Sunday, December 22, 2013
When it comes to “Europe”, David Cameron must feel like Brer Rabbit when he gets entangled with the Tar Baby. The more he struggles to be free, the more stuck he becomes. He launches his great bid to renegotiate a “new relationship” for Britain with the EU, only to discover that his European colleagues are not remotely interested, because such a thing would be against all the rules of their club. He and Theresa May huff and puff about how they are going to stem the flood of immigration, only to be told that, under the EU’s “freedom of movement” rules, all their little ploys are out of the question.
Brer Cameron calls for an end to the “tax avoidance” that costs Britain billions in lost revenue, only to find that, under the EU’s “freedoms of capital and establishment”, Google, Amazon and countless other multi-nationals are free to offshore their UK earnings for tax purposes to anywhere in the world, including tax havens.
He proclaims that we can only be saved by fracking for huge quantities of cheap shale gas, only to find that Brussels, under heavy pressure from green NGOs, has been drafting a new law that could make fracking anywhere in the EU virtually impossible.
We may wish Mr Cameron a happy Christmas, but when it comes to his dreams for the New Year, it seems “Europe” will ensure that they turn out all to be nightmares.
The BBC and the warmists are 'victims of group-think’
The most interesting response to my item last week on how the BBC’s coverage of so many issues is shaped and distorted by a one-sided “narrative” was from a reader directing me to a passage on “group-think” in The Blunders of Governments, by Anthony King and Ivor Crewe. They quote the brilliant analysis of the symptoms of this phenomenon by the Yale psychologist Irving J Janis in his book The Victims of Group Think. Janis shows how group-think creates in those caught up in it a false sense of “consensus”, which is unable to accept any alternative viewpoint or evidence that contradicts it.
His portrayal of how the victims of group-think get so carried away by the moral rightness of their cause that they cannot tolerate any dissent from it helps us to understand not just the collective psychology of the BBC but many other examples in our time: not least that “consensus” on global warming.
His account of “the illusion of unanimity”, and how group-thinkers regard anyone daring to question their belief-system as an “enemy” to be discredited, superbly characterises the mentality of that small group of “climate scientists” at the heart of driving the warming scare.
This was never more clearly brought home than by those Climategate emails, showing how they were ready to fiddle their data to promote what they themselves called “the cause”, and to suppress the views of any scientists they saw as a threat to their illusory “consensus”.
We all casually use the term “group-think”, but I had not known how comprehensively Janis explains so much that is puzzling about this world we live in. I am grateful to David Samuel-Camps for alerting me to it.
A card shop in my local town reports that seven customers in a morning said how surprised they had been, having bought stamps in the post office, to hear counter staff apologising that the only Christmas stamps available this year are “religious”. In a different spirit, may I thank all those readers who have this year sent me much-appreciated messages. Although there were too many alas for all to be answered, I wish you all a happy Christmas.