I am indebted to Slogger Clive for bringing this YouGov study to my attention. While I remain a supporter of liberal democracy, I would counsel that we are cursed by ill-informed and misinformed electorates. Asking them questions they’re incompetent to answer (and sometimes, this is 99% of us) is a recipe for the dictatorship of ignorance.
There are some interesting – and at times smirk-inducing- extrapolations to be made from the data represnted in the above chart. The Tony-Blair-to-Polly-Toynbee axis of bourgeois Bloomsbury bollocks seems to have been off target when it opined that “only uneducated people” voted to leave”. Not only are they more patriotic (as you’d expect) about defeating the Spanish Armada, Napoleon and Hitler, they think Magna Carta to be pretty important as well. Had the survey asked ‘Do you think the English hero Magna Carta died in vain?’, I suspect Remainers would’ve said “Yes”, and Leavers “Hahahah”.
But that’s not important in the greater internet of things; surely the question to ask here is, what would Remainers have done about the horribly perverted Church of Rome, the cruelty of the Spanish Inquisition, the excessive dictatorial nepotism of Napoleon, and the anti-Semitism of Hitler? My guess is that they would very likely have argued (respectively) that leaving Catholicism would lead to the eternal damnation of 100% of the English people, Napoleon defeated the forces of reaction and then designed some Parisian thoroughfares really jolly well, and Dolfi from Linz was realising his destiny of a Federally United Europe…..death camps and serial looting? Sorry, what was that you said again? Pah! Conspiracy theory, you scumfascist Little Englander Jewboy bigot.
Moving further down the list, I note with interest that 48% of Remainers think we have abolished slavery, but only 42% of Leavers are especially pleased about it. This is a mixed Party-Bag of fun…and the sign of assumptive survey design if ever there was one: if half of those happy to stay in the EUSSR think we’ve abolished slavery, then clearly they do have the massive cognition deficit the Leaver camp has always suspected. Graduates hired by professions at zero wages, ClubMed austerity to save the banks, the vindictive destruction of the Greek economy, the Cyrpus bailin, NHS nurses constantly in debt, Waspi women living on thin air to save face for incompetent Whiteminster fiscal management….this isn’t slave labour?
The NHS is, unsurprisingly, the only thing we created as Brits that over 70% of us can agree upon as a good thing. However, a small neoliberal élite is trying little by little to destroy it….but the Corbynista Left flatly refuses to join a People’s Front to get rid of extreme, uncompassionate Friedmanite Toryism. It is an odd thing, is it not, that a world-leading achievement like the NHS has become such a political football, yet 7 out of 10 citizens are more proud of it than any other aspect of being British. The Sun headline for this one, I think, is “the Tories pay lip-service to it, Labour exploits it, and real people are proud of it”. Says it all, really.
I think we’re right to treasure and defend it (my Tory parents in the Fifties were inordinately proud of it) but I do despair when well under 50% of Remainers think standing up to Hitler was the best thing we did. It’s just sheer, bloody-minded revisionist Newsthink to slag off Churchill – a man dogged by manic depression all his life, but without whom we would’ve become a Reich Colony after 1940. People of all political leanings admire Nye Bevan for powering through the NHS against geuinely reactionary doctors, but the Left just cannot forgive Churchill the 1920s strike-breaker. Without Winston, there would’ve been no NHS: just something called the Aryanische Volkskrank ….with all the spare organs provided by Jewish slave workers.
In truth, an awful lot of the key delineators in this bar graph reiterate what I’ve never stopped believing: that the key Brexit split in the UK is between soi-disant progessives and conservatives. This may not convert exactly into Party-voting, but it is hugely dependent on age, experience and ideology: disliking royalty, lionising suffragettes and legalising homosexuality all score very highly with Remainers because they are, at heart, peddlers of symbolism. Mistrust of genuine fascism and remote rule clearly drive a lot of Leavers, along with some born racists – of course – who just don’t like foreigners, and many others whose local environment has been sequestered by a culture they find repellent by people whose leaders are both aggressive, and unwilling to blend in.
But let’s not get too serious about it all, because as a former market researcher I’m the first to observe, “At the end of the day, it’s only research”. All good researchers feel like this because, when asking citizens questions, a sensitivity to respondent cognitive dissidence is the most important requirement. Or put more simply, people lie and contradict themselves in research.
What most online commentators have missed this week, for instance, is that YouGov also updated its British heroes survey:
Now ‘ere’s a funny fing, missus – fully 55 years after his death, 47% of Brits don’t just say they’re proud of WSC, they think he was the greatest UK leader of the Twentieth Century. The two YouGov survey questions operated on a different forced choice basis, but even so, what’s highlighted here is the strength of feeling of those who admire him. I would be willing to bet that the vast majority of them were Leavers. I would also be reasonably certain that the ‘none of these’ and ‘don’t know’ responders were younger…from which it is a fair asumption that most were Remainers….who have no idea who most of the ‘leaders’ are, and the ones they do recognise, they hate [because I’m in Momentum roit, an’ I’m well ‘ard me].
My point is the ignorance factor once again. I doubt very much indeed that more than one in a thousand Brits under 40 have the remotest idea how Winston Churchill fought off the appeasers and lily-livered defeatists during the darkest day after Dunkirk…and fewer than one in ten thousand could join up the dots as to why so many Cabinet papers of that time remain unreleased.
The ever-present nature of genuine citizen ignorance in forming a view is one of the fundamental precepts of sound social and consumer research. That is to say, there is no point whatsoever in asking a representative sample of Britons what they think about Black Holes, offstage Brussels perfidy, Boris Johnson criminality and the nature of Time, because they don’t know what they’re talking about.
Plato said that obeying the visceral bigotry of the Mob (Demos) at all times was the fast lane to dictatorship. See also The Power and the Glory, Milan Kundera’s writing, and a million other sources.
Or if you like, take a more general hypothetical view of governments acting upon the “findings” of research as a guide to policy-making. An imaginary government decides to ask 16 year old teenagers whether they should have the vote. The results are:
This isn’t democracy, this is asking less than fully socialised citizens whether they’d like to have more or less power over adults. It isn’t a guide to policy-making, it’s a licence to recruit as yet ill-formed licentious, irresponsible minds as your Party’s block vote.
Applying this principle to the rest of the leaders somewhat arbitrarily chosen by YouGov, one has to ask whether genuine cultural reformers should GAF about the following:
- Only 10% think JFK a great leader. (I would call him a 100% great example, but what the hell)
- Only 6% vote for Clem Attlee
- Only 8% believe Mikhail Gorbachov was significant
- As many as 5% think the posturing Che Guevara was “a major political figure”.
I am not arguing for a reduction in democracy, I am proposing a properly informed and discerning electorate who’ve been given an objective education – and the encouragement of them by teachers with a valid calling to think independently on cultural issues.
If such an electorate were to vote against my own views, I would accept that without question. That doesn’t make me a hero, it makes me a pluralist – nothing more, nothing less. Would that the contemporary Western Left felt the same way.