British democracy in action. NB if you like this post, check some others from the table on the right.

What will Brexit mean, both short and long-term?

Post-Brexit Planning, The Establishment RIP

 “The Establishment Is Due For An Enormous Shake-Up”

Post-Brexit Planning, The Establishment RIP  By Alasdair Macleod, via GoldMoney & Zerohedge, 22 December 2019

Brexit will be done by the end of next month, when trade negotiations with the EU will begin. Importantly, Britain’s negotiating position has strengthened immeasurably, and the new government is not afraid to use it.

This Conservative government has a greater sense of political and economic direction than Britain has seen in a long time. Unbeknown to the public, not only will the establishment that obstructed Brexit be side-lined, but a slimmed-down post-Brexit cabinet through a network of special advisers lead by Dominic Cummings will revolutionise central government, reducing bureaucracy and refocusing resources on public service objectives instead of wasted on process.

But there is a dichotomy. While both the government and the new intake of MPs lean towards free markets, Cummings and Johnson will increase government intervention to secure their electoral advantage for the future, and to ensure a planned outcome in a world which in following decades will be dominated by new large Asian economies.

There are two wildcards which could trip the new government up. In the coming months there will almost certainly be a global credit and systemic crisis, which will have a profound impact on trade negotiations. And as far as we can tell, while this government is undoubtedly in favour of small government and free trade, there is no evidence it understands a cohesive theory of money and credit.

Post-mortem

Boris and the Conservatives won the General Election with a very good majority. In truth, opposition parties stood little chance of success against the Tory strategists, who controlled the narrative despite a hostile media. At the centre of their slick operation was Dominic Cummings, who masterminded the Brexit leave vote, winning the referendum against all the betting in 2016. It was Cummings who arranged for the Tory Remainers to fall on their swords, which by removing the whip reduced the Tory ranks, making them appear vulnerable enough for the opposition parties to tear up the requirement for a supermajority and vote for a general election.

It was straight out of Sun Tzu’s playbook: “All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.” The way the Remainers were removed was both brutal and public. On 3 September fifteen of them went for a meeting in Downing Street, obviously convinced, with Johnson only having a parliamentary majority of one, that they were in a very strong position to negotiate either for a second referendum or Brexit in name only. Dismissing them, Cummings was blunt to the point of rudeness: “I don’t know who any of you are”. And they left with nothing.

Observers at the time saw this as suicidal, but Cummings appears to have known what he was doing. The hapless rebels had no coherent plan other than to threaten, and their bluff was called. Better, it seems Cummings concluded, to purge the parliamentary party of serial rebels than to be beholden to them.

Much has been written in the last few days about how the election victory was won. About the focus groups, about listening to Labour voters. About the Get Brexit Done slogan. But Sun Tzu Cummings also encouraged Labour to hang themselves. The Tories kicked off addressing the number one concern of ordinary people, tackling crime. Then came the NHS – more nurses and hospitals. This was a carefully set trap, getting the Marxists in Labour to outbid the Tories on spending to patently ridiculous levels. Having set down that route, they added nationalising water, trains and broadband. Everyone then knew that Labour promises were not only a joke, but downright dangerous. The Conservative’s promises were just deliverable, particularly since they were prepared to sacrifice an earlier promise to cut corporation tax.

What now?

Obviously, Britain will leave the EU on or before 31 January next. All of 2020 subsequently is set to be taken up in trade negotiations with the EU, which will not be extended. The first post-Brexit negotiation of note will be over fisheries policies and the right of access to British waters for EU fishing vessels, due to be agreed by 1 July, to be implemented after the transition period.

The hope initially expressed by establishment figures in both Westminster and Brussels was that with a thumping majority the Conservatives will soften their Brexit demands, because it is no longer beholden to the ERG, an alliance of free marketeers in the Conservative parliamentary party. This being the case, it was argued, British demands for a return to total sovereignty over British fishing waters can be compromised in the context of wider negotiations. This is what always happens in Brussels, and the establishment on both sides assume the British will continue to play that game. But the Remainers have not been paying attention: the way in which the Conservative rebels were dealt with is the new negotiating philosophy.

