The normally excellent Tim Worstall (who is a UKIP economics advisor) succumbs here to one of his party's central idiocies: That it is the job of the politician to reflect the views of the electorate.
I’m pretty sure, in this democracy thing, that a political leader is supposed to reflect the desires of the electorate, not mold them.This is, for example why Douglas 'Judas' Carswell voted against gay marriage, despite being personally in favour. I am not accusing UKIP here of hypocrisy, just being wrong.
Running a country is complicated. The control levers available to Government are only loosely connected to the machine of Government. Much of the day to day control is in the hands of a cadre of long-term civil servants, whose job is to implement policy and who act as dampers on any control input. I think of it like a rowing galley, where the tips of the oars are hidden from the captain's view. He's trying to steer the galley by guessing the movement through the soles of his feet. Some of the the galley's rowers can't be bothered, and many of the rest, don't want to go where it's going, and so pull in the direction of where they want to go anyway, and the other half who are pulling in the direction the captain wants to go, aren't much good. Ultimately the captain can barely see what difference his changes to the beat of the drum and nudges to the tiller make (especially as everyone's free to choose their own tom-tom drum, and progress through the water is barely steering-way) until long after he's been ousted by mutiny.
I like this metaphor, because the command economy, where the rowers are chained and incentiveised with whips, go much faster through the water to some direction chosen by the management, but the Captain still can't see to the tips of the oars, and they inevitably hit the rocks.
Sometimes the people on the watch-tower (think-tankers, philosophers, policy analysts, economists) see a looming shape in the fog off the prow of the galley. They shout to the captain who's only just in earshot. If he's lucky, the captain can, with almighty heaves of the tiller and a bit of cajoling of the rowers down below (those who can be persuaded to agree with him anyway) avoid the rocks (Thatcher) Sometimes not (Blair).
This metaphor can be extended indefinitely.
Politicians are the people to whom we outsource political economy. This is every bit as sophisticated, with arcane knowledge as being a Gas engineer or Lawyer. And when a Gas Engineer starts looking at political economy, he's staring at a fog of unknown-unknowns at least as complete as were Ed Miliband to have a go at servicing his own boiler. The difference is Ed Miliband KNOWS he doesn't know what he's doing. But EVERYONE thinks they've got the political answers. Everyone thinks their politics are "common sense". But if you don't know what's been tried, you're going to come up with some 'common sense' which is already proven wrong. Rent control, for example which is the great, unflushable turd of political ideas, or Free Parking.
There is a particularly UKIPish line of thinking which runs thus:
- I am reasonable
- Therefore my views are shared by reasonable people
- Everyone I know thinks [x]
- Therefore everyone who doesn't think [x] is by definition, not reasonable
- A not reasonable belief can only be held for malign reasons
- Therefore the Government fails to agree with me because of conspiracy or incompetence.
- Everyone think's they're reasonable, but not everyone's got the same information to be reasonable about. Even twins disagree on stuff.
- People seek out like-minded souls and avoid controversial subjects such as politics with people who's views you don't already know. Tories particularly sociable around the "sound".
- This is called selection bias.
- This is an incorrect but common logical inference (the mistake, if you will in this chain of reasoning)
- Attribution of motive is pure projection, and particularly common on amongst the stupid, particularly by Labourites, who cannot grasp the more subtle cause and effect of 'right wing' economics, and by UKIPpers who cannot grasp the right end of a shit-stick, let alone a political argument.
- This is the crowning idiocy of UKIP the sheer lack of belief that a reasonable person might not be in a frothing frenzy about EU fish quotas or the Bulgarian who moved in next door. The belief that policy is run for "their mates in big business" or the despicable EU cabal.