of commercial skin-in-the-game is obviously relevant to the trust people have in him. Much of the cynicism about modern politics stems from the sense that politicians are “on the take”. There have unfortunately been many recent examples to corroborate this — the Cameron-Greensill scandal, for instance — and while I suspect these are not as representative as many think, they fuel the idea of vested interests.

But Martin Lewis’s political neutrality is, if anything, more relevant. A big mistake made by some contemporary politicians — driven, I think, by the first of the two pat-answers for low trust described earlier — is to believe they will enhance their trust by showing how much they despise the other side. Recent ONS data shows how flawed this is, with the population even less inclined to trust “the political parties” than they are to trust “parliament” or “the government”. Complete political neutrality is obviously a non-option for a party leader or minister. But double standards or unnecessary partisanship clearly harms trust.

The other key reason for the high trust in Martin Lewis is based on his role as an educator. He unpacks financial systems and products, so that ordinary people can make decisions for themselves — navigating an increasingly complex world. Lewis’s approach here assumes maximum intelligence and minimum information on behalf of his audience. It does not browbeat; rather, it encourages people to understand both the bigger picture and the specific choices and trade-offs available to them.

This role tends not to sit within the average politician’s wheelhouse — the remit being to campaign rather than explain. And there is a fear, too, among decision-makers, of appearing to patronise. But perhaps the biggest way for our leaders to regain our trust is to provide context more regularly and show their workings more willingly.

Can you get the toothpaste back into the tube, when it comes to political trust? If my diagnosis is correct — and cynicism is partly due to a societal opening-up — then this might be harder than it looks. Yet there are reasons for optimism. For one thing, both our main parties now appear to be led by non-populists. For another, tracker polling of public confidence in different professions shows trust rising in many; it is not inevitable that the lines go down.

For UK politicians to rejuvenate, then, they perhaps need to see the decline in trust less as a blip to be reversed than as a phase to be moved through. Like a young person coming of age, and realising that their parents have feet of clay, the scales have — over recent decades — fallen from the eyes of the electorate. This has been exacerbated by several years of crisis, but we are at least now in a position where neither Labour nor the Tories are led by demagogues. As we enter a new year, the politicians most likely to earn back trust will be those who continue this break with populism, in the face of massive challenges. They must level with those they serve, and seek an adult relationship.


Chris Clarke is a social researcher and former political press officer, and is the author of The Dark Knight and the Puppet Master

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Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
1 year ago

‘
 a media aiming to speak truth to power
’ Really? In a rather mediocre article this gives the game away – anybody who thinks the media’s real aims are summed up by this overused and very hackneyed phrase has no clue about why we have lost trust in our political system. As the rest of the article demonstrates.

David Simpson
David Simpson
1 year ago

Yes, that caught my eye too. Clearly the author is not living on the same planet as us.

R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago
Reply to  David Simpson

Turns out he writes for the Independent, so take from that what you will.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

I take from it that he’s part of the evil globalist Socialist homosexual elite plot to destroy everything good and noble, including, but not confined to, Melton Mowbray pork pies and shirts with proper collars.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

I take from it that he’s part of the evil globalist Socialist homosexual elite plot to destroy everything good and noble, including, but not confined to, Melton Mowbray pork pies and shirts with proper collars.

R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago
Reply to  David Simpson

Turns out he writes for the Independent, so take from that what you will.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

But that is not the job of the media anyway, is it ? It’s only the self-importance and self-promotion of the media that has pushed this agenda of it being some sort of moral arbiter and force for good.
But the whole pretence of media virtue here is just another hypocrisy. There is very little transparency or public accountability of the self-appointed judges in the media.
It’s time we buried this “speaking truth to power” nonsense and started seeing the media for what it really is. And demanding higher standards from them. I’ve said for a long time that the media is far more guilty of lowering standards in public life in the UK than politicians.
Someone here used the term “crisis media” a few days ago. This is precisely what they do – push crises (real or imagined – or even ones they wish to create). Never is good news reported. No government announcement is ever noted on the BBC without some matching criticism from Labour. Who can be surprised if people then believe that everything the government does is suspect ? There must be a chance that some government policies are good …

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

In this regard, the daily press conferences during Covid opened the eyes of many people whose eyes weren’t already opened. The plethora of foaming-at-the-mouth media demands rather than questions were more akin to a pack of wolves than sentient humans.

Ibn Sina
Ibn Sina
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Absolutely; and the cringingly stupid questions most reporters were asking revealed what shallow, scientifically illiterate people they are. One mistake (among many) that politicians make is to try and appease the rabble that passes for our free press.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

There can never be trust in either politicians, the BBC and MSM, the civil service and our justice system. Yes, Covid lifted the veil to the awful reality that the groupthink of this governing London clerisy could so easily turn tyrannical. But it is the realisation that ALL the arms of the State are in the grip of a bigger more deep set cult-like hysteria that has changed our relationship to them all. The hysteria is rooted in a manic terror of ANY form of discriminatory action. Failure to conform – on race gender class everything – will result in instant & public social ostracism thanks to social media. So they ALL now cower. They ALL think the same. They cannot describe women, they hate the word growth, they dare not supply cheap fuel, they will not arrest criminals, they will not challenge the open border leftists and will not build houses for the 8 million unplanned arrivals. These sham Tories are all now tax loving Socialists and – like shallow sneaky Labour and the weedy Lib Dems – despise and seek to subvert wealth creation & enterprise (capitalism = root of inequality remember), meritocracy, the countryside and freedom of expression. Trust this lot? No. Never. None. They have lost it for good because they are all lost in zealotry themselves.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

No chance of “hysteria” with you then, clearly. A calm, measured, carefully evidenced and rigorously rational post.
Thank you for your considered and intelligent thoughts on the matter.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

No chance of “hysteria” with you then, clearly. A calm, measured, carefully evidenced and rigorously rational post.
Thank you for your considered and intelligent thoughts on the matter.

Ibn Sina
Ibn Sina
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Absolutely; and the cringingly stupid questions most reporters were asking revealed what shallow, scientifically illiterate people they are. One mistake (among many) that politicians make is to try and appease the rabble that passes for our free press.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

There can never be trust in either politicians, the BBC and MSM, the civil service and our justice system. Yes, Covid lifted the veil to the awful reality that the groupthink of this governing London clerisy could so easily turn tyrannical. But it is the realisation that ALL the arms of the State are in the grip of a bigger more deep set cult-like hysteria that has changed our relationship to them all. The hysteria is rooted in a manic terror of ANY form of discriminatory action. Failure to conform – on race gender class everything – will result in instant & public social ostracism thanks to social media. So they ALL now cower. They ALL think the same. They cannot describe women, they hate the word growth, they dare not supply cheap fuel, they will not arrest criminals, they will not challenge the open border leftists and will not build houses for the 8 million unplanned arrivals. These sham Tories are all now tax loving Socialists and – like shallow sneaky Labour and the weedy Lib Dems – despise and seek to subvert wealth creation & enterprise (capitalism = root of inequality remember), meritocracy, the countryside and freedom of expression. Trust this lot? No. Never. None. They have lost it for good because they are all lost in zealotry themselves.

Sam Hill
Sam Hill
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Whilst I don’t dispute your point, I just question how far what you are talking about is effectively the rise of the internet. Essentially, ‘the media,’ just exploded into an almighty free-for-all with no limits on quantity or quality. In a pre internet world there was a (thin, admittedly) case that the media was about the disinterested presentation of events. Now it’s who screams loudest. The journalists themselves may not be to blame for the advance of technology and the bad trends that came with it. But journalists have very willingly embraced the idea of ‘post journalism.’
Take a look at a copy of a UK newspaper from the mid 1990s and compare it to a 2022 version. It’s embarrassing.
I do accept that perhaps we overplay the importance of the media, and especially social media. And we as the public perhaps need to take some responsibility for the bad trends. We’ve lapped it up – let’s at least be forthright enough to say it.
I admit that I was one of the idiots about 20 years ago who thought that the explosion in the quantity of media would be matched by an increase in quality. I cringe at my naivety. So whilst I certainly agree with your point about the media I think a lot of what you describe is a symptom rather than a cause.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Sam Hill

Good points. And yes, I agree that a lot which has changed has been a direct result of technological change – something over which politicians don’t really have much control over.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Sam Hill

Good points. And yes, I agree that a lot which has changed has been a direct result of technological change – something over which politicians don’t really have much control over.

Josie Bowen
Josie Bowen
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Well said.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

In this regard, the daily press conferences during Covid opened the eyes of many people whose eyes weren’t already opened. The plethora of foaming-at-the-mouth media demands rather than questions were more akin to a pack of wolves than sentient humans.

Sam Hill
Sam Hill
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Whilst I don’t dispute your point, I just question how far what you are talking about is effectively the rise of the internet. Essentially, ‘the media,’ just exploded into an almighty free-for-all with no limits on quantity or quality. In a pre internet world there was a (thin, admittedly) case that the media was about the disinterested presentation of events. Now it’s who screams loudest. The journalists themselves may not be to blame for the advance of technology and the bad trends that came with it. But journalists have very willingly embraced the idea of ‘post journalism.’
Take a look at a copy of a UK newspaper from the mid 1990s and compare it to a 2022 version. It’s embarrassing.
I do accept that perhaps we overplay the importance of the media, and especially social media. And we as the public perhaps need to take some responsibility for the bad trends. We’ve lapped it up – let’s at least be forthright enough to say it.
I admit that I was one of the idiots about 20 years ago who thought that the explosion in the quantity of media would be matched by an increase in quality. I cringe at my naivety. So whilst I certainly agree with your point about the media I think a lot of what you describe is a symptom rather than a cause.

Josie Bowen
Josie Bowen
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Well said.

David Simpson
David Simpson
1 year ago

Yes, that caught my eye too. Clearly the author is not living on the same planet as us.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

But that is not the job of the media anyway, is it ? It’s only the self-importance and self-promotion of the media that has pushed this agenda of it being some sort of moral arbiter and force for good.
But the whole pretence of media virtue here is just another hypocrisy. There is very little transparency or public accountability of the self-appointed judges in the media.
It’s time we buried this “speaking truth to power” nonsense and started seeing the media for what it really is. And demanding higher standards from them. I’ve said for a long time that the media is far more guilty of lowering standards in public life in the UK than politicians.
Someone here used the term “crisis media” a few days ago. This is precisely what they do – push crises (real or imagined – or even ones they wish to create). Never is good news reported. No government announcement is ever noted on the BBC without some matching criticism from Labour. Who can be surprised if people then believe that everything the government does is suspect ? There must be a chance that some government policies are good …

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
1 year ago

‘
 a media aiming to speak truth to power
’ Really? In a rather mediocre article this gives the game away – anybody who thinks the media’s real aims are summed up by this overused and very hackneyed phrase has no clue about why we have lost trust in our political system. As the rest of the article demonstrates.

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
1 year ago

A quick Google establishes that the author is a Labour party activist, which explains a lot about this utterly wrong headed article.

That damned public, up to no good again, not accepting their medicine.

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney

And very nearly ending his article with “the adults are back in the room” as well. The nerve!

Interesting that the ‘partisan’ stories of both Left and Right he brings up at the start all (with the exception of Covid but let’s not open that can of worms) relate to failings of the Blair government which the Tories continuously allowed to get worse because they’re still basically the second cheek of the Blairite ar*e.

Putting another 10p in the ‘Peter Hitchens was right’ jar.

dave dobbin
dave dobbin
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney

It’s amazing how much like social media this comments section is alike.
Don’t agree with the article, let’s dig out what political party and what newspaper he supports. Attack the man rather then critique his ideas…. or come up with an idea of your own

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  dave dobbin

Exactly. Twitter on steroids.
The joke is that the Unherd herd all shout precisely the same cliched, bilious story at each other, whilst flattering ttheir self-image of independent free-thinkers fighting the intellectually-challenged zombies.
There will now follow a screed of intellectually-minded, free-thinking personal abuse. Thank you in advance.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

You have made three comments that I’ve read. The first was amusing, as was the second, though more insulting. This one is aimed to inflame while containing a glimmer of truth.

