The reign of experts and the “post democratic”age

I like good experts. Modern science and technology has delivered some great advances which improve our lives. If I fell ill I would of course consult a doctor and seek expertise.

The problem is the present  age is cursed with some experts  especially in economics and government who keep getting it wrong yet they still expect the rest of us to accept their verdicts however damaging or daft they may be.

Lord Mandelson summmed up the direction of travel when he talked about transition to a post democratic age. Modern governments try to give away their powers and responsibilities  to international and national so called independent  bodies full of alleged experts. They seek to prevent elected governments changing things by locking future governments into the system by binding International treaties. For years our budgets and economic policy were first dictated by the European Exchange Rate Mechanism and then by the Maastricht debt and deficit requirements.Our energy policy is governed by Climate Change Treaties.

Some people want us to be democratic so they oppose locking ourselves into the rules and decisions of national and  international bodies in principle. Other people would not mind if those bodies made wise decisions and did well, but understandably get cross when they lead us to disaster.

The truth is you cannot say you live in a democracy if crucial parts of government are under independent expert control with no democratic accountability. In practice in a democracy like the UK Parliament and government are held responsible for big decisions even if they are taken by so called independent experts. In a later post  I will look again at how the Bank of England is not in fact independent and how wrong it has been on major issues of economic and financial policy over my adult lifetime. It is crucial that fallible expertise is subject to criticism and influence  by elected officials and can be overturned if necessary by the votes of the people. The EU has threatened this important part of our democratic settlement with its rigid legal structure. Those in the Eurozone suffer even more  from its defects.



  1. Pominoz
    May 20, 2019

    Sir John,

    A thoroughly compelling summary of why we need to be out of Europe and then take sensible, British, look at whose advice is relevant. To get there may be prevented as,, next week will see our intrepid PM making a ‘bold offer’ (a.k.a. trick, con job, scam – take your pick) as the WAB is put forward. What is more, we have it on good authority (from the usual ‘project fear’ merchants in the cabinet) that a ‘no deal’ (which WTO would not be) will break up the United Kingdom.

    Quite obviously the whole of the British population is doomed, no doubt compounded by flooding of vast parts due to rising sea levels. What a mess. Perhaps the Government can make suicide pills available as the last spending commitment for the NHS.

    Alternatively, common sense and the determination of ‘the few’ may see this very real ‘Battle of Britain’ result in the epic victory of finally leaving the EU and becoming an independent sovereign nation able to trade openly and without protectionist restrictions, with any part of the world it chooses, including, when they realise what is at stake for them, Europe.

    P.S. There is an excellent, but absolutely frightening, article dated 18th May by Michael Woolgar on Franco-British relations on the website which so accurately details the absolute disaster which is May’s putrid WA. A lengthy article, but I urge all to read it.

    1. Hope
      May 20, 2019

      Thanks, I shall read with interest.

      JR suggest you read Timothy Bradshaw’s excellent article in Conservative Woman today. DT has an article claiming a leak demonstrates there is nothing new or bold in Mayhab’s latest scam. Fly on the wall documentary recently showed the EU parliament president thinks it is a ‘Trade Colony’ deal. It appears to me the leak and this comment shows how dishonest the govt is to bring this servitude plan back again.

      Tory peer Heseltine claims 17.4 million people (the majority who democratically voted and his parliamentary party) who want to leave the EU by a democratic vote are extremists! A view shared by Hammond who has continued profject fear at the Treasury and failed to enact proper measures to leave in a timely way over three years. Not a good way to win elections.

      But the truth is exactly the opposite of what Hesteltine and Hammond state. Hence why Rudd’s new line is absolutely false as she wanted a second referendum, hardly one nation. Anti democratic person still in government, with a wafer thin majority, speaking against alleged govt policy!

    2. Chrisf
      May 20, 2019

      Thank you for the link – very interesting read

    3. Stephen Priest
      May 20, 2019

      ANDREW LILICO: “no deal (the thing we used to call “leaving the EU”)” – quote of the year

    4. Chris
      May 20, 2019

      This is what I fear greatest about how May is aiming to get her WA through: article on The Conservative Woman website shows how May is ruthlessly focused on getting it through and thinks she has found a way. As TCW states, it is indeed a possibility with May’s ruthlessness and willingness to use dishonest means, and politicians and others are underestimating her :
      “THERE is an almost pathological single-mindedness about Mrs May that has been consistently underestimated by the mainstream media. As it was again these last few days, and as I predicted.

      Instead of being mortified into resignation by her summons to the 1922 Committee to be asked, yet again, for a date for her departure, or humiliated by the debacle of her EU election launch – as any normal individual would be – an undeterred Mrs May has not deviated from her main aim of forcing her BRINO ‘deal’ through Parliament, using whatever dishonest means it takes, by 31 July….”

  2. Canister Jon
    May 20, 2019

    It’s hard to know what any of this means. The EU is completely democratic. Experts have no power to set the rules. The rules are set by the Council (elected politicians) and by the Parliament (elected politicians). If anything, it’s the UK that has problems from the perspective of democracy – who elected Mrs May as PM? Who will elect her successor as PM? Who elected the House of Lords? Perhaps you should sort out the UK first before worrying about what happens elsewhere

    1. Roy Grainger
      May 20, 2019

      Who elected Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker ? Not me.

    2. Mike Stallard
      May 20, 2019

      Who prepares the agenda for the Council and the Parliament meetings? In the “democratic” parliament, who is allowed to speak and for how long? Who actually chooses the persons to be Presidents (all five)? Where are the major decisions taken and who is allowed to report their proceedings?
      In no sense is the EU a democracy – the demos consists of people who speak different languages for a start! They are simply united by geography.

    3. Lifelogic
      May 20, 2019

      UK democracy does indeed have serious issues with the Lords. the FPTP system. We have only about 5% MPs who are really sound on leaving the EU cleanly for example – never having voted for the putrid WA. Totally out of kilter with the voters views on this.

      But the EU is totally undemocratic and indeed actively anti-democratic and corrupt with it. It is not even a sensible Demos. If every UK voter voted 100% for Brexit MEPs they could still change nothing.

    4. steadyeddie
      May 20, 2019

      I agree and 90% of legislation by SI. Who protects us from the protectors- EU is a good start.

      1. NickC
        May 20, 2019

        Steadyeddie, If we remain, the EU can take away your rights whenever they want. And you cannot do a thing about it. Because there is no democratic control of the EU.

      2. Hope
        May 20, 2019

        Breifing4brexit, May’s customs union con trick: “…..However, the political declaration makes it quite explicit that such an alternative deal would also involve a customs union. It calls for trade arrangements that will build on a ‘single customs territory’ and ‘obviate the need for rules of origin’. While the government continues to claim otherwise, these conditions are only possible in a customs union – and the EU will certainly insist on that. This a fact many UK politicians and commentators do not yet seem to have grasped.”

        Why have the experts not picked up on this obvious deceit by May.

    5. jerry
      May 20, 2019

      @Canister Jon; “who elected Mrs May as PM? Who will elect her successor as PM?”

      You ask a pertinent question, but then who elects the EU’s President of the Council, President of the Parliament, President of the Commission, not the people for sure, yet you claim the EU is “completely democratic”! If it were wouldn’t those [sarcasm on] Offices of State [sarcasm off] be up for a public vote this month, along with MEPs?

      “Who elected the House of Lords?”

      Who elects the EU Commissioner’s, who hold far more power than any unelected British Peer, even one speaking from the front bench.

      It was the fact that such positions are still appointed under the Lisbon Treaty (an road map towards full Federation) that turned me against the EU, for it is now less democratic today than it has ever been. Far to much power resides with unelected eurocrats and politicos than ever.

    6. formula57
      May 20, 2019

      This very day the Evil Empire’s commitment to democracy is not on show with a Commission tweet saying: –

      “🇪🇺 is peace
      🇪🇺 is freedom
      🇪🇺 is solidarity
      🇪🇺 is diversity
      🇪🇺 is human rights
      🇪🇺 is opportunities
      🇪🇺 is Erasmus
      🇪🇺 is research
      🇪🇺 is protection
      🇪🇺 is equality”
      🇪🇺 is the future.”

      Some literary experts are drawing disturbing comparisons with Orwell’s “1984” and the sloganizing of the Big Brother party.

      As Annunziata Rees-Mogg tweets, “…the most important cornerstone of civilisation is missing. 🇪🇺 is NOT democracy”.

