Have Some Optimism for Christmas (Guest blog by Alex Brianson)

This was originally posted on Facebook 12 December 2016. So much of it resonates with how I feel that I asked Alex if I could host it here. He has kindly agreed.candle

Some of my fb friends know I have led services in Unitarian places of worship. It’s nothing special – my fb friends include many qualified Ministers, and the odd priestess, as well as others who are amateurs like me. I haven’t been at a service for a while because I haven’t found a local place yet, and I haven’t given a service for some time thanks to illness and two relocations.

This week I’ve been wondering what I’d say if I had to lead one this week or in the run-up to Christmas. It’s a tricky one, because many Unitarians are like me – not Christian, maybe not even theists. And some Unitarians are Christian. In the congregations I know, you can’t just do a standard Christmas service and expect everyone to be happy. But at the same time most people want to mark the occasion for a whole host of personal reasons.

Like many people, I struggled to make Christmas meaningful for a long time. I’m a sentimental softie, so weeping at “Mary’s Boy Child” has never been a problem, but it took me ages to see anything particular in the shlock that I found spiritually meaningful. I’ve done a fair amount of reading on Christianity, some of it by authors who identify as Christian, some by authors who don’t; some of it is personal and/or devotional, some of it is academic. And although in my head I no longer find much of what used to appal me about Christianity offensive because I have learnt to understand it contextually or metaphorically (e.g. the claim to be the unique way to salvation, the hideous contradictions of the bible, and the monstrosities committed by Yahweh throughout the Old Testament), I’m still not Christian.

So why do I even want to find meaning in the festivals of Christmas? And why am I bothering to post about it on fb of all places? Why not just enjoy the pagan parts of the celebration that persist in the UK and elsewhere, such as the mistletoe (form an orderly queue please boys), the eponymous plant celebrating the Holly King’s victory and the turn of the wheel of the year, the solstice and its marking of the return of the light (and Light), and the feasting?

For some years I did that, and actually I will this year too. I find paganism much more nourishing than Christianity. But this year I want to use Christmas as a receptacle into which we can all, if we so choose, sink our fears and our cynicism, and celebrate the possibilities of renewal and social progress.

Yes, Christmas is about the birth of a baby – THE baby, if you’re Christian – born to save our species from sin. And yes, this fits a pattern of virgin births of demi-gods and heroes in ‘Middle Eastern’ and Mediterranean mythologies. But what I have come to see in this story is the thing that many religions point to – the divine (or dharma, or tao, or awen) is inherent in the world that we inhabit, and we can, indeed should, use it to help make our world better. We can do that. We have that power.

2016 has been a dreadful year, for me personally and also of course at the macro level. So many deaths of cherished people, so many awful political choices and events, so many signs of impending eco-tastrophe. It is easy to feel bludgeoned into submission, to feel that there is no possibility that right (or good, if you like) will prevail. For those who suffer depression, this is even more true; there have been times this year when I have wondered whether it’s worth bothering with recovery.

But here’s the thing: even if, as is likely, things get worse in the world, and even if, as is likely, there will always be those who are prepared to do absolutely anything to achieve their goals, there is always also the rest of us. And we have to make sure we use our power.

At one of my school assemblies the Headmaster told a parable about how the devil’s best line was that ‘there’s plenty of time’ – he could stop people bothering to do good by convincing them to come over all ‘maňana’. It’s not a story I liked. But I can see the wisdom of a re-imagined version: the best tool of those who seek to control and oppress is to convince the rest of us that we can’t do anything about things that matter.

We can. I do. We all, I’m sure, do.

So this year, I’m celebrating Christmas as a political act. I celebrate the reminder to be active in pursuit of social justice. I celebrate the time of re-birth, of potential, of hope blossoming lotus-like in the most unlikely places. And I celebrate the gift of optimism. It is this that I hope in some small way to give to all my fb friends.

Merry Christmas.

Back to it: democracy is a process, not a moment

Here’s my latest communication to my MP, Paul Blomfield, following Tim Farron’s announcement today.

