Monday, 4 July 2016

All Shook Up

The silicon chip inside Bob Geldof’s head was twitching like a good’un the day the result came in. His role as homeless persons fashion icon was in jeopardy as he searched for another bandwagon to leap aboard. Phew, there it was. Okay, he’d have to share a stage with Owen Jokes and Billy Braggart but the March for Yerp was as good a vehicle as any to keep him in the limelight. He duly got up and ranted at a massed crowd of young people who all presumably asked “Who is he?” The ignorant being led by the arrogant; business as usual, reassuring hugs all round and a return to form for the perpetually offended.

Those who seek more reasoned arguments turn to the recent instability in the markets, but the FTSE 100 offers little solace for the doom-mongers, having bounced right back to where it started last week. The media, who are desperate to keep up the mood of panic and despair, are pointing instead to the FTSE 250 which better represents UK, as opposed to global stock trading. As the markets are driven by perception this interest automatically affects outcomes; stock values are little more than betting odds and the market is out for itself. The market makers are only concerned with their profits, not about the ability of companies to raise funds and pay their workers. Or were you not listening the last few decades?

Anyway, uncertainty is good. It is the opposite of staid predictability and mundanity. We should be getting excited about uncertainty because it brings opportunities a thousand years of planning could not predict. The old order will have to change (isn’t that what you wanted?) unless we allow it to quickly re-establish its own certainty; the certainty that might is right and the little guy will always lose. And the certainty of death, taxes and the electorate being ignored, time after time.

Yes, it is good to have job security and the expectation of a regular wage, but it also inspires fear of change. Look at how the welfare bill became such an issue in the last two elections, with all the ‘strivers and skivers’ rhetoric. There is a stigma attached to the dullness of unemployment, to the helplessness of reliance on the state. That’s something long overdue for a shake-up. The benefit burden has been sustained – they tell us – by importing lower-paid labour from afar. This is a pretence that is simply unsustainable; sooner or later the certainty of a life of redundancy, suckling on the state teat will have to end.

And the certainty of two-party politics in Britain is also being questioned as the options for both parties are a binary business-as-usual versus who knows what. And while the schadenfreude at watching a bunch of experts who turn out to know no more than the rest of us about the future is delicious, there is a nagging feeling that they want nothing more than to pretend that nothing has happened. If the next Prime Minister delays invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty in the hope that things may settle down they are only delaying the inevitable.

The new normal

It’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world and set to get more so. So confused is it right now that the mobs who would usually protest about big government are demanding to remain under the thumb of one. The crowds who bleat about democracy are rejecting the actual will of the demos. A re-run referendum has no more certain an outcome than putting your money on the dogs; except for the fact that there will always be winners and losers. Uncertainty -you can bet on it!

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