      EU is not working and not on the side of the people.

      1. formula57
        May 20, 2019

        Oops – the sources I copied from use the flag (appearing above as blue boxes) to mean “EU”.

        1. Everhopeful
          May 20, 2019

          If you expand the blue boxes they appear as sweet little EU flags each one complete with a circle of 12 dear little yellow stars.

          1. formula57
            May 20, 2019

            Everhopeful – Thank you for explaining. A pleasure I had denied myself, alas.

      2. NickC
        May 20, 2019

        Formula57, Indeed. And all those “rights” – in the first place stolen from the nation states – can be taken off EU “citizens” whenever the EU wants. Because there is no democratic control of the EU.

      3. The Prangwizard
        May 20, 2019

        Am reading ‘1984’ at present and seeing these EU slogans should frighten everyone.

        If we don’t destroy May, her surrender tresty and her cabinet traitors we will see the equivalent of

        War is Peace
        Freedom is Slavery
        Ignorance is Strength

        next from our own government. We’ve already got the Thought police.

    7. Edward2
      May 20, 2019

      Wrong Jon.
      The Council are appointed as are the Commission as are the Presidents.
      These three areas are the beating powerful heart of the EU and they are not elected by any vote by any citizen of Europe.
      Just the MEPs are elected by us and they have as much power as a parish councillor.
      Nice bit of “whataboutery” at the end too.
      You will not get socialism out of the EU, it will only bring a dreadful undemocratic globalism and a new super rich at your expense.

    8. Adam
      May 20, 2019

      Treaties bind voters into a closed status quo. They are not democratic until the canister they are stored within is open for quality control.

      1. NickC
        May 20, 2019

        Adam, The Lisbon treaty (TEU, TFEU) is unlike most normal international treaties. For example: a UK-Russia treaty on double taxation is limited to the words in the agreement only; unlike the EU’s Lisbon treaty which is an enabling treaty – Lisbon enables the EU to create fresh additional legislation to impose on the UK effectively ad infinitum. Of course Remains are either ignorant of the difference, or know but pretend there isn’t any.

        1. Adam
          May 21, 2019

          Sensible agreements would be fine, but much of what the EU creates infects. Their toxic treaties need antidotes. The Brexit Party is contributing to some effective remedies, as are many Leavers loyal to the well-being of the UK.

    9. Julie Dyson
      May 20, 2019

      There are numerous examples of just how undemocratic the EU actually is and I’m sure others will pick up on these, so I’ll focus on just one:

      How can the Council be even remotely “democratic” when the voice of one member representing 460,000 (Malta) carries equal weight to that of another member representing 66,000,000 (Britain) — especially when the interests of that tiny island nation are completely at odds with those of the much larger island nation?

      More to the point, why should the opinions (and indeed, prejudices) of that 460k Council Member be effectively able to cast a deciding vote directly impacting the fates and fortunes of 66,000,000 people who neither reside in that country nor elected that person to office.

      This is not democracy, this is authoritarianism.

      1. Mitchel
        May 21, 2019

        Under the constitution of the USSR,the 15 Union Republics also had equal representation regardless of size,so,for instance, tiny Estonia had the same as the Russian Soviet Federative Republic.Not that it really mattered!

    10. L Jones
      May 20, 2019

      Good idea, C’Jon. We’ll get away from the ”rules” of the EU, sort ourselves out, make our own rules, get rid of those of the EU, recreate our very own version of democracy – then we’ll see if we can’t come up with something EVEN BETTER than your much-revered EU – just like we did after several hundred years of going it alone.

    11. Ginty
      May 20, 2019

      OK. So does anyone know the names or faces of the people on the Council ? Heard them speak ? Know their politics ? How do WE get rid of them if we want to ?

      Why wasn’t the EU election win by UKIP in 2015 anything like as seismic as had UKIP won a UK general election ?

      Did anyone remember it, let alone notice a difference in EU direction ?

      1. Ginty
        May 20, 2019

        Sir Tim Barrow is our Council representative, to save anyone having to google.

        1. Henry Carter
          May 20, 2019

          No he isn’t. You are exposing your ignorance. Our Council representative is the UK Minister for whatever topic is being discussed. The elected and democratically accountable UK Minister. John Redwood was a member of the EU Council when he was a Minister, and I am shocked to see him allow such an untruth to be posted here

          1. Edward2
            May 21, 2019

            Well not quite Henry.
            Sir Tim and his team are our permanent representatives to the EU Council.
            They do the daily work.
            I notice none are elected to their positions but I’m sure they are super nice people.
            Heads of States make up the other members of the Council who meet up just a few times a year

      2. Fred H
        May 20, 2019

        Ginty…it barely got anyone’s notice because apart from Farage quite rightly saying over there ‘who are you, nobody has heard of you, you were chosen by Merkel etc’ …everybody has come to realise over the years that our ‘votes’ in the EU are p*ssing in the wind.

        1. Dennis Zoff
          May 20, 2019

          Fred H

          Good point, and I might say designed that way!

          ….the inner core of European politics do not want the pesky Brits getting in the way of their project. “Just pay up and shut up” has been their mantra for many many years? The wider UK public is just waking up to the many untruths?….Europe too it seems?

    12. NickC
      May 20, 2019

      Canister John, It’s hard to know what you mean. The EU is completely anti-democratic. Experts in the EU Commission have all the power to set the rules. These rules are then merely signed off the Council (c90% of which we don’t elect), and then rubber stamped by the toy “parliament” (c90% not elected by us). If anything, the UK also has problems from the perspective of democracy – who elected Mrs May to overturn our Leave vote? Who won’t elect her successor party in the UK? Who elected the House of Lords? Perhaps we should sort out the UK first before worrying about re-joining the EU empire?

    13. Doug Powell
      May 20, 2019

      Wholeheartedly agree with you about the House of Lords! It is a Palatial Retirement Home, populated (for the most part) by arch non democrats, scoundrels and traitors all hell bent on thwarting Brexit – all made possible at the tax payers expense! The will of the people means nothing to them! Enough is enough! Abolish it without delay! High on the list of ‘must dos’ if we ever get a Brexiteer PM.

      1. Fred H
        May 20, 2019

        Doug….populated by silver spoon inherited titles, or ‘rewarded’ by their party to get rid of them from H of C, or paid for their funds given to the party. Thats democracy for you.

        1. Doug Powell
          May 20, 2019

          Yes, Fred – the number of undemocratic entry qualifications to the place are endless and mind-boggling!

          Did I dream it, or are we really in the 21st century?

    14. Errol
      May 20, 2019

      In what way on Earth CanisterJohn, is the EU remotely democratic? It was designed, from the outset to never, ever be accountable to the public. All power rests with the commission who are appointed by other commissioners. It is a clique, a club, an utterly remote, untouchable entity.

      Please, stop lying. Whatever ignorant deceit you are peddling, stop it. It’s tiresome. If you don’t know, you’re ignorant and need to educate yourself. Either way, anything you say is irrelevant.

    15. Steve
      May 20, 2019

      Canister John

      “The rules are set by the Council (elected politicians) and by the Parliament (elected politicians).”

      Funny, that. I don’t recall ever being given opportunity to elect Tusk, Barnier etc.

      Who do you suppose elects these rogues ? (Clue; they elect themselves)

      1. Canister Jon
        May 21, 2019

        Tusk has no power to make laws. Barnier has no power to make laws. Juncker has no power to make laws. No one in the Commission has any power to make laws. Only the Council and the Parliament can make laws, and they are all elected by voters like you and me, every last one of them. It’s happening on Thursday in fact

        1. Edward2
          May 21, 2019

          Wrong again Jon
          The Commission make the proposals for laws.
          They are not elected by us the voters.
          The Council is headed by the Presiddnt if the Commission and is managed by EU nation civil servants again not elected by us the voters.
          Heads of State from EU nations meet in the Council about4 times a year.
          They look at the proposals and give them to the MEPs to discuss and pass.
          Very rarely do the MEPs not pass these proposals.
          Most EU laws are via directives and regulatory instruments which by pass the MEPs

  3. Mark B
    May 20, 2019

    Good morning

    Democracy is far from perfect but, it is the best system available as it provided government with the corrective means of elections. Bad government a and parties do not last long.

    Subcontracting out ones elected responsibilities has its advantages for MP’S. It means that they do not have to take responsibility when things go wrong.