Dear Paul

I have tried many times to email you about this and each time I get your standard email response. I appreciate that you have many people trying to contact you and I think that it’s fine to send out standard responses. But please can you make sure that your response actually answers the question I am asking this time?

This morning, Tim Farron has confirmed that his eight MPs will vote against triggering Article 50 unless there is a second referendum on the eventual Brexit deal.

I would like to know whether you will support that vote.

There is no need for me to elaborate in detail the reasons I am asking this question. On 24 June, you spoke about how bad leaving the EU will be for Sheffield – pointing to EU money that would have helped us build the local economy. You know that the 23 June vote was based at least in part (and we will never know quite how much) on misinformation and lies. Our universities (a key plank in Sheffield’s economic well-being as well as bringing much of value in other terms to the city) rely on EU collaboration, funding, staff, and above all on EU and international students. All of this is under threat of being lost when we leave the EU.

Democracy is a process, not a moment. This is not about “disrespecting the vote on 23 June”. This is about asking us, the people who put you into power, what we want, once we see what the deal is on the table. In our constitution, parliament, not the government is sovereign. The Miller case reminds us of this. If you and your fellow MPs are courageous enough, we can have an informed decision about whether to leave the EU, based on information about what the options are, and the consequences of those options.


Tamara Hervey

Research and teaching equality and diversity in legal education settings: Sheffield Law School September 2016

  • LERN@LegalEdResearch

Our workshop co-hosted with @sheffielduni is beginning! Prof. Tamara Hervey welcomes all participants. Jess Guth creates hashtag 


Prof Hilary Sommerlad @LawLeeds takes the floor to give keynote:

Legal Professionalism and Diversity:

challenges for legal education and legal services providers in the contemporary UK context

Two studies. One involves participants drawing pictures of lawyers.

How did students see legal field? – drawings are fascinating. Dissonance b/een view +background: white, male, middle class

Interesting that part of appeal was that they didn’t see themselves in those pictures. But also awareness of outsider status

Second study involves interviews with Magic Circle and similar law firms.

Sommerlad – things are getting much worse in the profession!

Overall ‘feel’ from keynote: depressing. According to the speaker.

Sommerlad: Creation of a whole new labour market for the inauthentic lawyers. Depressing!

But ‘feel’ in the room is indefatigable.
We need to empower students to understand all of this because that changes the nature of the dynamics

Not ignoring gloomy narrative but telling stories of hope

Over to parallel panels:

A Inclusion, Unconscious Bias, and Affect-based learning Chair/Discussant: Chalen Westaby, Sheffield Hallam University.  Papers on Using the affective domain in teaching diversity and equality, Emma Jones, The Open University; Inspired by Law: a gallery of and for inspiring lawyers – the faces of equality and diversityDr Michael Rodney, Alan Birbeck and Kim Silver, London South Bank University; and The Fairness Project – an Interactive Workshop, Rachel Nir and Tina McKee, University of Central Lancashire;

Panel 1B Overcoming barriers to diversity in legal education Chair / Discussant: Charlotte O’Brien, University of York. Papers on Disability in Legal Education: How to Achieve ‘Inclusive Legal Education’?, Gauthier de Beco, School of Law – University of Leeds; Facilitating students’ learning of equality and diversity issues by applying sociological concepts to the use of simulated clients in an employment law module, Jenny Gibbons, University of York; and Defining the Paradigm of the Contemporary Globalized Legal Education, Midjohodo Franck Gloglo, Intellectual Property and International Trade Law Scholar, Associate Fellow, Center for International Sustainable Development Law, University of Laval, Canada

There’s work to be done here.

There’s more scholarship re access for disabled students than there is on disability in curriculum.

Interesting Q about nature of merit – everything that challenges the idea of ‘good lawyer’ is constructed as deficit

Conversations, real and virtual:

I really do love the idea of building your curriculum around the students in the classroom. You can be inclusive +challenging

Jess Guth: So, teachers – do you only ever ask questions you know the answer to in the classroom? Tamara Hervey: never. How boring! I only ask questions I /don’t/ know the answer to! Jess Guth: Me too – what’s the point of asking questions when you already know the answer?!?

