Realist, not conformist analysis of the latest financial, business and political news

Maybe That Democracy Ain’t A Bad Thing

Thanks for all the fish, obviously

From our Swindon Correspondent:

From the Telegraph

European Commission president accused of carrying out Brexit vendetta in damaging move to impose border checks
One of the things that struck me in the 2019 election was knocking on doors and meeting people who liked Boris. Not getting into the technocratic detail of what he was going to do, but they just liked him. And people can complain about all the shagging, but that’s within the range of acceptable sins. It might even endear him to people.
I think that likeability/normality might be a useful heuristic to people for someone who isn’t going to go mad. Sure, there might be a few downsides with them, but are they going to unnecessarily unleash the gunboats on France? All the data about UK and US leaders says no. We might disagree with their actions, we might be exasperated at their mistakes, but have any of them gone this mad?
The problem with Ursula von der Leyen, or anyone in that job is that the people didn’t choose them. It’s many steps from the people. The people choose a national government, which chooses someone to go on the European Council, who then selects some candidates that are then put to the EU parliament to decide on. It’s so many steps from the voters that you lose their collective wisdom.
I think many people have theoretically observed this about the EU, the cost of it not being democratically run, but for everyone in the UK and the EU, theory has become reality. An undemocratic organisation can bring about the sort of behaviours that you get from dictators. Do the people of the Republic of Ireland want to block exports of vaccines to Northern Ireland? Do they think this is even sane? How many are going to have their heads turned globally?
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Spike
Spike
3 months ago

Yes, likability/normality is a big factor in democratic politics (though as you point out, the EP is not democratic). Trump scored with his earnest message that the US gov’t should take the side of the US worker, rather than abstractions like free trade. I like free trade and don’t like tariffs, but I knew that was how he built his coalition. Biden came off (through careful media handling) as likable and normal. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders can tout gunpoint solutions but they have wide appeal because they sound so darned sincere.

Bloke on M4
Bloke on M4
3 months ago
Reply to  Spike

The other side of Trump is how generally disliked Hilary Clinton is. There’s that succubus/vampire side to her.

Spike
Spike
3 months ago
Reply to  Bloke on M4

We are lucky that Her Nibs did her own PR, while Biden hides behind handlers at the networks. He is as thin-skinned as Trump, but where Trump trolls on Twitter when he has been attacked, Biden imagines fistfights when asked a hard question. And Harris is provably unlikable and unpersuasive. This suggests that (1) the truth might come out and (2) the networks might someday stop their kid-glove coverage.

Boganboy
Boganboy
3 months ago

Hadn’t thought of it in those terms.

When I think of what I’d do if I had to deal with some of the problems that come up, you do have a good case. I’ve often thought how lucky people are that I don’t run things.

Ian Baxter
Ian Baxter
3 months ago
Reply to  Boganboy

I in turn have often thought that the ills of the world are because the world does not think like me! Sad but true.

Spike
Spike
3 months ago
Reply to  Boganboy

Ah, “If I ran the country.” The last four years have shown that insiders – seeking anything from an economic racket to the power to compel strangers to play along with a game of pretend – would highlight my character faults, goad the entire nation into hating me, mire me in irrelevancies, if necessary murder people with a manufactured National Crisis, and ruin me and family and allies, at least through lawyer’s fees, during and after my term in office. No thanks.

Esteban
Esteban
3 months ago

The beauty of this arrangement for the Wise & Wonderful is that people of the EU can’t actually do anything about what the W&W are up to. The only votes they get to participate in are several layers below them. And most (not all mind you) of the harm they do is diffused enough that the plebes can’t easily ID it.

John Galt
3 months ago
Reply to  Esteban

A bit like the 2-tier Prussian parliamentary system where the elite got 17 times the voting power of the plebs and empowered Bismarck and eventually Kaiser Wilhelm (funny how it’s always the Germans isn’t it?). Thats the sort of democratic deficit that pays dividends when real social and economic problems arise. As with COVID-19, none of these buggers have yet missed a pay cheque.

jgh
jgh
3 months ago

The EU system of layered democracy is exactly the same as that model modern democracy China.

John B
John B
3 months ago

The trouble with the EEC/EU and Continental Govts, post-war they were run by those who previously ran things pre-war and during the War… that is decades entrenched Fascists, Socialists and National Socialists. They did not all evaporate in 1945, but carried on in-post, as ‘former’ Communists did in East Europe after the fall of the USSR. The European institutions are now in the hands of the children and grandchildren, of Fascists, National Socialists and Socialists, these supposed opposing ideologies just close variations of same common roots: elevation of the State over the individual; central economic planning and control. In all… Read more »

Michael van der Riet
Michael van der Riet
3 months ago

Biden has already unleashed the gunboats. This will be a turbulent presidency.

john77
john77
3 months ago

One of the bits that I remember because they are, well, memorable, is the survey which asked whether people would prefer to go for a drink with GW Bush or Kerry? Overwhelming GW, despite his being a teetotaller! Being a nice guy does help in some situations, but what matters more in politics is being someone the other person can trust. [Trump only *seems* like a counter-example – I never trusted him as far as I could throw Hillary but I didn’t trust her as far as I could throw Trump]. Boris can laugh at himself which makes people more… Read more »

Spike
Spike
3 months ago
Reply to  john77

Over time, I have come to accept the collective wisdom that GW Bush was a complete moron, rather than the alternative reality offered by his supporters, that he was actually engaging, one-on-one, once the klieg lights were off. But John Kerry? A total effete phony?

In fact, I would prefer to have a beer with anyone in the Productive Sector who did not choose to wake up every morning weighing: Who do people want me to be today? I would have nothing to say to the lot of them.

Charles
Charles
3 months ago

The people didn’t choose Boris either – apart from those in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, and even they had little choice – it was a matter of either accepting the official Conservative candiate or voting for a different party. Very many people didn’t even vote for the current government – only 43.6% did in fact.

Bloke on M4
Bloke on M4
3 months ago
Reply to  Charles

I recommend you do some door knocking at an election and see how many people mention Justin Tomlinson, Michael Ellis, or whoever your MP is. There’s a few people who have an opinion on the candidates, but not many.

Some MPs fall foul of this. They think they won those 30,000 plus votes, and not the fact that they’re in a tory voting area that will vote for a hamster wearing a blue rosette. They soon find to their peril if they try and stand as an independent and find most of their voters leave them.

john77
john77
3 months ago
Reply to  Charles

Charles, have you ever looked at the numbers who voted for a Labour government? The reported numbers for 1945, 1950 and 1951 *look* better but the %ages are overstated because a lot of Northern Ireland votes for the Conservative & Unionists were not counted because MPs were elected unopposed. Tony Blair’s best result was 43.2% which gave him a landslide 419 seats.

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