Many of us here would really like to engage with the ‘other side’ but it rarely gets past these kind of comments which never make a case of their own to debate.

I thought this was a poor article in that it completely ignored the huge role of the media in magnifying the untrustworthy behaviour, minimising the good behaviour and being ridiculously partisan both ways.

What did you think of the article. Do you trust politicians?

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

I think it’s a pretty god article, on the whole. It talks about some of the broader changes that effect people’s views of their ‘leaders’, contextual things that are rarely discussed- the decline in a sense of automatic deference, the overload of constant ‘information’ about just about everything including the poor personal behaviour of our ‘betters’ that would have been unreported previously, and the rise of a kind of consumerist relativism- ‘my truth’.
Newspapers are now rather absurdly partisan, it’s true- the difference between news and opinion has largely disappeared. The standard headline in the so-called middle-brow papers starts invariably with the word “fury…”, as if this were a meaningful statement of a fact. But the internet is having, I think, a far more profound effect than ranting newspapers. It trades in distrust- that is its business model. There’s a big contingent on this supposedly unpartisan site (most, in fact) that obviously gets most of its ‘facts’ from online blogs, whether this be evidenceless assertions that vaccines are what kill Covid patients, or sweeping claims that there’s “no scientific basis to anthropogenic climate change whatsoever”. This is the world of “my Truth”, immune to and uninterested in facts. Obviously, elsewhere there’s an equivalent Progressive Wing of this same ‘Truthiness’ cult, equally uninterested in any concept of objective facts.
Do I trust politicians? Not really, as individuals, no- but the point is not whether one trusts them, but whether one has sufficient trust in the system as a whole to hold them to account, and to put a limit on their baser instincts. One my main worries is that ‘populism’- the manipulation of grievences to sow distrust of this system of limitations, or of the very idea of ‘disinterestedness’ itself in the pursuit of greater power – is still on the rise.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Talking of ‘Truthiness’ and the total conflation of facts with opinions, I was ‘downticked’ nine times on this site for writing a short description of the carbon cycle as it applies to wood burning. No-one bothered to write a repudiation of its accuracy- nine people were just outraged that I should have the bad taste as to mention it.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Thanks for taking the trouble to provide a well thought through answer. I find much to agree with.

In particular, you mentioned the collapse in deference is a wider, underlying issue..

This is one of Marx’s best known quotes.

“All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned.”

Many of us on here are concerned that from Marx, through Gramsci, Foucault and, now, almost the entirety of Acedemia, this general concept of ripping apart the existing moral codes is what underlies the chaos that seems to be rolling towards us. If deference doesn’t exist, neither can rules. I don’t claim deference as some unalloyed good, just that a society of individuals making up their own rules cannot be a society. Since human community is essential to mental and physical well-being, some common understanding of the codes is essential. The new ones being imposed are, for many of us, dangerous.

The point is that the conscious destruction of a moral order is what is underlying all of these things. It’s not a conspiracy theory just a phenomenon that started to suit a lot of different, very powerful constituencies at the same time The politicians are no worse than they have ever been and for a member of one of those very guilty constituencies to point the finger in this way feels shallow.

On Unherd commenters I think it’s worth noting that this is one of the few reasonably wide circulation places which does give a voice to both sides of the argument, providing they are presented in a coherent fashion.

People on the conservative side of the argument (I stress not ring the right-wing, those titles now being meaningless) have very few platforms that cater to their need to read and discuss. Writers like Mary Harrington and Kathleen Stock are a joy to those of us who don’t have philosophical training. So yes the audience swings conservative and occasionally goes over the top but try putting a contra view in the Guardian comments to see really unhinged vitriol.

Thanks again

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

I agree about the mix of writers here- I only recently joined, but there’s been a genuinely stimulating range of views, from the fairly orthodox to the ‘mad as a badger in a sack’ (see Paul Kingsnorth).
So far, my experience of the comments section is been that it’s VERY ‘right-wing’, irrational, and largely of the Breitbart conspiracist variety. Maybe I’ve just been unlucky- but your type of reasonable, considered conservatism (which is what, as an old lefty, I was hoping to engage with) seems to be conspicuous by its absence. Trumpism seems to be the order of the day. And yes, the Guardian comments section can be shockingly dumb.
As to the “destruction of the moral order”- I think this is a can of worms. In conventional terms, both ‘left’ and ‘right’ have been part of the dismantling of the old moral order, although one should bare in mind that this ‘order’ was never unquestioned or universal. One of the rarely acknowledged fault-lines in Margaret Thatcher’s philosophy was the contradiction between her social conservatism and the actual, real-world effects of her economic beliefs. Her economics were globalist, libertarian, and quite happy to decimate local communities and the traditional values they lived by, in favour of hyper-individualism, consumerism and the primacy of private financial institutions over all else.
In fact, the Marxist ideologies of cultural disruption you talk about found a surprising ally, in many ways, in the ‘neo-liberal’ economic hegemony of the last fifty years. Just as hyper-consumerism needed the hippy revolution of the sixties to lay the groundwork for the individualism and materialism, the ‘freedom’ from the constraints of traditional social bonds, that we see today.
Thank you for the discussion- just as I was despairing of finding a vice that wasn’t an internet-styled foghorn.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

“vice”- voice. Freudian slip.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

“In fact, the Marxist ideologies of cultural disruption you talk about found a surprising ally, in many ways, in the ‘neo-liberal’ economic hegemony of the last fifty years“

We can definitely agree on that. The old left, the people who were really concerned for those at the bottom of the pile, and the old right, primarily concerned with social conservatism and genuinely appalled by naked greed, have both gone.

Look forward to sparring under another thread in future.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

“vice”- voice. Freudian slip.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

“In fact, the Marxist ideologies of cultural disruption you talk about found a surprising ally, in many ways, in the ‘neo-liberal’ economic hegemony of the last fifty years“

We can definitely agree on that. The old left, the people who were really concerned for those at the bottom of the pile, and the old right, primarily concerned with social conservatism and genuinely appalled by naked greed, have both gone.

Look forward to sparring under another thread in future.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

I agree about the mix of writers here- I only recently joined, but there’s been a genuinely stimulating range of views, from the fairly orthodox to the ‘mad as a badger in a sack’ (see Paul Kingsnorth).
So far, my experience of the comments section is been that it’s VERY ‘right-wing’, irrational, and largely of the Breitbart conspiracist variety. Maybe I’ve just been unlucky- but your type of reasonable, considered conservatism (which is what, as an old lefty, I was hoping to engage with) seems to be conspicuous by its absence. Trumpism seems to be the order of the day. And yes, the Guardian comments section can be shockingly dumb.
As to the “destruction of the moral order”- I think this is a can of worms. In conventional terms, both ‘left’ and ‘right’ have been part of the dismantling of the old moral order, although one should bare in mind that this ‘order’ was never unquestioned or universal. One of the rarely acknowledged fault-lines in Margaret Thatcher’s philosophy was the contradiction between her social conservatism and the actual, real-world effects of her economic beliefs. Her economics were globalist, libertarian, and quite happy to decimate local communities and the traditional values they lived by, in favour of hyper-individualism, consumerism and the primacy of private financial institutions over all else.
In fact, the Marxist ideologies of cultural disruption you talk about found a surprising ally, in many ways, in the ‘neo-liberal’ economic hegemony of the last fifty years. Just as hyper-consumerism needed the hippy revolution of the sixties to lay the groundwork for the individualism and materialism, the ‘freedom’ from the constraints of traditional social bonds, that we see today.
Thank you for the discussion- just as I was despairing of finding a vice that wasn’t an internet-styled foghorn.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Talking of ‘Truthiness’ and the total conflation of facts with opinions, I was ‘downticked’ nine times on this site for writing a short description of the carbon cycle as it applies to wood burning. No-one bothered to write a repudiation of its accuracy- nine people were just outraged that I should have the bad taste as to mention it.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Thanks for taking the trouble to provide a well thought through answer. I find much to agree with.

In particular, you mentioned the collapse in deference is a wider, underlying issue..

This is one of Marx’s best known quotes.

“All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned.”

Many of us on here are concerned that from Marx, through Gramsci, Foucault and, now, almost the entirety of Acedemia, this general concept of ripping apart the existing moral codes is what underlies the chaos that seems to be rolling towards us. If deference doesn’t exist, neither can rules. I don’t claim deference as some unalloyed good, just that a society of individuals making up their own rules cannot be a society. Since human community is essential to mental and physical well-being, some common understanding of the codes is essential. The new ones being imposed are, for many of us, dangerous.

The point is that the conscious destruction of a moral order is what is underlying all of these things. It’s not a conspiracy theory just a phenomenon that started to suit a lot of different, very powerful constituencies at the same time The politicians are no worse than they have ever been and for a member of one of those very guilty constituencies to point the finger in this way feels shallow.

On Unherd commenters I think it’s worth noting that this is one of the few reasonably wide circulation places which does give a voice to both sides of the argument, providing they are presented in a coherent fashion.

People on the conservative side of the argument (I stress not ring the right-wing, those titles now being meaningless) have very few platforms that cater to their need to read and discuss. Writers like Mary Harrington and Kathleen Stock are a joy to those of us who don’t have philosophical training. So yes the audience swings conservative and occasionally goes over the top but try putting a contra view in the Guardian comments to see really unhinged vitriol.

Thanks again

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

I think it’s a pretty god article, on the whole. It talks about some of the broader changes that effect people’s views of their ‘leaders’, contextual things that are rarely discussed- the decline in a sense of automatic deference, the overload of constant ‘information’ about just about everything including the poor personal behaviour of our ‘betters’ that would have been unreported previously, and the rise of a kind of consumerist relativism- ‘my truth’.
Newspapers are now rather absurdly partisan, it’s true- the difference between news and opinion has largely disappeared. The standard headline in the so-called middle-brow papers starts invariably with the word “fury…”, as if this were a meaningful statement of a fact. But the internet is having, I think, a far more profound effect than ranting newspapers. It trades in distrust- that is its business model. There’s a big contingent on this supposedly unpartisan site (most, in fact) that obviously gets most of its ‘facts’ from online blogs, whether this be evidenceless assertions that vaccines are what kill Covid patients, or sweeping claims that there’s “no scientific basis to anthropogenic climate change whatsoever”. This is the world of “my Truth”, immune to and uninterested in facts. Obviously, elsewhere there’s an equivalent Progressive Wing of this same ‘Truthiness’ cult, equally uninterested in any concept of objective facts.
Do I trust politicians? Not really, as individuals, no- but the point is not whether one trusts them, but whether one has sufficient trust in the system as a whole to hold them to account, and to put a limit on their baser instincts. One my main worries is that ‘populism’- the manipulation of grievences to sow distrust of this system of limitations, or of the very idea of ‘disinterestedness’ itself in the pursuit of greater power – is still on the rise.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

You have made three comments that I’ve read. The first was amusing, as was the second, though more insulting. This one is aimed to inflame while containing a glimmer of truth.

Many of us here would really like to engage with the ‘other side’ but it rarely gets past these kind of comments which never make a case of their own to debate.

I thought this was a poor article in that it completely ignored the huge role of the media in magnifying the untrustworthy behaviour, minimising the good behaviour and being ridiculously partisan both ways.

What did you think of the article. Do you trust politicians?

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  dave dobbin

Exactly. Twitter on steroids.
The joke is that the Unherd herd all shout precisely the same cliched, bilious story at each other, whilst flattering ttheir self-image of independent free-thinkers fighting the intellectually-challenged zombies.
There will now follow a screed of intellectually-minded, free-thinking personal abuse. Thank you in advance.

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney

And very nearly ending his article with “the adults are back in the room” as well. The nerve!