Far from taking the opportunity of a large Conservative majority for the British to soften their stance in negotiations, all the indications (for those that bother to look rather than just assume) are that the British will take a firmer negotiating stance. If the EU tries to blackmail the UK over fisheries – France being an obvious instigator given her powerful fishing lobby, and Spain over Gibraltar which has nothing to do with fisheries – the British will be prepared to walk away from negotiations, because at that point, the Political Declaration will be breeched, not by the British, but by the EU.

In truth, the negotiating power has shifted firmly to Britain from the EU. Brussels will be dealing with a new anti-establishment administration, unsympathetic with the Brussels bureaucratic administration and determined to free the UK from as much of it as possible. The Brits are now focused, and Sun Tzu strategically clever with it.

Dominic Cummings possesses an exceptional intellect. His tutor in ancient history at Oxford, Robin Lane-Fox, reckoned him to be altogether in a different league to Boris Johnson. But Johnson is no slouch either and with backgrounds in the classics the two work well together. Other notable brains are Jacob Rees-Mogg, Sajid Javid, Michael Gove, Dominic Raab and Priti Patel. Collectively, the leading lights in the Johnson cabinet stand head and shoulders intellectually above any other cabinet seen for a long time.

The ERG, whose members are drawn from the pool of Conservative MPs which shares a free market approach over statist intervention, has enjoyed a substantial influx of members from the new parliamentary intake. A definite shift towards free market one nation conservatism has taken place. This is not what an arrogant establishment readily understands, nor wants. In the corridors of Westminster, establishment figures will now have an added concern: the threat to their bureaucratic power and even their jobs. They are used to a Downing Street whose time horizon is never more than a few days. It will now actively plan for the future.

The new political and economic philosophies

Leading members of the new cabinet are philosophically free traders, whose politics favour lower government intervention and lower taxes, fostering entrepreneurial ambition and encouraging wealth creation. A smaller government focused on outcomes will be a lesser burden on productive society and also provide the means of affording the best public services on a cost-effective basis. We have heard similar intentions before from incoming Conservatives, but this time there is a greater determination for it to be delivered, and with Cummings in charge of the Spads, it is perhaps more likely to succeed.

While we can only guess at his true understanding of the benefits of free markets over socialism, Boris has dropped a few clues that he has some knowledge of the economic issues involved. He quoted Bastiat’s broken window fallacy in an article for the Daily Telegraph on 15 September 2017, which only a genuine free trader who has discarded Keynesian intervention will understand. Equally encouraging was his remark at a private function in June 2018, when he said “F… business”, which was aimed at business lobbyists, otherwise known as crony capitalists seeking preference over everyone else.

These hopes are usually buried by the reality of government. But there is some hope that over the course of this parliament and next the UK will gradually free the economy from overbearing government intervention. While also being an advocate for the private sector, Cummings has a managerial approach. From his writings, we know he is a believer in the use of soft power to enhance a nation’s prospects. He quotes Thucydides, who described Athens as the school for Greece, with respect to his ambition that Britain should be the school for the world. In other words, Britain will need to foster and develop the highest levels of education, technological knowhow and entrepreneurial opportunity if it is to progress as a nation, relative to the powers of tomorrow such as China and India.

Having grabbed the reins of government, Cummings intends to finance his objectives by slashing bureaucracy and centralising political power in the hands of a few key players. Hence his intention that the cabinet be substantially reduced from the current thirty-three members.

What appears to be absent, if only because the subject has not yet arisen, is an understanding of money, the relationship between budgets, trade balances, savers, and the credit cycle. Generally, politicians delegate monetary matters to the central bank. This government will be no different. But the current governor of the Bank of England is due to retire at the end of January, a date that may be shifted because it now coincides with Brexit. We can be sure the necessary qualification will a candidate who is acceptable to the world of central banking; in other words, another inflationist.

