The Nation Speaks

Well, Theresa May has played a blinder, hasn’t she?

Unlike some, I didn’t think her calling the general election was a bad idea. I thought she needed a stronger mandate from the people to negotiate Brexit otherwise she would be undermined by Remainers pointing out that she never won a general election. However, a lot of people got the impression that is was more of a ploy to kick Labour while they were down and reset the clock for a five year term starting this summer rather than in 2015. Whatever her reasons for calling it, she must be seriously regretting it now.

A lot of people are blaming the young for voting for Corbyn having not understood his history or policies. Basically, they’re saying he has offered them free stuff and they have fallen for it, being too young to remember the effect such policies had on the country a couple of generations ago. There may be some truth in this, but I’m not happy with it as an overall explanation. I didn’t like disparaging all Trump voters as being thick, backward racists and I don’t think we should dismiss Corbyn’s supporters in the same way. We’d be better off trying to find out exactly why people might have voted for him rather than May.

I saw Andrew McNeill’s interview with Jeremy Corbyn and I thought he came across very well. Not in the sense that I believed a word he was saying or wasn’t openly expressing a political stance that I found appalling, but Blair did much the same and look how everyone loved him before he went off starting wars. No, he just came across well, somebody who seemed reasonable. He didn’t look like someone who nobody could possibly vote for, at any rate.

The young folk won’t remember the IRA’s bombing campaign and were probably utterly confused when Islamic terrorists attacked Manchester and London and the right thought the best political response was to show Corbyn with Irishmen in balaclavas in the 1980s. If anybody under the age of 25 had the slightest idea what the connection was I’d be surprised. What they would have understood is Theresa May looking and sounding like a wrinkly, annoying Head Girl telling them she’s going to restrict the internet. It might not have occurred to May, but the young folk quite like their internet and won’t like plans to restrict it in any way. “Clamping down on online spaces” sounds a lot like a nagging parent banning their kid from going on YouTube, and coming from a 60 year old vicar’s daughter the effect would only be magnified.

So it is not difficult to see why people, particularly the young, were turned off May and preferred Corbyn. There may be other reasons too, wholly economic. Before we pompously dismiss the young for voting for free stuff, let’s look at who owns the wealth in Britain. No, not the Jews and not “the corporations”. It’s those who own property. One thing every government since 1997 has had in common is that they saw ever-increasing house prices as a central policy in order to trick the middle classes into believing they are wealthy. Having ensured that property was the only meaningful investment in Britain, successive governments dared not do anything that could make house prices fall – such as raising interests, or relaxing planning laws. In fact, it is hard to think of any government policy that has been more firmly entrenched than ensuring house prices don’t fall: I think Britain would go to war before that happens.

This policy, coupled with immigration which has put ever-more pressure on property prices particularly in London, has benefited people approximately over 40 to the detriment of anyone younger. If you were of an age around about 2000 when you were just buying your first house, suddenly you saw your “investment” increase threefold and you could strut around the office boasting of your business acumen as if you were Warren Fucking Buffet. Anyone younger found the price of a crumbling shithole to be “worth” eight times their salary and the deposit equivalent to what their parents paid for their 4-bed detached house in a leafy suburb in 1986.

I wondered when the younger folk were going to notice that they have been utterly stitched up by the generations above them, and now it appears they have. People say the country is divided between Leavers and Remainers, but from what I can see there is also a divide between the propertied classes and the younger generations who have had the ladder kicked from under them. All the Labour supporters I saw slagging of Corbyn were from the property-owning classes, who would have fully approved of the New Labour economic policies which saw the value of their houses magically skyrocket. Most of the Tories, whether they liked May or not, own their own homes.

To anyone sitting in a £600k house they paid £200k for and a mortgage with a 1.2% interest rate, things like the EU and Trident probably seem very important. To somebody just graduated on a salary of £25k per year and looking at paying £650 a month in a shared house worth £600k owned by a very average middle manager who happened to be born twenty years earlier, these issues won’t be so important. This situation will only have been exacerbated by the dismissive attitudes towards Millenials, who are portrayed by the media and middle classes as spoiled brats who don’t know the meaning of hard work.

Let’s not kid ourselves into thinking it was the current crop of middle classes who jumped out of aeroplanes over Normandy and ran up her beaches. A 40 year old now would have been born in 1977 and hit adulthood as Tony Blair took office. If he or she was lucky enough to be gifted soaring equity in their property, it is hard to believe the current crop of teenagers is any more molly-coddled by the government than they.