Interesting that the ‘partisan’ stories of both Left and Right he brings up at the start all (with the exception of Covid but let’s not open that can of worms) relate to failings of the Blair government which the Tories continuously allowed to get worse because they’re still basically the second cheek of the Blairite ar*e.

Putting another 10p in the ‘Peter Hitchens was right’ jar.

dave dobbin
dave dobbin
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney

It’s amazing how much like social media this comments section is alike.
Don’t agree with the article, let’s dig out what political party and what newspaper he supports. Attack the man rather then critique his ideas…. or come up with an idea of your own

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
1 year ago

A quick Google establishes that the author is a Labour party activist, which explains a lot about this utterly wrong headed article.

That damned public, up to no good again, not accepting their medicine.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
1 year ago

Low quality article I’m afraid, with a lot of self-tilted and orthodoxy accepting analysis – “two pat-answers” to borrow a phrase. For example, take the following generalisation:
“..Much of the cynicism about modern politics stems from the sense that politicians are “on the take”. There have unfortunately been many recent examples to corroborate this..”.
This ignores the fact that people are in fact aware that politicians are by and large, *not* on the take while holding office, but the nature of the subversion of the political process is more subtle: a long term revolving door across a particular and large technocratic cabal, which includes large numbers with decision making power who are not in fact in elected office but have climbed a ladder to high office, where the very same people who are engaged while in office in creating frameworks and legislation to the plug holes created, typically by accelerating technological and demographic changes, are then engaged in subverting the precise same frameworks with insider knowledge once out of office – for self gain. For example, some very senior high ranking HMRC officer who goes on to create a lucrative consultancy engaged in providing high quality, totally legal advice on tax avoidance – on laws they themselves architected. In that situation pointing the finger at specific individuals like Johnson as “abnormally unprincipled” is a misnomer, because here Blair is as much a culprit as Johnson is and no doubt Starmer will become and has already shown he is. Johnson is a mere example of pond life, with a particular shtick, and the issue is not specific denizens of the pond, but the pond itself. The problem is systemic.

Last edited 1 year ago by Prashant Kotak
Jonas Moze
Jonas Moze
1 year ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

There is loads of raw corruption. Those who regulate industry profit off it.

But this stupid bit showed how silly an article it is

”Deferring to sociologist Barbara Mistzal, it identified three benefits to trust. First, trust helps us to work with one another, creating legitimacy and toleration of shared decisions. Trust also brings people together, enabling social bonds. And finally, trust makes life certain and predictable, allowing us to form habits and routines.”

What? was this study debunking the popular thinking that ‘Trust stops us working together, creates illegitimacy and intolerance, and divides people; breaking social bonds, and finally makes life unpredictable.’

Jonas Moze
Jonas Moze
1 year ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

There is loads of raw corruption. Those who regulate industry profit off it.

But this stupid bit showed how silly an article it is

”Deferring to sociologist Barbara Mistzal, it identified three benefits to trust. First, trust helps us to work with one another, creating legitimacy and toleration of shared decisions. Trust also brings people together, enabling social bonds. And finally, trust makes life certain and predictable, allowing us to form habits and routines.”

What? was this study debunking the popular thinking that ‘Trust stops us working together, creates illegitimacy and intolerance, and divides people; breaking social bonds, and finally makes life unpredictable.’

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
1 year ago

Low quality article I’m afraid, with a lot of self-tilted and orthodoxy accepting analysis – “two pat-answers” to borrow a phrase. For example, take the following generalisation:
“..Much of the cynicism about modern politics stems from the sense that politicians are “on the take”. There have unfortunately been many recent examples to corroborate this..”.
This ignores the fact that people are in fact aware that politicians are by and large, *not* on the take while holding office, but the nature of the subversion of the political process is more subtle: a long term revolving door across a particular and large technocratic cabal, which includes large numbers with decision making power who are not in fact in elected office but have climbed a ladder to high office, where the very same people who are engaged while in office in creating frameworks and legislation to the plug holes created, typically by accelerating technological and demographic changes, are then engaged in subverting the precise same frameworks with insider knowledge once out of office – for self gain. For example, some very senior high ranking HMRC officer who goes on to create a lucrative consultancy engaged in providing high quality, totally legal advice on tax avoidance – on laws they themselves architected. In that situation pointing the finger at specific individuals like Johnson as “abnormally unprincipled” is a misnomer, because here Blair is as much a culprit as Johnson is and no doubt Starmer will become and has already shown he is. Johnson is a mere example of pond life, with a particular shtick, and the issue is not specific denizens of the pond, but the pond itself. The problem is systemic.

Last edited 1 year ago by Prashant Kotak
Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
1 year ago

Err…there hasn’t been a Right of centre government in power since Thatcher…

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

And even they weren’t particularly socially Conservative….

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney

Precisely. In fact only a slight diminution of the sanctimonious piffle ‘we’ have had to endure since Beveridge.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney

Precisely. In fact only a slight diminution of the sanctimonious piffle ‘we’ have had to endure since Beveridge.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Thatcher was a bloody Socialist.

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

And even they weren’t particularly socially Conservative….

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Thatcher was a bloody Socialist.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
1 year ago

Err…there hasn’t been a Right of centre government in power since Thatcher…

R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago

What an incompetent article that falls flat in the opening paragraphs.
“Many of the blows to trust listed either reflected the public mood or made sense based on the information at the time”

This is utterly wrong and entirely duplicitous. Cracking down on mass immigration has been near universally popular since at least the 1960s when Powell briefly became the most popular politician in Britain after his intervention. The refusal by decades of governments to deal with the issue did not reflect the public mood, hence the BNP, UKIP and Brexit Party getting millions of votes. If you think populism is going away while these problems are only getting worse you are clearly off your rocker.

R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago

What an incompetent article that falls flat in the opening paragraphs.
“Many of the blows to trust listed either reflected the public mood or made sense based on the information at the time”

This is utterly wrong and entirely duplicitous. Cracking down on mass immigration has been near universally popular since at least the 1960s when Powell briefly became the most popular politician in Britain after his intervention. The refusal by decades of governments to deal with the issue did not reflect the public mood, hence the BNP, UKIP and Brexit Party getting millions of votes. If you think populism is going away while these problems are only getting worse you are clearly off your rocker.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

I don’t understand. Is the author suggesting Boris Johnson was a populist? Maybe it’s a different Boris Johnson.

And what the hell is wrong with a populist? Not every populist is Donald Trump.

Maybe the lack of trust comes from political leaders failing to do anything meaningful to improve the lives of their constituents. Maybe people are sick of politicians pandering to special interests.

I’m from Canada so I’m not as well informed about British politics, but I can’t think of one single accomplishment of Boris Johnson. And does anyone expect Sunak to be any better?

Earn trust by implementing policies that benefit the people.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I agree the term ‘populist’ is used a little too loosely and can mean different things to different people.
I see it as basically a term to describe a political approach seeking to appeal to ‘ordinary’ people who feel that their concerns have been overlooked by ‘elites’ for too long, but that crucially doesn’t entirely ‘level’ with these ‘ordinary’ people on the trade-offs required to give them what they’d like. Essentially it’s recently tended to come with quite a bit of ‘cakeism’ which then unravels and causes potentially even more disaffection. I think here Boris does earn the term ‘populist’.
One could also debate the definition of ‘ordinary’ and of ‘elite’ – both too easily chucked around undefined. Life is generally more complex, but we all hear every day politicians talk about ‘ordinary working people’ and think ‘he/she means us’. They more often mean well so I don’t see it as always malign, but it’s too simplistic of course when one gets into complex policy formulation.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

“but I can’t think of one single accomplishment of Boris Johnson”.

He managed to successfully sabotage BREXIT, if nothing else.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago

No Brexit had its own inherent self-sabotaging mechanism esp once we’d gone for a very Hard version.
A key problem with Brexit is its proponents weren’t honest about the trade-offs. Boris was far from alone in this. They put too much stock in the assumption the EU would cave-in and allow the UK to remain part of the Single Market but without free movement obligations. (Farage’s view at the time). They then added to this with the assumption other trade deals would be additional ‘up-side’. Neither assumption held and both were naĂŻve in the extreme.
They compounded this by secretly wanting to use Brexit to drive a de-regulation ‘Singapore-on-Thames’ model but without being straight with the public what this deregulation would mean for them, esp the Red Wall that had voted for both Brexit and Boris.
The one potential avenue that could have been navigated to some semblance of success was a ‘soft-Brexit’ with tightened application of already existing free movement regulations (e.g minimum capital requirements, all jobs advertised in UK first etc). Unfortunately for the whole project the over-promising and optimism bias killed any chance of some sensible realpolitik. I suspect we’ll find our way back to that but it’ll take a generation.

Andy Moore
Andy Moore
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

The benefits of the single market and customs union is a myth. In our last 20 years of being in the EU, we had a trade deficit with them, totalling around 800 billion, that’s not good. Yes, you can run a deficit, but you can’t run a large one and certainly not over a sustained period of time. In doing so, it leads to high levels of debt and low productivity, look around you and what do you see.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy Moore

Don’t know where you are getting your figures from, but the OECD says UK is the only member of the G7 with an economy smaller than it was before the pandemic. Business investment in Q3 22 was 8% below pre-pandemic levels. The pound has taken a beating, making imports more expensive and stoking inflation while failing to boost exports. We’ve erected trade barriers for UK businesses and foreign companies that used Britain as a European base.
What reason do you give? The most plausible, and everyone knows it, is Brexit.
The TCA introduced a raft of non-tariff barriers, such as border controls, customs checks, import duties and health inspections on plant and animal products. The biggest imposition of bureaucracy on trade EVER. Before Brexit, a farmer in Kent could ship a truckload of potatoes to Paris just as easily as they might send it to London. Those days are gone. Read the CBI report and most specifically the elements related to small and medium sized businesses
BCC survey of c1k+ published in Dec reported that 77% said Brexit has not helped them increase sales or grow their businesses. The OBR expects Brexit to reduce Britain’s output by 4% over 15 years. Exports and imports are projected to be around 15% lower in the long run. The decline in exports to non-EU countries could be a sign that UK businesses have become less competitive as they battle higher supply chain costs
Folks didn’t vote for a slow, inexorable decline. The failures need to be repeatedly called out and they will be.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

What apologists for the EU always forget is that the economic arguments are just one aspect of the Brexit package. Quoting relative economic performance is therefore a waste of time, and always a temporary issue in any case. When we joined the EEC, it was precisely that: an economic entity. It then started to morph into a political entity run by unelected bureaucrats. Those who voted for Brexit voted to rid our country of the malign political influence of the Commission, whose abject and in fact malign performance at the height of the Covid crisis revealed it in all it’s unedifying authoritarianism.
So will you and your fellow bureaucracy-seekers please just shut up. You have no case for re-entry into the EU, and never will have.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Err no fraid not. You are going to keep having it called out. Brexiteers told us it’d be wonderful and we’d have our cake and eat it. Well until that happens you need to own it.
Commission was slower on Vaccine procurement but in the end they delivered, and without all the other wasted money we incurred. Plus our Lockdowns didn’t turn out to be any shorter did they.
Commission is appointed by Council of Ministers and we had representation and a veto if needed. What say did you have in who is actually PM?
As it was I didn’t argue for immediate re-entry. That’s not going to happen for a generation at least. Once we’d voted for Brexit there were better options that could have limited the potential damage, better reflect where the country was too, but ideologues took over…albeit they now spend most of their time looking for scapegoats. Pathetic.

Last edited 1 year ago by j watson
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Brexiteers told us nothing of the sort.
Fine, just carry on wasting your time and boring the majority rigid. Happy New Year.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Is it true that Farage et al like to suggest they never promulgated remaining in the Single Market. Unfortunately a few statements they made get in the way.
 