    1. Steve
      May 20, 2019

      Mark B

      To be honest Mark I think democracy is dead. Perhaps we’d be better off under divine rule by a strong English protestant King, and all the naughty boys who tried to stop brexit could be sent to the tower pending trial for treason.

      In many respects this country needs another Henry VIII or Elizabeth I, also a Cromwell or two would be useful….which would soon put a stop to ROI interfering in our affairs.

    2. Dennis Zoff
      May 20, 2019

      Mark B

      In business, if one does not have a check and balance and strict accountability, it is doomed to failure…Politicians, however, can kick the proverbial can down the road Ad infinitum and afford themselves a nice salary and perks to boot!

      Cleaning the Political swamp is merely making our elected Politicians accountable to the people….something they have avoided for the past 40+ years.

  4. Ian wragg
    May 20, 2019

    Most decisions are made by the EU and politicians like to hide this from us.
    If they were open we would question why we need politicians.
    The referendum has totally exposed how powerless you are.

    1. Dougal Hamer
      May 20, 2019

      The referendum shows the exact opposite – it shows that membership of the EU is completely voluntary. If we want to leave, we can leave, and we can have every single decision taken in Westminster. We can’t leave and still enjoy all the benefits of EU membership (frictionless trade, free movement, no hard border in Ireland, great trade deals with the rest of the world) but that is another story, and simply exposes how deceitful the Leave campaign was.

      1. Ian wragg
        May 20, 2019

        Utter tripe. We can enjoy the benefits of free trade etc. It’s just that the EU is a protectionist cabal. Canada has a FTA and isn’t subject to ECJ interference, they don’t have FOM and don’t have the EC making domestic legislation.
        The liars are the remainers who only have project fear to offer.

        1. Dougal Hamer
          May 21, 2019

          Canada also does not have frictionless border-free tariff-free trade with the EU. If you want the UK to have a relationship with the EU based on Canada’s, fine – but it will cause massive damage to our economy because it means less free trade. And you are still going to have the EU-27 plus the USA breathing down your neck making sure you make the concessions needed to keep the Irish border invisible. Taking back control ? Don’t think so.

      2. bigneil
        May 20, 2019

        Completely voluntary? – -thanks for today’s laugh.

      3. Fred H
        May 20, 2019

        Dougal…..or to express your comments a little differently:-
        – trade hamstrung by inefficient petty rules.
        -free movement across countries allowing economic migrants and some real refugees to find the place with the best benefits and work.
        -mythical ‘Trump walls’ being built on hundreds of crossings.
        -trade deals with places like Canada -held up over 7 years by merely a ‘county’ in Belgium who objected.

      4. NickC
        May 20, 2019

        Dougal Hamer, Membership of the EU is clearly not voluntary – in the Referendum we did not volunteer to remain in the EU. Yet we are still in. And with the prospect, if the Tory, Labour,SNP, and LD parties have their way, of remaining involuntarily in for decades more.

        Your supposed “benefits of EU membership” do not exist. EU trade is not frictionless – it is beset by complicated, unnecessary, restrictions and costs.

        Free movement isn’t a benefit, and eliminating it was one of the main reasons we voted Leave. We did not have a hard border with Eire before we joined the EU, so that is fake. The EU has need of trade deals because the EU’s own trade policy is so complicated and its tariffs too high – if we left we can tailor our own trade policy to benefit us directly.

      5. L Jones
        May 20, 2019

        Among those on your list, you forgot to add – give your children up to be part of the EU army and pay several billion pounds every year for that and all these other ”benefits”.

        Did you read what we were told in Cameron’s £9million leaflet? Perhaps, if you didn’t, you haven’t quite grasped even now what we were voting for in the referendum. Deceitful, was it? Only for those people who didn’t bother to educate themselves.

      6. Dennis Zoff
        May 20, 2019

        Dougal Hamer

        Sciolism comes in many flavours, perhaps you would like to pick yours?

  5. oldtimer
    May 20, 2019

    As consumers we vote with our wallets on the acceptability of new technology – a prime example of the work of experts. If it offers convenience or efficiency we may choose to buy it. If we do not like it we choose not to buy it or use it.

    In matters determined by politics this choice has been removed from more and more areas of decision as the government has transferred its powers to other agencies. This transfer of powers lies behind the demand to “take back control” by restoring meaning to the political choices we make through the ballot box.

    1. Fishknife
      May 20, 2019

      Consent – the freedom to make our own laws and live our lives as we want – to buy crap, or chlorinated chicken, if we so desire.

      Daddy, Daddy why am I walking in circles?
      Shut up or I’ll nail your other foot to the floor.

      When I can’t find something I ‘ve lost – I’ve come to realise I’m looking in the wrong place;
      and if the question I’m asking doesn’t have an answer – I’m asking the wrong question.

      We all know that by separating the ‘divorce bill’ from the ‘future relationship’ Brussels is purposely asking the wrong question.
      So, I can see two ways out of this quandry:
      After the EU elections the new regime conclude that the ongoing lack of investment and general malaise is not in the best interest,
      we break the logjam, get out, and then ask the right question:

      What is our future relationship to be, and, in the light of that, what’s the divorce bill?

  6. Newmania
    May 20, 2019

    Suspicion of experts, is one thing .The spirit of Brexit venerates ignorance and Trumpishly attacks the integrity of any expert inconvenient to the cause .
    Intuition tells you that migrants increase the supply of Labour so reduce your wages. Knowledge tells you, that migrants increase demand and that a pattern of migration that disproportionately enters the workforce, creates growth, taxes and supports the old . Evidence shows that the effect on wages is small and local. Brexit discounts everything but primitive suspicion.
    Brexit does not just attack expertise , it also attacks experience – Economists , the OECD, the IMF the Bank of England , the Treasury are all dismissed as liars but equally so are Banks , Motor manufacturers Insurers , exporters , Policemen . It discounts facts on a daily basis
    .It is part of a global counter renaissance whose outer edge is etc ed

    1. Mike Stallard
      May 20, 2019

      I don’t think Sir John was arguing against all forms of international regulation. For example, some regulations are very sensible. When I travel to Abu Dhabi, I want to know that the building I am staying in is relatively safe. When I go to Singapore and visit a restaurant, I want to know that the telecom system connects me to UK.
      These things are fixed by international bodies and so they should be.
      The EU sits between us and them and the parliament in EU and UK rubber stamps the “Directives” which are passed down to us.
      The economic decline of Europe generally and the problem of illegal immigration are just two examples of where the EU has gone badly wrong. Finland is forced to accept their quota of illegal immigrants from “Syria”, for example.

    2. Lifelogic
      May 20, 2019

      Complete and utter tosh, anyway Trump is quite right on many things and his policies are working. The UK desperately needs tax cuts, smaller government, fracking, a sensible non green crap energy and transport policy, easier hire and fire, to revoke the Paris accord and the climate change act lunacy, have a sensible selective UK controlled quality only immigration policy, to be able to strike our own trade deals, to have a real UK based democracy, to avoid Corbyn …..

    3. Alison
      May 20, 2019

      In net terms, in the medium and long term, large-scale migration has been shown to be a net cost. Infrastructure costs. A larger population with health and care needs when older. What is difficult to measure are the less visible consequences – a country that doesn’t train enough engineers, a country that relies on other people to do hard dirty work, so we become couch potatoes.

      1. Fred H
        May 20, 2019


    4. sm
      May 20, 2019

      Experts can be right, but can also be wrong. You mention:

      Police – do you recall the ineptitude and downright lying of those responsible for that fatal crush at the football stadium some years ago?

      Banks – do the names Northern Rock, Lehman’s, RBS, Fred Goodwin mean anything?

      Motor manufacturers – experts at ‘managing’ emissions data, certainly!

      The Treasury – and its forecasts, oh, let’s not even go there…..

      1. Newmania
        May 20, 2019

        The fact experts may be wrong is not the point you are not suggesting alternative sources of wisdom you are suggesting we rely on people who not the slightest idea what they are talking about.
        It is quite quite absurd, and suppose the “experts know nothing” Party gets go Power how do they then govern the country without any information or educated analysis of what the problems are ?

        1. sm
          May 20, 2019

          I think I just might understand what you are apparently attempting to convey had you the wit to edit your comments to something approaching comprehensible English before posting them.

        2. Andy
          May 20, 2019

          Very true. You will note that two of the main proponents of Brexit – Nigel Farage and Daniel Hannan – spoke longingly about being like Norway before the referendum.