I am saying this with the benefit of hindsight, but it appears the middle classes who wanted either a return to New Labour or a Tory government (assuming there is a difference) vastly underestimated how out of touch they are with the younger generation. Sure, Corbyn promised them a lot of free stuff but maybe they think they are entitled to something given the older generations have helped themselves to a large chunk of the country’s wealth using no efforts of their own, and have been rubbing it in everyone’s faces for years.

Whatever the reasons, May has taken a battering and needs to go. This has thrown Brexit into disarray as her primary reason for calling the election was to unify the country behind the negotiations. As I said earlier, I am ambivalent as to whether Britain leaves the EU or stays in it, but I think any negotiations need to be done from a position of strength and by a person who the whole country believes is up to the job. It is clear that very few people think this person is Theresa May, and we need to find a replacement ASAP. That will probably mean another general election this year, then.

Lucky Britain.

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37 thoughts on “The Nation Speaks

  1. You must explain to us one day why it is that racism and sexism are horrible crimes against humanity while ageism is perfectly OK.

  2. A good point about the property divide but nothing will be done about that. Corbyn’s looting will be of income, not wealth. The homeowners will still sit comfortably on their windfalls.

  3. “This situation will only have been exacerbated by the dismissive attitudes towards Millenials, who are portrayed by the media and middle classes as spoiled brats who don’t know the meaning of hard work.”

    Because they mostly don’t.

  4. Insofar as May projected anything it was “pretty much more of the same”. This was a message which worked so brilliantly for the Remain campaign and for Clinton.
    Add in a kicking for your own likely aged supporters to piss some of them off and here we are.

    It should be tattooed on politician’s foreheads that “more of the same” only works for the very few who are pretty satisfied with their lot in life and the state of the country in general. Look around outside your Westminster bubble – how many people do you see who are pretty satisfied?

  5. As ever, I like Tim’s analysis.

    But, by god, haven’t we a problem now?
    The best case is that the young get bored of Corbynism (and political engagement generally?), and we revert to the status quo – elections decided by the older folk, who have more invested (in all senses of the word) in matters.

    The worst case is that this is the start of a dalliance with hard-left politics that eventually leads to a win for Labour. And you can bet that the longer this dalliance goes on, the bigger the win will be when it arrives.

    Still, May will form the next government, and deliver Brexit of some form or another, and perhaps the world will come to see that even with the remarkable campaign of Corbyn, and massive youth turnout on the back of post referendum divisions, the left were still behind by every conceivable measure once the count had finished.

    The only real remedy, though (short of an Ecksian purge, which while tempting is probably a non-starter) will be to have a right of centre party who dares to be radical on housing (deregulation of planning, please), trade (no tariff’s, wprldwide reach), economic policy and using the resulting revenues to buoy up public spending. I don’t think that May wasn’t trying to achieve that, but she mishandled the messaging and the media to such a point that even I don’t know if that’s what she was offering.

    The only thing I am utterly convinced by is that we need to make economics a core curriculum subject. I saw only once in this campaign someone pointing out that the incidence of CT falls on pensioners, staff and customers and that high tax rates /= revenue maximisation. The person making those points was from the IFS, not a politician, by the way.

    Until people generally understand these observable, provable facts about what the economy is, does and how we know this,. we’re always going to risking someone coming along and promising the earth for free to voters.

  6. ” I am ambivalent as to whether Britain leaves the EU or stays in it”

    Good for you, but not all of us. I presume you have noticed that countries do not, under the EU glare, make their own laws much these days and then only if Germany tacitly agrees. You are right that the middle-class middle-aged these days weren’t the ones who charged into Normandy 73 years ago, but it is sobering to think that the people these troops were willing to fight now end up running the show. Maybe there is no victory in the end, just an extension of a war long assumed over.

    I presume too that this fiasco of May calling an eminently winnable election and then proceeding to lose it, in effect, could put paid to any sort of Brexit. For those who wanted to remain, they may well succeed in their desires. For my part, I did say at the beginning of the referendum process that we will never be allowed to leave. I thought, a year ago, that was possible but perhaps we are fated to be run by Merkel and co until the immivasion is complete. Then we have new lords and masters.

    I just didn’t think that the block on us leaving the EU (and May was never, ever any sort of leaver despite what she said when assuming office) was going to end this way. Oh well, so it goes. I am done with voting, however. I did say on twitter that this merely proves there are no wise people in politics, so my wisdom must be now to let them all get on with what they want. ‘Twas never much to do with the likes of me, anyway.