Absolutely nobody is talking about threatening our place in the Single Market”
– Daniel Hannan.
“Wouldn’t it be terrible if we were really like Norway and Switzerland? Really? They’re rich. They’re happy. They’re self-governing”
– Nigel Farage
“The Norwegian option, the EEA option, I think that it might be initally attractive for some business people”
– Matthew Elliot, Vote Leave chief executive
“Increasingly, the Norway option looks the best for the UK” – Arron Banks
 
And when you remember that Norway are in the Single Market but not the EU, it makes these quotes quite awkward reading don’t you think? 
Like I said, going to keep pointing it out. Important bit of being in a pluralist society.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Don’t, for God’s sake, use evidence or empirical facts on this site.
It really isn’t that sort of place. Such stuff makes the Herd FURIOUS.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Don’t, for God’s sake, use evidence or empirical facts on this site.
It really isn’t that sort of place. Such stuff makes the Herd FURIOUS.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Is it true that Farage et al like to suggest they never promulgated remaining in the Single Market. Unfortunately a few statements they made get in the way.
 
Absolutely nobody is talking about threatening our place in the Single Market”
– Daniel Hannan.
“Wouldn’t it be terrible if we were really like Norway and Switzerland? Really? They’re rich. They’re happy. They’re self-governing”
– Nigel Farage
“The Norwegian option, the EEA option, I think that it might be initally attractive for some business people”
– Matthew Elliot, Vote Leave chief executive
“Increasingly, the Norway option looks the best for the UK” – Arron Banks
 
And when you remember that Norway are in the Single Market but not the EU, it makes these quotes quite awkward reading don’t you think? 
Like I said, going to keep pointing it out. Important bit of being in a pluralist society.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Brexiteers told us nothing of the sort.
Fine, just carry on wasting your time and boring the majority rigid. Happy New Year.

Mr Bellisarius
Mr Bellisarius
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

It didn’t Morph, there were a whole series of treaties from Maastricht through to Lisbon which changed the ‘Community’ to a ‘Union’.
There was also a European wide referendum with which Europeans would have consolidated the change by approving the EU’s referendum. But that little detail was cancelled mid-vote when the EU realised they were going to lose the vote big time…

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

“So will you and your fellow bureaucracy-seekers please just shut up.”
It’s good to find a broad discussion site for the open-minded and intellectually curious.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Err no fraid not. You are going to keep having it called out. Brexiteers told us it’d be wonderful and we’d have our cake and eat it. Well until that happens you need to own it.
Commission was slower on Vaccine procurement but in the end they delivered, and without all the other wasted money we incurred. Plus our Lockdowns didn’t turn out to be any shorter did they.
Commission is appointed by Council of Ministers and we had representation and a veto if needed. What say did you have in who is actually PM?
As it was I didn’t argue for immediate re-entry. That’s not going to happen for a generation at least. Once we’d voted for Brexit there were better options that could have limited the potential damage, better reflect where the country was too, but ideologues took over…albeit they now spend most of their time looking for scapegoats. Pathetic.

Last edited 1 year ago by j watson
Mr Bellisarius
Mr Bellisarius
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

It didn’t Morph, there were a whole series of treaties from Maastricht through to Lisbon which changed the ‘Community’ to a ‘Union’.
There was also a European wide referendum with which Europeans would have consolidated the change by approving the EU’s referendum. But that little detail was cancelled mid-vote when the EU realised they were going to lose the vote big time…

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

“So will you and your fellow bureaucracy-seekers please just shut up.”
It’s good to find a broad discussion site for the open-minded and intellectually curious.

Andy Moore
Andy Moore
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

The figures are available from the ONS. We’ve spent the last 4 decades exporting our factories, whilst at the same time importing workers, it will take time for the economy to adjust. I will accept that Johnson handled Brexit badly and it could have been done better, but we are where we are. As for the forecasts you mention, they are just forecasts. The EUs share of global trade has been shrinking year on year and we are better off, in both the mid and long term, being out of it.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy Moore

I think your point has some validity on a broader globalisation basis. And one does suspect the trend in off shoring will now reduce/reverse to some extent as a result of pandemic experience and concern about China.
But whether we do as well as if we’d remained in the EU remains doubtful. No indication the big multinationals are seeing us as more attractive base given the trade friction we’ve put our hand up for. And when we see lauded developments such as BritishVolt and their huge NE England battery plant suddenly go onto life support it’s telling us something. The danger is we slide almost imperceptibly and then one day wake up.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy Moore

I think your point has some validity on a broader globalisation basis. And one does suspect the trend in off shoring will now reduce/reverse to some extent as a result of pandemic experience and concern about China.
But whether we do as well as if we’d remained in the EU remains doubtful. No indication the big multinationals are seeing us as more attractive base given the trade friction we’ve put our hand up for. And when we see lauded developments such as BritishVolt and their huge NE England battery plant suddenly go onto life support it’s telling us something. The danger is we slide almost imperceptibly and then one day wake up.

Mr Bellisarius
Mr Bellisarius
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

If Brexit had been about increasing or decreasing GDP then your arguments could be relevant to a discussion.
And according to the Nuffield survey most remain voters did consider the issue in purely economic terms, and had totally failed to understand why people had voted leave.
Leave voters, on the other hand, were far more concerned about the UK remaining a country governed by its own parliament rather than being merged into a single nation.
Leavers got their wish. Remain voters did not. But is that not what a referendum is all about?

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Bellisarius

Well if we are are going to get into public opinion surveys, how about the recent ones suggesting 30% of Brexit voters now regret it and want closer ties with EU?
I do agree some Brexit voters in 2016 did so on half understood sovereignty grounds. The difference though was the immigration card that was played and the ÂŁ350m NHS dividend. Both look somewhat sick now don’t they?
What nobody voted for was to be poorer or have their businesses crippled. What nobody voted for was more bureaucracy, and as a result, more bureaucrats!

Mr Bellisarius
Mr Bellisarius
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

People in the UK do want close ties with other European countries. And people in the EU want to maintain close ties with other countries.
What nobody wanted was the EU with it’s ‘Ever tighter integration’. They do not want a single nation, which is the EU’s goal.
Had there been no Maastricht, the UK would have never left the EEC. And had other countries not sold the farm by adopting the Euro there would be more countries looking at article 51.
As it stands it is the EU that blocking closer collaboration with the UK. They have an all or nothing policy; this is consistent with their goal of a single nation, but does not reflect what European citizens want.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Bellisarius

You keep referring to the EU and ‘they’, without any description of who you mean. Some warped conspiracy theory in the background? An attempt to create a theory of the ‘other’ ? Look it’s lazy and sloppy thinking.
The EU structure and workings agreed by all the sovereign states, the elected EU parliament, and of course we had alot of say in it, wrote half the rules of the Single market etc, as well as veto’s and opt outs. And no obligation to be in the Euro.
The EU isn’t blocking closer working. We just don’t want the trade offs that come with the single market or customs union, and furthermore we want to tear up an international treaty we signed in full awareness of it’s consequences.
We signed Maastricht after negotiating a series of opt outs.
‘Ever closer Union’ might have worked for some states but we had plenty of room to stay to one side of that, and in fact increasingly we’d have had allies within the 26 to resist and strike a different balance.
Instead we stropped off and now get angry about not being allowed to have our cake and eat it.
Anyway we won’t be going back in anytime soon, but the starting point to this sequence was the view we could and should have gone for a much softer Brexit and avoided becoming poorer as a result. And in fact that’s what most of the arch-Brexit proponents thought best until they got carried away.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

The “carried away”element of this is funny, but not in a good way.
‘Brexit’ rapidly became a mystical idea, more a vessel for every conspiracy ideation, resentment and fear about the modern world than a political policy. The result is that it’s become, even in its victory and realisation, a chimera, a mirage always disappearing whenever a Believer approaches it. Whatever is actually is, that’s not what the true Brexiteers wanted- because ‘They’ have stolen it, subverted it, besmirched it- ruined it somehow.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

The “carried away”element of this is funny, but not in a good way.
‘Brexit’ rapidly became a mystical idea, more a vessel for every conspiracy ideation, resentment and fear about the modern world than a political policy. The result is that it’s become, even in its victory and realisation, a chimera, a mirage always disappearing whenever a Believer approaches it. Whatever is actually is, that’s not what the true Brexiteers wanted- because ‘They’ have stolen it, subverted it, besmirched it- ruined it somehow.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Bellisarius

You keep referring to the EU and ‘they’, without any description of who you mean. Some warped conspiracy theory in the background? An attempt to create a theory of the ‘other’ ? Look it’s lazy and sloppy thinking.
The EU structure and workings agreed by all the sovereign states, the elected EU parliament, and of course we had alot of say in it, wrote half the rules of the Single market etc, as well as veto’s and opt outs. And no obligation to be in the Euro.
The EU isn’t blocking closer working. We just don’t want the trade offs that come with the single market or customs union, and furthermore we want to tear up an international treaty we signed in full awareness of it’s consequences.
We signed Maastricht after negotiating a series of opt outs.
‘Ever closer Union’ might have worked for some states but we had plenty of room to stay to one side of that, and in fact increasingly we’d have had allies within the 26 to resist and strike a different balance.
Instead we stropped off and now get angry about not being allowed to have our cake and eat it.
Anyway we won’t be going back in anytime soon, but the starting point to this sequence was the view we could and should have gone for a much softer Brexit and avoided becoming poorer as a result. And in fact that’s what most of the arch-Brexit proponents thought best until they got carried away.

Mr Bellisarius
Mr Bellisarius
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

People in the UK do want close ties with other European countries. And people in the EU want to maintain close ties with other countries.
What nobody wanted was the EU with it’s ‘Ever tighter integration’. They do not want a single nation, which is the EU’s goal.
Had there been no Maastricht, the UK would have never left the EEC. And had other countries not sold the farm by adopting the Euro there would be more countries looking at article 51.
As it stands it is the EU that blocking closer collaboration with the UK. They have an all or nothing policy; this is consistent with their goal of a single nation, but does not reflect what European citizens want.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Bellisarius

Well if we are are going to get into public opinion surveys, how about the recent ones suggesting 30% of Brexit voters now regret it and want closer ties with EU?
I do agree some Brexit voters in 2016 did so on half understood sovereignty grounds. The difference though was the immigration card that was played and the ÂŁ350m NHS dividend. Both look somewhat sick now don’t they?
What nobody voted for was to be poorer or have their businesses crippled. What nobody voted for was more bureaucracy, and as a result, more bureaucrats!

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

What apologists for the EU always forget is that the economic arguments are just one aspect of the Brexit package. Quoting relative economic performance is therefore a waste of time, and always a temporary issue in any case. When we joined the EEC, it was precisely that: an economic entity. It then started to morph into a political entity run by unelected bureaucrats. Those who voted for Brexit voted to rid our country of the malign political influence of the Commission, whose abject and in fact malign performance at the height of the Covid crisis revealed it in all it’s unedifying authoritarianism.
So will you and your fellow bureaucracy-seekers please just shut up. You have no case for re-entry into the EU, and never will have.

Andy Moore
Andy Moore
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

The figures are available from the ONS. We’ve spent the last 4 decades exporting our factories, whilst at the same time importing workers, it will take time for the economy to adjust. I will accept that Johnson handled Brexit badly and it could have been done better, but we are where we are. As for the forecasts you mention, they are just forecasts. The EUs share of global trade has been shrinking year on year and we are better off, in both the mid and long term, being out of it.

Mr Bellisarius
Mr Bellisarius
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

If Brexit had been about increasing or decreasing GDP then your arguments could be relevant to a discussion.
And according to the Nuffield survey most remain voters did consider the issue in purely economic terms, and had totally failed to understand why people had voted leave.
Leave voters, on the other hand, were far more concerned about the UK remaining a country governed by its own parliament rather than being merged into a single nation.
Leavers got their wish. Remain voters did not. But is that not what a referendum is all about?

