Monday, March 26, 2018

Alex Massie on the search for scapegoats when people don't like the result of a vote.

Anyone who is involved in politics sooner or later has to come to terms with the fact that the electorate takes a decision you really, really don't like.

It's difficult enough when it's an election - at least then you can try again in four or five years' time, and it is not at all unusual for the electorate to elect someone else at that stage.  Many voters agree with Mark Twain, who said (paraphrasing slightly) that politicians and nappies should be changed often and for the same reason.

It's even more painful when it is a referendum which you have been told will settle the matter for a generation.

Despite having voted Remain myself, I accept the result of the referendum. I accept that Russia may have been trying to cause trouble, but I do not believe that their interference changed the results. I suspect that both sides ran major operations using social media data, and if their methods were as ethically dubious as the accuracy of both side's propaganda - or rather lack of accuracy - was, I dare say both sides went pretty close to the line. But I don't believe that either Remain or Leave had a monopoly of vice or virtue, or that the result if both sides had been perfectly behaved would have been different.

I take allegations of that the Leave won by overspending with a bucketful of salt, because Remain actually spent more than Leave.

Alex Massie has a good article on the seductive simplicity of blaming Trump's win on Cambridge Analytica, which begins as follows:

"For the last two years, on both sides of the Atlantic, liberals and other concerned citizens have spent their time searching for an answer to the agonising, appalling, question “How did this happen?”

How, for the love of God, could the United States have elected Donald Trump president?

How, for crying out loud, could the United Kingdom have been stupid enough to vote for Brexit?

These questions need answers and the simpler they are, the better. Reality is complicated so let’s find some clear-cut solutions that, happily, comfort and reinforce our own happy convictions or, as we call them when we see them in other people, prejudices."

Unless the conspiracy theorists who are peddling all kinds of arguments about Leave having somehow cheated come up with something a damn sight more convincing than anything they have produced yet, we should accept the result of the referendum and concentrate on getting the form of Brexit which works best for the people of Britain.

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