Sajid Javid, Chancellor of the Exchequer, says he intends to borrow to finance infrastructure spending, while keeping a tight rein on current spending. Every incoming finance minister says something similar, betraying a Keynesian approach to the relationship between government and the wider economy. Besides ignoring Bastiat’s parable on broken windows, any increase in government borrowing not met by an increase in savers’ savings is inflationary. If Javid truly believes he can separate current from investment spending and therefore follow sound money policies, he fails to understand economics at its most basic level. Doubtless Cummings would sweep this concern to one side, on the basis that investment in infrastructure, particularly in northern constituencies, is necessary to convert regional voters fully from Labour to Conservative and secure office for the whole decade. And in time, it would be covered by funds released through more effective administration.

The establishment is due for an enormous shake-up

To understand in a little more detail what the Johnson administration plans to do, we need to take a step back. Over much of 2019, Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and a few others were actively planning to oust Mrs May and replace her with Boris. In its early stages, the plans had little support in the parliamentary party, though Boris was wildly popular with grass-roots Conservatives. But when Mrs May was forced to defer Brexit until after the EU elections in May, Nigel Farage swept the board in those elections with his Brexit Party, and it was clear that the Conservatives, without a firm Brexit commitment, would be wiped out in Westminster. Mrs May was forced to resign, Johnson’s campaign gathered momentum, and he became Prime Minister in July.

Three days before becoming Prime Minister, Johnson invited Dominic Cummings and his original Vote Leave team to work again with him to deliver Brexit. Cummings was appointed a Special Adviser (Spad) to the Prime Minister and is now the chief Spad, controlling all ministerial Spads across government. As a former senior civil servant put it, “Mr Cummings told all Whitehall’s Spads that he was now effectively their line manager, rather than their Secretaries of State.” It is no exaggeration to say that Cummings now exercises more control over the permanent civil service than any permanent secretary, as well as a high degree of control over elected politicians appointed as ministers.

With Johnson’s support, Cummings has plans for radically reforming the establishment. In a lecture given at the Institute for Public Policy Research in 2014, he said his wish list would include rule changes to enable ministers based in the House of Lords to be questioned in the House of Commons. He believed the Cabinet should be shrunk from some thirty ministers to six or seven. When he was Michael Gove’s Spad at Education, he wanted to push through reforms to ensure that less money was spent on process and more on objectives, but he lacked the power for wholesale reform. He ensured so far as he was able that spending was on improvements to the education system instead of ministerial flights of fancy, from which Gove, to his credit, was generally free. Cumming’s strategic success at Education is now planned to be extended throughout all ministerial departments, and the money saved should be considerable, enough to meet spending objectives and provide tax cuts in due course.

The problem with the civil service is that during the Blair years it became overly bureaucratic. Tony Blair’s government paid enormous sums to management consultants to advise and implement improvements. Unfortunately, payments to consultants became linked to the length of time they spent on contracts, time which was extended by introducing detailed and procedure-heavy checks and balances on every aspect of government spending. It extended to contracts given to the private sector, forcing enormous bureaucracy onto projects such as HS2 (the high-speed rail link from London to the North) which before any track has been laid is already due to run substantially over budget. A simple task which should cost in the low hundreds becomes thousands.

As Cummings put it in his speech to the Progressive Policy Think Tank in November 2014, employment policy in the civil service encourages failure. There is very little incentive to reduce regulation, and no incentive to save money because the Treasury is primarily interested in power over the system. Cummings says that civil servants are overpaid for what they are meant to do, are interested in process and empire building, and never take the blame for things that go wrong, which they do more often than not.

If Cummings gets his way (and he is the most powerful operator in the new administration) the civil service will see substantial change, leading to less bureaucratic waste and better decision making. The all-encompassing power of the Treasury will be broken. After Brexit, we can also expect a radically slimmed down cabinet, giving greater control at the centre of government, but at the same time power is likely to be devolved from the Westminster establishment to the regions. Electoral reform will follow, with a planned reduction in Westminster seats from 650 to 600, favouring the Conservatives, and the Fixed Term Parliament Act rescinded. Reform of the House of Lords, particularly given their Brexit blocking tactics, seems likely to be on the agenda as well.

