Fortune favors the bold is one of those expressions popular in political circles because it tends to confirm things people want to believe about themselves. The guy who wins wants to see himself as a swashbuckling risk taker. The guy that loses wants to see himself as an exception, a bold swashbuckler who was not rewarded by fortune. That way, he can try again another time.

The truth is politicians are risk adverse in the extreme. They hate risk and it is what often gets them into a jam. When one choice has a 90% chance of success, they will get hung up on the 10% and not act swiftly. Alternatively, they fixate on hugging the shore to the point where they are blind to looming danger. The Republican Party made this error with regards to Donald Trump.

There are two types of acceptable risk taking in politics. One is when the fix is in and the politician knows something before the public sees it. He comes out and takes a “bold stand” on X and has his media arm champion him as a great risk taker. When X happens, he is vindicated and promoted as a bold leader. Not everyone falls for this, of course, but enough people do. Bismarck was a master of this sort of risk taking.

The other type of risk is the reverse of this, when the pol figures out he is going to be on the losing end of something. With nothing to lose in the campaign, for example, he will champion some controversial policy so he can pretend to go down because of his bold fight against the forces of darkness. The whole point of this gambit it to set up the next fight. It’s putting your last chip on seven at the roulette table.

Smart politicians figure out that in uncertain times, even the safe bet is a gamble. In Europe, the turmoil created by the Million Muslim March makes all positions a risk. The public is unhappy, but not ready to break into a full nationalist mood. At the same time, the cultural elite is still drunk on the sangria of multiculturalism. There are no safe choices other than keeping a low profile and letting the greater fool theory play itself out.

That’s what makes David Cameron’s move to hold a referendum on the EU so bizarre. His own past election should have been a clue that he is living in very uncertain times. No one predicted he would win a majority and that the other main parties would implode. Unexpected results, even when welcome, should always be cautionary. If you don’t know why you won, you can’t know if you will win the next time.

The betting markets show volatility, which tracks with the polling. The “deal” Cameron negotiated with the EU has been laughed off as worthless so the vote is between the status quo and exit. That would seem to favor Cameron as people tend to like change in the abstract but hate it in practice. You could argue that Cameron is looking at the polling and figuring the fix is in so he can afford to look like a risk taker.

That brings us back to why this is happening in the first place. The nationalist waves roiling Britain forced Cameron and the Tories to promise this referendum in order to stave off the challenge of UKIP. The stunning result of the election was due to the public rallying to the two parties most identified with national identity. The Scots went for SNP and the English went for the Tories.

That dynamic should scare the hell out of Cameron. Every day his voters see pictures of migrants clustered on the other side of the channel, trying to get a ride to England. Rotterdam could very well be the Lindisfarne of the Muslim Age. There’s nothing more patriotic than defending your women and children from foreign barbarians. Voting for Brexit is the sort of thing people under threat will naturally do, no matter the promised cost.

The polling at the moment suggests most people are open to both sides of the debate. It’s tempting for a normal person to think this bodes well for Cameron, but the old lawyer line about never asking a question unless you already know the answer applies here. A wide open public, in a time of great uncertainty, where the conventional wisdom is routinely proved wrong is prone to vote on emotion, rather than logic. Donald Trump says hello.

One of the striking things about the ongoing crisis in the West is just how many unforced errors the political class is making on a regular basis. Merkel inviting the young men of Islam to pour into Europe is an obvious example of something that was easily avoided. All across the West the politicians seem to have lost their footing and this gambit by Cameron feels like another blunder, assuming Cameron wants Britain to remain in Europe.

It’s hard to know if this string of unforced errors is just randomness, ineptitude or an indication of a systemic failure. Republicans running on amnesty after 2012 can be written off to stupidity, given their history, but what about Merkel? She was making sensible noises about multiculturalism in 2010. Did she lose her marbles in the interim? Is there some disconnect in the normal feedback loop between politicians and the public?

This brings us back to a familiar theme around here. The feedback loop used to have the media trying to sell news to the public. Those market signals led them to pressure the political elite correspondingly. This was an indirect market signal to the polls. It may not have been perfect and the liberal media often scrambled the signal, but the pols could at least feel the heat of an angry electorate before they saw the flames.

Today, the press is just a megaphone for the political class. The feedback loop is broken. David Cameron is surrounded by people who read the Economist. Everyone they know in the media thinks Brexit is just a sop to the UKIP types. Consequently, he really has no idea what the people are thinking and that means he has no idea how to pitch his plan to them. Brexit could easily end up being yet another unforced error.

