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Why are people cheering for no deal?

Because they’re thinking about it the wrong way, says Anand Menon in the Guardian.

There are moments in life when your heart sinks. I had one last night, right at the start of my terrifying debut on Question Time. Isabel Oakeshott had just said we should leave the EU with no deal. And the audience cheered. Not a subdued, start-of-the-evening, not-quite-warmed-up cheer. But a roar. A loud one.

Professor Menon goes on to give his reasons. They are quite well expressed, and it is good to be aware of opinions contrary to ones own, so I do urge the generally Leave-supporting readers here to take a look.

Now, having said that, will I get away with pretending that my main reason for posting this was something other than the fact that the moment he’s talking about during last night’s Question Time put an enormous silly grin all over my face?

(Hat tip to Guido for the video clip.)

Edit: Take a look at the comments to that Guardian piece in order of numbers of recommends. As I said, Professor Menon himself seems well meaning, but many of the most popular comments talk of their fellow citizens as a Victorian “Nordicist” would speak of the Andaman Islanders:

The Brexit mindset is anti-intellectual – the Brexiteer is proud of their ignorance.

Reasoning with them is useless.

A case in point, Brexiteers (and yes, I am generalising here) claim to be anti-elitist yet put their trust in Boris, Farage and Rees Mogg – the epitome of privilege and elitism.

Think I’m being rude? Good.

That was from someone calling themselves “stinky”. As I write this that comment had received 126 upvotes. There are times when I think I should give in to the Guardian‘s constant begging and give them some money, just to ensure that as many people as possible read these comment threads. As the next comment says, “When people ask me why they should support Leave, I tell them to read the comments on a Brexit CiF article.” Lord knows the British electorate has some wrongheaded views, but it has shown before now that it instinctively knows one of the great truths of politics: that it is unwise to place yourself in the power of those who despise you.

33 comments to Why are people cheering for no deal?

  • I wish I could get that kind of response over here in the US. Whenever I suggest that we should leave the EU, people just look at me like I’m crazy.

  • Mr Ecks

    Whatever the remainiac wanker is trying to peddle don’t waste your time on it. Should Londoners under the Blitz have been having a look at Mein Kampf while in the Anderson shelter? You can be sure 99% of remainiac mental cases won’t be spending any time on our arguments.

    Spend the mental energy thinking up tactics and strategy to smash the bastards and whatever EU-sucking shite they try to pull.

    We need a means and pretext to get scummy MPs pensions off the grade Z scum for a start.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Should Londoners under the Blitz have been having a look at Mein Kampf while in the Anderson shelter?

    I don’t know about literally doing it while in the Anderson shelter, but my mother lived in London during the Blitz and did read Mein Kampf during that period, on the principle of “know your enemy”.

  • llamas

    I saw a video of that on the Tubes of You. What I took away from it is that a large part of the audience was saying ‘finally, after almost 3 years of spinning and shucking and jiving and resistance and Sir-Humphrey style machinations on the part of almost-everybody of almost-every party, all designed to try and reverse the referendum result, finally, it looks like we’re going to get what we voted for – a clean break and no strings.’

    I’m currently reading a book called ‘Fooled by Randomness’ by Nassim Taleb, which makes the case that a very large proportion of the drivers of economic activity are uncertain, undefined, unknowable and often random, and that most people who claim to predict them based upon some sort of economic science tend to vastly over-estimate their abilities. I suspect that many ordinary people know this too, instinctually if not expressly, and the performances of the last 3 years have convinced them that virtually-all predictions about the economic and social horrors that will result from Brexit are just so much buncombe. The day after the ‘no-deal’ exit, everyone will wake up a bit surprised but almost-immediately, the invisible hand will go to work and economic life and activity will restructure. If there are barriers, they will be worn smooth, if there are issues, they will be resolved. And things will reorganize and resolve a whole lot quicker if the government at the time (whatever it is) can be persuaded to leave well=enough alone.

    I’m reminded of Y2K, also predicted to be a vast economic calamity that turned out to be nothing much.

