OUR governing elites are focused on their causes, not the public interest. These causes, and the actions arising from them, rarely involve any cost-benefit analyses, impact assessments or public interest tests. The reason is that the policy costs are always high, the public must bear those costs, and the societal benefits are ephemeral, theoretical, or non-existent.
They never relate to the everyday needs of the public such as basic education, reduced crime, better roads and public services, or a lower cost of living. They are, in one sense or another, exotic and always global. Being global empowers the jet-setting activists and global government enthusiasts who have influence at that level, but they like to bypass national governments where democratic influences have a chance to temper damaging policies.
A feature of the causes, which usually become obsessions, is that they demand social and behavioural change from the public and condemn whatever was normal before.
Will Jones in the Daily Sceptic identified three of the causes as climate change, critical race theory and Covid restrictions, and argued that all had the common features of being urgent, impossible to achieve as stated policy and so were ultimately pointless.
To those characteristics it is right to add ‘endless’ because no end state exists for the demand for climate action or diversity policies to correct for past ‘oppression’ of minorities, although temporarily and at least, non-pharmaceutical Covid measures to control our normal activities have finally been dropped in many countries after two years.
The climate action is predicated on two unproven hypotheses. One is that recent atmospheric temperature changes are primarily due to humanity’s addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, and the second is that the change to net zero CO2 emissions in the UK will make a material difference to the temperature.
Powerful elites turn these hypotheses into facts and therefore claim action is required. But because scientific evidence can’t back up the hypotheses, a consensus needs to be created of willingly corrupted scientists, activists, and journalists to force the issue on the politicians responsible for policy implementation. The politicians feel unable to argue against the consensus and no counter-arguments are allowed or discussed, leading to the policies being introduced.
The widespread adoption of identity-based policies and the ‘woke’ agenda has not required evidence that there is a problem of racism in the UK. The UK’s system of meritocracy and push for equality of opportunity had thankfully largely undermined racists. Wokery encourages discrimination based on race particularly against white people, with a belief attached that it is right to associate whiteness with historic injustices for which the current white population should feel responsible, guilty, and so make amends.
Influential media organisations and businesses as well as government are sufficiently in awe of this new agenda that they promote it, even though the public do not obviously support it and the discrimination involved is in danger of marginalising the majority population, undermining their confidence and that of the nation.
Identity politics thus becomes a major issue in government to the extent that the Parliamentary Labour Party can’t decide who or what is a woman. The Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) agenda permeates industry and the institutions of the state, with minimal debate and no impact assessments or requirement for evidence that there is a public interest in adopting it.
It is the third case that highlights best how a cause is created by the authorities and adopted across the governing elites without regard to the consequences on the public. This is the adoption of the non-pharmaceutical measures for the Covid pandemic, particularly the lockdowns of the whole population.
As has been highlighted so frequently and thoroughly in TCW, lockdowns and school and university closures have caused great damage to the livelihoods of children, students, the frail elderly and the working population. This didn’t count because the monomaniacal cause of ‘fighting’ Covid made the impacts insignificant in the eyes of policy makers.
Once lockdowns became a cause, a rational, measured cross-checking and due process approach was dropped. Potential adverse and confounding effects were rarely discussed.
Simplistic causes pursued with religious zeal are much easier to focus on, and doing so gives kudos and importance to the institutions adopting them. It becomes nothing more than institutional virtue-signalling. We can be certain of this because the institutions brag about their actions but can never say anything about tangible benefits because they are so few. Staff and managers may feel good about themselves for doing it but that is not the same as showing that the institution or business is any better off.
All the causes need to be deemed imperative to overcome the objection that they are ruinous to the public. The cause becomes greater than the health, wealth and wellbeing of ordinary people. Justifying this is difficult, which is why it requires the corruption of science, rational thought and the adoption of pressure groups and NGOs that can influence and persuade ministers, civil servants and parliamentarians, usually by creating a bogus consensus of interested parties.
The UK’s Parliamentary system and broader constitutional arrangements have supposedly evolved to protect the people from this kind of radical and irrational hijacking of policy action. The reason that both have failed over these highlighted causes is because they cannot cope with the power of the institutions that have become infected with them.
Academia, vested interests in business and the mainstream media, with activists masquerading as journalists and TV presenters, overwhelm the due process of political decision-making.