31 thoughts on “Brexit

  1. Pingback: Outside in - Involvements with reality » Blog Archive » Chaos Patch (#103)

  2. You’re talking as though Cameron had a real choice but to agree to a referendum.
    Also, you keep repeating that the Tories won because Scots voted for the SNP. That’s an understandable mistake to make. It is simply untrue. The Conservatives won a majority of seats. Even had the SNP not won a single seat and had Labour won all the seats the SNP did, the Conservatives would still have won the elections.
    You also suggest the Tories were seen as the most patriotic party when actually UKIP was.
    By the way, strangely enough, I gather that this whole EU thing isn’t primarily about taking in masses of Muslims from problematic countries, even though it ought to be primarily about that.

  3. “That’s what makes David Cameron’s move to hold a referendum on the EU so bizarre.”
    Good heavens, ZMan, you answered this question three paragraphs earlier.
    “One is when the fix is in and the politician knows something before the public sees it.”
    Cameron knows the fix is in. The probability that Britain “votes” for Brexit is so low it can’t be measured. Barring the political equivalent of a meteor strike, Britain will be remaining in the EU until it implodes.

  4. Brexit would be the best thing that could happen to the UK, for sooner or later the EU will fall apart.
    Best to get on with it, free themselves and be forced to find ways to become more independent, free, economically viable and more realistic about their present suicidal “open borders.”
    Hooking up with Europe was the worst thing they could have done.
    As for Scotland, the Englanders will do fine without them. Scotland is a leech, a parasite and is led by the usual litany of Marxist-Leninist moron politicians and make moon beam Governor Jerry Brown of California look like a John Bircher. Scotland will self destruct on its own but at least the Englanders will not have to pay for it.
    It really is a shame considering all the great intellectuals that Scotland FORMERLY produced.

    Finally, if the above occurs, it may wake up the morons who run the USA. After all, if the UK and then Scotland decide to take their own path, some US states may look upon that as a better way to go vs. hanging around our long gone , now dead, Constitutional Republic run by liberal progressive millionaire clueless elites.
    At a minimum, it may encourage a state sponsored Constitutional Convention that will (FINALLY !!) dismantle the New Deal / Great Society bureaucratic morass that is strangling the citizenry and destroying this nation.
    For starters, they can amend the Constitution to prohibit “executive orders,” and rule/law making by un-elected federal agencies.

  5. I shall be voting for Out. I made the naive mistake in the mid-‘seventies of voting for the Europe union, though then it was touted as a trade matter and Britain was — as Labour like to forget — going through some awful times in industrial relations with poor output and even lower quality of goods. One doesn’t have to look further than the communist/union controlled British Leyland car maker to see how bad things were: when not on strike, the workers made utterly awful cars. Actually, that probably made Brits want to buy more foreign cars, which worked as advertised.

    Of course we could not see then that a ‘trade agreement’ — originally the EU was simply the European Coal and Steel Community — was a front for growing lefty political power designed to make all Europe into one federal country with little, obedient ‘regions’ paying homage to the imagined great and not-so-good (and trust me, being sneered at my surrender-monkey French and told by officious, unelected Belgians that Britain is a little country takes some swallowing).

    Cameron did get back in in 2015, just, largely because 4 million plus votes for UKIP didn’t materialise into anything much, and having made his ludicrous promise of a referendum now finds himself backed into corner. He isn’t popular — I have heard it said that he would have been a Labour pol quite happily but decided on the Tories as they had Blair being groomed for office — and despite a win in the General Election can really thank SNP for stripping the Labour vote north of the border rather than his own appeal: the Scots would rather embrace muslim immigration than vote Tory. The offer of a referendum was possibly a mistake for Camoron’s career and now he is displaying all the signs of a cornered animal. His unwarranted outburst about wearing a tie in Prime Minister Questions this week aimed at the scruffy Corbyn was a huge own goal and shows the PM is losing it on all fronts.

    However much I am against the EU and will vote accordingly, I am sure that there are two reasons the UK will not be allowed to leave. First, the EU will simply insist on another referendum, as they did in Eire, and who knows how they will count the votes. Second, Westminster is a den of thieves and lazy thieves at that: in defiance of Churchillian spirit they would rather take the EU directives, rubber stamp them into British law and take it easy. It is hardly an onerous job these days. Plus, it has been said that there is no way UK lawyers want to rewrite 40 years of European-made law. Much easier to go along with it and pick up the pay at the end of the month.

    As for the muslim inpouring, Camoron once said that it was the duty of Britain to integrate with them than them with us, and now Merkel has opened the doors wide the one thing we can be sure of is that the Tory hierarchy will only see it through the tinted glass of their armoured limousines as they sweep through the troubled streets. The top Tories won’t be living next door to Ahmed and his many cousins, many of whom quite like the idea of fiddling with little white girls.