    I can recall travelling in Ireland in the 1970s and crossing the border several times. I think that’s a non-issue, ginned up by the EU in order to have something – anything to p**s and moan about. Let the Irish Republic and the UK decide how much or how little border to have, they’ve done it before and can do it again. Part of the problem there is the Typical insistence of the British to do everything by-the-book and according to the rules – the Irish have a different approach, and like several other members of the EU, will have no difficulty in applying EU rules in a more-nuanced way if it suits them.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Schill McGuffin

    llamas —

    It remains unknown whether Y2K was anticlimactic because it was a hoax all along, or because of fevered spending by business and government on new computer systems. In either case, I believe it helped fuel the great tech bubble of the late ’90s (that abruptly burst early in 2000), and was likely exploited as such by computer and software manufacturers and consultants.

  • The audience roared on Question Time. Either I need to praise the beeb for arranging a seriously less PC-tilted audience than that programme has been known to serve up – or else the remoaners are in trouble. I think it was on this very blog, years ago, that someone asked if the QT audience was representative of the UK electorate and a commenter replied, “Good God, I hope not!!!”

    Should Londoners under the Blitz have been having a look at Mein Kampf while in the Anderson shelter? (Mr Ecks, January 18, 2019 at 4:44 pm)

    AFAIK, the very first essay Orwell wrote after war broke out was a short review of a re-issue of ‘Mein Kampf’. He himself had read it long before: when the Spanish communist-controlled police searched his flat during his absence at the front in 1937, they found a copy of ‘Mein Kampf’, which worried them greatly, but then came across Stalin’s pamphlet ‘Ways to Eliminate Trotskyists and other Double-dealers’, which reassured them somewhat. It has been argued that if more British people had read ‘Mein Kampf’, or read it earlier, it would not have taken till May 1940 for Churchill to become PM. In a similar spirit, I think Natalie wise to encourage wide British readership of Greg Hands’ translation of Martin Selmayr’s explanation of who would benefit from the negotiated ‘deal’.

    If for no better reason that to be persuasive in any arguments we find ourselves making, it can be wise to keep up with what others are saying. And an occasional benefit from cognitive diversity will accrue.

  • It remains unknown whether Y2K was anticlimactic because it was a hoax all along, or because of fevered spending by business and government on new computer systems. (Schill McGuffin, January 18, 2019 at 6:17 pm)

    As someone who was in that business at that time, I’d say the former – not literally always and everywhere a conscious hoax by any means, but it turned out to have been very much overblown.

  • bobby b

    “It remains unknown whether Y2K was anticlimactic because it was a hoax all along, or because of fevered spending by business and government on new computer systems.”

    I know people in the AGW business who are already claiming that the failure of the world temperature to continue to rise – which they denied was true until very recently – is due to the heroic efforts of the climate alarmists who have managed to at least slow down our CO2 generation.

    Them: If you don’t cripple your economies and allow millions to starve, and if you stop giving quazillions of dollars to ME, we’ll all die from the rising temperature!

    Me: But the temperature isn’t rising.

    Them: You’re welcome!

  • Flubber

    “but it has shown before now that it instinctively knows one of the great truths of politics: that it is unwise to place yourself in the power of those who despise you.”

    Especially when those bastards are trying to replace you as quickly as they can….

  • Julie near Chicago

    http://commentcentral.co.uk/henry-viii-and-todays-brexit/

    The column that asks the question,

    After Tuesday’s epic House of Commons defeat will this be the end of Mrs May’s Houdini Act or the start of another attempt to follow Uri Geller in bending reality to her will?

    Very interesting! Examination of “Legal Brexit,” 1530s, and then Elizabeth I’s Brexit (Bad Daughter! boo-hiss) and a better Brexit, 1558-1603 per the writers.

    Thanks for the posting and especially the video link, Natalie. Enough to put a girl in a good mood! :>)))

    *******

    bobby: 😆

  • Spence

    Off topic, but as it has been mentioned above. Y2K was a very real threat, I worked on various systems to fix them in the mid 90s. In the main the problems were in large 70s era transaction processing systems (mainframes mostly) which used the smallest possible storage size for a date reference, often only a few bits in a single word of storage. So, the issue wasn’t widespread but it did occur in some of the largest and most important systems of the time.

    On topic, I very much hope that the incompetence of our politicians will see us crash out on WTO terms – but I fear that what we’ll get will be BRINO.

  • Pat

    Boris, the Mogg and to a lesser extent Farage may be posh but they ain’t snobs. Unlike the professor.