          It is clear that they did not understand what they were talking about – and the significant compromises being like Norway would require. They do not talk about it anymore – even though it is a Brexit compromise that most people could, albeit reluctantly, live with.

          What Brexit and Trump have both done is give informed loud mouths – like Farage and Hannan – a platform which their talents do not justify. It gives their ignorance equal weighting with those who know what they are talking about. This is how you end up with Iain Duncan Smith spouting completely incorrect nonsense about subjects as wide ranging as the Irish border and WTO rules – because he has a platform and his competence to comment is not adequately questioned. On both subjects IDS is embarrassingly poorly briefed.

          Experts are not always right. They are people and people are sometimes wrong. But Brexiteers are not always right either. It just happens that they are wrong more often than not because they usually don’t even have any expertise to rely on.

          1. Edward2
            May 21, 2019

            Yet you are totally convinced of your views on many things and especially the EU andy.
            What you describe in your post is your opinion.
            It is a theme amongst pro EU supporters that they are not just right but superior to everyone else.
            The left wing of politics is of a similar opinion about themselves.
            This is why they don’t listen to anyone and why increasingly voters are turning to alternative choices.
            This is the movement you denigrate as Populism.

        3. libertarian
          May 20, 2019


          Entirely wrong there are always alternative sources of thought , analysis and opinion. Its just that they get drowned out by “establishment experts” There were quite a few of us laughing at and debunking Y2K for instance. There are lots of very credible scientists who do NOT subscribe to the human c02 warming message, there are people in every field with alternate views. Its odd how often ( in fact nearly always ) that the loan “maverick expert” turns out to be right and the established “wisdom” wholly wrong.

        4. Dennis Zoff
          May 20, 2019


          You have forgotten education among your list….I know a good local college that can assist you with your English?

          As for the rest of your comment… there is some common ground in what you say. However, if one relies solely on so-called experts, then more fool you!

          “One’s own ignorance is a source of wealth for the unscrupulous?”

      2. Steve
        May 20, 2019


        “Police – do you recall the ineptitude and downright lying of those responsible for that fatal crush at the football stadium some years ago?”

        And do you recall the fact that thousands of ticketless fans gatecrashed the stadium? Thought not.

    5. Edward2
      May 20, 2019

      If mass immigration creates wealth why is GDP per head not rising?

      It isn’t unhealthy to be suspicious of experts especially when their previous predictions can be seen to have been wrong.
      They should not be treated as the new high priests.

      1. John C
        May 20, 2019

        The decision to calculate overall GDP and not per head is not a mistake but a deliberate policy to deceive and hide the reality of the situation.

    6. Adam
      May 20, 2019

      Brexit reveals the wisdom of the majority.

      1. Lifelogic
        May 20, 2019

        Indeed and the people are far more often right than the politicians who have vested interests, generally have zero understanding of science or engineering, suffer from politicians and state sector group think, want endless vanity projects, want to buy votes with your money, want to propagandise with your money, are lobbied by other vested interests and paid as ‘consultants’ and like to endlessly virtue signal with other people’s money.

    7. Caterpillar
      May 20, 2019


      A challenge is that there are normative judgements to be made.

      Example A:
      (1) Research throughout the world indicates that uncontrolled immigration has at best no/mixed effect on GDP per capita of the host country though likely reduces it. This is perhaps unsurprising as many immigrants income per capita is lower than GDP per capita, so we would intuit two possible effects (i) reduction in GDP per capita and/or (ii) increase in inequality.
      (2) Intuition (aka theory) tells us that growth of GDP per capita is effected by K/L, experiment largely confirms this. Intuition tells us producers will increase L not K if marginal product of labour per £ is greater than that for capital.
      So a tendency of listening to businesses demand for free movement of labour will be to reduce GDP per capita of the ‘host’ country, though on average immigrants will benefit. Who should decide the answer to the normative question?

      Example B:
      Intuition (and experiment) suggest that immigration increases the social mobility of migrants, but decreases that of the ‘host’ population. Who should decide the relative value of this?

      Example C:
      Sustainability suggests that as well as lifestyle (is demand always good), population growth is a (the) big issue. How does a country move discussions of population growth from being a left wing taboo to something openly discussed – e.g. suggesting cap and trade ideas for population would probably be considered right wing extremism. 80% of UK population growth is migration related – immigrants or children of immigrants – does this background prevent the discussion?

      There are many more of these schoolchild type examples. In general people (including us, politicians, institutions and experts) often make a normative judgement and then frame the presentation as a positive fact.

    8. Ginty
      May 20, 2019

      Year zero (Maastricht Treaty)

      In the beginning we said that housing would become unaffordable – it has. (BBC experts confirm a housing crisis)

      In the beginning we said that crime would go up – it has. (BBC experts confirm a crime crisis)

      In the beginning we said that wages would go down – they have. (BBC experts confirm a poverty crisis)

      In the beginning we said that services would be overwhelmed (BBC experts confirm a schools, hospitals, transport, energy crises.)

      Slavery is now a big BBC issue in the UK.

      They blame it all on old white people. Their dramas show child grooming down to old, white men and fgm down to Women’s Institute types performing ops in dodgy clinics (watch the soap Doctor’s around midday.)

    9. Tad Davison
      May 20, 2019

      So much of the upper echelons of society are contaminated by restrictive ‘group think and common purpose’. Garbage in, garbage out. We cannot reasonably expect unimaginative people will ever have sufficient imagination to be innovative.

      We need out-of-the-box thinking to make real progress or the process simply becomes stale and predictable. An ‘expert’ who gets it consistently wrong isn’t really to be trusted, and does not deserve that accolade. Speaking of which, I take it those immigrants you refer to that pay the pensions of the elderly, won’t ever get old themselves, thus requiring yet more immigrants to pay for them.

  7. Lifelogic
    May 20, 2019

    Exactly right. People who get things wrong in most branches of science & engineering do tend to get found out fairly quickly. In politics people will say what they think will win votes or get them promotion, this regardless of the truth or what actually works. Yet we still have top government ministers who support taxing people in order to pay for the NHS to administer quack medical treatments on others! We still have a Chancellor damaging the economy hugely with the highest and most idiotic and complex taxes for 70 years.

    Unfortunately even in science we have miguided group think and absurd exaggeration on topics like global warming and the “renewable” energy agenda. This is largely due to politicians controlling the purse strings for research funding. These “experts” cannot predict the climate for say next January (but are save predicting it for 100 years time as they will not be arround).

    The field of economics is stuffed with fake lefty experts, particularly the ones chosen to appear on the BBC, pushed into the Lords or chosen by the Labour Party to argue that black is white and white is black. The ones who want to make the UK a new Venezuela under magic money tree/come Father Christmas Corbyn/Mc Donnall. It was encouraging that in Australia this agenda was largely rejected by the voters the other day despite what the polls said.

    I am often left wondering if people like Corbyn/Mc Donnall are really so stupid as to think their idiotic economic plans would work or they are just so dishonest that they would say anything to win power. Hopefully the UK voters will be wise enough to reject this lunacy.

    1. Everhopeful
      May 20, 2019

      Is the idea re socialism to make as many as poss dependent on the state ( Big Govt) and thus eventually bring down the welfare system?
      Chaos ensues and then marshal law is followed by the imposition of full blown communism.
      Better not to take notice of lefty bleeding hearts sentimental stuff ( like ..bleat..bleat fairness and equality) ..just focus on the true agenda. Absolute power to turn us into a commie country.

    2. Newmania
      May 20, 2019

      Do you think? I would have said the dominant school of economic thought was market based and informed by classical ideas about Free Trade. The much mocked global efforts to reduce tariffs and no tariff barriers are incomprehensible otherwise.
      What you perhaps object to is a parallel project to protect societies and employment
      rights which would otherwise be consumed by the freedoms that are being gained

      It is part of the same project

    3. Ed Mahony
      May 20, 2019


      Capitalism is also as flawed as Socialism unless Capitalism is based on Work Ethic – like (in the extreme example) of the Quakers who created extraordinary companies and economic prosperity and stability for this country – were good to their employees, and respected by their employees in turn who worked harder! Not forgetting the Quakers were relatively small group of people.

      If we restored the values of traditional Christianity in this country, people wouldn’t rely on the state anymore – and taxes would FALL – FALL – FALL to 10 % or 15 % of something. Really.

      And we’d have Strong Family Life (science shows how devastating dysfunctional family life can be on individuals and a community as a whole – huge negative consequences that can indirectly result in billions to the tax payer).