    No, as much as I hate to say it a ‘No to the EU’ vote will only bring more ‘integration’ and England will gradually cease to exist. I know the same goes for Wales and Scotland, but frankly they are yearning to be ruled by Brussels, having found out that even limited self-government is way tougher than they dreamed.

    Interesting times ahead, though it may be my grandchildren who get to see just how interesting, rather than my generation.

    • If I were a Brit voting on this, I’d vote for out. To my mind, that’s the safe course. You can always go back in at a later date. Making a trade deal with the EU would solve 90% of the issues that come from leaving the EU. The big win for England would be junking the millions of EU regs. Continental capitalism is not a good for England.

      • I wouldn’t necessarily agree with “dumping EU regs”. I think you need to be clear to which ones specifically you are referring. Much of the point to the EU (of which I am not a supporter) is that many regulations needed to be harmonized. For example, British, German, Swiss and other standards for manufacturing and industry have been a serious barrier for product entry into neighboring markets. If you have ever traveled through Europe without an electrical outlet adapter, you know what I am talking about.

        ASME, BS, ISO, DIN and others are a good start since it includes not just Europe but the US. From this perspective of harmonizing, this makes perfect sense. I would actually encourage more effort to harmonize with US, Canadian standards as well for CE Mark, UL, TUV and CSA since most of the industrialized world has been using either British or Deutsche standards.

        I fully agree, regulations that impede another country should be removed or revised to ensure they do not create favoritism or sole benefit to one country over another. It’s clear we don’t need a special office building in Brussels to accomplish this anymore than we need the majority of useless bureaucrats who do little at all even on those few occasions they do come to work.

        • Karl, thanks for your input. My problem is that while harmonisation is good and to be encouraged, Britain doesn’t need to have wholesale — and in this case, foreign — interference in the UK legal system to support the rights of murderers and rapists who have already demonstrably trodden all over the rights of people not to be murdered or raped, for example, to achieve that sensible agreement. The EU plan is essentially to take a large hammer to a small nail and then not only pound it into the woodwork but splinter the wood, too.

          If the EU wants to concentrate on trade and not supra-nation-creation, then they would find few opponents in Britain. But they cannot, and will not, restrict it to something as simple as that. The photo I saw of Camoron in what amounted to a clasped hands begging plea to two very seemingly disinterested EU ‘officials’ made my blood run cold. But Camoron like every other weak politician in the UK sees the EU as their personal fortune: just as the Welsh windbag Kinnock made a very good living in the EU following his disastrous attempt to win the 1992 election, people like Camoron can see that when things go belly-up in Westminster they can one day fashion a lucrative ‘career’ in the EU offices.

          But to go back to one of my main themes: the EU is being overrun by people who bring nothing to the party, and the EU opened the doors to that immivasion. So they can create problems but they can’t solve them, and that is why I think — regulation harmony or not — we should not be part of it. Germany, I concede, has no choice but to stay in it: without Berlin, the Europe unity ideal falls apart fast. It doesn’t need an island in the North Sea to help hold it together.

          • @UKer – I fully agree. Each country should be free to create, impose and modify its own laws from the federal level all the way down to the county level. Germany should not be making policies upon British citizens any more than Greece should be imposing their laws on the Dutch. If the UK decides to withdraw from the EU, then they should do whatever they feel is in their best interest.

            Americans tend to forget is it was easy to harmonize their federal and state legal systems as the distinction was originally defined in their constitution when the country was founded. We are not a group of united country-states despite what the EU is trying to force upon us. Agreements of trade and mutual protection do not imply that our respective citizens give up their national sovereignty in favor of some sort of financially based monetary system run by a bunch of bureaucrat in Brussels who only are there only to justify their own existence. All European country have unique and distinct legal systems based on their own respective histories, many of which pre-date the US.

    • ” despite a win in the General Election can really thank SNP for stripping the Labour vote north of the border rather than his own appeal: the Scots would rather embrace muslim immigration than vote Tory. ”

      The SNP helped the Tories over the finish line in 2015 in two ways.

      They helped directly by winning 56 of the 59 seats in Scotland. This didn’t hurt the Tories much, who held one Scottish seat going into the election and kept it. It devastated Labour, who lost something like 40 seats to that alone, and also the Lib Dems, who historically have performed better in Scotland than in England and would have at least gotten above 10 seats and over 10% of the vote without the SNP tide, it also cost them largest third party status.