  • Jeremy

    The longer they argue , the better!
    Every day that goes by sees me more hopeful of Brexit happening.
    Anything you can think of which will distract and confuse them more is good!
    The EU are used car salesmen. If you do a deal with them you will lose!
    The minute the UK is really out the EU will be desperate for a deal because they rely on trade with the UK.
    That is when you tell them that you are too busy on the other phone talking to America!

  • Nullius in Verba

    “The minute the UK is really out the EU will be desperate for a deal because they rely on trade with the UK.”

    Do you really think that’s how a protectionist thinks?

    If they were interested in the benefits of trade, they’d get rid of the EU altogether. It gets in the way of trade with all non-European countries. But they’re not thinking about the benefits of trade – they’re thinking about the benefits to themselves of being able to keep prices high by excluding all the competition.

    European manufacturers will ramp up their own capability to provide what Britain currently provides, at a higher price. It’s an opportunity to grab a slice of our trade for themselves. This is the way protectionists think.

    Protectionists see other businesses as rivals, not colleagues. They see barriers to trade as protecting their own businesses and profits, not as obstructions. There would be a period of re-adjustment that would require some investment to get up to speed, but in the long run their businesses would profit.

    Consumers in the EU would lose, and if you look at the overall effect so would they, since they consume too, but if they thought like that the EU wouldn’t exist in the first place. Your argument is an argument for disbanding the EU entirely, and introducing tariff and regulation-free free trade. If they were capable of understanding your argument, we wouldn’t be having this argument at all.

  • ben

    The BBC probably found it difficult to stack the audience completely in that region.

  • Chester Draws

    Your argument is an argument for disbanding the EU entirely, and introducing tariff and regulation-free free trade. If they were capable of understanding your argument, we wouldn’t be having this argument at all.

    It would be possible to have a free trade EU. The rules could be written to make it illegal to put up trade barriers, which would keep all the countries in line. They’ve not chosen to go that way, but it isn’t implicit in the EU itself.

    I do accept that the current EU is protectionist at heart in the rich countries, and the poor ones don’t fight it because they like the handouts. So I am Leave. But only because the Eu is inefficient, corrupt and heading in the wrong direction, not because I oppose any attempt at closer integration.

  • Zerren Yeoville

    Once upon a time, way back on 4 July 1776, the USA ‘crashed out’ of the British Empire, straight over a political ‘cliff edge’, leaving what was then the world’s largest trading bloc and marketplace with a ‘No Deal’ exit.

    How did that work out for them?

    Oh, yes, by ‘taking back control’ of their own affairs they ultimately became an incredibly wealthy superpower that was building the Saturn V rocket that would take men to the moon, while at the same time its former overlord, having fallen victim to the intellectual snake-oil of socialism, was building the notorious Morris Marina, a car that on a good day might take men as far as the end of the driveway.

  • Mrs. Davis

    If one wishes to make 7/4/76 the date of the US crash out, note that it led to five years of what amounted to a civil war, two years of partial enemy occupation, internal rebellion due to economic distress (Shay’s Rebellion) and an illegal overthrow of the legitimate government by a secret cabal (the Constitutional Convention). Even then, recovery was slow until signing a trade treaty with the former tyrannic hegemon in 1795, leading the scurrilous Jefferson to create the Democrat party of today to undermine the Washington administration.

  • Runcie Balspune

    Y2K was a very real threat, I worked on various systems to fix them in the mid 90s.

    Same here, it wasn’t much of a impact because of the amount of work put in to prevent it, but it was certainly a problem. We’ve always got “Y2G” to worry about now.

    On topic, the anti-Brexit debate never seems to give much evidence as to why it is bad idea, or why no deal is a bad idea, it merely assumed that is what it is. You can always frame “Britain crashes out” as “Britain jumps out before Europe crashes”

    The Brexit mindset is anti-intellectual – the Brexiteer is proud of their ignorance. Reasoning with them is useless.

    I’ve yet to see “reasoning” being used as an anti-Brexit tactic, just name-calling, as demonstrated nicely here.

  • leading the scurrilous Jefferson to create the Democrat party of today to undermine the Washington administration

    The US Democratic Party is a gift that keeps on giving…much like herpes is…

  • Fraser Orr

    @Niall Kilmartin
    As someone who was in that business at that time, I’d say the former – not literally always and everywhere a conscious hoax by any means, but it turned out to have been very much overblown.