      But we don’t just want prosperity and stable economy and strong family life, AND LOW TAX, we also want TRUE patriotism, and proper loyalty to the Queen and Country, and to the Judiciary and Parliament and the Army.

      If the UK were still a traditional Christian country we would have never have joined the EU or at least we would have been strong enough to leave the EU without all the trouble we’re having at the moment.

      And we want beautiful buildings and art and music and so on – like traditional Christianity achieved so much better than the modern world.

  8. Lifelogic
    May 20, 2019

    Compare and contrast the soft and gentle interviews yesterday by Andrew Marr of the various party leaders (plus Theresa in Trousers Rory Stewart as May, one assumes, kindly wanted to spare viewers from having to see her again) with Marr’s attempted hatchet job on Nigel Farage last week (Farage came out well on top anyway).

    BBC balance/impartiality is a sick joke. On the EU, global warming, energy production and lefty politics/economics the BBC completely biased and totally wrong too. Stuffed as it is with daft, lefty, PC art graduates.

    1. Fedupsoutherner
      May 20, 2019

      L/L. I couldn’t agree more.

    2. matthu
      May 20, 2019

      “BBC balance/impartiality is a sick joke. On the EU, global warming, energy production and lefty politics/economics the BBC completely biased and totally wrong too. Stuffed as it is with daft, lefty, PC art graduates.”

      Unfortunately, you could substitute the Conservative Parliamentary Party where you have BBC in the above paragraph without affecting the truth.

      1. Lifelogic
        May 20, 2019

        Alas that is largely true of Conservative MPs, only a rather small proportion are sound.

    3. Alan Jutson
      May 20, 2019



      Had seen who was due to appear so did not bother to view.

      BBC bias is now so bold and blatant, they do not even try to cover it up.

      1. Tad Davison
        May 20, 2019

        So is Sky News. They got a very forthright e-mail from me earlier for not challenging the insinuations of a mistrusted and proven liar – one Gordon Brown. Not to properly challenge dubious assertions by discredited and disgraced former politicians demonstrates a singular lack of balance and journalistic integrity. We expect better!

    4. MickN
      May 20, 2019

      I was at the Brexit Party rally in Frimley yesterday. The biggest cheer went up when Nigel said that although they have yet to form a manifesto, after yesterday he reckons that the licence fee will be well up on the agenda.

    5. Hope
      May 20, 2019

      Mrs Backstabber Gove wanting to change debate from Brexit to general election, nothing to see here move on. We do not like what is happening with public opinion flooding to Brexit Party.

  9. Roy Grainger
    May 20, 2019

    You need to look at the underlying discipline. Medicine is a branch of science where theories can be developed and tested and then used to make reliable repeatable predictions about the effects of certain actions. Doctors are experts who are aware of these theories.

    Economics on the other hand doesn’t have any of the characteristics of a real science, it has assorted theories which have been constructed to explain past events but which can’t be tested or verified and have poor predictive capability. There are obvious examples – the 500,000 job losses predicted for the year after a Leave vote is one produced by respected economists. Another is the failure to predict correctly the results of the programme of QE which failed to produce the predicted levels of inflation. At best economics provides qualitative rather than quantitative predictions even when it IS directionally correct. So, economists aren’t experts in the same way that proper scientists are and they should be afforded less intellectual respect accordingly.

  10. margaret
    May 20, 2019

    The trouble is the ‘powers that be’ put titles and qualifications to ‘show’ that the expert exists , but in reality these are often only superficial without any understanding of the real issues. They believe what the media says , what is printed in the newspapers, one sided academic arguments, they put aside nepotism as being fair and not to be talked about, they don’t look at how people passed their exams or to what standards. They assume that if a teenager gets 5 star A’s at school then that will fit them for life in any discipline.This is poor understanding of the real issues which arise out of experience.

    Management firms are often brought in to sort the trouble they caused at large fees and coveted by staff knowing that they will get on in the hierarchy if they do so.

    You yourself say that if you fell ill you would go to a Dr yet many of Nurse practitioners , paramedics and other staff have had far more training over the years and real life experience to get things right and managed. than those coming out with a few years training and in totally inappropriate fields.Training does not come out of 4 or 5 years; it continues through life and continual update. People live under the illusion of titles and hierarchy.Often the more qualified are put down , due to the less qualified and experienced having been given a job which they were good at the interview for but in reality can’t cope and don’t want competition for the more experienced. It is a sham.

    There again the other side of the coin is where I had outside tiles fitted by an expert who has done little else in his life and specialises in his field. He made a complete mess of them , yet a jack of all trades puts them right.

  11. agricola
    May 20, 2019

    Any business that feels the need to use consultants is in effect admitting it’s own failure to manage. There are exceptions of course where very specific expertise is required.

    Government in the UK has in effect over many years abdicated, and handed it’s powers to quangoes and the EU. This in effect means that our elected MPs can claim to have no responsibility for any unfortunate outcome, and no means to address it. It allowed May and others to claim that they wished to do something about the levels of immigration to the UK while in fact they had no wish to. Half of it could be blamed on EU freedom of movement, ignoring the fact that the other half was nothing to do with the EU. They just made gestures about none EU immigration while doing nothing.

    Experts can be used for totally malicious purposes by government as we have seen on all matters financial in relation to leaving the EU, which our government has no wish to do. For three years May has lied to the country at large and to Parliament to achieve that end. She has got away with it because her government and two thirds of her party have been complicit in the lie. Thanks to social media she has been found out. Thanks to the biased broadcast media and the lazyness of the written media the public think the only problem with the WA is the Irish backstop. We know otherwise.

    The unscrupulous have done the same with climate change by linking it with the environment. While I am totally in favour of having as clean an environment as possble I also know that achieving it will have little or no effect on climate. Climate is the product of the Sun, always has been, always will be. In numerous ways the project has been turned into a nice little earner for government and individuals. Were government sincere and honest they would force all the energy companies to pay the same as they charge per Kw for electricity to those who generate a surplus for the Grid with their domestic solar panels. They have in effect killed off the domestic solarisation of electricity. I will continue to use solar panels for my domestic hot water and the pool. I would use it to re-charge an electric car if I had one, but not to produce electricity for domestic use because payment for the surplus is derisory.

    As you say, use expertise where necessary, but not to abdicate responsibility for governing the country.

  12. Dominic
    May 20, 2019

    Yes, Mandelson and his ……ilk have deliberately inflicted significant damage on the mechanism of British democracy by sub-contracting or indeed circumventing certain powers to a supranational body that is the EU. This appalling and seditious plan has proven extremely effective and reflects in many ways the inability of the Tory party to counter the forces of the EU and their British based allies. Indeed, one would almost say the Tory party’s complicit in this process

    Would we be here today without Farage’s intervention? I doubt it but then his intervention as in many ways exposed the terrible malaise at the heart of the Tory party. One man almost alone has changed the direction of a nation. This is something that hundreds of Tory Eurosceptics have failed to achieve and they’re on the inside of events.

    For all the bluster from Tory Eurosceptic MPs they have been remarkably hopeless in achieving anything substantial. Without Farage, we’d never have the referendum

    What is wrong with the mindset of Tory Eurosceptic MPs?

    Reply Conservative Eurosceptics put through the referendum legislation, played prominent roles in the winning Vote Leave and put through the EU Withdrawal Act. Try to come to a realistic assessment

  13. jerry
    May 20, 2019


    This diary entry from our host is even more bizarre than the ones extolling the success of our economic competitors, who often followed a totally different economic/political paths, posted a few days ago.

    Didn’t Mrs T consult and/or employ ‘experts’ to advise, create and deliver her economic and industrial policies…

    Every thing Sir John says is true of the EU, but it is also true of national and multinational private enterprise too, being backed up by contract law. for example we all now understand how awful PFI is (first used by a Tory govt, expanded under Blair) but the state is locked into paying such contracts, what were the ‘experts’ advising HMG thinking of?!

    The MSM has been reporting that Mrs May is going to include something radical in the up-coming Withdrawal Bill, to get Labour MPs on side, from our host most recent writings I’m starting to wonder if there is to be a substantive policy shift – a ‘Dallas’ moment perhaps, so to speak, the last 40 years have been a dream! 😉

    1. rose
      May 20, 2019

      Mrs T said “Advisers advise; ministers decide.” That is democracy, not what we have at the moment where the advisers are ruling to catastrophic effect.

