Brexit, Del-cons and Trumpkins
Later this week it begins. The voters will have their say. First it will happen in Britain in the vote on whether to stay in the EU. The result of that vote will be known about the time this week’s issue of The Spectator Australia hits the streets. Less than ten days after that it will be the turn of voters here in Australia to decide on the fate of this Coalition government and whether Mr Turnbull stays as our Prime Minister. Lastly, in early November, American voters will be presented with the choice between two of the least palatable candidates in a long, long time. One of them is dishonest, shady, relentless in the pursuit of power and wholly unlikeable; the other is a vulgar, mean-spirited, know-nothing billionaire.
But first to Brexit. This will be the choice that in the longer term is, I believe, the most important to the democratic world. Forget all the scare-mongering from the supranational elite who have closed ranks and urged a vote for ‘Remain’. The world’s fifth or sixth largest economy will do just fine outside the EU. It will still be a member of the World Trade Organization and so receive Most Favoured Nation status from all fellow members. It will no longer have to make the huge net payments to the massive (and internally undemocratic) EU bureaucracy, that for decades hasn’t even managed to pass an audit of where its monies goes; it will to some extent break free of the EU part of the world that – remarkably – has not grown at all since 2006. Yes, the EU region’s economy is the same size as it was a decade ago. It is that club that the head of the IMF, the President of the United States, all the failed domestic politicians who end up in top positions in the EU, and plenty more Davos-type men besides, are saying is too good a club to leave. Ambition should be made of sterner stuff.
Of course the ‘Remain’ people have to focus on the money side of things. They have no answer at all to the palpable truth that the EU is a democracy stifling supranational body; its Parliament cannot even initiate legislation (the bureaucrats in the European Commission do that) and that legislation trumps British law and makes up somewhere between 20 and 50 per cent of all UK law – the fact you can’t tell for sure what percentage being damning in itself. If, like me, you care about democratic decision-making then even if there were a short-term cost to getting out of the EU club you’d pay it, right? I’d pay 10 quid a fortnight to live in a country that got to make its own decisions, that had sovereignty. Would you? More to the point, will the Brits?
Two more points on Brexit. First off, pretty much the exact same scaremongers who not too long ago told the Brits that disaster would await them if they failed to join the euro currency (and my Lord they sure got that one wrong) are now screaming the same ‘world will end’ predictions if the vote were to go for ‘Leave’. This has been Prime Minister David Cameron’s strategy in running that ‘Leave’ campaign, to run the biggest ‘Project Fear’ scaremonger of all time. Cameron has claimed, literally, that World War III might follow a ‘Leave’ vote, and just about every other laughable threat and scare his PR ‘guys’ can dream up. (Sorry for using that word, Mr Australian of the Year – but then you were not my pick, not the readers’ pick, not anyone outside of some unrepresentative PC bureaucracy’s pick, so who cares what you think or say?)
Last point on Brexit. The way David Cameron has run this ‘Leave’ campaign has made him incredibly vulnerable after the vote. In addition to the scare stuff, he has taken every opportunity to attack Boris Johnson personally and to have various henchmen (oops, there I go again) do so. So if the vote is for ‘Leave’ PM Cameron will not last long. If it’s a close ‘Stay’ he won’t last much longer. (And, though quietly hopeful for ‘Out’ to win, I fear that a narrow ‘Stay’ is the most likely outcome, alas.)
In comparison to that, our July 2 election here in Australia is pretty meaningless. Two parties offering a menu of left-of-centre entrees; the most left wing Liberal Party leader ever; both parties in practice – when you have to put your money where your mouth is – against free speech; both parties want to hit the superannuation of people not lucky enough to be on the gold plated defined benefit schemes; both seem to think government can pick winners (that’s what the Turnbull innovation bumpf boils down to, nothing more); both party leaders are without a doubt to the left of Paul Keating. Can’t get more depressing than that. So for small government, strong border, right-of-centre types like me the sole issue is whether you think short term (Shorten is clearly worse than Turnbull) or medium term (my view is that in the longer term getting Turnbull out is far more important to the well-being of this country as the World’s Supposedly Greatest Communicator is dragging the whole political spectrum to the left, meaning the wisest call is to get him out, notwithstanding the bracing Shorten short-term pain that will follow).
And then there’s Trump v Clinton. I can’t stand either of them. Trump would be better on picking judges, also (unbelievably) on standing up for Western values and facing down Islamic extremism, and on lowering the impact of self-destructive political correctness that we all need to combat, and soon. Alas, Trump is a protectionist; he knows little about the world; he’s an isolationist; and he’s not very nice. Hillary is, well, Hillary. Her faults and virtues are well known. She would have lost, in my view, to any of the other leading Republican candidates. For me I’d probably hold my nose, drink a double bourbon, and vote for Trump.
Unlike in Australia, where the choice for right-of-centre types is between left and more left, in the US it will be between more left and a populist. There is no small government, free trade Hobbesian on either ballot. If you are reading this and, against the odds, Brexit has won then don’t call me. I’ll be hungover.