Could globalised legal ed or exchange programme build cultural capital for students (or of course reduce importance of it)

Elaine Freer on social mobility at the bar: background makes it difficult to penetrate the community of the bar

Hilary Sommerlad – the bar relies on its ‘mystique’ as an economic benefit, so why would they want to change this?

Excellent discussion on the use of speech in legal culture

Second round of parallel panels:

Panel 2A: Diversity and equality in Legal Careers Chair/Discussant: Andrew Callaghan, University of Sheffield. Social mobility and socio-economic diversity in legal education: what can be learnt from an attempt to improve diversity at the Bar? Elaine Freer, University of Cambridge; Diversity data among solicitors and on GDL/LPC attainment; and Debra Malpass, Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Panel 2B Ethical and intersectional questions Chair/Discussant Jessica Guth, Leeds Beckett University. The Henry Higgins Conundrum, Dominic De Saulles, Centre for Professional Legal Studies, Cardiff School of Law and Politics; and Only Relatively Equal? Differences and hierarchies in the Equality Act 2010 – diversity in the legal profession, Steven Vaughan, Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham and Elisabeth Griffiths, Northumbria Law School, University of Northumbria at Newcastle.

Excellent discussions event on equality/diversity great discussions on your data and our paper

And the final roundtable, chaired by Prof Lisa Webley:

Need to educate students about what cannot be taken for granted (EU and Human Rights Act).

If you haven’t read ‘s work around the gendered nature of welfare cuts etc then do! It’s powerful and important

And praise from the participants:

Thank you for making a day of resisting the neoliberal drivers in HE possible. It’s been fab!

Sep 16 Great conference on in the profession

Sep 16 @TamaraHervey@LegalEdResearch thanks from for a great day exploring equality and diversity in Sheffield!

Sep 17 Excellent and thought-provoking conference yesterday, thanks to LERN and University of Sheffield

If you’d like to read another person’s view of the day, may I recommend Jess Guth’s blogs:




The long view, how difficult it is to take it and still be optimistic, and what I’m doing about that

Circumpolar_AZ81.jpgPhotocredit: LCGS Russ – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15270259

There’s something profoundly depressing in reading and writing about equality and diversity in law and legal education. The more recent things I’ve been reading, about how the legal profession, and legal education, are riddled with inequalities based on sex, race, ethnicity, socio-economic class, nationality, (dis)ability, sexuality, gender … repeat messages from things I was reading in the 1990s and 2000s, which in turn repeat messages from things I was reading in the 1980s, and I’m sure they go back and back and back, if I only had time to look.

In this regard, of course, the legal profession and legal education are no different to other areas of life and the world. People in powerful groups make life harder for people in less powerful groups. Sometimes they do so deliberately; I like to be optimistic and charitable about motives and believe that probably more often they do so unwittingly.

If we care at all about these phenomena – and I do – we want to make sure that anyone whom we in a position to educate learns about them. In my case, I want my  UG students to understand that, for instance, while more than 60% of the UG cohort in Sheffield Law School are women, there have only ever been six women on the Supreme Court of India; four on the US Supreme Court; four on the Constitutional Court of South Africa; (I believe) three on the Federal Court of Malaysia; just one on the UK Supreme Court. I want my daughters to understand that not one single woman has ever been a Roman Catholic priest, and also that that official church position is not what many Roman Catholics believe to be right. I want anyone who is prepared to listen to understand that (statistically speaking) police officers in many countries treat the liberty and the very lives of black people as worth less than the lives and liberty of white people. And so on.

With this desire to educate about how bad it all is, there is a danger that the curriculum, that our conversation, becomes all about numbers and statistics. This kind of data shows, in ways that are incontrovertible, or at least relatively difficult to challenge, how bad it all is. The numbers ‘speak for themselves’. They say how unequal life is, the law is, and for how long this has been so. I don’t doubt that there is a certain power in having that voice heard.

But it also plays into a kind of narrative of despair.