The establishment has lost and will be heavily punished. The influence and cost of bureaucracy will be curtailed, and the costs released will be apportioned between final objectives (police, nurses, hospitals etc.) and cuts in taxation. The objective is to reverse the Pareto 80% spent on process and 20% on final objectives. If it can be achieved, the prospects for Britain relative to other nations in the EU, who are bound by their bureaucracy, will improve greatly.

Public investment policy

Despite senior ministers being free traders at heart, government plans for intervention will increase its role in the economy. The closest parallel is probably China, where its government gives private individuals and their businesses a framework of five-year plans within which to develop. Instead of five-year plans, the government works to an electoral cycle of five years with no certainty of continuation. The first priority will be to deliver infrastructure and regional government hubs to the North, with particular emphasis on newly converted constituencies to ensure future loyalty.

Transport, better broadband and mobile signals are on the agenda. State support for research will allow technology hubs to be devolved outside the London-Oxford-Cambridge triangle, beefing up the northern universities. Cummings is known to favour copying the US’s Advanced Projects Research Agency, designed to develop military technology, with a British equivalent pursuing a wider commercial objective.

Johnson is also a keen proponent of freeports, where goods can be moved in and out without paying customs duties. Alternatively, businesses working within a freeport designated area benefit from duty free imports and a cluster effect, through the attraction of other businesses. Freeports, which include airports, are a simple way to target local development.

A credit crisis is due during trade negotiations

While the Johnson/Cummings plans hold much promise, there is another exogenous factor likely to threaten them. The global credit cycle appears to be on the turn, and with it will come a systemic crisis.

There are signs, for example the repo crisis in New York and mounting problems in Eurozone banks, that the periodic credit crisis that always follows a period of credit expansion is imminent. If it breaks before 31 January, the government will undoubtedly face pressure to put Brexit on hold. The Bank of England in particular, and the civil servants in the Treasury will almost certainly try to persuade the government to extend the implementation period and even reverse Brexit, but with Johnson and Cummings in charge Brexit is unlikely to be delayed. However, Britain may still be faced with contractual obligations to the EU in the event of an EU banking crisis during the negotiating period following Brexit. There can be little doubt it would be an enormous mess, likely to undermine the course of planned government spending.

The blame-game will then commence. With Britain having established that you can after all leave Hotel California, the political adhesion that binds EU member states together will almost certainly become unglued by economic reality. A rational expectation would be that mounting problems would encourage a more realistic EU policy regarding Brexit and trade negotiations. But the relationship between the EU’s panjandrums and reality is barely tangential, so it would be sensible to expect talks to break down in these circumstances.

Therefore, in the event of a global or European credit and systemic crisis taking place a so-called no-deal Brexit becomes an increased possibility. It is unlikely to worry the new Conservative government, which is inclined towards free trade anyway. It’s just good politics to have someone else to blame.

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Britain’s parliamentary dictatorship, this zombie parliament is holding the nation to ransom

Britain’s parliamentary dictatorship  By Brendan O’Neill, Spiked Online, 26 October 2019

‘Super Saturday’, they called it. Which is ironic because the events in parliament on Saturday demonstrated just how pathetic and exhausted our parliament has become. Once again parliamentarians were presented with a Brexit deal, and once again they dithered and dodged and shirked their democratic duties. In backing the Letwin amendment, which says Boris’s Brexit deal cannot be approved until implementing legislation has been passed, MPs signalled their desire to continue frustrating Brexit, and to continue using parliament as a weapon against the people’s will.

