The power of selective perception in brexit discussions

I just spent a good hour or so reading John Sydenham‘s blog. At least I assume he wrote it after he alerted me to it on twitter. It’s called Political Thoughts – the magazine. You can read it here.  It seems like me John also spent considerable time perusing the latest ONS trade figures like I did in my previous post. However he comes to conclusions that are diametrically opposed to mine. Him being a Europhobe and me being a Europhile you wouldn’t expect anything different.  The best I can recommend to my followers on IdentitySpace is to read both and make up your own mind. I’d love to read in a comment what conclusions you arrive at.

I will reproduce just John’s first paragraph as a block quote. The rest you will have to read for yourself.  Then I reproduced below verbatim my comments to John.  Not that I don’t trust him not to delete them; John has commented on IdentitySpace several times and I let his comments stand. We can agree to disagree like civilized people. Here’s Johnny!!!

“The [ONS] data shows that UK Trade is performing far better outside the EU than within it and constitutes grounds for an immediate re-examination of the UK-EU trading relationship. The data also shows that there is probably a systemic problem in UK-EU trade. Why is the UK-EU trade balance so bad?”

Note my first comment is a comment on a comment, where John says UK media are all against brexit and favour remaining in the EU.

  1. “The UK media are incredibly partisan and favour the EU?” That put a smile on my face John. If you mentioned just the BBC or the Guardian newspaper, there might be some kippers nodding their heads in agreement with you, but the reality is the UK europhobic and xenophobic tabloids with the Express only second to Nigel Farage pinning every woe the UK faces on its EU membership. Pull the other one john?


  2. In general there is so much smoke and mirrors going on in this blog post of yours John, that it is hard to begin debunking it.

    The first sentence “The data shows that UK Trade is performing far better outside the EU than within it” is a classic: It can easily be rewritten in the sense that ‘despite EU membership’ or even “because of membership of the EU” non-EU trade is doing rather well. Those two variants would be just as true depending whether one views the EU glass half full or half empty.

    Then John tries to convince the casual reader of his blog that somehow those evil Europeans are putting Euros in the pockets of unsuspecting Brits, who instead of changing them straight into sterling, feel obliged to spend them on EU manufactured goods rather than UK produce or save them up for their next summer holidays on the continent.

    I have written about the UK’s other deficit extensively in my own blog IdentitySpace and unsurprising my conclusions are diametrically opposed to John’s. I actually do blame UK exporters for not pulling their socks up, for not diving into the enormous opportunities of being part of the greatest single market right on the UK’s doorstep.

    What I observe is UK eBayers not even being arsed to change their delivery preferences from ‘deliver to UK and Eire only’ to ‘will deliver anywhere in the EU, let alone start trading globally e.g. exporting to their precious Commonwealth brethren. So much for ‘Global Britain’. And its not just UK eBayers, it’s also big successful UK DIY chains, major UK mail order companies letting the EU side down. Being a UK ex-pat living in France I know this from bitter experience. Even paying in sterling with my Barclaycard and sourcing my own transport to France, many UK companies won’t take an order from a ‘frog’.

    And John thinks this is because the UK is being spoiled by too many EU Direct Foreign Investments. Well in my blog I call that ‘Selling the UK family silver‘ IMHO it is time UK traders got off their lazy arses and started selling abroad rather than buying, which seems to me the easy bit in international trade.

    If I look at EU neighbour The Netherlands, this country earns almost 30% of its income from the export of goods and services. In 2012, the value of exports was 86.7% of the Netherlands’ GDP. The comparable figure for exports of goods and services (% of GDP) in the United Kingdom peaked at 32% in 2011, according to the World Bank.

    Could the truth be far more inconvenient? Could it be that maybe, just maybe, Britain isn’t such a great trading nation in the first place? No wonder the UK government now pays for TV adds to persuade UK SMEs to start exporting. You see dreaming of the UK being this great trading nation is one thing, going out there and actually doing it quite another.

    And as they say learn to walk (selling in the EU common market) before thinking you can start running in a global race (after brexit)


  3. Rereading this blog a second and a third time (it is a nice work of fiction) I come to the conclusion that it is in fact a brilliant paper on the missed opportunities of the UK opting out of the EU’s common currency. Let’s face it John puts the ball in his own Eurosceptic goal when he admits: “The UK displays the typical profile of an overvalued currency with the expected rise in imports and a fall in exports”. Had the UK in fact not opted out of the Euro common currency, like Germany UK manufacturing would have received an enormous boost from an undervalued Euro, instead of being devastated by an over valued pound.

    The truth is consecutive Tory governments have favoured financial services for their chums in the City of London to the detriment of labour voting workers in Britain’s northern industrial heartlands. Personally I would have favoured the UK economy to have two legs to stand on: Industry and Services. #brexit is not going to miraculously revive UK manufacturing and the UK export of goods as John suggests, rather it risks killing the goose that lays its only golden eggs. You guessed it the one that lives in the City of London.


  4. There is a final observation I would like to make. Like John, in my blog IdentitySpace I like to comment on ONS trade statistics as they are published. My latest review of the 2015 figures you can read here:

    Helpfully (or maybe the opposite) to stimulate an informed #brexit debate ONS now occasionally treats us to these EU vs. Non-EU statistics that John has faithfully reproduced in this blog. One bar chart graph John selectively choose to ignore can be found on page 12 of the ONS ‘Economic review for 2015’. It shows a further breakdown of what Eurosceptics are so proud of: Their positive non-EU trade balance. First of all it needs clarifying that non-EU trade in goods was also deep in the red in 2015, in fact 36 billion pound in the red. Only when you add ‘services’ this non-EU trade just tips the balance from red to green. But if you look at the ONS breakdown reproduced below  we see that China trade is in the red, India trade is in the red, Norway trade is in the red. What stands out is the enormous surplus generated by the trade with just one single country: the USA. The other surplus countries are not broken down in the graph, but I believe Saudi Arabia makes up the bulk of that other non-EU ‘grey’ lot.

    Call me a Europhile, call me a cynic but it seems to me this brexit ‘Global trade = golden future’ fervent Eurosceptics like to sell the unsuspecting EU referendum voter boils down to nothing but an ‘arms for oil’ trade fomenting more wars and strife in the Middle east where all these refugees flooding Europe scramble away from.



About lasancmt

Passionate about Identity Management Disgusted at #ukip and #brexit
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