If we’re going to educate in a more hopeful way, then we need a different approach. (Or at least an additional approach.) And that’s why the students on the Equality and Diversity project are recommending learning using insights from positionality.

At this point in writing the blog, I had a happy two hours trying to track down the precise meaning of this word, and when it was first used in the way that my students and the literature they have been reading use it. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that in this sense, the first use is in the 1980s in feminist literature. I think it may be Linda Martín Alcoff’s “Cultural Feminism v. Post-Structuralism: The Identity Crisis in Feminist Theory” SIGNS Spring 1988, 405-436, or it may be Julia Kristeva.

The idea of positionality stands in opposition to essentialism. It takes seriously the position, the lived experience of those in whom we are interested – in this case people who are disadvantaged in the legal profession and legal education. It’s related to intersectionality, in that it allows for multiple identities, rather than pigeonholing individuals into just one box (black, female, disabled, etc).

And because positionality focuses on lived experience, it pays great attention to people’s stories. I’ve been interested in narrative, and how it works with legal texts and law in general, for a while now. But I haven’t yet thought seriously about how it works in terms of education. (Well, that’s not true – I haven’t thought seriously in a work context about that. I’ve thought a great deal about it in a family context. My children know (now) that, for instance, fairy tales embody truths, even if they are not true in a literal sense (yes, girls, there are wolves in the woods). They understand that the Old Testament bible stories we read every Advent embody truths about what Christians believe to be the nature of God. And so on.)


So, to construct a narrative of hope, in encouraging learning in Sheffield Law School about equality and diversity, we will be telling stories. We could start with Belva Ann Lockwood, one of the first women lawyers in the US. But to bring it home, we’ll tell about the first woman to graduate from Sheffield Law School in 1927. Her name was Alice Josephine Duke. We think she went on to work in the League of Nations in Geneva. There are more stories of women in the law in the UK here.

For Belva Ann, for Alice Josephine, law school may have been a pretty lonely place. To see that it need not always be the way it is now, we need to take the long view.


Letter to my MP

*I am very happy for anyone who wishes to use all or part of this to write to their MP

Dear Paul Blomfield,

I accept that the role of Parliament is to implement the democratic will of the people in this country. If I had voted Leave in the referendum on 23 June, it might have been because

– I care about my local area and I fear for its future (jobs, housing, hospitals, schools …)

– I care about the NHS

– I worry about “sovereignty”

I understand that the negotiations to Leave the EU are now likely to go ahead on “the Norway model”. This is what George Osborne seems to be saying, and what Boris Johnson seems to be saying.

Can you please ask the government on my behalf what arrangements are being made in the negotiations to protect

– the EU’s investment in deprived areas (I understand Cornwall and Wales have already asked to keep their EU money – how will this work on the Norway model?)

– the immigration rules that bring the doctors, nurses and other medical professionals we need to run the NHS now

– “sovereignty” if we are going to be “rule takers” in the EEA rather than “rule makers” in the EU

Please keep asking these questions until we get clear answers. And please think about how you are representing the will of those in your constituency. It is your responsibility to make sure our voices are heard.

If as the representative of your constituency, you become convinced that it is the best reflection of the will of the people that the UK remain within the EU, then please use your vote accordingly.


Tamara Hervey

Healthier ever after?


My long-time collaborator and friend, Martin McKee, saw it before I did.

“I’m getting a few people together on the health aspects of the EU referendum debate”, he explained, back in January. (“A few people” for Martin tends to mean, say, members of the House of Lords, or the Royal College of Physicians, or in the World Health Organisation.) “We could do with a lawyer who understands the EU and health – would you join us?”

And so my involvement in the EU referendum debates began. A small contribution, in the grand scheme of things. I spent an entire weekend reading, re-reading and decoding the negotiating texts of the TTIP. I nervously prepared to speak on Radio 4, appear in a panel for Sheffield Law School, address a group of interested people at CoVi with Craig Bennett of Friends of the Earth and Lord Andrew Lansley, the former Health Secretary. I learned more about how social media works from Mike Galsworthy of ScientistsForEU. I reluctantly deleted a post on Facebook, because someone in another law school dubbed the post as ‘smug’ for its claim of expertise.

