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Lord Deben on how (not) to influence and work for a better world

I think that this is a very revealing Tweet about last night’s House of Commons EU vote, from Lord Deben, formerly John Selwyn Gummer, and not in a good way:

So we leave all decisions to others and remove our major opportunity to influence and to work for a better world. We decide we are indeed just a nation of shopkeepers whose customers and suppliers decide and we obey. That instead of being the driver of the EU. What a come-down!

Lord Deben thinks that “we” were “the driver of the EU”, to which I would say that this “we” was only … a very few of us, and that also other EUropeans did quite a bit of driving. And, Lord Deben thinks that the best way to “influence and work for a better world” is to do politics, and EU politics at that.

Does Lord Deben think that Britain leaving the EU is not going to have any “influence” upon the world? I put it to him, as my trial lawyer ancestors would say, that this will have a big influence, provided only that it does happen. Just not the sort of influence that Lord Deben will like. It’s a lot to hope for, but I really do hope that Lord Deben is, approximately speaking, right about the sort of nation that Britain will become. Although, I can’t remember ever having “obeyed” a shopkeeper, unless they were the kind that collaborate with people like Lord Deben to restrict me in what I can buy.

When I think of the good that has been done for the world by inventors and entrepreneurs, and yes, shopkeepers, I think that Lord Deben’s is a very restricted view of the world and its possibilities.

18 comments to Lord Deben on how (not) to influence and work for a better world

  • Graeme

    Deben’s idea of a better world is an intriguing idea to explore. I suspect his blueprint would be most people’s nightmare

  • Snorri Godhi

    I can’t remember ever having “obeyed” a shopkeeper

    But Lord Deben did not say that the British obey shopkeepers: he said that the British ARE “shopkeepers whose customers and suppliers decide and we obey.”

    Now, shopkeepers should indeed let customers decide; but by the same logic, suppliers should let shopkeepers decide. 1 out of 2 ain’t that bad, i suppose.

  • bobby b

    “So we leave all decisions to others and remove our major opportunity to influence and to work for a better world. We decide we are indeed just a nation of shopkeepers whose customers and suppliers decide and we obey. That instead of being the driver of the EU. What a come-down!”

    Sounds just like our USA progressives decrying the power of the deplorables in place of the elite globalists who are properly our masters. He’s not talking to you. You’re not his “we.”

    Scroom. He’s the enemy.

  • SkippyTony

    What are the odds on the Government now avoiding the hard brexit deadline? If it’s relying on the EU to agree to anything beyond what’s on the table, why would they give any ground? What downside is there for them?

    From the cheap seats on the other side of the world (Nz) it’s hard to make sense of the real risks / consequences of a hard exit. Does it come down to the Republic of Ireland stays in the eu, and therefore there is the risk that people / goods flock to ROI and then step across the road into Northern Ireland and then presumably can go to anywhere in Britain. Is that the fundamental issue?

  • Time for another Cummings quote from that lengthy article of his:

    The Foreign Office romantic delusion of ‘influence’ was peddled by every PM since Thatcher. Every one left office having demonstrated how empty the hope is. True influence comes from demonstrating success – not sitting in meetings for forty years in an institution that is programmed on principles that guarantee worse error-correction than the evolved institutions of the Anglo-American system.

    It is only fair to note that the error-correcting abilities of Anglo institutions are not strongly in evidence just at this present moment. Let us hope they will be in the longer view.

    Meanwhile Gummer’s absurd notion that we are abandoning our ability to influence requires demonstrating that we ever did. The remainers lost the Brexit campaign in no small part because the UK’s influence over the EU was so near zero that Cameron could not get them to give him anything at all. We are the second largest net contributor to the EU budget after Germany, and our balance of trade with them is to their benefit, but as May’s negotiation has again shown, that gives us no influence with them at all.

  • Mr Ed

    I prefer to own my home rather than simply have influence on who stays in a shared larger house, what the fridge contains, what music to play, what plants are in the garden and what car I can drive, and who gets their paws into my wallet.

    Mutatis mutandis, I’d scale that up to national politics as well. Not perfect, but a better starting point.

  • bobby b

    “It is only fair to note that the error-correcting abilities of Anglo institutions are not strongly in evidence just at this present moment.”

    Brexit? Trump? Two big error-corrections, no? Isn’t the power of democratic vote over noble rule an Anglo institution?

  • Edward Spalton

    In 1972 John Selwyn Gummer attended our grain trade conference in Buxton and told a great untruth. He said that the Commonwealth countries, now grown up and independent, could not wait to see the back of us. So we must look to Europe for our future.

