I am posting all of this, partly so that I can hyperlink to it easily, but also because it illustrates the best of the way the virtual EU referendum debate went for me. These are all people I know in real life, but they would never all be present in the same room. I know some professionally, some personally; some since I was a child (hey, this is a blended life blog!). And yet here they are, on my “wall” (in my imagination, around our virtual dining table) talking about things that matter, and sharing their, er, expertise.
So – I’ve just posted this in a discussion – but it’s worth posting here too: This is one of the things I genuinely don’t understand about the EU referendum debate – let me see if I can explain. I would NEVER try to cut my own hair, or fix my car, or many other things which might (or might not) be associated with “working class” skills. I always get an expert – someone who knows about it – to do those things. I work in a University – I get that lots of people don’t know exactly what goes on in universities and that we could do more to explain that – but actually I feel that my University (Sheffield) does a lot to open its doors to local people, so that they can get a better idea. So it’s often hard to explain to people why what I do is of value – it’s much easier for a hairdresser, or a car mechanic, or many other people, to explain that. And now – for once in my life – what I do – what I actually know about – is REALLY relevant – I’ve spent my whole life studying and teaching about EU Law, and right now the insights that I have matter. And yet – the whole debate has become about “don’t trust the experts, they are lying, just trust your feelings”. I would listen to and respect the views of a hairdresser, and a car mechanic, and so on, about the things they know about. So why isn’t the same happening to those of us who do know about the EU? That’s the thing that I just don’t understand – I’m really sorry if that’s my fault for not understanding.
That said, I wonder if this is just long-developing feature of our public discourse that is just feeling particularly relevant to you right now. Think about the way climate change discussion has for years included huge elements of ‘don’t trust the experts, they’re confused / lying / just in it for the money’. You could make similar points about telling economists to shut up about austerity and debt over the past eight years. And perhaps, although its probably somewhat different, efforts to limits the medical professions’ voice in NHS management.
What’s funny (?) is that a huge amount of this more general anti-intellectualism has been promoted by the same elements of the tory establishment that are now desperately trying to invoke expertise to oppose brexit. Reaping what they sowed. And dragging the rest of us down with them
Check out the #legaltech hashtag on twitter (or talks by Susskind, whose recent book I review below), and you get an endless stream of commentary dripping with contempt for professions as guardians of expertise and disinterested analysis.
I can’t tell what’s real and what’s satire any more…
So I respect the views of Fishermen whose experience of the EU may differ; especially considering the contrast in the fishing industry, and fish stocks, in Norway (which technically is still applying,as an EEC member, to the EU).
My wife has had a wealth of first-hand experience and knowledge of childbirth, but she would still defer on most issues regarding childbirth to qualified midwives and doctors.
Tammy, I would value your view that as he didn’t succeed in his aspirations, his concern is more likely to happen. Especially as indicated by Guy Verhofstad: (“…and he has promised not to make obstacles for the deepening of the Union.”)
Thanks, Mike Shilson