Brexit dominates the economy.
Brexit is the overarching issue for most voters. But trust in political leaders is at an all-time low. The polls currently show that the Conservatives hold 43% of the vote (BBC poll of polls 12th December) and, when combined with the rump of the declining Brexit Party, it would seem that the leave campaign holds a total of 47% support. In light of this, tactical voting by leave supporters would seem to be a simple choice of voting Conservative to guarantee success.
In contrast, Remain supporters will have to search their hearts if a tactical vote is to be made. This will be constituency specific and many will find it difficult to switch from the Liberal Democrats to Labour or vice versa. The Green Party may be unfairly squeezed out in many constituencies. However, the combined Remain or second referendum votes for Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the SNP and the Green Party is at 52%. Therefore, if there is extensive tactical voting driven by Brexit then there is an outside chance that the Conservatives will fail to gain an overall majority. But the outcome will be very close. A poll in the last few days (National Centre for Social Research ‘What the UK Thinks’ 3 Dec 2019) shows that Brexit support is at 46%, Remain at 44% and 11% undecided.
The generational divide is alarming.
The election campaign has been marked by numerous accusations of lies and misleading statements. The resulting debates and fractious media interviews have appalled many voters. We suspect that our political leaders are putting up a façade to hide their true intentions and views. Sometimes the mask slips and young voters can spot an ‘oven-ready turkey’ when they see one. Setting aside Brexit and the environment, equality of opportunity and fairness will be very close to the front of the queue of concerns for younger people. Also setting aside Boris Johnson’s previous support for the EU, that bent with the wind of public opinion into supporting Brexit in 2016, it comes as very alarming to see footage emerge later last week of a speech he made in 2013.
It seems that the mask had slipped in this formal ‘3rd Margaret Thatcher Lecture’ at the Centre for Policy Studies in November 2013. Whilst it could be that he was merely playing to the audience, he also displayed a combination of ignorance and arrogance that is dangerous. In hearing him act as an advocate for the merits of greed and envy as drivers of the economy, we might be wise to beware such ‘false-witness’. Yet the audience lapped it up.
More worrying was his view on the intelligence of the population. He displayed a dangerous misunderstanding of IQ in his implication that the intelligent always rise to the top with “The harder you shake the pack, the easier it will be for some cornflakes to get to the top.” He assumed that the natural order is that the rich and advantaged are the most intelligent. Of course it is more likely that they simply set off in life with better resources and more support. It would be more interesting if Johnson and colleagues divulged their IQ scores. This assumption is based upon a naïve and simplistic view of the genetics that determines ability and the limitations of IQ testing. It also fails to appreciate that our genetic system is geared to generating maximum diversity through a random assortment of chromosomes and genes and, in turn, the vast number of genetic determinants of IQ in humans. This was discussed in more detail by TEFS with ‘Augar and the dark side of Robbins’ 7th June 2019. There is no easy ‘oven-ready’ answer but offering equality of opportunity to all would appear the most logical and intelligent approach to take.
Some of his speech is linked here courtesy of The Guardian www site.
Behind the current mask, Johnson has revealed a dangerous disdain for the electorate and support for an economy that serves to further entrench social class divisions. However, the many talented scientists, engineers, nurses and doctors from less well-off backgrounds, that are wrestling with incredibly complex ideas and technology, might beg to differ. The highly paid few in business and commerce might instead sit at the high end of the greed and ruthless bell-shaped curve and at the low end of the cooperation and compassion curve. We wonder which end of the bell Johnson inhabits. To illustrate this, Johnson himself concluded that,
To put his comments into context, here are some of his observations to illustrate the full horror of what he proposes.
A video of the complete speech is available on the Centre for Policy Studies www site and here is a link to the full text.
Johnson and all politicians might do well to heed the lesson of Proverbs 14:30
Mike Larkin, retired from Queen's University Belfast after 37 years teaching Microbiology, Biochemistry and Genetics.