Thursday, June 23, 2016

The ASI's Executive Director on the Libertarian case for Remain

Because of bad experiences in my student days I used to have rather a downer on the Adam Smith Institute but they have risen in my estimation since.

Their site currently has well argued articles on both sides of the EU referendum decision.

In an article  here Sam Bowman, the ASI's executive director, gives four reasons which explain why he went from backing leave to being undecided to an eventual decision to vote Remain.

Interestingly, and like me, he would have been far more likely to vote Leave if the Flexcit proposal from the Leave alliance, or some form of the Norway option, had clearly been the likely result if Britain votes to leave.

The trouble is that with key people in the Leave campaign dismissing the idea of staying in the EEA - including, as Sam rightly points out, the two people one of whom is likely to be PM by the end of the year if there is a Brexit vote - there is a very real possibility of the UK leaving not just the EU but the single market if we vote to leave today.

"Leaving the Single Market should never have been on the table, but now, unbelievably, it is,"

he says, and also comments that this would be a "colossal act of self-harm" which

"has the potential to destroy hundreds of billions of pounds worth of wealth."


I don't agree with everything Sam says - for example, while I entirely  agree with his assessment of the accuracy of the Leave campaign's propaganda, I think many of the people Sam accuses of "bare-faced lies that Leavers know are lies" have got caught up in their own propaganda fantasy and convinced themselves that what they want to believe is true.

Of course, in some ways that is even more frightening than if they were just lying.

Nevertheless  Sam makes some very interesting points which are well worth a read.

One further reflection. I don't know what would have happened if Leave had fought a more honest campaign - "£160 million a week" on the side of the battle bus would still have seemed like a lot of money to most people, for instance  - which embraced the "Flexcit" proposal and didn't make such a big thing of inconsistent, undeliverable and occasionally unsavoury comments about immigration.

Of course, such a Leave campaign would in some ways have been an easier target but they would have better been able to fight off the attacks on that target, because truth would have been their ally instead of their victim.

My personal opinion is that a completely honest, and more constructive leave campaign might have been more likely to win, and would certainly have done less damage to Britain's politics.

So, if Remain wins, when Leavers start looking for scapegoats, don't blame David Cameron, who called this referendum,  for fighting tooth and nail for what he always told you was the outcome he wanted.

If you must find someone to blame, look to the people in the leadership of the Leave campaign and of UKIP whose fantasy politics, utterly divorced from reality, drove waverers like me, and people like Sam Bowden who started out as Leave supporters, to put our crosses in the Remain box.

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