    I don’t think it was a hoax, but I think the parallels with AGW are worth considering (as Bobby B mentioned above.) The data indicates that the threat was massively exaggerated. Just to give few data points, anyone who works in software knows that it is close to a miracle when a piece of software is delivered on time and on budget. The idea that ALL of these projects did so (or a large percentage of them) strains the credulity of anyone familiar with Software development. Especially so since most of them were archaeological in character (which are vastly harder to estimate.)

    A second data point — some countries spent a lot on Y2K remediation (USA, UK) some spent practically nothing (Spain, Italy.) They all got the same result.

    A third data point. With the literally millions of software systems that were supposedly in remediation, to all intents and purposes none of these projects failed to meet their goals. Again, this strains the credulity of anyone who knows anything about software development. (Yes, I know there were a few small failures of almost no significance. But that is almost the exception proving the rule.)

    Was it a hoax? I think it is subtler than than. Before the event there was good reason to believe that something might go wrong. And there was a lot of money swilling around. Is it any surprise that businesses hyped it? It isn’t that they were entirely dishonest, just that there was enough to believe in that they could feed at the trough without feeling guilty.

    And so we come full circle back to AGW, and the matter of science funding. AGW also has the delicious additional feature that it doesn’t have a drop dead date.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Quoth Fraser,

    “Before the event there was good reason to believe that something might go wrong.”

    Exactly so, and that is why there is no reason at all to think that Y2K worries were a hoax of some sort. (By whom? And why?)

    I was in the biz in the late 70’s and early 80’s, programming IBM’s big mainframe of the time for a data-processing firm that handled the accounts software for client banks.

    We were well aware that Y2K was going to cause problems, and were in the early stages of thinking seriously about whether to re-write programs from scratch, or try to patch existing ones.

    Spence notes this, above:

    “In the main the problems were in large 70s era transaction processing systems (mainframes mostly) which used the smallest possible storage size for a date reference, often only a few bits in a single word of storage. So, the issue [only occurred were complete dates needed to be specified], but it did occur in some of the largest and most important systems of the time.”

    Exactly so.

    Or, as Hank Rearden (I think it was) observed when the Usual Suspects were going at him with “Look, you predicted Awful would happen, and it did’t. So what are you worried about now?” And Mr. Rearden replied, “Because I saved you, you damn fools!”

  • bobby b

    “We were well aware that Y2K was going to cause problems, and were in the early stages of thinking seriously about whether to re-write programs from scratch, or try to patch existing ones.”

    I would argue (respectfully! honest!) that the Y2k issue only became a pseudo-crisis because the world of software let it just sit there in the “thinking seriously about it” stage for far too long.

    (In fairness, this probably happened because the people who pay for software didn’t want to finance what was needed to fix the issue until it started to hit the national news.)

    This wasn’t a failure of knowledge or technology. This was a need for a lot of long slogging labor hours reconfiguring some fields and converting old data that was simply put off too long.

    But we ended up with a last-minute full-blown panic over it, with many thousands of people taking to the hills, getting out of cities, stockpiling food and medicine and arms, predicting that power and water and food were no longer going to be available, that nuclear power plants were going to melt down, that airplanes would fall from the sky, that cats would be sleeping with dogs . . .

    That was the hoax aspect of it all, not that two-space date fields needed to be converted to four.

  • Julie near Chicago

    No offense taken, bobby. Sure, as usual there’s a tendency to wait until it’s raining (or at least rain seems imminent).

    “This wasn’t a failure of knowledge or technology. This was a need for a lot of long slogging labor hours reconfiguring some fields and converting old data that was simply put off too long.”

    Agreed!

    It’s just that I don’t see why getting into a lather because hubby never did get around to fixing the roof and the rain’s going to start pouring in any second, qualifies the wife’s prediction of disaster (and even attendant hysterics) as a “hoax.”

    (And in the event, because hubby did in fact put a lot of time and effort into fixing the roof — she just didn’t know about it because he did it during the week when she was off staying with Ethel — disaster didn’t happen. But if he hadn’t….)

    [And yes, I realize there’s a hole in the plot at the end there.]

