In 1940 Britain faced a threat so serious that bitter enemies co-operated seamlessly in government for 5 years, and everyone was guaranteed a share in whatever was available in drastically reduced circumstances. Astronomical sums of money were thrown at the problem. The top tax rate was 95%, yet no one complained. Looking at the latest figures, what needs to happen before this emergency is treated as equally serious?
A universal basic income (UBI) would be more appropriate than rationing in today’s very different emplohyment situation (though it was actually proposed then by Lady Rhys-Williams, a member of the Beveridge Commission). The ‘affordability argument against the UBI no longer applies, and all other considerations pale into insignificance alongside medical imperatives.
It is possible that vaccines will shorten the current emergency to less than 5 years, but the calibre of those now in Parliament makes co-operation unlikely. Neither they, nor sufficient members of the public seem to grasp the ruthless logic of exponential growth,
In this context, the haste to complete Brexit is obscene, I ask the same question as in my last weblog post:
If this agreement makes sense, why leave it to the last minute?
But there is an obvious reason If it had been any sooner, the possibility of a Referendum before the deadline might have arisen. Give the public a straight choice: this deal, or simply remain in the EU? Ever since he original Referendum , the government has been at pains not to test public opinion.
The 2016 Referendum produced a result of 51.89% to leave, and 48.11% to stay, on a turnout of 72.21% It was projected as overwhelming, The December 2019 election result was claimed as confirmation, but a recent Yougov poll quoted by Peter Kellner (date not clear, approx. Oct 2020) in answer to the question
“In Hindsight, do you think Britain was right or wrong to leave the EU?
gave a result: Wrong 49%, right 39%. The text explains that this could be misleading for a variety of reasons, but scroll down here for an example of the reaction of a disillusioned businessman. The reality is certainly not what was promised either in 2016. or last December.
As Peter Kellner points out, there are two hard cores, but the rest are extremely unpredictable.