My daughter searched the internet for a quotation from the late MP Jo Cox, and painstakingly wrote it on our front window, as a small act of solidarity.

This one

And, even by 22 June, there was still a part of me that simply could not believe that the NHS could be such a central part of the EU referendum debate.

Because the way health systems are organised and financed is not an EU competence. Because EU migration isn’t the main migration issue when it comes to health. Because governments have a great deal of discretion on how they implement EU law involving health (even public health). Because EU governments have negotiated health system opt outs from TTIP.

But these were all nuances that became lost, in the way the discussions unfolded.

When you’ve spent your entire career, as I have, learning about and teaching EU law, and trying, in any small way possible, to use that knowledge to pursue socially progressive agendas, it does feel odd to be arguing for the EU. After all, as I have often observed to my students, the EU may be understood as a “nasty capitalist organisation”. Trade deals (like the TTIP) can have similar unpleasant – and sometimes devastating – effects on those without power.

But the UK referendum on EU membership forced us all into a yes/no debate. There’s no room for the conditional  in such a choice. So, at least to begin with, I found myself explaining the potential of the EU for change for the better, with illustrations of those things that the EU has done (for women, for workers, for impoverished regions, for the environment, to constrain the global tobacco industry, and so on) as evidence of the promise of more.

But as time went on, I found myself spending a great deal of time simply correcting gross factual inaccuracies as they emerged. And trying to use legal arguments to stop misleading uses of the NHS logo.  I had not appreciated the ways in which the media, in an age of ‘instant news’, simply reproduce each other’s stories, without checking their veracity. Parts of the media from which I expect more disappointed me hugely. I will never buy the Guardian again (though they did publish a later letter).

And it wasn’t enough.

For me, as perhaps for others in universities, the ways in which “experts” were depicted by the media as untrustworthy became impossible to ignore. Scientists, economists, academics were all branded as equivalent to power-driven politicians. As my former colleague Rebecca Sanders observed, it is hugely insulting to assert that the general public are not interested in the views of experts, or too stupid to understand those views.

One thing the EU referendum has taught me is that the claim of authority that comes from the kind of knowledge built on deep reflection and learning, valued within the academy, is much more fragile than I hoped.

But equally, I was reminded, over and over, of the generosity of the academic communities to which I am privileged to belong. In Twitter conversations, emails, Facebook, videos, infographics, and in face-to-face encounters – people were giving up their time and energy to inform and assist. Some were ‘big names’ – known to me only through reading their published work. We were all still doing our ‘day jobs’ – teaching students, marking their work, writing papers, running labs, engaging with collaborators, going to meetings. But no one was ‘too busy’ or ‘too important’ to opt out. And in all of this, the disciplinary distinctions that sometimes beset universities were irrelevant. This was the academy at its best.

I can’t name everyone here. I lost count of the times Steve PeersPaul James Cardwell and Jo Shaw helped me out. I couldn’t have got on top of TTIP without Gabriel Siles-Brügge.

Simon Hix (by Twitter) and Lisa McKenzie (by email) reminded me that, while overall immigration is a net benefit to the economy and creates jobs, we mustn’t ignore its geographical dimensions. The localized effects of migration are an important part of the lived experiences of many in the UK today. Rather than demonising immigrants, we need redistributive policies that bring more local services – including health services – to those parts of the UK directly affected. Now the UK has to renegotiate its agreements with the EU and the rest of the world. The details of these agreements will affect the NHS, public health, education, and social welfare both indirectly through their effects on the economy, and in some cases directly. Where global (or European) trade is underpinned by law that supports the interests of capital, there’s a job to be done to secure a better deal for those who need it most. Law professors have a small part to play.

I shall be carrying on, until we are all ‘healthier ever after’.


“Experts” Facebook Discussion June 2016

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.

Tammy Hervey

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.