This parliament is not simply out of touch with public sentiment – something we already knew from the fact that 70 per cent of MPs, and a staggering 95 per cent of Labour MPs, voted Remain, while 52 per cent of the electorate voted Leave. No, it feels increasingly illegitimate, too. It lacks all political and moral authority. It is a zombie parliament. It has no real democratic mandate to govern. ‘But we voted for these MPs just two years ago!’, Remainer apologists for the zombie parliament will cry. True, but 80 per cent of those MPs were elected on manifestos that promised to take the UK fully out of the EU. And vast numbers of them are now reneging on those manifestos. They are tearing apart their contract with voters and in the process obliterating their own right to govern.

We have a Remainer parliament defying the wishes of a Brexit electorate. Numerous parliamentary devices have been deployed to the end of frustrating the people’s will. From the speaker John Bercow’s cynical manipulation of parliamentary processes to sideline the enactment of Brexit and boost the cause of Remain, to the anti-democratic Benn Bill that has now come into force and legally cajoled Boris to ask the EU for another extension, parliamentarians are using their power and their mechanisms not to enact the will of people, but to fetter it and block it. This is why they get so angry if anyone says the key divide in Britain today is between parliament and the people – because they know it’s true. And somewhere deep in the recesses of their anaemic moral consciences, that truth still stings.

‘Super Saturday’ continued this foul process of using parliamentary devices to stymie progress on Brexit. This isn’t about whether you back Boris’s treaty or are sceptical of it (as spiked is). The important thing is that in triggering the Benn Act and forcing an unwilling PM to plead with the EU for a further extension, our Remainer parliament has once again put off the fulfilment of the people’s will. The wild cheering among the reactionary middle classes of the ‘People’s Vote’ lobby who were gathered outside parliament as the Letwin amendment was passed made it clear to the entire nation what was happening here. This was not about giving MPs more time to pore over Boris’s deal, as they ridiculously tried to convince us it was. No, it was yet another underhand Remainer assault on the people’s democratic desire to break from the EU.

MPs are now doing things in parliament that they explicitly told voters in the General Election of 2017 they would not do. The two main parties promised they would not prevent the enactment of the 2016 referendum result. Candidate after candidate in the General Election said they would not seek a second referendum. Millions upon millions of people voted for them on this basis. Now, numerous MPs are betraying – yes, betraying – those voters by doing the very things they said they wouldn’t. They’re blocking Brexit. They’re campaigning for a second referendum. Many MPs are no longer even in the parties they stood for in 2017. They’ve switched to parties whose political positions, especially on Brexit, are entirely contrary to the outlook of their voters. This parliament, in the words of the attorney-general Geoffrey Cox, is a disgrace.

 

And yet it stays. It cannot be moved. Why? Because, not content with frustrating the democratic will of 2016, these parliamentarians are also blocking a General Election today. The shamelessness is quite staggering. They plot ceaselessly against the people’s democratic wishes and then they cushion themselves from our judgement by continually blocking a General Election. The end result is something like a parliamentary dictatorship. We now live under a parliament that is acting against the democratic interests of the people and which is preventing us from protesting about this fact at the ballot box. Such is their determination to stop Brexit that they have turned parliament into an entirely anti-democratic institution, into a tool of the elites against the public.

And then they say they are defending parliamentary sovereignty. This is a lie, and they know it is. In truth they are doing grave harm to parliamentary sovereignty. Parliamentary sovereignty derives from the will of the people. Where else could it derive from? And yet this parliament explicitly agitates against the will of the people, to the end of continuing to sacrifice this country’s sovereignty and to outsource its law-making power to the foreign technocracy in Brussels. To sideline the British people and cling to the interfering technocracy of the EU is to trash the history and meaning of parliament, its sovereignty, and its relationship with the people.

In a sense, the events of the past few days – and of the past three years – have been valuable. They have made it clear that the greatest block to democracy in the UK is right here in the UK itself. It is our own out-of-touch and morally emaciated elites who represent the greatest threat to democratic life in this country. To use a radical old slogan: the enemy is at home.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

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Brexit, just like your right to know, is about our fundamental liberties

Brexit, just like your right to know, is about our fundamental liberties  By Janet Albrechtsen, The Australian, 23 October 2019

 Brexit is evidence that a values divide is harder to resolve than socio-economic debates.