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy Moore

Don’t know where you are getting your figures from, but the OECD says UK is the only member of the G7 with an economy smaller than it was before the pandemic. Business investment in Q3 22 was 8% below pre-pandemic levels. The pound has taken a beating, making imports more expensive and stoking inflation while failing to boost exports. We’ve erected trade barriers for UK businesses and foreign companies that used Britain as a European base.
What reason do you give? The most plausible, and everyone knows it, is Brexit.
The TCA introduced a raft of non-tariff barriers, such as border controls, customs checks, import duties and health inspections on plant and animal products. The biggest imposition of bureaucracy on trade EVER. Before Brexit, a farmer in Kent could ship a truckload of potatoes to Paris just as easily as they might send it to London. Those days are gone. Read the CBI report and most specifically the elements related to small and medium sized businesses
BCC survey of c1k+ published in Dec reported that 77% said Brexit has not helped them increase sales or grow their businesses. The OBR expects Brexit to reduce Britain’s output by 4% over 15 years. Exports and imports are projected to be around 15% lower in the long run. The decline in exports to non-EU countries could be a sign that UK businesses have become less competitive as they battle higher supply chain costs
Folks didn’t vote for a slow, inexorable decline. The failures need to be repeatedly called out and they will be.

Vici C
Vici C
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Two points. First, we haven’t yet achieved the true value of Brexit. Second, had I been in UK I would have voted for the Common Market. But never for political union.

Mr Bellisarius
Mr Bellisarius
1 year ago
Reply to  Vici C

That goes for most people in Europe, including the UK.
They wanted the collaboration of the European Community, they did not want the one-size-fits-all European Nation, aka the EU.
That’s why the EU cancelled the referendum that was supposed to approve the constitution, and then brought in the changes by the back-door.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Bellisarius

Separate debate about the role of referenda in complex decision making.
However how many EU countries have left since us? Err…none. And yet the arch-Brexiteers predicted otherwise. And would you believe it, Ukraine keen to join. Surely they’ve seen the example we’ve set and thought no it’s not for us, look at the good old Brits they know best.

Mr Bellisarius
Mr Bellisarius
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

As somebody living in the Eurozone I see quite a different picture. A poll in Italy came up with an incredible result; 2/3 would like to leave the EU but not the Eurozone!
The impossibility of that underlines the overall confusion. The fact is that the Euro was an excellent mechanism for locking countries into the single nation before people realised what they were getting into.
People did come up with plans for how their countries could extract themselves from currency union, but it was really difficult.
Larry Elliot, Economics editor of the Guardian, has written an excellent book about the reality behind the Euro. Well worth a read.
People are right to suppose that most people in Europe do not want a single nation. The trouble is that they have been tied in, in particular financially, and Brexit has made everybody aware just how bloody-minded the EU can be, offering neighbors less collaboration than would be normal for extra-European countries.
For the record, Switzerland did withdraw its application to join the EU, and several non-Eurozone countries, in particular Hungary and Poland, are daring to question whether the ECJ can overrule their own constitutional courts – i.e. are they still independent democratic nations. According to the EU, apparently not.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Bellisarius

I’ve read Larry Elliott’s book and read all his columns. He’s good and I rate him. But I don’t agree with everything he says. Like too many IMO he assumes the EU was incapable of being changed or transformed in specific new directions. I no more think that impossible than I do of our own Executive and Legislature.
In fact I think a properly and fully engaged UK had immense potential to change ways in which the EU worked. We had considerable leverage. But politics does involve compromise, deals, trade offs, and doesn’t always play to over-simplification.
I suppose in essence I’d contend I had a stronger view of my countries potential and how it could be used.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Bellisarius

I’ve read Larry Elliott’s book and read all his columns. He’s good and I rate him. But I don’t agree with everything he says. Like too many IMO he assumes the EU was incapable of being changed or transformed in specific new directions. I no more think that impossible than I do of our own Executive and Legislature.
In fact I think a properly and fully engaged UK had immense potential to change ways in which the EU worked. We had considerable leverage. But politics does involve compromise, deals, trade offs, and doesn’t always play to over-simplification.
I suppose in essence I’d contend I had a stronger view of my countries potential and how it could be used.

Mr Bellisarius
Mr Bellisarius
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

As somebody living in the Eurozone I see quite a different picture. A poll in Italy came up with an incredible result; 2/3 would like to leave the EU but not the Eurozone!
The impossibility of that underlines the overall confusion. The fact is that the Euro was an excellent mechanism for locking countries into the single nation before people realised what they were getting into.
People did come up with plans for how their countries could extract themselves from currency union, but it was really difficult.
Larry Elliot, Economics editor of the Guardian, has written an excellent book about the reality behind the Euro. Well worth a read.
People are right to suppose that most people in Europe do not want a single nation. The trouble is that they have been tied in, in particular financially, and Brexit has made everybody aware just how bloody-minded the EU can be, offering neighbors less collaboration than would be normal for extra-European countries.
For the record, Switzerland did withdraw its application to join the EU, and several non-Eurozone countries, in particular Hungary and Poland, are daring to question whether the ECJ can overrule their own constitutional courts – i.e. are they still independent democratic nations. According to the EU, apparently not.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Bellisarius

Separate debate about the role of referenda in complex decision making.
However how many EU countries have left since us? Err…none. And yet the arch-Brexiteers predicted otherwise. And would you believe it, Ukraine keen to join. Surely they’ve seen the example we’ve set and thought no it’s not for us, look at the good old Brits they know best.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Vici C

Any idea when we might? Your lifetime? My lifetime?
As regards political union – never going to happen. There are 26 sovereign states in the EU and none of them are giving up their existence. As it was we had more opt outs and veto’s than anyone, so we had best of all worlds until we lost the plot.

Mr Bellisarius
Mr Bellisarius
1 year ago
Reply to  Vici C

That goes for most people in Europe, including the UK.
They wanted the collaboration of the European Community, they did not want the one-size-fits-all European Nation, aka the EU.
That’s why the EU cancelled the referendum that was supposed to approve the constitution, and then brought in the changes by the back-door.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Vici C

Any idea when we might? Your lifetime? My lifetime?
As regards political union – never going to happen. There are 26 sovereign states in the EU and none of them are giving up their existence. As it was we had more opt outs and veto’s than anyone, so we had best of all worlds until we lost the plot.

Andy Moore
Andy Moore
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

The benefits of the single market and customs union is a myth. In our last 20 years of being in the EU, we had a trade deficit with them, totalling around 800 billion, that’s not good. Yes, you can run a deficit, but you can’t run a large one and certainly not over a sustained period of time. In doing so, it leads to high levels of debt and low productivity, look around you and what do you see.

Vici C
Vici C
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Two points. First, we haven’t yet achieved the true value of Brexit. Second, had I been in UK I would have voted for the Common Market. But never for political union.

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
1 year ago

Precisely what I thought.
’Hence the Prime Ministership of Boris Johnson, an abnormally unprincipled figure, who clambered the greasy pole through “boosterism” and “cakeism”’.
It seems like the author is still enraged by Brexit.

Jonas Moze
Jonas Moze
1 year ago

Boris destroyed the economy, education, pensions, health, of the nation with his Plandemic response and turning a regional conflict into WWIII.

He makes Chamberlain, who basically brought about WWII with his appeasement and pacifist policies, seem the only PM to wreck his country to an equivalent level.

Biden managed the same to USA – Boris/Biden…..more damage to the Western world than Attila the Hun.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonas Moze

You’re not afraid of a bit of stentorian exaggeration, are you Jonas?

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonas Moze

You’re not afraid of a bit of stentorian exaggeration, are you Jonas?

j watson
j watson
1 year ago

No Brexit had its own inherent self-sabotaging mechanism esp once we’d gone for a very Hard version.
A key problem with Brexit is its proponents weren’t honest about the trade-offs. Boris was far from alone in this. They put too much stock in the assumption the EU would cave-in and allow the UK to remain part of the Single Market but without free movement obligations. (Farage’s view at the time). They then added to this with the assumption other trade deals would be additional ‘up-side’. Neither assumption held and both were naĂŻve in the extreme.
They compounded this by secretly wanting to use Brexit to drive a de-regulation ‘Singapore-on-Thames’ model but without being straight with the public what this deregulation would mean for them, esp the Red Wall that had voted for both Brexit and Boris.
The one potential avenue that could have been navigated to some semblance of success was a ‘soft-Brexit’ with tightened application of already existing free movement regulations (e.g minimum capital requirements, all jobs advertised in UK first etc). Unfortunately for the whole project the over-promising and optimism bias killed any chance of some sensible realpolitik. I suspect we’ll find our way back to that but it’ll take a generation.

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
1 year ago

Precisely what I thought.
’Hence the Prime Ministership of Boris Johnson, an abnormally unprincipled figure, who clambered the greasy pole through “boosterism” and “cakeism”’.
It seems like the author is still enraged by Brexit.

Jonas Moze
Jonas Moze
1 year ago

Boris destroyed the economy, education, pensions, health, of the nation with his Plandemic response and turning a regional conflict into WWIII.

He makes Chamberlain, who basically brought about WWII with his appeasement and pacifist policies, seem the only PM to wreck his country to an equivalent level.

Biden managed the same to USA – Boris/Biden…..more damage to the Western world than Attila the Hun.

D Glover
D Glover
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

but I can’t think of one single accomplishment of Boris Johnson.

He got a Brexit that was deeply flawed, but Teresa had simply been humiliated by Brussels for three wasted years.
He financed the development and production of three covid vaccines. In the spring of 2021 the UK was well ahead of EU countries in getting jabbed. This was noticed by the French and the Germans.
He put weapons into Ukrainian hands quickly. We were sending NLAW anti-tank missiles when Germany could only offer 5000 helmets.
I neither like nor trust Boris, but he was a heck of a lot better than Corbyn.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

Considering where we are now quite debatable whether Corbyn could have been any worse, and he’d have been pretty awful for sure.
As regards the vaccines – yes he does deserve some plaudits for this, but those close to it know the key person who made it happen was Kate Bingham brilliantly marshalling industrial pharma, the scientific community and Govt. She’s recently been v critical of how the Tories have now let this model drift away when it had shown what it could do. If Boris takes some credit for the initial vaccine he also needs to take responsibility for allowing the model to later fold.
He was though good on Ukraine, even if part of that was an attempt to save his own skin.

Jonas Moze
Jonas Moze
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

The vaccines are killing way more people than covid did – and the lockdowns the second most deaths – covid is a distant third for the harms it caused. ï»ż

Rick Lawrence
Rick Lawrence
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonas Moze

Please could we see the numbers that support this extraordinary claim?

Rick Lawrence
Rick Lawrence
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonas Moze

Please could we see the numbers that support this extraordinary claim?

Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

The Government spent over ÂŁ200 Million on the Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre at Harwell to put us at the forefront of vaccine research and promptly through Covid sold it off to an American Pharmaceutical company. Another Boris first.

Jonas Moze
Jonas Moze
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

The vaccines are killing way more people than covid did – and the lockdowns the second most deaths – covid is a distant third for the harms it caused. ï»ż

Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

The Government spent over ÂŁ200 Million on the Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre at Harwell to put us at the forefront of vaccine research and promptly through Covid sold it off to an American Pharmaceutical company. Another Boris first.

Jonas Moze
Jonas Moze
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

”He financed the development and production of three covid vaccines. In the spring of 2021 the UK was well ahead of EU countries in getting jabbed. This was noticed by the French and the Germans.
He put weapons into Ukrainian hands quickly.”