      1. jerry
        May 20, 2019

        @rose; Well yes, in the same way as Doctors advises, the patient decides, any thing else would lead to a professional malpractice charge…

        In years past, the career path (unless from a political family) was usually X number years of boardroom/trade unionism experience and then in to politics – these days it appears to be the other way around, hence so much reliance on “experts”, nor do things look much better in the Statutory Agencies and the like, Chairs and CEOs etc. often head-hunted fro m outside for their business brains (or simply because they are ‘outsiders’), not necessarily because of their knowledge of the Agencies work.

        If you are not going to take the advice of an expert why bother asking, never mind paying for such advice, especially when it’s tax payers money!

      2. Dennis Zoff
        May 20, 2019


        …again T May is wrong on both counts with regards to the current crop of advisors and Ministers…blind leading the blind springs to mind, additionally managed by the deaf it seems?

  14. Alan Jutson
    May 20, 2019

    “Experts” come in many forms.

    But very few are truly independent, or indeed even experts.

    Many are paid by certain organisations to help promote their chosen cause and present one sided arguments to support it.

    1. miami.mode
      May 20, 2019

      Couldn’t agree more, Alan. I would always like to know the source/s of a person’s income before they start pontificating about a subject.

      1. John C
        May 20, 2019

        Follow the money is one of the simplest and most reliable guides in any investigation.

  15. Everhopeful
    May 20, 2019

    The tipping point has probably been reached now.
    “Advancement” in technology and law and policy making as delivered by “experts” will soon ruin rather than enhance our lives.
    A government’s first duty ( allegedly) is to protect its people. It should preserve us from “ experts”.
    Why is the relative of a murder victim suddenly an “expert” on crime, for example? And so expert indeed that they are given high positions in government!
    How does a non medical Minister-for Health suddenly become an “expert” in running a health service? And on and on.
    Yet these unleashed “experts” have a serious impact on our lives.
    And everything is just getting worse. For all the “expert” input…worse and worse.
    Expertise is a poisoned chalice.

  16. Alison
    May 20, 2019

    Many experts are partisan too. Those Project Fear Treasury forecasts spring to mind. Gospel? No. the laughing stock of objective experts outside the UK. For us, it’s not so funny.

  17. Adam
    May 20, 2019

    Whereas an expert is “a person who is very knowledgeable about or skilful in a particular area” he or she may use that skill or knowledge in a misguided or malevolent pursuit, or just be plain daft. Many do & are as a collective bunch in support of the EU.

    1. forthurst
      May 20, 2019

      The parable of the King’s new clothes comes to mind. It is inadvisable to image that all experts are suffused with the milk of human kindness. One only has to look at the crooks that have steered their global warming hoax through firstly the UN and then the EU or those that concocted the global compact on migration and facilitated its passage likewise. Surprisingly for some people to grasp, there are those whose congenitally evil nature leads them to continually exploit ways in which they can undermine and destroy Western civilisation whilst living amongst us.

  18. JoolsB
    May 20, 2019

    John, we stopped being a democracy when Scotland, Wales & NI were given their own self determining legislatures and yet still get to send 117 unaccountable MPs down to Westminster to vote and meddle in English affairs with not one word of objection from the majority of spineless UK MPs squatting in English seats.

    Another reason for carrying on voting for Farage in future elections. At least he believes in ending the skewed Barnett Formula and giving England an English Parliament unlike the party there by the grace of England, the Conservatives, who have stood by for the last 20 years and done absolutely nothing to address the rotten deal England gets both financially and constitutionally for fear of upsetting their precious union and to hell with England in the process.

    1. JoolsB
      May 20, 2019

      So disappointed John that I am still in moderation from 7.00 this morning. Shame really from someone who purports to speak for England.

  19. Kenneth
    May 20, 2019

    The Far Left has had to contend with a big problem: it can’t win elections.

    So, it has rather cleverly used all the non-democratic levers it can:

    the media;
    so-called “international law”;
    the civil service;

    …and, of course, the so-called experts.

    “Expert” status can often be attained merely on the say-so of one of the above organisations.

    How many times has the BBC wheeled on an “expert” only to discover they a supporter of left wing politics?

    How many times have we heard Remain “experts” only to find – after some drilling down – that they or their employers have indirectly received taxpayer funds from the eu?

    As President Trump says: we need to drain the swamp.

  20. Lynn Atkinson
    May 20, 2019

    I’m afraid you are the lone colossus in the House now. How you manage to withstand the confusion of the stupidity all around you I have no idea. Watching Tory and Labour leadership brings that good advice from a Lear to mind: ‘When in danger, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.’
    Brexit Party on Thursday and as I don’t live in Woking – probably in Westminster too – unless Central Office can bring themselves to allow Conservatives to become PPCs.

  21. Bryan Harris
    May 20, 2019

    Yes – our government is far too willing to bestow it’s powers on other bodies – just look at how many quangos we have that now rule over us. Treaties to the UN and EU are a particular bone of contention, given that the UN now expects us to do as they tell us.
    We can no longer trust governments to sign treaties – In future, all treaties should be put to a referendum, after an honest debate.
    As for experts – the term is overrated and completely abused, and is no longer a believable description – IMVHO there are very few that could live up to this title. Knowing something or a lot about a subject makes one knowledgeable, that’s all.
    The term ‘expert’ is used to make less of ordinary people, in a similar way that the term ‘racist’ is used.

  22. Julie Williams
    May 20, 2019

    Science aims for objectivity, social science is subjective: big difference.
    Economics is a social science.
    Two economists will take the same information and produce opposing conclusions.
    Ordinary people can look at historical evidence for assurance on economists’ expertise: after the 2008 banking crisis, many view it with a big pinch of salt.

  23. Richard1
    May 20, 2019

    A strong argument for effective govt by EU committees of experts is it seems to make the kind of extreme far left policies advocated by the likes of Corbyn impossible. Look at Greece, a nominally far left govt, acting under orders from the EU is pursuing orthodox policies to restore stability and solvency. Pretty much the same in Portugal and Spain.

    I’d rather be in the eurozone than have a Marxist govt in the UK.

    1. Fred H
      May 20, 2019

      Richard…..Marxist rules can be overthrown, it appears EU cannot.

    2. Bryan Harris
      May 20, 2019


      I’d rather not us have a marxist government, in or out of the EU

      1. Fred H
        May 20, 2019

        Bryan….I wouldn’t bet on it, possibly a coalition though.

    3. William1995
      May 20, 2019

      What happens if a Marxist gets into the EU commission? At least in the UK we can get rid of them…

  24. Pat
    May 20, 2019

    Indeed. There is also always the principal/agent problem. Once powers have been handed over to some body how do we ensure that those powers are exercised for our good rather than the good of that body? The more so since the prime objective of any body is to survive and grow.

    1. Henry Carter
      May 20, 2019

      You ask a good question, Pat. We ensure the powers are exercised for good by particpating actively in the body’s running, sending good people to meetings and ensuring keen oversight. Something the UK has been very good at in the EU for over 40 years. What you DON’T do is run away while sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting la la la I can’t hear you. Brexit is running away while sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting la la la I can’t hear you. It is a coward’s way out, and it will do terrible harm to the UK

      1. Edward2
        May 21, 2019

        One vote in 28 with 9 paying in and the rest taking out together with a rapidly reducing power of veto over major areas makes the ability of the UK to reform the EU very difficult.
        Which is why after observing the path taken by the EU since it last renamed itself the EU a majority voted to leave.
        We are running towards a bright future with the whole world as a free democratic nation.

  25. Iain Gill
    May 20, 2019

    Re “crucial parts of government are under independent expert control with no democratic accountability” in the UK we have a lot of this, we have Clinical Commissioning Groups in the NHS with zero accountability to patients and GPs, and theoretical accountability to NHS England and the Secretary of State for health who simply don’t have the time to monitor their many and varied failings, and radically different prescribing and treatment rationing decisions. CCG’s are completely and utterly out of control. Lansley abolished Primary Care Trusts and replaced them with CCG’s to supposedly hand the power to GP’s, well it didn’t work, the GP’s now have no power with CCG’s at all. We need to move away from this nonsense. We need a clearly written down list of things we are covered for, like an insurance policy, that defines when and how we get care in various scenarios, and payments to patients to take anywhere they want. We don’t want or need the “expert” CCG’s making countless rationing decisions behind closed doors, with no consumer pressure, or democratic accountability. We want it all open and honest for all to see.
    Housing associations are similar, as are education authorities, allocating and rationing between them vast proportions of the national wealth in totally unaccountable ways.
    So yes these supposed experts need a wake up call.
    More generally the social science depts in universities have been taken over by a faction of lefty elites, pretty much worldwide, and developed lots of theories with no hard science behind them. And this has rippled out into many other parts of life. Jordan Peterson is correct in his analysis of this. This needs breaking up, as its largely state sponsored fake science being used for social manipulation. Anyone studying teaching, or nursing, etc is forced to bow down to these theories in order to pass the exams, theories which even a casual glance could disprove with a little real hard science.
    So yes give as much power to individual consumers as possible, and where not proper democratic accountability is needed.

