Tuesday, 15 August 2017

A price worth paying?

Many years ago, I remember one independentista telling me that he would be willing to eat grass if that were to be the cost of Wales becoming independent.  It’s rather a fundamentalist position, and not one that I share.  And it’s certainly not a case that I’d ever be willing to put before the people of Wales in an attempt to persuade them to support independence.  There is a price to independence of course – just as there is a price to not choosing independence.  And much as I might wish it were otherwise, neither of those prices can ever be fully known in advance; there is an element of faith on both sides.  Both sides can produce their own numbers ‘proving’ the truth of their prior beliefs, but neither can ever actually be certain that they are right.
That underlines the point that there is a more general truth underlying that grass-eating argument; most of us are willing, in principle, to pay a price of some sort for something which we believe to be of greater overall good than mere material wealth.  For example, I don’t doubt that democracy costs more than dictatorship, and can often be more decisive, but few of us would actually choose to live in a dictatorship purely for a small reduction in taxes.  In principle, that idea that some freedoms are worth having even if they come at a price is an entirely reasonable and honourable political position to take.  The extent to which others can be persuaded to support it will depend on how much they value those freedoms and how large the price is, and both of those factors are legitimate issues of political debate.
I detect an increasing tendency amongst those who led us down the Brexit path to adopt a similar position, arguing in effect that freedom from what they portray as ‘interference’ from ‘Brussels’ is of value in its own right, even if it involves taking an economic hit in the process.  It’s certainly more honest than their previous position of arguing that we were all going to be better off, despite all the evidence to the contrary.  The problem is, though, that it’s being honest after the event.  It also omits spelling out that those taking that hit will not be themselves, but the rest of us.  Honesty now is not enough to make up for previous dishonesty, and the ‘people have spoken’ mantra is a wholly inadequate defence.


huw meredydd said...

... or how about the value of what we are paying?

Unfortunately, the level of discussion in the political realm is so low that hardly anything beyond the headline registers with most people in whose name the politicians act. The Westminster Duopoly needs a poorly educated electorate to retain its hegemony - can't have too many people asking 'what if?'.

People should, now, be able to clearly see, though, the mess that austerity and privatisation has and is creating as something that we can walk away from. For the first time the awareness of the havoc that the Westminster system can wreak should identify its antithesis, an alternative system, where the powers that are not devolved are very strictly limited, and we take ALL relevant decisions here (including all EU matters). This is taking devolution to the next level.

This, however needs community and political confidence, and the main party of government is conflicted in its attitude - it needs a poorly informed electorate for power at Westminster, and it needs a confident and well informed electorate to make Wales a country fit to live in.

That is what 'independence' means (if you're looking for a contemporary definition). It is concerned with the readiness to act not with constitutional powers. If Westminster says 'no' then we say 'hold my beer'.

We need a much better civic education, an awareness of who we are and why we are; how things work and who is responsible for what - all areas that are thoroughly excluded in modern civic Wales.

The Red Flag said...

Evidence is only evidence if it is true. The Remain 'evidence' is based on seriously flawed economic projections based purely on assumptions.

It is a FACT that of the last 50 economic projections from the top ten leading financial institutions/banks only two have proved correct. Have a little think about that next time you quote from an economic forecast - it is almost certainly wrong, you know it s almost certainly wrong therefore you will be deliberately peddling stuff you know to be wrong.

As a minor example, the current decline of the pound on the international markets is being caused - according to Deutsche Bank, by international fears that Corbyn could end up as PM. Others blame BREXIT, yet others blame fears that BREXIT will be weakened or even stopped. And others blame us stopping QE before the ECB did and that th BoE's QE kept sterling artificially high just as ECBs continued QE is currently keeping the euro artificially high. Statistical probability is that ALL of those positions are almost certainly wrong.

John Dixon said...

Red Flag,

"Have a little think about that next time you quote from an economic forecast - it is almost certainly wrong, you know it's almost certainly wrong" Actually, I agree with that, and commented on the 'reliability' of economic forecasts quite recently. And, whilst I haven't checked the precise numbers in your comment that "It is a FACT that of the last 50 economic projections from the top ten leading financial institutions/banks only two have proved correct.", I have no reason to doubt the basic point. Economic forecasting, as someone once said, was invented to give astrology a good name.

But I don't think that I've actually quoted from any economic forecasts in this piece. Perhaps my use of the word 'evidence' was a little sloppy and imprecise, but it was intended less as a reference to any particular economic forecast and more as a reference to the increasingly prevalent view - amongst remainers and leavers alike - as the full implications become more obvious, that departure from the single market and customs union are likely to involve a hit to the UK economy.