These were the most destructive policies ever to harm Britain since the Black Plague. These things have wrecked Europe and the global economy!ï»ż

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonas Moze

‘Black Plague’? You need to go and check your history books JM and be more careful with your wording.
As regards the rest of your contention – just have a sneaky look at what’s going on in China right now if you get a chance.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonas Moze

Look up the word ‘hyperbole’ sometime.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonas Moze

‘Black Plague’? You need to go and check your history books JM and be more careful with your wording.
As regards the rest of your contention – just have a sneaky look at what’s going on in China right now if you get a chance.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonas Moze

Look up the word ‘hyperbole’ sometime.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

Considering where we are now quite debatable whether Corbyn could have been any worse, and he’d have been pretty awful for sure.
As regards the vaccines – yes he does deserve some plaudits for this, but those close to it know the key person who made it happen was Kate Bingham brilliantly marshalling industrial pharma, the scientific community and Govt. She’s recently been v critical of how the Tories have now let this model drift away when it had shown what it could do. If Boris takes some credit for the initial vaccine he also needs to take responsibility for allowing the model to later fold.
He was though good on Ukraine, even if part of that was an attempt to save his own skin.

Jonas Moze
Jonas Moze
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

”He financed the development and production of three covid vaccines. In the spring of 2021 the UK was well ahead of EU countries in getting jabbed. This was noticed by the French and the Germans.
He put weapons into Ukrainian hands quickly.”

These were the most destructive policies ever to harm Britain since the Black Plague. These things have wrecked Europe and the global economy!ï»ż

Mr Bellisarius
Mr Bellisarius
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

After several years of attempts by London remainers to kick the can down road on Brexit, Boris Johnson won a landslide election on the promise of ‘Get Brexit Done – Deal or no Deal’.
He did achieve this, against all odds. And despite having an excellent alibi (Covid) for not achieving it.
I would suggest that it was this success that led to so many people being against him, in particular his ex-colleagues in the media.
Partygate was the biggest media stich-up in the history of UK politics. The campaign to get Johnson out and Sunak in was led by husband and wife team James Forsyth and Allegra Stratton.
They are both journalists. Allegra is the press secretary pretending to give a drunken speech that got the scandal going. James is the political editor of The Spectator, and probably the most influential conservative journalist in the Westminster bubble.
They are very close friends of Sunak, and Sunak has now appointed Forsyth as his political secretary.

Last edited 1 year ago by Mr Bellisarius
j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Bellisarius

Your chronology is a bit out. He did the TCA deal and left the EU before Covid.
The rest is the usual conspiratorial nonsense to avoid responsibility.
And also he didn’t get Brexit properly done. We haven’t implemented our bit of the TCA as we are too scared of what it would mean for supply chains, further disadvantaging our own companies. And as for NI – well between now and Easter we’ll be quietly eating some humble pie.

Mr Bellisarius
Mr Bellisarius
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

The TCA was agreed on the 24th December 2020 and signed on the 30th.
Up until July 2020 it would have been possible to extend the exit deadline.
The Covid crisis, which broke out in March 2020, was being used to create political chaos and attempts were made to exploit this for further can-kicking.

Mr Bellisarius
Mr Bellisarius
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

The TCA was agreed on the 24th December 2020 and signed on the 30th.
Up until July 2020 it would have been possible to extend the exit deadline.
The Covid crisis, which broke out in March 2020, was being used to create political chaos and attempts were made to exploit this for further can-kicking.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Bellisarius

Your chronology is a bit out. He did the TCA deal and left the EU before Covid.
The rest is the usual conspiratorial nonsense to avoid responsibility.
And also he didn’t get Brexit properly done. We haven’t implemented our bit of the TCA as we are too scared of what it would mean for supply chains, further disadvantaging our own companies. And as for NI – well between now and Easter we’ll be quietly eating some humble pie.

Michelle Johnston
Michelle Johnston
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

You zero in on the fractured relationship between politicians and the ordinary men and women of the country and I use the word ordinary deliberately.
They want a good education for their kids, access to health care, and functioning infrastructure. If they live in an area where there are high levels of crime they want that dealt with. Simple everyday issues.
Education has been batted between orthodoxies for years and teachers are now well fare consultants for amongst other things gender displacement. The demographic time bomb has exploded with a very large number of elderly comorbid as well as the voluntarily obese which slays the NHS and there is not a proper investment in infrastructure so access to work and opening up of wasted areas is not achieved.
Deal with those issues the basics and be honest about turnrounds and those who deliver will be applauded.
All over the west politicians have been found out for breaking the Covid restrictions and whilst it is a very emotional issue for those denied access to loved ones at the end of life it’s not what the majority really care about. The English make their own mind up about whether a rule is daft and let that be their compass.
If you have a democracy and pay taxes you want a result, not more of the same that’s what erodes trust.
The issue of the elderly co-morbid has been accelerating as a problem for some time and a new respiratory illness has shown the vulnerability of a policy that invests huge effort in keeping people alive way past their grace and dignity point. Many even now are still absent from normal life whilst others say quite rightly what’s the point? Would it not now be nice to have a conversation about it rather than just quietly or noisily (in the case of China) drop all the restrictions and think the problem has gone away?
I do not distrust politicians I just think they have little meaning in the context of what I want from them.
Thatcher made a difference, things changed (some may not like the changes) and she owned up to de-industrialization rather than anesthetizing the issue. All too often politicians opt for the latter borrowing the populaces money to do so.

Last edited 1 year ago by Michelle Johnston
j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I agree the term ‘populist’ is used a little too loosely and can mean different things to different people.
I see it as basically a term to describe a political approach seeking to appeal to ‘ordinary’ people who feel that their concerns have been overlooked by ‘elites’ for too long, but that crucially doesn’t entirely ‘level’ with these ‘ordinary’ people on the trade-offs required to give them what they’d like. Essentially it’s recently tended to come with quite a bit of ‘cakeism’ which then unravels and causes potentially even more disaffection. I think here Boris does earn the term ‘populist’.
One could also debate the definition of ‘ordinary’ and of ‘elite’ – both too easily chucked around undefined. Life is generally more complex, but we all hear every day politicians talk about ‘ordinary working people’ and think ‘he/she means us’. They more often mean well so I don’t see it as always malign, but it’s too simplistic of course when one gets into complex policy formulation.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

“but I can’t think of one single accomplishment of Boris Johnson”.

He managed to successfully sabotage BREXIT, if nothing else.

D Glover
D Glover
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

but I can’t think of one single accomplishment of Boris Johnson.

He got a Brexit that was deeply flawed, but Teresa had simply been humiliated by Brussels for three wasted years.
He financed the development and production of three covid vaccines. In the spring of 2021 the UK was well ahead of EU countries in getting jabbed. This was noticed by the French and the Germans.
He put weapons into Ukrainian hands quickly. We were sending NLAW anti-tank missiles when Germany could only offer 5000 helmets.
I neither like nor trust Boris, but he was a heck of a lot better than Corbyn.

Mr Bellisarius
Mr Bellisarius
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

After several years of attempts by London remainers to kick the can down road on Brexit, Boris Johnson won a landslide election on the promise of ‘Get Brexit Done – Deal or no Deal’.
He did achieve this, against all odds. And despite having an excellent alibi (Covid) for not achieving it.
I would suggest that it was this success that led to so many people being against him, in particular his ex-colleagues in the media.
Partygate was the biggest media stich-up in the history of UK politics. The campaign to get Johnson out and Sunak in was led by husband and wife team James Forsyth and Allegra Stratton.
They are both journalists. Allegra is the press secretary pretending to give a drunken speech that got the scandal going. James is the political editor of The Spectator, and probably the most influential conservative journalist in the Westminster bubble.
They are very close friends of Sunak, and Sunak has now appointed Forsyth as his political secretary.

Last edited 1 year ago by Mr Bellisarius
Michelle Johnston
Michelle Johnston
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

You zero in on the fractured relationship between politicians and the ordinary men and women of the country and I use the word ordinary deliberately.
They want a good education for their kids, access to health care, and functioning infrastructure. If they live in an area where there are high levels of crime they want that dealt with. Simple everyday issues.
Education has been batted between orthodoxies for years and teachers are now well fare consultants for amongst other things gender displacement. The demographic time bomb has exploded with a very large number of elderly comorbid as well as the voluntarily obese which slays the NHS and there is not a proper investment in infrastructure so access to work and opening up of wasted areas is not achieved.
Deal with those issues the basics and be honest about turnrounds and those who deliver will be applauded.
All over the west politicians have been found out for breaking the Covid restrictions and whilst it is a very emotional issue for those denied access to loved ones at the end of life it’s not what the majority really care about. The English make their own mind up about whether a rule is daft and let that be their compass.
If you have a democracy and pay taxes you want a result, not more of the same that’s what erodes trust.
The issue of the elderly co-morbid has been accelerating as a problem for some time and a new respiratory illness has shown the vulnerability of a policy that invests huge effort in keeping people alive way past their grace and dignity point. Many even now are still absent from normal life whilst others say quite rightly what’s the point? Would it not now be nice to have a conversation about it rather than just quietly or noisily (in the case of China) drop all the restrictions and think the problem has gone away?
I do not distrust politicians I just think they have little meaning in the context of what I want from them.
Thatcher made a difference, things changed (some may not like the changes) and she owned up to de-industrialization rather than anesthetizing the issue. All too often politicians opt for the latter borrowing the populaces money to do so.

Last edited 1 year ago by Michelle Johnston
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

I don’t understand. Is the author suggesting Boris Johnson was a populist? Maybe it’s a different Boris Johnson.

And what the hell is wrong with a populist? Not every populist is Donald Trump.

Maybe the lack of trust comes from political leaders failing to do anything meaningful to improve the lives of their constituents. Maybe people are sick of politicians pandering to special interests.

I’m from Canada so I’m not as well informed about British politics, but I can’t think of one single accomplishment of Boris Johnson. And does anyone expect Sunak to be any better?

Earn trust by implementing policies that benefit the people.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

“This role tends not to sit within the average politician’s wheelhouse — the remit being to campaign rather than explain.”
Yet again we have another commentator on here who has no historical perspective. Listen to or watch political interviews and discussions from the 1970s or before. Politicians did talk at length and explain to the public and were not interrupted constantly by “presenters” trying to big themselves up and push their own agenda and brand. The word “media” wasn’t used back then and the presenters were real journalists who didn’t try to get in the middle and ask silly “gotcha” questions.
There really was detailed discussion of political and economic matters and people talked about what they actually believed rather than what focus groups or spin doctors told them to talk about.
If the media treat the politicians with no respect, why would you expect the public too ?
Truly, some of these commentators are stuck in Dunning Krugerland – they haven’t yet acquired the experience to know how little they really know.

Last edited 1 year ago by Peter B
Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

“This role tends not to sit within the average politician’s wheelhouse — the remit being to campaign rather than explain.”
Yet again we have another commentator on here who has no historical perspective. Listen to or watch political interviews and discussions from the 1970s or before. Politicians did talk at length and explain to the public and were not interrupted constantly by “presenters” trying to big themselves up and push their own agenda and brand. The word “media” wasn’t used back then and the presenters were real journalists who didn’t try to get in the middle and ask silly “gotcha” questions.
There really was detailed discussion of political and economic matters and people talked about what they actually believed rather than what focus groups or spin doctors told them to talk about.
If the media treat the politicians with no respect, why would you expect the public too ?
Truly, some of these commentators are stuck in Dunning Krugerland – they haven’t yet acquired the experience to know how little they really know.

Last edited 1 year ago by Peter B
Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
1 year ago

I tuned in to Martin Lewis after a few chaps at work recommended him as the above article. I found him to be hectoring and left-wing – not what I had expected from the reports. Just go and listen to his radio show – constant demands for more pay for all workers (public sector or not) and no real plans for where the money is coming from. “Raise taxes” is not a plan, you need to specify which taxes and by how much. I thought as a self-proclaimed money man he would have had some idea of this but it was all emotion and preening. But he seems to be doing very nicely off it all doesn’t he – 123mil and still proclaimed as a man of the people.