  26. ukretired123
    May 20, 2019

    As an economics graduate I was always puzzled by BBC economics ‘expert’ Paul Mason viewpoint / take on Britain’s economy until I discovered he was a serious hard left hard-core supporter with an axe to grind – which only surfaced when he left the BBC. And boy did he try and ram his interpretation home especially when he left.
    He is not alone in the BBC who has many supposedly independent experts commenting and giving air time to influence public opinion at home and abroad duly pointed out by Donald Trump who famously called both CNN and BBC peddlers of fake news ‘Ah there’s another one’ as he called to Jon Sopel. Jon Snow of C4 is famous for his own view on the Tories when he left his guard down.
    All experts should declare their interests to prevent conflict of interests starting at the top with TM as PM.

    1. Richard1
      May 20, 2019

      Paul Mason is not an economist of any note or distinction, and probably not really an economist at all. he is a radical leftist campaigner, who presumably because of his leftism, was over-promoted by both the BBC and Channel 4.

      What his own level of understanding of basic issues in economics is is not clear, but he certainly hasn’t managed to explain to explain to the far left politicians he says he supports, such as rebecca long-bailey & john mcdonnell, such simple concepts as the exact economic equivalence between paying for something in cash and issuing bonds directly to the seller. He also appears to support the mutually contradictory policies of remaining in the EU and being in favour of compulsory purchase of businesses at below market value, a policy which in recent decades has been tried only in one country – Venezuela.

  27. Denis Cooper
    May 20, 2019

    Off-topic, in today’s bulletin from Open Europe:

    the Deputy Prime Minister of a country with less than 1% of the EU population says that the withdrawal agreement cannot be renegotiated, even though 52% of that population disagree with him and say that if necessary it should be renegotiated.

    1. Ginty
      May 20, 2019

      “the Deputy Prime Minister of a country with less than 1% of the EU population”

      Which just goes to show.

      It makes no difference whether your nation works hard, fights hard and contributes more money than others to the EU. Democracy is all per capita in the EU.

      As it should be ?

      Sounds dangerously communist to me.

    2. Peter Parsons
      May 20, 2019

      A renegotiation would require movement on both sides whereas the Brady amendment is simply a unilateral demand for a change.

      Which of Theresa May’s red lines would you be prepared to compromise on in order to facilitate a renegotiation?

      1. Denis Cooper
        May 20, 2019

        I have nothing to do with Theresa May’s red lines. As far as I’m concerned I would never have agreed that the whole of the UK and its economy should be made subject to swathes of EU laws in perpetuity for the sake of the 12% of our GDP which is exported to the rest of the EU, let alone remain so subject even after we had left the EU for the sake of the mere 0.1% of our GDP which is driven across the Irish border; but then unlike Theresa May I am genuinely committed to Brexit and the restoration of our national democracy.

        1. Peter Parsons
          May 20, 2019

          You wrote “if necessary it should be renegotiated”. A re-negotiation would require movement on both sides – in order to get, you also have to be prepared to give. What would you be prepared to give in order to get?

          1. Denis Cooper
            May 20, 2019

            I actually said that 52% of the EU population say that, as found by a Gallup poll. But as for what I myself would be prepared to give during renegotiation, the answer is the same as it has been for a long time – I would give a promise, to be backed up by a UK law, that we will work conscientiously to prevent the carriage across the land border into the Republic of any goods which the EU regards as unacceptable, thus making it a pointless exercise for the Irish authorities to reinstate checks at the border.

          2. Denis Cooper
            May 20, 2019

            There were some illuminating exchanges between Andrew Murrison MP and the Prime Minster on May 1, here:


            Starting with his Q54:

            “In February, Michel Barnier said that “A UK decision to leave the single market and to leave the customs union would make border checks unavoidable”. Given the enduring common travel area arrangements, plus the regulatory and tariff alignment that will exist between the two jurisdictions from day one in the event that we leave without a deal, can you say what you think Mr Barnier would be checking for at the Irish border?”

            It is noteworthy that, not for the first time, Theresa May ends up by relying on the EU’s position, which she quotes at MPs as if it was gospel, without a hint of criticism:

            “Perhaps it might be helpful if I say what the Commission itself said in its press notice on 25 March … “

          3. Peter Parsons
            May 21, 2019

            I would expect that any negotiation would want something more concrete and substantive than “we will work conscientiously”.

            I could work conscientiously every day to run the 100m in under 10 seconds, but now matter how conscientious I am, it will never happen.

            If the UK leaves on WTO terms, then the Irish border becomes one where both the EU MFN tariff schedule and the UK MFN tariff schedule would need to be applied and enforced.

          4. Denis Cooper
            May 21, 2019

            Really? So what about “best endeavours”, which the EU reckons is OK for the Withdrawal Agreement? Would that be sufficiently “concrete and substantive” for you?

            If you are imagining booths at the border for the collection of any customs duties then you really are living in the past.

    3. Henry Carter
      May 20, 2019

      Yep Denis, a minor politician in a tiny country that is a member of the EU has got more power and influence than the PM of a big country that has chosen to leave the EU. Are you getting what Brexit means yet? How’s that “taking back control” working out for you? That’s the future – the UK in the slow lane, taking rules from others

      1. Denis Cooper
        May 20, 2019

        The PM of a big country who has chosen to pander to a lobby group and so been willingly manipulated by politicians of a tiny country, that is if she has not actively colluded with them which I suspect is the case.

        1. Tad Davison
          May 20, 2019

          Well said. May will make a pact with the Devil himself if he could help her stop the UK leaving the EU. I had that in mind every time I saw or heard her say ‘Brexit means Brexit’ and ‘We will be leaving the European Union on the 29th March’. The word ‘Liar’ doesn’t even come close to describing that woman. She has poisoned politics and destroyed the Conservative Party. Wont be long now before I rub salt in the wounds of all those MPs who voted for her!

      2. Richard1
        May 20, 2019

        That would be the case under Brino certainly, but not under WTO brexit.

        1. Denis Cooper
          May 20, 2019

          Which is what I said in November 2017 when it became clear to me that the new Irish government was going to be uncooperative:

          “On the TV this morning it was stated that the UK government is “desperate” to move on to trade talks, but this would be vetoed by the Irish government unless the UK government committed to keeping the UK in both the Single Market and the Customs Union.”

          “So we should now say that rather than kowtow to the stupid destructive intransigence of the EU we will fall back on WTO trade rules and only seek agreements on the practical or technical aspects of continuing trade.”

          But that was only after enough had been said in public to make it quite obvious that Leo Varadkar would be deliberately obstructive, no doubt the UK government had realised that much earlier:

  28. Lifelogic
    May 20, 2019

    Real ‘experts’ are expert in things you can actually be expert in, are honest, impartial, have no axe to grind or political/religious agenda. They have a track record of being right. Such people are not always that easy to find, especially in highly political areas. Even in medicine. Look for example at the different rates by country for Caesarean births varying from 50% to about 10% in developed countries or many other procedures. Why are the patients getting such different expert advice in this life or death situation?

    1. Al
      May 20, 2019

      In some cases experts differ because the facilities and circumstances in the different countries the experts practice in are different, therefore expert advice is tailored rightly to meet the resources and situation.