    I am nonetheless intrigued to see, should I live that long, how all this promised free stuff will pan out. It is widely understood that granting the keys to the treasury to people who want lots of free stuff, whether real or promised, tends not to end well. we shall see

  7. Incidentally, the “dementia tax” has sometimes been portrayed as some kind of sop to the young. However but I’m not sure how many of the younger voters (those who even gave it a thought) really wanted to see grandma’s house (AKA their potential inheritance) sold out from under her.
    There is a big difference between wanting to see a broad class of people punished and seeing a loved one who is a member of that broad class punished.

  8. Do you think the promise to get rid of / pay off student loans/ debt played much of a part in all of this?

  9. “One thing every government since 1997 has had in common is that they saw ever-increasing house prices as a central policy in order to trick the middle classes into believing they are wealthy.”

    It seems to go back a lot further than 1997. If I remember correctly, there is no sitting government that has ever won an election after a fall in property prices, since the early part of the 20th century (I think the date is 1912). To put that another way, that is before universal suffrage came in during 1928.

    “Having ensured that property was the only meaningful investment in Britain”
    I don’t believe that was the direct result of a policy decision in quite the way you think. I suspect that it’s primarily a market response to nationalisation, given the structures that were knocking around at the time. Nationalisation is a huge additional political risk to an investor, one that is nigh on impossible to insure against. Since the early Thatcher administration removed credit controls before fully embarking on privatisation, property was one of very few vehicles available to lenders that historically, did not have that risk.

    That said, from memory again, I’m afraid, the big kick in property prices post 1997 appears to have been the apparent defeat of inflation, and takes place after about 2000-2002, and there’s a few interesting things happening around that time as well.

  10. ““Clamping down on online spaces” sounds a lot like a nagging parent banning their kid from going on YouTube, and coming from a 60 year old vicar’s daughter”

    Absolutely bang on. This is one thing, that as far as I can see, Corbyn has not pronounced upon. Could be wrong, but I don’t think he’s even said much about “fake news”.

  11. The young dolts who voted for this can clear off abroad when it goes tits up. “Doing a Newman” we might call it.

    The codgers can’t.

  12. @DearieMe:

    This codger is due to go to Singapore in the next weeks. I may seek asylum whilst there

  13. A far smaller chance of the UK parliament voting for action on the ground in Syria now, maybe some daft young uns were attracted to this.

    Land price cycles perform outside the effect of political parties, David Ricardo defined this phenomena hundreds of years ago. And so it continues.

  14. ” I don’t think we should dismiss Corbyn’s supporters in the same way”..

    It is not a case of these young voters being thick, it is a case of them never having experienced Socialism as we did post-War in the UK up to 1979. People who have never experienced it or studied it believe it to be all about caring, sharing, loving, giving, compassion, schools, hospitals, little puppies and kittens, helping the poor, making the rich pay their ‘fair share’, and sticking it to the greedy share-holders, etc.

    The young also have no wealth and are on low incomes as they are starting out in life, so they have no real experience of seeing their money and wealth being taken to pay for all the free, fluffy stuff and equality they think is so lovely. The young have never paid for anything their entire lives, that has been done by parents and ‘society’, so money just comes out of the ether to pay for things as far as they are concerned and it is somebody else’s responsibility to provide it.

    This is why people tend to travel from Left to Right as they get older and see their income/wealth increasingly raided to pay for the free stuff that others demand.

    All May needed to have done is fought the campaign on the Brexit theme… ‘give us the mandate to ensure a good Brexit deal’.

    But she did not, she decided to out-Socialist the Labour Party and stuff the manifesto with Government interventionism, exactly what many wanted to escape by the UK leaving the EU.

    Why the Conservatives made her leader in the first place and why she is still there given Cameron doing the decent thing when he misjudged a ballot, is a head-scratcher.

  15. Excellent analysis Tim, but while I think that you’ve put your finger on one of Britain’s major fault lines, personally I don’t see that it had much of an impact here. It’s hardly a comprehensive survey, but amongst my young and sexy peers I didn’t see anybody mentioning Corbyn’s economic policies. Some people seem quite keen on his hippie peacenik gubbins, the rest just hated the Tories.

    I think when the smoke clears what we’ll find is that Theresa shat the bed, nothing more, nothing less.

  16. “the rest just hated the Tories”

    And that’s the nub: blind hatred, and without the sense to examine what they were hating.

    I can’t be the only person to have thought of Goldstein (oh ho! Where’s Shami?) and the two minutes hate when browsing twitter/Facebook etc over the course of the campaign

  17. Had Bernie Sanders not been shafted by the Democratic Party, he would probably have been elected president.

    Here in Ireland, our President (no real power) is a superannuated, socialist windbag who was regarded as a joke for most of his political life, but is now extraordinarily popular among the young.

