Tuesday, 20 December 2016
Throughout the EU referendum campaign we were bombarded with horror stories from an ensemble cast of the great and the good who told us, the little people, that we could not possibly know what we were voting for. Christine Lagarde was one among many whose ‘expert’ testimony foretold of the utter recklessness of voting to leave. As head of the IMF her particular warning was expected to carry a hefty weight. It was still ignored. Yesterday Lagarde received a mild rebuke and a slap on the wrist for unwisely using her expertise to commit an offence which would have landed others in jail. Interestingly, part of her defence appears to have been that she did not herself take expert advice... Oh, the humanity!
“She denied any wrongdoing and claimed she had not seen all documents suggesting the payout should not be made. Six others [are] being investigated for fraud.”
Michael Gove’s partial quote, “We’ve had enough of experts...” became the central jibe in many an attack on the legitimacy of Leave voters’ ambitions. How dare you reject the advice of experts? Who are you to gainsay the considered wisdom of such eminences? The sneers were relentless and the inference clear. And yet... few of the threatened hardships came to pass and the short-term bump in the road for Sterling and the Stock Exchange was based purely on the speculative actions of yet more experts, feathering their nests.
Maybe, in retrospect, expert wasn’t the right word; after all, one man’s sage is another man’s charlatan. And in any case, it wasn’t a reaction against just any kind of expertise, but against the type of expertise that can be bought bespoke. Perhaps the phrase ‘self-serving elite’ better encapsulates who the vote was rejecting. Use that phrase instead of ‘expert’ and suddenly a whole lot comes into sharp focus. The Kinnocks and the Mandelsons losing their tickets to the gravy train. The Cleggs and the Farrons, minor players in thrall to bigger beasts but nonetheless imagining themselves to one day aspire to an EU office. And all the big Bilderbergers the Ken Clarkes and cronies who simply crave the power and influence over those same little people.
In Bill Bryson’s excellent ‘One Summer America 1927’ he describes the taciturn nature of President Calvin Coolidge who was renowned for neither doing very much nor saying very much. He is said to have engaged in a ‘grim, determined, alert inactivity’ as he ‘presided over a booming economy and did nothing at all to get in the way of it.’ Given the constant mishandling of the tiller of the dinghy of state and the unrelenting changes inflicted on western societies, a period of Calvinomics is long overdue.
Change anything too completely and too quickly and stability is usually sacrificed. Was it the indigenous populations of the first world who demanded to be systematically invaded by primitive cultures? Or was it the experts – sorry, I mean self-interested elites – who oversaw this population replacement? The Berlin atrocity of last night was a dose of cultural enrichment too far yet still they will tell us little sheep it is nothing to do with islam, that we don’t understand, that we should work harder to better integrate.
What is so hard to understand about this, experts?
We no longer look to experts to provide solutions – we’ve already suffered too many of those. The problem of islam, the problems of the world, likely won’t be solved by global thinkers and strategic experts; they’ve done enough damage already. It might just be time for governments to back off and let the people handle this...