“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” – Walt Whitman
Voting is a duty. A lot of people think it’s a right, but that only covers part of it. You don’t just have a right to vote for who governs you, but a duty to choose the right person to govern everyone. A lot of people get this and you can people voting against their own interests all the time. It’s a noble thing.
But when this sense of duty collides with the ignorance of the British public something horrible happens. Were people to vote in their own interest, we’d have a much nicer world for immigrants. When asked about issues affecting the country, immigration comes out tops, when asked about issues affecting them personally immigration vanishes.
Tuesday’s post listed just some of the ways the public are wrong about the world. If 15% of girls under 16 were pregnant each year that would be worth concern. It would imply that all girls aged over 14 were constantly pregnant. That demands action. I’m not too liberal to admit that. If we did spend more on JSA than pensions that would be worth concern.
Given current state pension spending of £74.22 billion and the over-25 rate of JSA of £72.40, we’d be paying JSA to twenty million people. That’s the population of Angola. If that was true, then I can see how people would think overseas aid was on of the top three UK budget expenditures.
People want to help their fellow citizens and immigration has become a flashpoint for many concerns. Housing, the economy, poverty, fairness, inequality. All these things converge on what the public think they know about how immigration is affecting someone else. They think 31% of the population are immigrants, when the official figures are 13%.
I think this concern is genuine, but misguided. A lot of what I’ve written probably makes me sound like I dislike the public and think they are scum. But that’s not true. I think they’re very caring individuals who are deeply, deeply wrong about how to help people.
They show great concern for their fellow citizens’ wellbeing when it comes to immigration, but great vindictiveness on many other matters. They think capping benefits at £26,000 per household will save a lot of money, but it won’t. They think it will work because they have a lot view of their fellow citizens, the citizens they very much want to help, are scamming them.
There’s no such thing as public opinion. You can’t collate and rank all the opinions everyone has. They don’t and can’t stack properly. But worse than this, even individuals don’t have consistent opinions. They think it’s important to protect their fellow cheating citizens from their kind immigrant neighbours.
Fighting Ukip is hard because of this. They can promise contradictory things and get away with it because people can believe contradictory things. They believe them willingly. Ukip are an anti-immigrant party with a pro-immigration MP (pro-immigration for an MP that is), who are campaigning as the champions of the UK libertarian tendency who want to protect the NHS. In government Ukip would probable deliver contradictory things and people would probably like it. People, you can’t trust ’em.