A year ago, when British historian Robert Tombs was in Australia to speak about the unfolding story of Western civilisation, one that includes the ravaging of continents, the burning of heretics, the atomic bomb and the Reformation, the Enlightenment, democracy, human rights and capitalism, he asked me in that soft, polite English way, why on earth are Australians so damn interested in Brexit? No matter where he went, he noticed that people here had a curious fascination with a vote by 17.4 million Brits to leave the EU.

MORE: Boris loses crucial vote on deal timetable

My answer to the question was simple: our fascination then and now is with freedom.

When the most fundamental freedom in a democracy, the sovereign right to determine your own laws, comes up for grabs, which is what Brexit is, why wouldn’t Australians be interested? More than just a fascination, Brexit became a rare celebration because, these days, right across the West, a win for freedom is as rare as a conservative ABC host in Ultimo or Southbank.

Brexit matters because we are in the midst of writing our own chapter to the long story of Western civilisation. Sure, many of our politicians talk about liberal values — meaning our liberty — but seriously, which federal politician can lay claim to a serious win for liberal values in the past decade?

For example, in Australia right now, the media has united to fight for your right to know important things that the Morrison government doesn’t want you to know. We want to inform you about details of abuses in aged care, Australian Taxation Office bullies and a government plan to spy on its own people. Less than a decade ago, we were fighting Labor’s thinly veiled attempt to regulate media critics.

We will keep fighting for freedom of the press because we are not just in the media business, we are in the democracy business: our role, as a newspaper, is to educate the public because a free and democratic society depends on an educated people.

Just as others are watching this battle for greater press freedom in this country, we, as Australians, should be deeply invested in the future of other liberties across the West.

That is why Brexit matters here. Brexit tells a story of democracy in crisis, crumbling governance and a deepening chasm between different groups of people. More than three years after the British people voted to leave the EU, Westminster remains paralysed.

Demonstrators outside the Houses of Parliament.

Last weekend’s much-touted Super Saturday, when the House of Commons sat for the first time on the weekend since uniting over the Falklands War in 1982, fizzed into yet another shameful opportunity to deliberately thwart the 2016 referendum result. And yesterday Speaker John Bercow signalled he would refuse another vote because “it would be repetitive and disorderly to do so”. Is this man’s swan song an audition for one of JK Rowling’s Dementors?

Westminster’s repetitive snubbing of the people’s vote confirms why Brexit happened. A noisy, confident and dominant political class, people who are the daily practitioners of democracy, are increasingly removed from the values, interests and experiences of a large swath of grassroots constituents of democracy. British commentator and author David Goodhart calls this last group the hidden majority. Scott Morrison calls them the “quiet Australians”.

The divide, similar in both countries, is between what Goodhart calls a group of people called the “Anywheres” and another group called the “Somewheres”.

The Anywhere people are well-educated, mostly professional people whose sense of self comes from their own achievements. Theirs is mostly a portable individualistic identity, not rooted to place or people; this group of roughly 20-25 per cent of the population sees the world from anywhere.

By contrast, people whom Goodhart calls Somewheres have an identity ascribed by place and people, with matching values of familiarity, security and stability. Though there is a wide spectrum from achieved identity to ascribed identity, most in this latter group see the world from somewhere, and the places they live and work are changing fast in the face of globalisation, tech explosions and immigration.

Brexit happened because politics today means a cabinet table that is largely a homogenous group of Anywheres, no longer a broader range of people, with varied lived experiences and values to match, mostly university graduates claiming to know better what other people want.

This cosy environment makes groupthink and confirmation bias inevitable among Anywheres. This political order, as Goodhart says, has lost its purchase on the fundamental challenge today of bridging the values gap between Anywheres and Somewheres. Hence, Westminster’s risible refusal to come together to deliver Brexit.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson reacting during the debate on the Brexit withdrawal agreement bill in the House of Commons in London this morning.