The politicians are always coming up with new ideas for reclaiming trust and the answer always seems to be more politicians (mayors, first ministers etc.). I think the less votes we have the better – once every 5 years for GE, more regularly for locals. One of my friends said that (as a scot) he had voted once a year since about 2014 (independence, GE, Brexit, MSP elections, locals). Voting once a year makes a nonsense of representative government. I backed the Brexit vote but still disagree with referenda in general as it allows extremists to get their pet views over the line. With Scottish independence the nationalists only need to win once as Brits get dissillusioned for voting for “no change”. Better to have few, big votes that actually mean something. Independence should need more than 50% support in opinion polls for a few years before it is put to the vote (as in NI). We should have less politicians with more accountability/power. The devolution experiment (in England,the other home nations and in referenda) has to end.

The uncritical view that politicians are on the take is just plain wrong – UK is among the lest corrupt proper countries in the world (Hong Kong needs to count for us not to be in the top 10 least corrupt countries). Anyone who knows people abroad can confirm this view of British (and by extension Anglosphere) probity over the rest of the world (barring Scandinavia). France is 22nd just as one comparison, USA 27th.

Last edited 1 year ago by Milton Gibbon
Vici C
Vici C
1 year ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

I agree with you re Martin Lewis. Totally.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

The USA not part of the “Anglosphere”, then?
And if you “disagree with referenda”, why did you “back Brexit”?

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

No. They went their own way during the revolution. Good luck to them. Anglosphere countries are tied to Britain in different ways but about 200 years of separation and rejection of British values is enough to break those bonds.

If asked my opinion I will give it. Doesn’t mean that I don’t pity the question being asked in the first place.

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

No. They went their own way during the revolution. Good luck to them. Anglosphere countries are tied to Britain in different ways but about 200 years of separation and rejection of British values is enough to break those bonds.

If asked my opinion I will give it. Doesn’t mean that I don’t pity the question being asked in the first place.

Vici C
Vici C
1 year ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

I agree with you re Martin Lewis. Totally.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

The USA not part of the “Anglosphere”, then?
And if you “disagree with referenda”, why did you “back Brexit”?

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
1 year ago

I tuned in to Martin Lewis after a few chaps at work recommended him as the above article. I found him to be hectoring and left-wing – not what I had expected from the reports. Just go and listen to his radio show – constant demands for more pay for all workers (public sector or not) and no real plans for where the money is coming from. “Raise taxes” is not a plan, you need to specify which taxes and by how much. I thought as a self-proclaimed money man he would have had some idea of this but it was all emotion and preening. But he seems to be doing very nicely off it all doesn’t he – 123mil and still proclaimed as a man of the people.

The politicians are always coming up with new ideas for reclaiming trust and the answer always seems to be more politicians (mayors, first ministers etc.). I think the less votes we have the better – once every 5 years for GE, more regularly for locals. One of my friends said that (as a scot) he had voted once a year since about 2014 (independence, GE, Brexit, MSP elections, locals). Voting once a year makes a nonsense of representative government. I backed the Brexit vote but still disagree with referenda in general as it allows extremists to get their pet views over the line. With Scottish independence the nationalists only need to win once as Brits get dissillusioned for voting for “no change”. Better to have few, big votes that actually mean something. Independence should need more than 50% support in opinion polls for a few years before it is put to the vote (as in NI). We should have less politicians with more accountability/power. The devolution experiment (in England,the other home nations and in referenda) has to end.

The uncritical view that politicians are on the take is just plain wrong – UK is among the lest corrupt proper countries in the world (Hong Kong needs to count for us not to be in the top 10 least corrupt countries). Anyone who knows people abroad can confirm this view of British (and by extension Anglosphere) probity over the rest of the world (barring Scandinavia). France is 22nd just as one comparison, USA 27th.

Last edited 1 year ago by Milton Gibbon
jules Ritchie
jules Ritchie
1 year ago

Just where can I read articles n the MSM where ‘media has aimed to seek truth to power’? Every outlet and it’s journo’s went along uncritically with all the WuFlu regs, no questions asked, just mantra repeated. It is disgusting.

Jonas Moze
Jonas Moze
1 year ago
Reply to  jules Ritchie

Pravda in the USSR was the model all MSM is now based on. Orwell it seems wrote a future history book.ï»ż

Jonas Moze
Jonas Moze
1 year ago
Reply to  jules Ritchie

Pravda in the USSR was the model all MSM is now based on. Orwell it seems wrote a future history book.ï»ż

jules Ritchie
jules Ritchie
1 year ago

Just where can I read articles n the MSM where ‘media has aimed to seek truth to power’? Every outlet and it’s journo’s went along uncritically with all the WuFlu regs, no questions asked, just mantra repeated. It is disgusting.

Dog Eared
Dog Eared
1 year ago

Parking cynicism for a moment, surely Theresa May was considered trustworthy? Whilst virtuous, that didn’t make her a good PM however, and if anyone ever needed a dose of populism it was her. Since the author is apparently a Labour activist I’m not surprised there is no mention of Starmer – now there’s a person who is slippery as an eel, less trustworthy than even Boris Johnson and also less populist.

Dog Eared
Dog Eared
1 year ago

Parking cynicism for a moment, surely Theresa May was considered trustworthy? Whilst virtuous, that didn’t make her a good PM however, and if anyone ever needed a dose of populism it was her. Since the author is apparently a Labour activist I’m not surprised there is no mention of Starmer – now there’s a person who is slippery as an eel, less trustworthy than even Boris Johnson and also less populist.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
1 year ago

What utter rubbish this article is. When he praised localism and devolution as solutions I almost stopped reading; has he not noticed Drakeford and Sturgeon? Or the incredibly low esteem in which most (not all, by no means) local councillors are held?
It may well be that the current generation of politicians are of lower quality than we have previously had in this country, that would be well worth an analytical article if not a whole book, but we cannot avoid the fact that that we the public are destroying the standing of our leaders by endless and mostly mindless abuse on social media. We have the politicians not that we deserve, but which we have created.

Vici C
Vici C
1 year ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

I think if we had a higher quality of politician and councillor a degree of devolution could be desirable. It makes sense for local authorities to understand and cater for an area they are familiar with. The fault lies not with the concept of devolution, but the mental capacity of those in charge.

Vici C
Vici C
1 year ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

I think if we had a higher quality of politician and councillor a degree of devolution could be desirable. It makes sense for local authorities to understand and cater for an area they are familiar with. The fault lies not with the concept of devolution, but the mental capacity of those in charge.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
1 year ago

What utter rubbish this article is. When he praised localism and devolution as solutions I almost stopped reading; has he not noticed Drakeford and Sturgeon? Or the incredibly low esteem in which most (not all, by no means) local councillors are held?
It may well be that the current generation of politicians are of lower quality than we have previously had in this country, that would be well worth an analytical article if not a whole book, but we cannot avoid the fact that that we the public are destroying the standing of our leaders by endless and mostly mindless abuse on social media. We have the politicians not that we deserve, but which we have created.

Vici C
Vici C
1 year ago

Whether I trust politicians or not is neither here nor there. The western world is being run by WEF with covid having given them the opportunity to crank up the agenda. “Green” was still green pre covid. Now suddenly we have net zero, electric cars, heat pumps, new boilers. On top of which open borders, cancel culture, identity culture, OTT diversity and inclusivity, vaccine passports for the next pandemic and total digital banking on the horizon. None of this was in any politician’s manifesto, left or right and none of them can do anything about it because the power lies in the unaccountable world banks and billionaire techies. Voting is a meaningless anachronism.

Vici C
Vici C
1 year ago

Whether I trust politicians or not is neither here nor there. The western world is being run by WEF with covid having given them the opportunity to crank up the agenda. “Green” was still green pre covid. Now suddenly we have net zero, electric cars, heat pumps, new boilers. On top of which open borders, cancel culture, identity culture, OTT diversity and inclusivity, vaccine passports for the next pandemic and total digital banking on the horizon. None of this was in any politician’s manifesto, left or right and none of them can do anything about it because the power lies in the unaccountable world banks and billionaire techies. Voting is a meaningless anachronism.

Steve Summers
Steve Summers
1 year ago

Read your Hemmingway, not just comments about Hemmingway. The whole point about how Mike went bankrupt was that it happened once, in two ways; ‘Gradually, then suddenly’.

Jonas Moze
Jonas Moze
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Summers

haha, I saw that – kind of like all the article……sounds sort of like the truth, a bit, but looking closer you see it is All Wrong.ï»ż

Jonas Moze
Jonas Moze
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Summers

haha, I saw that – kind of like all the article……sounds sort of like the truth, a bit, but looking closer you see it is All Wrong.ï»ż

Steve Summers
Steve Summers
1 year ago

Read your Hemmingway, not just comments about Hemmingway. The whole point about how Mike went bankrupt was that it happened once, in two ways; ‘Gradually, then suddenly’.

Mike Fraser
Mike Fraser
1 year ago

The author completely misses the point.
No clear headed, leader, with expertise, foresight, fair but tough would contemplate such an underpaid thankless task of being a politician let alone Prime Minister.
Thus we are ruled mainly by inadequate people, who are torn to shreds by our Oxymoronic “Responsible Journalists”.
Nowadays it is made even worse by Social Media where the minorities speak loudest and the civil service is so anti government and such a bad employer.
Churchill was right. Democracy as we know it is the least worst form of government, I believe Lord Reith once remarked that the best form of Government was, and I quote; “dictatorship followed by assassination”
Many conversations need to be had, civilly, to find a clear, safe, way for the brightest of our potential leaders to become politicians.

Mike Fraser
Mike Fraser
1 year ago

The author completely misses the point.
No clear headed, leader, with expertise, foresight, fair but tough would contemplate such an underpaid thankless task of being a politician let alone Prime Minister.
Thus we are ruled mainly by inadequate people, who are torn to shreds by our Oxymoronic “Responsible Journalists”.
Nowadays it is made even worse by Social Media where the minorities speak loudest and the civil service is so anti government and such a bad employer.
Churchill was right. Democracy as we know it is the least worst form of government, I believe Lord Reith once remarked that the best form of Government was, and I quote; “dictatorship followed by assassination”
Many conversations need to be had, civilly, to find a clear, safe, way for the brightest of our potential leaders to become politicians.

Mr Bellisarius
Mr Bellisarius
1 year ago

Yet another article from a journalist who appears to be ignoring the the massive disparity between the Gray report and what the media made people believe.
People have zero trust in politicians because the media have become better liars and mis informers than the politicians themselves.
And now we are left with swarms of journalists trying to pin the blame on anybody except themselves.

Mr Bellisarius
Mr Bellisarius
1 year ago

Yet another article from a journalist who appears to be ignoring the the massive disparity between the Gray report and what the media made people believe.
People have zero trust in politicians because the media have become better liars and mis informers than the politicians themselves.
And now we are left with swarms of journalists trying to pin the blame on anybody except themselves.

Ruud van Man
Ruud van Man
1 year ago

The reason I don’t trust politicians is they don’t do what they say they will and they have hidden agendas. Simple as that really.

Jonas Moze
Jonas Moze
1 year ago
Reply to  Ruud van Man

Modern politicians are Foxes seeking to manage the hen-house – and succeeding.ï»ż

Jonas Moze
Jonas Moze
1 year ago
Reply to  Ruud van Man

Modern politicians are Foxes seeking to manage the hen-house – and succeeding.ï»ż

Ruud van Man
Ruud van Man
1 year ago

The reason I don’t trust politicians is they don’t do what they say they will and they have hidden agendas. Simple as that really.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago

 “As we enter a new year, the politicians most likely to earn back trust will be those who continue this break with populism,….”
What b*ll**ks. We are sick to the back teeth of politicians who, through gritted teeth, endorse policies that the public want in order to get elected only to do the exact opposite when in power.
Immigration, woke infiltration of universities an public services….

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago

“We”? Define “we” here. Do you perhaps mean “me and my friends”?