      They helped indirectly, because at the end of the campaign Cameron framed the election as being about who best could stand up to the SNP and the Scots, as the blog posting noted. In the long run this will not do any favors towards keeping the UK intact, but politicians tend not to care much about the long run. In the short run it got a lot of soft Lib Dem supporters to vote Tory, and kept the UKIP vote down. As I pointed out earlier, even with the problems with Ed Miliband’s leadership style, Labour was successful in taking both votes and seats from the Tories in England. Cameron needed both the SNP and the referendum promise, so here we are.

  6. The Tories are their own worst enemy. They don’t understand when to back down. They made that mistake with the colonies in 1774. Didn’t understand people sometimes refuse to comply no matter what. Tories have this thing with people who refuse to be obedient, it is a sense of soft tyranny, where Tories know what is best for everyone.
    You see the same thing with America’s political class. How dare the peasants revolt!

  7. The promise of a referendum wasn’t an “own goal” by Cameron. Without it he would have lost or at least failed to get a majority in the last election.

    There is actually a pretty good historical parallel here. In 1974 Labour and its leader Harold Wilson promised a referendum giving the British the option of leaving the European Common Market, as the European Union was then called. At the time Labour was known for its opposition to the organization and the Tories were known to be in favor. Labour won 319 seats in Parliament, a majority of 2, on 39.2% of the popular vote, after governing with a minority with Liberal support in the previous parliament. The Scottish Nationalists had their best showing up to that time. They then held the referendum, most though not all of the Labour leadership campaigned to stay in, and the voters voted to stay in.

    In 2015, David Cameron promised a referendum giving the British the option of leaving the EU. The Tories won 330 seats, a majority of 8, on 36.9% of the popular vote, after governing with a minority with Liberal support in the previous parliament. The Scottish Nationalists had their best showing up to that time. They will now hold the referendum, with most though not all of the Tory leadership campaigning to stay in.

    Not only does Cameron have this precedent, but the Tory victory was pretty narrow, their popular vote percentage was actually the second lowest for a party winning a majority in UK electoral history (Blair in 2005 holds the record), and their actually was a swing to Labour, hidden by the SNP wave. They really couldn’t afford to lose more votes than they did to UKIP. They really needed the referendum promise, and electoral history really indicates that they would be fine because at worst they would have to actually hold the referendum but would probably win it.

    Obviously the big difference between forty years ago and now is that European institutions have either changed considerably, or shown their true colors, and the “no” campaign has stronger arguments to make. What would be interesting is if Corbyn comes out for a “no” result, which could happen since he and Labour were both opposed to the whole project originally. In the 1975 referendum, Thatcher supported the “yes” campaign.

  8. Perhaps Cameron recognizes that the push for the UK to exit will only grow over time, so, as a good agent for his multiculti masters, he needs to strike quickly. The “tell”, for me, is Cameron’s insistence that this quickie election will be the only vote ever to be held on the subject.

    • There will be only one vote on Brexit if the vote is to stay in. Otherwise the EU policy of repeating votes until they come out right will be invoked.

  9. My personal theory? The flood of information from the Internet is so overwhelming that most social entities are circling the wagons and are no longer listening to the “outside” or even the loyal gadflies within the organization. I see this in my own profession every day. In the same paragraph, smart people are arguing for empowering employees, provided only the big bosses make the decisions. Everyone misses the truth that the only real power in a bureaucratic organization is the power to make decisions. I could give you more, worse examples, but rather value my job.

    As you say, this will not end well.

    • It might end well, at least for Americans. Seems like the other big players (Russia, China, etc) are more likely to diminish themselves through bad decision making, than to prosper and grow. Both have and are polluting their lands massively, for example. Perhaps they will nuke each other. A massive plague could reduce the world’s population by 90% and calm things down nicely. Once the west stops subsidizing the 3rd world food wise — and it will — that alone will drop the world population by 20% or more.

      • I was making the argument c. 2003, that if we didn’t get this Salafist thing back in the box decisively, we were looking at somewhere between 10^8 and 10^9 deaths further on down the road. No traction.

  10. The US won’t let Britain leave the EU, the UK is the American insider and without them the Franco-German alliance becomes much stronger.

    American elites worst nightmare is a French-German-Russian alliance, the US State Department coup in Ukraine was made to prevent this.

    • Your pretend president is working hard to keep Britain in the EU and at the same time get Turkey in. So, a muslim nation with porous borders in Europe? I leave it to you Americans to decide why your top dog is so keen on both these outcomes.