Brexit transcends the tabled issue of EU membership. It is a warning shot across the bows that Western politics, and therefore democracy, is shifting on its axis.

During a recent podcast interview with former deputy prime minister John Anderson, Goodhart, the founder and former editor of the left-liberal Prospect magazine, explained the new divide. He said that while traditional socio-economic issues about state versus market, the level of public spending, how to divide the public pie and who pays for it, remain the bread and butter of politics, “they’ve been joined by, and even overshadowed … by … sociocultural issues, value issues, issues to do with security and identity, and borders and boundaries, who we are, issues of belonging, and meaning”.

Brexit is the democratic marker for values of national sovereignty and democratic rule rather than subservience to the commanding heights of transnationalism. It is the rightful, inevitable push back by people who do not have the resources to avoid the social challenges of high immigration, people who are sceptical of some social changes. Brexit is a democratic assertion of national borders over open-slather immigration, and a reminder that a base level of shared values is necessary for cohesion.

Goodhart pointed to family policies as just one of many examples of the rift between Anywheres and Somewheres. Most family policies are aimed at making it as easy as possible for both parents to spend as little time in the family as possible. “But most people want it made easier for one parent, usually but not always the mother, to spend time at home when children are very young and for the tax system to make it possible to do that,” he said.

Instead of respecting different choices, the shallow liberalism of Anywheres seeks to enforce a particular Anywhere world view.

This cultural divide presages a governance challenge that is set to become worse in modern democracies such as Australia.

Goodhart points to the massive explosion in university education — a place that pumps out Anywheres — while apprenticeships and vocational training have been neglected.

“You would expect a society with a much larger proportion of graduates to produce a society that is more intelligent, more tolerant and more liberal-minded,” Goodhart said.

“But over the last generation we have become less tolerant, and less generous, much quicker to judge … The expansion of higher education, far from making us a more tolerant society, seems to have made us a much harder society to govern.”

Brexit is evidence that a values divide is harder to resolve than socio-economic debates. While the centre-right has moved left on economics, the left will not budge an inch on its rigid cultural agenda. Hence, at the time of writing, Westminster has still failed to deliver Brexit to the hidden majority who voted to leave the EU.

Even if the House of Commons passes the withdrawal agreement this week, the long tedious road to Brexit remains a powerful reminder that, as Goodhart said, we need a new generation of politicians able to mend the divisions between the Somewheres vs Anywheres.

JANET ALBRECHTSEN

COLUMNIST

Janet Albrechtsen is an opinion columnist with The Australian. She has worked as a solicitor in commercial law, and attained a Doctorate of Juridical Studies from the University of Sydney. She has written for n… Read more

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About Peter Senior

I'm a very experienced and pragmatic management consultant. I've reviewed and led the restructuring of many organisations - large and small corporations and Government Departments, much of the time as President of the New Zealand Institute of Management Consultants. Before that I was General Manager of a major NZ newspaper; earlier, an analyst for IBM UK. I gained an honours degree in engineering at London University, and studied management at Cambridge University. This wide range of experience has left me frustrated: I continue to see too many examples of really bad management. Sometimes small easily fixed issues; sometimes fundamental faults; and sometimes really tricky problems. Mostly these issues can be fixed using a mixture of common sense, 'management 101' and applying lessons from years of management experience. Unfortunately, all too often, politics, bureaucracy and daft government regulations get in the way; internal factors such as poor culture and out-of-date strategies are often evident. So what's gone wrong, and why, and most importantly, how to fix 'it'? I hope there are like-minded people 'out there' who will share their thoughts enabling 'us' to improve some significant management failures that affect the general public. If you just accept bad management and do nothing about it, you don't have the right to complain! The really tricky part is, what can you do about it that is likely to be effective? If you'd like to share thoughts on any aspects of management, send me an email to petersenior42@gmail.com .
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