    :>))

  • Stonyground

    The thing about climate change alarmism is that the basic premise is true. For this reason the alarmists are able to label anyone who questions their ludicrous doomsday predictions as anti science flat earthers.

  • A second data point — some countries spent a lot on Y2K remediation (USA, UK) some spent practically nothing (Spain, Italy.) They all got the same result. (Fraser Orr, January 20, 2019 at 3:17 am

    The pedant in me makes me quarrel with this item in your supportive (to my point of view) comment. I’m not sure this is diagnostic. Countries with larger and older software industries might naturally spend more than countries whose older systems were bought from abroad. Might Spain and Italy have bought older systems from abroad, and then upgrades to them likewise, while such newer systems as they themselves made had full date formats from the beginning? This would be true whether Y2K was a really serious issue requiring massive effort to solve, or far more straightforwardly solvable within standard upgrade cycles. The owners and maintainers of the older systems would code the Y2K upgrade work either way.

  • Peter Melia

    I have not a scrap of IT knowledge, except to just use spreadsheets and stuff like that. So when the Y2K thing erupted, I changd the time and date setiings in my (company) computer, until I was able to “creep” past from 1999, through 2000, to 2001. Fellow workers watched over my shoulder. Nothing bad happened, so they all just went back to work and I reste my (company) computer, and that was that. No more Y2K stuff mentioned in the office.

  • But we ended up with a last-minute full-blown panic over it

    I worked on my first Y2K project in 1990, which was a conversion of the Unilever long term financial planning system because they wanted to go from planning 6 years out to 10 years out.

    This was before use of Excel was common-place in corporate IT (despite it being released in 1985). Back in 1990 we were still at the cutting edge of technology using 20/20 on VAX/VMS. 🙄

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/20/20_(spreadsheet_software)

  • Julie near Chicago

    Hysteria’s one thing; “hoax” is another entirely. Among the general public there was a hysterical and rather vocal contingent. The folks (programmers) in the trenches who were responsible for seeing that nothing Dreadful happened were probably not hysterical (though management may have been).

    But there’s another thing to consider. Some thought that the Turn of the Millenium would begin the End Times. And of course it was an awe-inspiring date change, the Change of the Millenium, much more awesome than a mere turn of the century. So among some there was probably a certain thrill of something specially drastic to mark the event.

    That’s pure speculation, of course.

    But in any case, a “hoax” would be something on the order of a faked Moon Landing, a faked 9/11 attack, a faked bomb threat of some sort. But there was nothing faked about the fact that if various vital software wasn’t properly fixed, chaos or a shutdown would ensue in the financial field and possibly the medical field as well.

  • […] and Brexit and much else besides, such as, most recently, here in Britain, that already famous Question Time Roar, and all the sort of people who regret Trump and Brexit and The Roar are intensely aware of this. […]

  • djc

    Re Y2K
    Software changes all the time, we were well aware of a year 2000 potential probblem in the early 70s. But when fixing bugs is a daily chore and the hardware is due for an upgrade next year, and new hardware will mean a whole load of new programming that date field is just another task to be fixed sometime.
    The unique feature of ‘Y2K’ was that it was inevitably going to happen to everybody (if at all) at exactly the same time. So instead of being just another mod to be fitted in during a never ending round of upgrades it became an opportunity for every salesbod with or without scruple and that one-in-a-thousand deadline drove up demand and prices.

  • Paul Marks

    Dear Professor Menon.

    The people are very tired of being endlessly ordered about and threatened. That is why we cheer (loud and strong) when we here that we will get out of the European Union – even with no Free Trade Agreement (although we would have been happy to accept a “Canada” style agreement and, as David Davis has confirmed, it was Mrs May who undermined this possibility). Those who wish to dominate us hate the words “no deal” – so these words get cheered.

    The insults of the Guardian comments are not your fault – but they do make it very clear that many on your side, the Remainers, wish to enslave (not too strong a word) us, and have nothing but hatred and contempt for our liberty.

    We reject Plato’s Guardians – and we reject the modern Guardian as well.

    Yours Sincerely.

    Paul Marks.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Dear Mr Manon,

    I wish to associate myself with Mr Marks’s views, as he expressed them in his recent letter to you.

    Yours,

    Julie

    P.S. Please feel free to circulate this ms. among your colleagues, friends, cohorts, and The Guardian.

    J.

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