    Any sign of Derek Hatton?

  18. Because they mostly don’t.

    That’s true, but some do. Only that’s not important either. What is important is that a good half of the middle classes who are sitting pretty in life don’t know the meaning of hard work either. It’s been 15-20 years since Tony Blair and Brown doubled the size of the public sector, employing millions of useless individuals in non-jobs on secure salaries and tidy pensions. Who do you think all these fucking diversity coordinators are? They’re not twenty-somethings, they’re 35+.

    So the young, many of whom are bone idle and don’t know how to work, look at the older generation and see half of them doing exactly the same thing and sitting pretty almost entirely thanks to government benevolence at the taxpayers’ expense. What lesson do we expect them to draw from this?

  19. It should be tattooed on politician’s foreheads that “more of the same” only works for the very few who are pretty satisfied with their lot in life and the state of the country in general. Look around outside your Westminster bubble – how many people do you see who are pretty satisfied?

    Exactly.

  20. Good for you, but not all of us. I presume you have noticed that countries do not, under the EU glare, make their own laws much these days and then only if Germany tacitly agrees.

    Yeah, my position is an odd one: I am a British resident of France with a job and property in France. I support Brexit in principle but I understand it may become a serious embuggerance to me personally. So I want Brexit to go ahead as smoothly as possible as per the wishes of the British people, but if it doesn’t – and the majority of Brits are okay with that – there are some considerable upsides to me personally.

    Otherwise, I agree with your comment.

  21. The young dolts who voted for this can clear off abroad when it goes tits up. “Doing a Newman” we might call it.

    Yeah, but why do you think I cleared off 14 years ago? One of the primary reasons was because I realised I couldn’t earn much money and I’d missed getting on the housing ladder by a 2-3 years. So there was at least one young person willing to up sticks in 2003 because of the situation, and in the meantime successive governments, fully supported by the middle classes, have done fuck all to address it. I can only assume it’s got worse since.

  22. The young also have no wealth and are on low incomes as they are starting out in life, so they have no real experience of seeing their money and wealth being taken to pay for all the free, fluffy stuff and equality they think is so lovely. The young have never paid for anything their entire lives, that has been done by parents and ‘society’, so money just comes out of the ether to pay for things as far as they are concerned and it is somebody else’s responsibility to provide it.

    But that applies to a whole load of the middle-aged now, too. How many civil servants, NHS administrators, council workers, LEA staff, etc. have been sitting pretty the past 15-20 years having got a job straight out of university just when Blair and Brown flooded the public sector with non-jobs? Your description could easily apply to a jobsworth in the public sector or BBC.

  23. Can someone help me understand the “dementia tax” that’s being excoriated as an oppression of older people? What I’ve read about it makes it sound like May is proposing something essentially the same as what we already have here in the USA.

    In the U.S., the costs of long-term or permanent nursing home care for an older person can be paid by Medicaid (NOT Medicare), but it is means-tested. IOW, a person who must live in a nursing home must pay for it out of pocket until his assets have been depleted to a certain level. Homeowners often end up selling their homes and using the proceeds to cover their nursing home expenses until they have very little left. This can be ameliorated by transferring assets to children or spending them down before the elder reaches the point that he needs nursing home care. (In many states the elder must make these transfers 3 or more years before requiring Medicaid in order to avoid penalties.)

    From a libertarian perspective, I’m struggling to see what the problem with that is. This is not to say that there might not be better alternative systems, but in lieu of something like the above, the extreme and open-ended expense of long-term nursing home care ends up being paid for by taxpayers.

    Until now, have UK elders had their long-term nursing care covered entirely by the state?

  24. May took Conservatives from a 20 point lead to neck and neck with a worse Labour leader than Foot. She also saw her approval rating plunge from >50% to negative during campaign.

    She & Nick Timothy rewrote the manifesto and forbade Boris, JRM and all others from campaigning – all about her when she is a cold, authoritarian dictator with no personality and nothing to like.

    She now has little credibility and in coalition with DUP whose manifesto is more Tory than her’s:
    https://order-order.com/2017/06/09/__trashed-14/

    Nigel called it last weekend:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYF8ocCRYZw

    Useless woman promoted way above her abilities.