Jonty Este Jonty Este I entirely sympathise with your point of view on this Tammy. I’ve often quoted experts such as yourself (ie: qualified university researchers who write in The Conversation) to my group of Brexit-inclined friends in my local pub only to be told that they are either “mistaken” or “making it up”. V frustrating!
Alan Campbell Alan Campbell It is a sad reflection of our anti-intellectual anti-professional culture propagated by the tabloids and trashy media commentators. The hypocrisy of whom is breathtaking
Guy Wyatt Guy Wyatt Unlike you Tammy, I do cut my own hair, but we all know how that turned out. I absolutely agree with you.
Oisin Suttle Oisin Suttle I agree that this is very much the tone of the Brexit debate, and as a shift I think it worries me at least as much as the substantive issue. If we refuse to place trust in expertise, whether that be academic, bureaucratic or any other variety, then we’re in serious trouble. If we similarly refuse to place any trust in the bona fides of those in authority – and that’s similarly been a huge aspect of the Brexit case – not just refusing to place blind trust, but refusing to grant any credibility – then the prospects for legitimate government start to look pretty dim. 

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 

Frank Pasquale Frank Pasquale I sympathize with your concerns–and I blame, in part, the relentless attacks on the legal profession and the academy, oft abetted by tech and finance interests. 

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.

Michael Szollosy Michael Szollosy I saw this yesterday, which is helping me make sense of exactly the point you are making (accepting that I am nowhere near as qualified as you are): http://www.telegraph.co.uk/…/michael-goves-guide-to…/
Kim Balmer Kim Balmer A few months ago it never occurred to me that people would actually vote leave. Stunned that we’re being told the polls are close. It’s very scary what we seem to have become as a nation.
Aliali Boom Aliali Boom Do any EU lawyers favour Brexit? If people perceive the experts as disagreeing with each other then they will be more inclined to pick a side (for any reason) and think the other side is lying. Eg the economics posts I’ve seen on remain/leave seem to involve plausible experts invoking economics principles beyond my understanding – on either side. So I wouldn’t know what to believe. This seems less likely to be the case for law, but maybe that’s because I’m a lawyer so it all seems clearer to me already.
Celia Wells Celia Wells Well said but I don’t think brexit is so much about dismissing experts as about a visceral emotional reaction to the woes various of life in 21st century UK. Of course hardly any (none) of those are to do with the EU. Many can be laid at the door of the very Tories who have launched this idiotic referendum but the schadenfreude is not going to be at all satisfying. (Sorry I didn’t study German so sp cd be wrong). It also shows, if we didn’t already know it, how easy it is to whip up xenophobia with some handy slogans such as ‘we want our country back.’ Who is the ‘we’ and what is ‘our’ entitlement?
Jo Shaw Jo Shaw The people who wrote Revolt on the Right would suggest that “we” (i.e. the mainstream) have completely misunderstood the political movements going on here, and this is a major contributing factor. Dismissing experts is a by product, not a causal factor. I think it’s important to keep that straight in our heads.
Tammy Hervey Tammy Hervey Yup, I’m sure you’re right Jo.
Tammy Hervey And Celia is right too – see the AA Gill piece in the Times that is doing the rounds
Alph Thomas Alph Thomas Well said that woman
Steve Peers Steve Peers I pointed out an ‘EU tax plot story’ was silly since the UK has a veto. Someone said I was wrong. I pointed them to the Treaty articles which set out the veto. They said I was trying to tell them that black was white – (not the other way around!). And today’s Sun says that stocks are soaring, whereas they collapsed. This really is a post-truth environment.
Michael Szollosy Michael Szollosy I agree. But it’s so sad. I don’t think that this was supposed to be the consequences of the once-revolutionary hermeneutics of suspicion, or of the postmodern dissolution of the metanarrarive – believing rich white men will over expertise and truth. 


Frank Pasquale's photo.
Steve Peers Steve Peers He knows more than the entire medical profession, of course!
Michael Szollosy Michael Szollosy Is that true? 