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

I was using it in the same sense as the author. In his world a populist is a politician is someone who includes in their manifesto policies/commitments that appeal to ordinary members of the public who vote them into office. He implies that somehow this approach is loosing favour with the public.
I was suggesting the public are sick of politicians who include popular commitments in their manifesto in order to, say, ward off the threat of nascent parties, perhaps UKIP, who are an electoral threat because of the appeal of their popular policies, without any real intention of delivering on those manifesto commitments.
So the problem is not offering the public what they want it is failing to deliver what they vote for.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago

“In his world a populist is a politician is someone (sic) who includes in their manifesto policies/commitments that appeal to ordinary members of the public who vote them into office.”
Where does the author use that definition of the term ‘populist’? Your definition is a description of a conventional democratic politician, not a ‘populist’. When has a politician in a normal western democracy NOT formed policies that “appeal to ordinary members of the public”?
What you’ve failed to do is answer my question- who, exactly, is “we”? You are pretending that all “ordinary people” think the same, which happens to be the same as you think. This is the ‘populist’ fallacy- that ‘ordinary’ people (i.e., The People) all think the same, an undifferentiated mass, and if you DON’T think this, then you’re not an ‘ordinary’ person- you aren’t one of The People. If the 48% of British voters who voted for Remain aren’t ‘normal people’, for example, what are they? Vamires?

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

‘vampires’, ha.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Slow down you are working too hard, even if you are 24 hours late with most of your remarks.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Slow down you are working too hard, even if you are 24 hours late with most of your remarks.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

VAMPIRES

.!

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago

WHAT…….?

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago

WHAT…….?

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

‘vampires’, ha.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

VAMPIRES

.!

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago

“In his world a populist is a politician is someone (sic) who includes in their manifesto policies/commitments that appeal to ordinary members of the public who vote them into office.”
Where does the author use that definition of the term ‘populist’? Your definition is a description of a conventional democratic politician, not a ‘populist’. When has a politician in a normal western democracy NOT formed policies that “appeal to ordinary members of the public”?
What you’ve failed to do is answer my question- who, exactly, is “we”? You are pretending that all “ordinary people” think the same, which happens to be the same as you think. This is the ‘populist’ fallacy- that ‘ordinary’ people (i.e., The People) all think the same, an undifferentiated mass, and if you DON’T think this, then you’re not an ‘ordinary’ person- you aren’t one of The People. If the 48% of British voters who voted for Remain aren’t ‘normal people’, for example, what are they? Vamires?

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

I was using it in the same sense as the author. In his world a populist is a politician is someone who includes in their manifesto policies/commitments that appeal to ordinary members of the public who vote them into office. He implies that somehow this approach is loosing favour with the public.
I was suggesting the public are sick of politicians who include popular commitments in their manifesto in order to, say, ward off the threat of nascent parties, perhaps UKIP, who are an electoral threat because of the appeal of their popular policies, without any real intention of delivering on those manifesto commitments.
So the problem is not offering the public what they want it is failing to deliver what they vote for.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago

“We”? Define “we” here. Do you perhaps mean “me and my friends”?

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago

 “As we enter a new year, the politicians most likely to earn back trust will be those who continue this break with populism,….”
What b*ll**ks. We are sick to the back teeth of politicians who, through gritted teeth, endorse policies that the public want in order to get elected only to do the exact opposite when in power.
Immigration, woke infiltration of universities an public services….

James Anthony Seyforth
James Anthony Seyforth
1 year ago

This article dances around the point and never finishes: we don’t trust the bastards in parliament because they don’t represent us, aren’t from the same stock as us, and won’t ever take our financial, social or national interests seriously over their own power play… That’s us: the majority of working, and middle class, British people who are not fully represented and not fought for at every decision and turn. The last 3 years of covid a case in point in destroying our basic freedoms and economy, all resting on false premises and authoritarianism.

James Anthony Seyforth
James Anthony Seyforth
1 year ago

This article dances around the point and never finishes: we don’t trust the bastards in parliament because they don’t represent us, aren’t from the same stock as us, and won’t ever take our financial, social or national interests seriously over their own power play… That’s us: the majority of working, and middle class, British people who are not fully represented and not fought for at every decision and turn. The last 3 years of covid a case in point in destroying our basic freedoms and economy, all resting on false premises and authoritarianism.

Will Will
Will Will
1 year ago

“Low trust is ultimately down to social changes that are broadly positive: lower deference, a more informed electorate, a media aiming to speak truth to power, a diverse electorate (politically and demographically), the rise of Judicial Review processes to challenge decisions, the expectation that businesses publish executive pay, and the fact that politicians are cross-examined more often (via public enquiries and select committee grillings, with footage of circulated on social media if they mess up).: not in my opinion it isn’t. Low trust is largely down to rubbish outcomes.

Will Will
Will Will
1 year ago

“Low trust is ultimately down to social changes that are broadly positive: lower deference, a more informed electorate, a media aiming to speak truth to power, a diverse electorate (politically and demographically), the rise of Judicial Review processes to challenge decisions, the expectation that businesses publish executive pay, and the fact that politicians are cross-examined more often (via public enquiries and select committee grillings, with footage of circulated on social media if they mess up).: not in my opinion it isn’t. Low trust is largely down to rubbish outcomes.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
1 year ago

Obviously not. Running a country requires political choices at every turn: it is not a technocratic exercise analagous to recommending car insurance.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
1 year ago

Obviously not. Running a country requires political choices at every turn: it is not a technocratic exercise analagous to recommending car insurance.

Bill O'Gorman
Bill O'Gorman
1 year ago

Someone remarked that the last person to enter Parliament with good intentions was Guy Fawkes. Whether or not Martin Lewis presents a solution to that problem is hard to determine as he has not yet been minutely scrutinised. Equally important he has not yet held a position where it would behove whoever are running things to, one way or another, ensure his total commitment to their cause. No-one may be certain just what that cause is, but it’s increasingly difficult to imagine that the good of this country figures very prominently. Such an uninterrupted succession of bad decisions does not occur accidentally.
Having voted for Boris Johnson, I was soon inclined to think that he had been presented to a restless public as the jovial, shambling, hail-fellow-well-met antidote to the country’s growing resentment towards his appalling predecessors. His self-belief is so high that he may well not have appreciated that “when you see a turtle on a fence post – someone put it there”, but a few days into the covid fiasco he was disabused of the fact that he was in charge. It would be interesting to know whether his mid-life crisis marriage was in any way choreographed to ensure that he took his eye off the ball sufficiently to shoot himself in both feet [sorry!].
Rishi Sunak is merely another placeman, installed, at the second attempt, by a coup against one who looked like going off piste in an attempt to salvage something from the wreckage of the last two years.
It increasingly seems that, whoever you vote, for the puppeteers remain the same.
Appropos nothing at all: interesting in the light of Twitter revelations about CIA and FBI to have someone from GCHQ as guest editor of this mornings BBC’s Today programme. You couldn’t make it up.

Bill O'Gorman
Bill O'Gorman
1 year ago

Someone remarked that the last person to enter Parliament with good intentions was Guy Fawkes. Whether or not Martin Lewis presents a solution to that problem is hard to determine as he has not yet been minutely scrutinised. Equally important he has not yet held a position where it would behove whoever are running things to, one way or another, ensure his total commitment to their cause. No-one may be certain just what that cause is, but it’s increasingly difficult to imagine that the good of this country figures very prominently. Such an uninterrupted succession of bad decisions does not occur accidentally.
Having voted for Boris Johnson, I was soon inclined to think that he had been presented to a restless public as the jovial, shambling, hail-fellow-well-met antidote to the country’s growing resentment towards his appalling predecessors. His self-belief is so high that he may well not have appreciated that “when you see a turtle on a fence post – someone put it there”, but a few days into the covid fiasco he was disabused of the fact that he was in charge. It would be interesting to know whether his mid-life crisis marriage was in any way choreographed to ensure that he took his eye off the ball sufficiently to shoot himself in both feet [sorry!].
Rishi Sunak is merely another placeman, installed, at the second attempt, by a coup against one who looked like going off piste in an attempt to salvage something from the wreckage of the last two years.
It increasingly seems that, whoever you vote, for the puppeteers remain the same.
Appropos nothing at all: interesting in the light of Twitter revelations about CIA and FBI to have someone from GCHQ as guest editor of this mornings BBC’s Today programme. You couldn’t make it up.

Al M
Al M
1 year ago

Thanks. I think the research from Tom Tyler is relevant here on legitimacy (normally referring to law enforcement practices). If you feel someone is legitimately in place you are more likely to cooperate, comply and empower them. And the route to legitimacy is through procedural justice
itself delivered by demonstrating your motivation is good and that you listened. This concept has been empirically demonstrated in numerous randomised control trials (a great one being Mazarolle’s QCET experiment or Langley and Ariel’s airport trial – have a look). All relevant to politicians.

Al M
Al M
1 year ago

Thanks. I think the research from Tom Tyler is relevant here on legitimacy (normally referring to law enforcement practices). If you feel someone is legitimately in place you are more likely to cooperate, comply and empower them. And the route to legitimacy is through procedural justice
itself delivered by demonstrating your motivation is good and that you listened. This concept has been empirically demonstrated in numerous randomised control trials (a great one being Mazarolle’s QCET experiment or Langley and Ariel’s airport trial – have a look). All relevant to politicians.

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
1 year ago

Who’s Martin Lewis?

Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
1 year ago
Reply to  Sue Sims

lol 🙂
He’s another fatuous journalist who makes money from giving facile advice to the less well off & is best known for being the target of multiple scams
I’d be happy if I’d never heard of him.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
1 year ago
Reply to  Sue Sims

lol 🙂
He’s another fatuous journalist who makes money from giving facile advice to the less well off & is best known for being the target of multiple scams
I’d be happy if I’d never heard of him.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Wise
Sue Sims
Sue Sims
1 year ago

Who’s Martin Lewis?

jules Ritchie
jules Ritchie
1 year ago

Should have said that I agree with his last sentence ‘They must level with those they serve, and seek an adult relationship.’ But they won’t will they? Pollies mainly serve shortish terms and then move on to hugely paid sinecures in private enterprise while also pulling in a terrific pension. But it’s us voters at fault as we make no demands on them to tell us the truth.

jules Ritchie
jules Ritchie
1 year ago

Should have said that I agree with his last sentence ‘They must level with those they serve, and seek an adult relationship.’ But they won’t will they? Pollies mainly serve shortish terms and then move on to hugely paid sinecures in private enterprise while also pulling in a terrific pension. But it’s us voters at fault as we make no demands on them to tell us the truth.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 year ago

It seems that this short essay has touched a nerve among some commentators. In my view it makes the correct observation that there is little trust in politicians. The simple fact is that the UK has suffered from a lack of quality leadership for many years, the public are wiser than the leaders give them credit for and it is now crunch time. If there are still leaders out there then they need to engage with the public and show that they are doing the best for Britain not for their party or personal ambitions. I didn’t read this essay as being right or left and I think that Britain is largely the same at this time. The choice is not between right or left but between the leadership we need and the leadership that politicians tell us we need.

Mr Bellisarius
Mr Bellisarius
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

The commentators have an issue with the premise on which his arguments are based.
Public opinion in politicians is at an all-time low because the media are getting so good at putting them down. I would argue that the media have now surpassed themselves and are a threat to democracy rather than an aide.
It’s worth reflecting on the fact that Johnson’s behavior whilst in office was probably one of the most politically correct and least scandal worthy of any PM. And yet this author has built on the media disinformation to further his arguments. That’s the sort of thing we expect on social media, not from responsible professional journalists.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Bellisarius

Nice spin on Mr Johnson’s performance as PM, it surprises me to realise that there are still people who think he was capable of performing any job in the government.
This dire situation is due to the poor quality and performance of politicians. These days you can obviously find any view that you want to believe in the media. We all need to tread carefully and select the information that we trust and this essay is an example.
I believe that the main point is that people do not trust politicians, whatever you blame that situation on, it remains a problem and hopefully a leader will emerge, eventually.