    Our firm bought large quantities of New Zealand milk powder and we knew that the Kiwis were not really keen on losing their best customers but they had to keep quiet about that because they were entirely dependent on HMG to negotiate a quota with the EEC to enable them to hold on to a fraction of the trade they once had in Britain, their main market. So I marked down Gummer as a liar then and decided the EEC must be an evil project, if it needed lies so early on.Roy Jenkins and others were telling the same fib.

    Gummer also said that, once inside the EEC, our exports would boom. That turned out to be untrue as well but was wishful thinking rather than a lie.

  • There have been 72 occasions where Britain has voted against a measure put to the European Council – only for it to become law anyway. So what point is influence if it achieves nothing.

    Lord Lawson says Britain has ‘nothing to fear’ about leaving ‘undemocratic’ EU

  • Runcie Balspune

    The assumption is that the EU will “work for a better world”.

    Same old argument, EU good, non-EU bad.

    Complete absence of evidence in that regard.

    Granted, France and Germany have managed not to go to war again, so that’s nice.

  • Granted, France and Germany have managed not to go to war again, so that’s nice.

    …so far.

    Plus that is more of a function of the shitstorm that followed the Bosche’s last attempt along with NATO.

    You’ll notice that since the collapse of the Soviet Union German attempts to control Europe financially, politically and industrially have gone back up to 11 again.

    Just because they are not driving panzers through the Ardennes doesn’t mean that “German exceptionalism” has been expunged from their national psyche.

    It’s just rape and pillage through different means.

  • Paul Marks

    John Selwyn is an enemy of the country – a traitor. In other shocking news – water is wet, and 1+1=2.

    The good thing about “Lord Deben” is that he has always been so open in his establishmentarian leftism – as far back as the early 1970’s Gum-Gum was producing posters (in psychedelic purple) saying “Y.C.s Care! Do you?” – to which the correct answer to these “Young Conservatives” would have been, “bugger off, you stupid pawns of the left”.

    But there is a serious point – under there more “serious” mask, Mrs May and Mr Hammond (and the rest of the establishment) believe the same things that Gum-Gum does. They also believe in “Social Justice”. “Diversity” and “everyone uniting for peace!”. Mrs May and Mr Hammond do not really understand what all this modern Marxist stuff means (and neither does Gum-Gum), but they know it is a “Good Thing” – because at school and university they were taught it was a “Good Thing”.

    Chancellor Hammond is almost the stereotype of the “greedy pig businessman” – but he is also, at-the-same-time quite sincere in his establishment leftist beliefs (although he does not really understand them). Even Robert Maxwell was actually sincere. And Gum-Gum is sincere.

  • “It is only fair to note that the error-correcting abilities of Anglo institutions are not strongly in evidence just at this present moment.” (Niall Kilmartin, January 16, 2019 at 10:38 pm)

    Brexit? Trump? Two big error-corrections, no? Isn’t the power of democratic vote over noble rule an Anglo institution? (bobby b January 16, 2019 at 10:53 pm)

    Very true: if you take a 2-year or longer view, our relative superiority over European political culture can be seen. But with your deep state trying to cook up a case to remove Trump and ours doing the same with Brexit, I think a week of listening to ‘the house debate’ (your house or our house) at the moment could remind one of the Duke of Wellington’s remark:

    When you sit in the house and listen to the debates, you will wonder how England came by her greatness.

    (quoted from memory). Just substitute ‘the English-speaking peoples’ for ‘England’ and Sir Arthur’s remark will serve for many a parliament at many a moment.

  • Stephen William Houghton

    What is nuts about this is that being a nation of shop keeps lead Britain to World Empire. Is Lord Deben an uneducated fool?

  • James R.

    Note that the Left only invoke patriotism when they want us to support something that does harm to our countries. Most of the time we are meant to hate and apologise for our nation’s existence, but then we are expected to get misty eyed about massive immigration or subjugation to a foreign empire, because these are our true values as a nation, this is “who we are.”

  • Is Lord Deben an uneducated fool? (Stephen William Houghton, January 17, 2019 at 4:07 pm)

    These days, it is rather education than the lack of it that makes a person foolish in Gummer’s way. 🙂

  • The Pedant-General

    Happily, he’s getting ripped a new one in the replies to that tweet…

  • Derek Buxton

    Mr. Marks is correct about “Gum Gum” and Hammond, I would not trust them with an old Farthing. They are enemies of us, the People and show it all the time. How did any of them get into the Conservative Party?

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