I can’t tell what’s real and what’s satire any more…

Mike Shilson Mike Shilson Tammy Hervey An interesting analogy with hairdressers and car mechanics, but we have all had different experiences of even the same hairdresser or car mechanic. Even the World’s leading authority and most qualified “expert” on Obstetrics will have no experience and knowledge of childbirth, if the doctor/Professor is a “he”.
So often it is a question of perception and perspective.
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).

Few people under 50 can recall a time when Britain had Europe’s largest fishing fleet, writes Christopher Booker.
Michael Szollosy Michael Szollosy But personal, anecdotal narratives – though vital in establishing the bigger picture – should not alone determine our course of action, outside the informed opinion of experts, you would agree? 

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 Hervey Tammy Hervey I think that’s my point, really.
Steve Peers Steve Peers Well, here’s an alternative expert view of the EU’s fisheries policy and the UK: https://theconversation.com/what-would-brexit-really-mean…
Tammy Hervey Thanks Steve Peers – any use to you Mike Shilson?
Mike Shilson Mike Shilson Thanks Tammy Hervey. The “hot brain” and “cool brain” research may add an interesting twist to the referendum debate:

Lion and wolf cubs, when they learn to stalk prey, learn fairly quickly that they must delay the urge…
Mike Shilson Mike Shilson The Government fishery report makes interesting reading, so can see where both sides can find statistics to support their case: 
“Which groups + organisations do Leave supporters trust on #EURef? Generally none. Academics most trusted for…
Michael Szollosy Michael Szollosy Wow. That’s really instructive. And depressing. And scary.
Rebecca Armour Rebecca Armour Nick Armour – a conversation you might find interesting xx
Mike Shilson Mike Shilson Tammy Hervey The main reason why the population is “confused” and no longer “trusts” is highlighted, at 15 minutes into David Cameron’s speech to the CBI in November 2015:
Tammy Hervey Tammy Hervey “the argument is how are we going to be best off” Is that the bit you mean Mike Shilson?
Mike Shilson Mike Shilson Yes Tammy. “Best off” is interesting and can be interpreted in a number of ways. Earlier on in his speech, he stresses the importance of devolution to local authorities to set business rates, and though all seem to agree on the “Common Market”, he stresses the importance of “flexibility” within it, but expressed grave concern about closer political and monetary union (25:45 minutes into the speech).
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
Tammy HerveyTammy HerveyCraig Bennett of FoE told me that their analysis was that without the EU the North Sea would have been fished dry.
John Green John Green I am reluctant to enter into a debate on this, but in the first referendum I voted ‘in’ because I believe in fair trade and that it would benefit our exporting businesses, and help Europe trade with us. I was nervous of what it would do to Commonwealth trade, and to family members who live outside Europe. For the economic reasons, if you ask 100 economists you will get 100 different answers – and yes I studied Politics, Economics and the British Constitution before David Cameron was born. The ‘experts’ called to support ‘remain’ are in general big businesses, or are organisations like the BBC, CBI and so on, all of whom receive funding from the EU. I spent quite a while working, at the beginning of my career, with small businesses as a supplier, and towards the end of my career as an adviser to start up businesses as well as periods in between in business training and development. Most of them do not trade with the EU, but have to obey EU laws. I have seen our fishing industry decimated, and the amount of paperwork imposed on agriculture is unbelievable. I used to see colleagues from the Civil Service go off to Brussels to agree legislation which our elected members have no say over. Unlike our House of Commons, MEPs cannot propose or reject laws. It is the total lack of democratic control and influence over the EU that has led me to the opposite view and I will be voting to leave.
Tammy Hervey Tammy Hervey John Green thanks for your post – obviously you know that I do not agree with your analysis and I am also reluctant to let this get in the way of our friendship which I value greatly. But it isn’t true that MEPs cannot reject laws – they can, and do.
Sorcha MacLeod Sorcha MacLeod And even if we leave the EU and stay within the EEA (as seems to be being proposed, although it’s incredibly unclear) we will continue to be bound by EU law, still be required to contribute financially BUT we’d have no input into lawmaking or policy in the way that we do now. How is that an improvement? 

Here’s my personal, non-economic take on it:https://www.facebook.com/sorcha.macleod/posts/1048781065187493