    .
    As for the youth not knowing about IRA & 1970s socialism: BBC has a legal obligation to educate impartially

    A start: NI police stations
    1. Armagh Police Station
    2. Short Strand
    3. Short Strand police station
    4. Bushmills – village near Giants Causeway
    5. Bangor – small largely (secular) middle class seaside town with little terrorist activity

  25. “From a libertarian perspective, I’m struggling to see what the problem with that is. ”

    The simple fact that it is political dynamite and hits core Tory voters directly, oh, and was a policy that was completely unnecessary in the context of this election.

    I think many underestimate the number of young people against this as well, it see’s them losing the inheritance of that valuable parents house in London when they have little chance of buying themselves.

    It may well be libertarian, but it’s spectacular bad politics. Epic fail.

  26. There hasn’t been a single enemy of the UK, including real fascists in 1982, with whom Corbyn hasn’t sided. I would have thought that should be an obvious disqualification from office for all ages.

  27. Too early to tell. A 15% swing in 6 weeks didn’t happen because some students at crap universitites got out of bed.
    Also, we already had a “dementia tax”, it was just council care home fees.
    Probably the campaign was too presidential (vote for me, me, me 650 times) and that horrible jewellery she wears.
    Or something. The magic money tree has sprouted leaves but don’t expect it to bear fruit.

  28. “Probably the campaign was too presidential”

    Presidential works when there is a personality and ideas, not when your, at best, a soulless, dim, head teacher. Corbyn , for all his evil, at least had an idea to sell.

    May was nothing more than a political chameleon who got caught in daylight without the makeup on.

  29. Things shaping up real well for the final Punch & Judy Show in Mud Island.

    In one corner we have the anti-establishment, anti-war, holocaust denying, smeared by the MSM, pro-IRA, pro-UN, pro-Putin darling of the British voter.

    In the other corner we have the pro-establishment, anti-Putin, fool, doing deals with a pro-UDA, anti-gay marriage party, whilst under threat by all, including the newly emerging childless Scottish protestant, pro-gay marriage new darling of the Tory movement.

  30. “So the young, many of whom are bone idle and don’t know how to work, look at the older generation and see half of them doing exactly the same thing and sitting pretty almost entirely thanks to government benevolence at the taxpayers’ expense. What lesson do we expect them to draw from this?”

    The same one young urban black kids take from rap stars & drug dealers, I suspect…

    God, we’re doomed, aren’t we?

  31. To distill Bardon’s latest comment even further;

    “Would sir prefer his statism to be Communist or Corporatist flavoured?”

  32. Here’s another reason, from Nick Timothy’s resignation article on Conservative Home (H/T Guido):

    “In particular, I regret the decision not to include in the manifesto a ceiling as well as a floor in our proposal to help meet the increasing cost of social care. But I would like to make clear that the bizarre media reports about my own role in the policy’s inclusion are wrong: it had been the subject of many months of work within Whitehall, and it was not my personal pet project.”

    Not the policy itself*, but thinking all they have to do is discuss it in Whitehall and then just land it on the electorate. They’re so insulated and up their own backsides it didn’t even occur to them that such a controversial policy needed a discussion with us, the people who will be affected by it, before putting it in a manifesto.

    Its thinking like this that led to Brexit, Trump and a rise in the anti-establishment parties elsewhere.

  33. @Gene,

    At least until I left (about the same time as Tim), you’d be expected to pay at least some of your care home costs if you had assets over £16,000.

    In Germany, even though we have a compulsory state-administered care insurance (0.5% of income) they do the same, and when the money runs out they go after your children and attach up to 50% of their net earnings (of course it is rarely that drastic but theoretically possible).

  34. It may well be libertarian, but it’s spectacular bad politics.

    That adequately describes most libertarian policies.

  35. God, we’re doomed, aren’t we?

    I think that’s been obvious for a while. Note how much time was spent by both Labour and the Conservatives talking about seriously tackling the defecit and doing something about ludicrously unsustainable levels of public debt, i.e. none at all. Apparently immigration will grow the economy so much it won’t matter!

  36. A 15% swing in 6 weeks didn’t happen because some students at crap universitites got out of bed.

    It appears to be a lot of people deserted Labour for UKIP and then went back to Labour. Tim Worstall was fond of pointing out that UKIP would steal Labour votes, not Tory ones.

  37. Not the policy itself*, but thinking all they have to do is discuss it in Whitehall and then just land it on the electorate.

    Yup, that’s pretty much what the whole lot of them think. Oliver Kamm is on Twitter today moaning about how “there is no public pressure” for some DUP demand on abortion. Whereas of course, there is huge public pressure for sugar tax, smoking bans, vaping bans, plain packaging, immigration, and a million others!

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