      • Some of us Americans predicted such outcomes, based on resume/CV of the previously unknown candidate, as well as the resume/cv of his “champions”
        We’re know in certain media circles as racist, misogynist, homophobic,low information voters.
        SURELY there are some of the ilk of (ie) Piers Morgan that haven’t QUITE been shuffled out of the country,
        that can Vox splain (sic) it all.
        Failing that, our New York Times has an “economist” on staff that will be happy to explain why our presidents vast brilliance in political/economic theory is NOT to be questioned!
        (provided one can NOT count up to 19,000,000,000,000 on their fingers, with common core math, in bianary, with their shoes off and fly down

      • Don’t know why you pay any attention to the comments of Heretic. First off, Obama is not taken seriously by anybody with the intellect of a pebble. Second, you infer that Obama works hard. You could not be more wrong.
        Obama only works hard at golf, Motown and Rap concerts at the White House, Hawaii vacations and figuring out ways to eviscerate – politically, economically, militarily, every which way – the USA and give aid and comfort to the enemy (this is usually called treason).
        Further, by calling him a dog you are insulting the entire canine species.
        Shame on you.

        • Consider me shamed. But I still do not know why the man in the White House wants millions of Turkish (and other) muslims in the UK. Okay, I know he doesn’t like us, but even so…

          • See: Return the bust of Winston Churchill as one of his first acts as President. That simple move should explain it all. If not, Obama is a racist communist who despises the West. See his “parents”, grand parents, college associates, mentors, and fellow travelers for a more complete story. See: most of his actions as CIC to readily expose his traitorous actions. I particularly “like” his release of gitmo terrorists to rejoin the fight against the west and his swap of one traitor/deserter for five high value terrorists. I could go on but you already know, if not aware.WSHub

          • @ UKer – Some Americans still believe the US has a serious influence over Europe. I would argue those days are long gone. It’s actually the other way around and American influence in Europe is a thing of the past. And you will forgive me, but I just have to say it – anyone in America who still clings to the belief that the “Ruskies” are going to roll tanks through the Fulda Gap is stuck in 80’s just like those who use the worn out phrase “…we kicked your a$$ in WW2 and we can do it again.” Please. Just stop already.

            To begin with, the US is a major importer, not exporter and has been for decades. It’s a deindustrialized shell of it’s once former glory. Their debt has exceeded their GDP since the 1970’s so technically, they’re broke and have been for a generation. Even today, Debt to GDP in the US is
            102.98%. Here in Germany it’s 71.6% and in the UK 88%. Just look at what they did in San Francisco, they used Chinese steel to rebuild the Bay Bridge – why? Because China is the worlds largest steel producer. Bethlehem and US steel. are long gone.

            Here are some hard economic facts about Germany and the US. To start with, Siemens USA is the largest German employer with over 60,000 American employees.The second biggest German employer is Fresenius Medical Care, (the world’s largest dialysis services provider) who employs over 45,000 Americans. BMW invested $4.6 billion in its Spartanburg N.C plant in 2010 and has subsequently sold 14.4% more cars in the U.S. Here’s a sample of German companies that are in America hiring American workers: Daimler, Volkswagen, T-Mobile, BASF, Siemens, Bosch, Bayer, SAP, Lufthansa, and Puma. The list goes on and on of German companies that created jobs for Americans in America.

            Europeans (and the Japanese) realized that the old model of going to war with other countries to expand our empires didn’t work out so well. But if you can sell superior products like Rolls-Royce, Mercedes-Benz, and Toyota – that’s a different story.

          • I think America still has a lot of influence in Europe, but it is being squandered quickly. My view and the view of a lot Americans is the Europeans should run their own affairs so this is probably a good thing for both sides of the Atlantic. At some point, we need to remove the 40,000 troops from Germany. You guys can defend yourself from the French 😉

          • @ theZman – American soldiers and airmen are welcome here in Germany. We have long and happy history with US servicemen. It is our hope they and their wonderful families and children will take a little of Germany home with them and share what “real” Germans are all about. As for the French, well, they are their own worse enemy – n’est pas? 😉

          • Isn’t the symbol of France a bare-breasted woman leading the charge from the barricades? A woman, some scurrilous folk might say, who is all too ready to hoist her skirt up at the best offer.

          • I agree with Uker! But using bad terms isn’t good if you want to be respected. Just remember the golden rule bro. Thanks

    • I’m not convinced the US is in a position to allow/disallow much, with the current debt load weighing heavily on our “economic brilliance”. Not sure how much “moxie” the US can pull off using “We’ll refuse to pay our debts” business model either.
      If the UK, and EU are LUCKY, the Standard Operating Procedure may all change DRAMATICALLY next November, so GET BUSY! But BEWARE the swan song of the current bundle of “appointed experts”.

    • Ultimately, Obama is just another celebrity backing an outcome. Britain and America have such a strong bond that it’s ridiculous to think anything would really change following a Brexit.

Comments are closed.