Thursday, 17 November 2016
In this post-truth, post-Clinton, Brexit-bound world the favourite bleat from those who imagine themselves disenfranchised (code for ‘we lost and it’s just not fair’) is that everything is divisive. As if prior to their politically correct ‘rights’ being challenged and shown not to be the majority stance everything was uniform and lovely and we all agreed that the only way was their way. I wonder if they ever took stock, as they nibbled their quinoa and tweaked their chakras and slapped each other on their worthy backs, of how easily assailable their social justice fortress was. Or did they imagine that the dirty clamouring peasants beyond the walls would just go away?
It’s odd though, don’t you think, that the champions of diversity and multiculturalism somehow expect all this differentness to result in an even set of sanitised, uniform, inoffensive views. To allow certain communities to go almost unchallenged as they set themselves apart is, in their view, peace and harmony, but to point out their separation from the rest of us is hateful and divisive. If hypocrisy had a sound it might well be an infant with a chocolate-smeared face repeatedly denying he had anything to do with the disappearance of tomorrow’s advent calendar treat.
You want to know what’s divisive? How about: You’re old, you don’t understand; you’re white, you must be excluded from the discussion; You’re a racist, sexist, disablist, misogynistic, white supremacist, cis-gender pig. I think those accusations tend to establish a bit of a gulf. Diane Abbott saying that white men like to play divide and rule; that’s pretty divisive. The Brexit debate is divisive? Of course it is; it’s divided between those who voted to leave and those who voted to stay; between those who embrace the potential opportunities it brings and those who would try and put the genie back in the bottle
Continually saying that such-and-such is divisive, as Owen Jones does, isn’t helpful. In fact as a statement of the bleeding obvious it is pointless and instead of allowing people to move on and explore common ground it gives permission to dig in your heels and refuse to budge. The same thing is happening over the pond; the exact-same snowflakes and vested interests who want to maintain an interventionist state that protects them from sometimes harsh reality versus those who want the state to butt out and let them rebuild industry to create wealth by making and selling things that people actually want to pay for.
But division can be good; for instance it can tell us things. Let’s divide the UK’s 2016 public spending of £761.9 billion by the supposed 65,260,038 population (as of yesterday). This tells us that the state costs £11,675 per head of population. When we divide that cost by the number of those in work – around 30.1 million - we get an annual cost of £25,312 per head. And when we factor in that 44% of those in work pay no income tax at all that rises to around £45,000 for those who do. Where is it all coming from?
I don’t know how much a diversity consultant gets paid although I do have an idea of how much one is worth. And I’m just guessing but I think I’d be on fairly solid ground if I suggested that those out on the streets, screaming and shouting about how unfair everything is, are more likely to come from the no-tax end of the work spectrum than the other. Rather than repeating that this is divisive, it might be more helpful to examine whether you are on the side that is helping or the side that is making it worse. Next time you get really exercised about fairness and division, do the maths.