I knew there must be a use for Katty Kay....she has gone off-message and laid out the reasons for Brexit.….naturally she can’t quite throw off her BBC training and imprinting and concludes it’s all about the dreaded populism and simple messages appealing to emotion not brain….yep…all the Leave voters are simpletons with no mind of their own…….
Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, the leader of the Leave campaign, have tapped into a similar public mood of disgruntlement. On both sides of the Atlantic, a lot of people feel they’ve been handed a bad deal. In the UK, it’s European bureaucrats in Brussels who are to blame.
The forces of globalisation are causing havoc for European workers as they are for American workers. If you are a white working class man (in particular) the combined effects of immigration, free trade and technology have made your job and your wages less secure. Policy makers in the UK and the US have singularly failed to address these issues in any meaningful way. If the Brexit camp wins next week it could suggest the global anti-globalisation mood (if such a thing is possible) is stronger than we realised.
Immigration deserves its own category because it is so critical in both campaigns. Economists argue about the relative impact of immigrants versus robots on wage stagnation – voters don’t care much.
Like its European partner, the British government is caught in the nightmare story that is the European migrant/refugee crisis, with no effective response.
The complicated feeling of having had a bad deal has created an insidious spin off, a sense of broken pride, both national and personal. Working men, in particular, face a world they did not expect, jobs are hard to find and pay badly meaning they often can’t provide single-handedly for their families, as their fathers and grandfathers did. That alone causes a loss of pride.
For Brits the loss of national pride comes from a feeling that British sovereignty has been given away to Brussels and if we leave the EU, we will be stronger, better, more respected.
And, finally, populism loves simplicity, especially, it seems, when it’s dressed up with an impressively wacky hair do. Boris Johnson and Donald Trump appeal to the heart not the head, they offer simple solutions in a time of complex problems.
A victory for Brexit next week by no means guarantees a Trump victory in the autumn. However, if the forces of disgruntlement, nationalism, populism and anti-globalisation are strong enough to force a radical move in the UK, they may be strong enough to force a radical election in America too.