      It’s almost as if one-size-fits-all policies for multiple different nations with different cultures and practices don’t work…

  29. Shieldsman
    May 20, 2019

    I always read the transcripts of Marr’s interviews, politicians are tricky people, non more so than May and Corbyn.
    Andrew Marr: Jeremy Corbyn – do you want to leave the EU?
    Jeremy Corbyn: I want us to get a good deal and then have a decision in the public after that.
    AM: So you want to get out of the EU?
    JC: No. What we fought the General Election on was to respect the result of the referendum, and that we’ve done, to try to get a deal which guarantees trade and relations with Europe in the future, and if we can get that through parliament, the proposals
    we’ve put, then I think it would be reasonable to have a public vote to decide on that in the future.
    What does he want?
    There is only one so called deal on the table – the EU withdrawal agreement and he has voted it down three times.
    He says he respects the referendum result, but wants an unknown different deal to his liking which he wanted the Government by agreement to get from the EU27. He can meet with EU officials but cannot negotiate Article 50. What he wants is possibly negotiable in the Political Declaration after voting for the WA, but will only be known much later.
    At the insistence of his MP’s he wants this mythical deal to be put to a Public vote of approval. Once in the WA it cannot have any meaning.
    JC: I voted to remain in the EU in the referendum. Indeed I campaigned to remain and reform the EU. That was the position of the Labour Party in the referendum and the position we’ve taken.
    Labour’s deputy leader says “Labour is a ‘remain and reform’ party on EU”. Prospective MEP’s are campaigning on this basis.
    JC: No, there’s no more talks. What I said in my letter was I think they’d reached a conclusion. We put forward our case to the government; we pressed them very hard on all the things that I’ve set out. Fundamentally there’s two problems. The government hasn’t changed its red lines because it still wants the Withdrawal Agreement in its current form, and therefore we can’t continue with it, because they cannot deliver it either in parliament.
    The reality is the Brussels Commission wrote the Withdrawal Agreement, it is now sealed and our PM cannot change it.

  30. Bob
    May 20, 2019

    Which experts did Gordon Brown consult when he promoted the use of Diesel fuel?

    1. Richard1
      May 20, 2019

      or sold 1/2 the nation’s gold at a 40-year low

    2. Lifelogic
      May 20, 2019

      Or John Major when he took us into the ERM, or when they went ahead with HS2/Hinckley C or Ed Miliband’s insane climate change act, or produced May’s election manifesto or the endless other endless largely predictable “blunders of governments” many detailed in a book by the same name by Anthony King and Ivor Crewe.

    3. The Prangwizard
      May 20, 2019

      And did Brown consult anyone before he sold half our gold?

    4. Ian wragg
      May 20, 2019

      Or when he gave away our gold.

    5. Mark
      May 20, 2019

      The tax rate on diesel and unleaded petrol was equalised in November 1994, when Ken Clarke was Chancellor: before that diesel paid slightly less. Since then, the duty on both has been equal. In most other EU countries, diesel duty has been consistently lower than petrol (typically by 10 ppl or so). Whatever his other sins, I don’t think dieselisation can be laid at Gordon Brown’s door. I think you should look to EU regulation instead.

  31. Kevin
    May 20, 2019

    That experts can be wrong should be abundantly clear to viewers
    of BBC’s Celebrity Painting Challenge. I do not know what others
    made of it, but I saw Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen turning out Renaissance
    masterpieces on demand, like his Night at the Natural History Museum,
    yet experts Lachlan and Daphne still overlooked him.

  32. William Long
    May 20, 2019

    Modern democratically elected ministerial politicians are very reluctant to accept that they alone are accountable for the actions of their departments, preferring to shift the blame for mistakes onto ‘experts’. The former unlamented Chancellor, Mr G. Osbourne, gave a good example of this when he set up the fatuously named Office of Budgetary Responsibility, supposedly to keep him on the straight and narrow, and give him an excuse when he strayed.

  33. BillMayes
    May 20, 2019

    The truth is that our 21st Century Governments have preached democracy but practice pseudo-Marxism which places the Government in total control of our lives.
    It is a long term project. In order to do this, a Government first requires to ensure its re-election. This can be done by employing more and more civil servants and public sector workers making such persons long-term “Governmentphiles! and thus create a client electorate for those in power. Nobody wants to vote themselves out of a job.
    For example, in the past when Civil Service pay rises have been announced prior to a General Election. Hmm. The bribery policy continues within the EU, emanating from Brussels and fed out to the smaller State members AND to those who are or have been on their payroll. Those like ………., in receipt of an EU pension, are paid subject to continued loyalty to the EU. Failure to do so may mean they lose their monthly EU pension incomes. How’s that for democracy and freedom of speech?
    I suggest that this practice prevails amongst the “Experts” who are liable to lose their contracts, if they provide facts and data that contradict the main Brussels philosophy.
    When a paid “Expert” gets it wrong in the Private Sector, he loses his position and is replaced.
    However, within this Government and within the EU, “Experts” continually provide incorrect or totally wrong, possibly false, data but in doing so, seemingly are assured their contracts remain intact. They are never removed or replaced. Why not?
    This is just outrageous but demonstrates the contempt that those in power now hold for the General Public of this country.
    There is something certainly rotten in the State of the EU and their rot has spread to our own Country. Time to cut it all off for a clean break and re-establish true democracy here!
    We must leave or become a Marxist State under EU control.

  34. rose
    May 20, 2019

    One body in danger of turning into just such a supra national panel of experts is the Supreme Court. Does it model itself on the ECJ?

    1. hefner
      May 20, 2019

      Did you check who the SCOTUK members are, their exact functions, their backgrounds, how and by whom exactly they can be required to debate, how long this court has been around, what decisions they have taken over the years?
      Because it might recently have taken decisions you did not agree with, would it be a reason for you to want it to be “reformed”? Would you prefer the US model? or the Polish or Hungarian one? What are the elements which make you think that the SCOTUK is “turning into .. a supra national panel of experts”?

      1. rose
        May 21, 2019

        I don’t want any of the continental arrangements you mention. The Law Lords in the House of Lords attained a sufficiently high standard until 2009 and there was no reason to do away with that.

        1. hefner
          May 21, 2019

          I’m still confused: what has happened in 2009 or since to make you think that our Supreme Court is turning into a supra national panel of experts?

  35. ian
    May 20, 2019

    Experts do not get it wrong, just like the international body’s, UN, EU IMF and so on, they always get it right for the few which if you work for them, the UN or one of the others, you are one of the few, they pay no tax wherever they go, what’s good for them others think would good for them as well like CEOs, property deals and bankers and so on.

    They to tell you their favourite one at the moment, the one per cent pay 28% of all income tax.
    So you are paid 5 million and after tax it 2.6 million or so, CGT is 28% less first 12,000, or are paid by dividends the point is if they offshore all their money after tax they never pay any more tax on that money or assets again, it big business, you can have share account, savings accounts, trusts, property trusts, credits cards, debit cards, just like having an onshore account and savings accounts pay more interest than onshore accounts.

    Just like if you are in the know about the dark web, when comes down to it there are systems for the few and systems for the many.

  36. BR
    May 20, 2019

    Who is an expert on economics? When the thoughts of Marx, Smith and Keynes all have their afficionados and none can prove or disprove a word they say after all these years that tell some that it is the science of economics that is part of the problem – it needs to advance.

    There is far to much ‘teaching’ of economics without enough research to discover what is actually going on, in a way that can be verified.

    The use of ‘experts’ has sunk to the point where the credentials are not properly examined. The Institute for Fiscal Studies sounds official, almost governmental, yet it is a left-leaning bunch of people who describe themselves as a ‘think tank’ to gain credibility.

    That is why people now distrust experts – none can be verified as (a) unbiased or (b) being correct.

    If you are an expert and if you are right on the subject on which you are currently expounding, then you should be able to PROVE what you are saying. Otherwise, you’re just another person with an opinion.

  37. stred
    May 20, 2019

    Another definition of an expert is ‘someone who knows more and more about less and less until, in the end, he knows everything about nothing’. These days the government seems to be listening to experts who may be teenagers who think that they can see CO2 and know that a 1 degree increase in temperature in 12 years time will cause mass extinction and London to be flooded. As Lord Darkness said, we are moving to a post democratic age where only the opinions that suit the UN and EU will count.

    And so we have a lowering of air quality permitted pollution until we can’t comply without banning combustion engines and gas boilers, while we put more biofuels in petrol and increase fuel consumption at the same time. We have halved the power consumption of hoovers but have to hoover for twice as long. We put up the price of electricty here and export the pollution to clean countries like China and India. We build hundreds of windmills in the sea and then have to rebuild them after 20 years and think that saves CO2. We cut down American trees, chop them up and transport them to Europe and burn them and calim that this causes zero CO2 because the EU says so.

    This use of single policies is, of course, directly opposite to the law of evolution, where mutation and competition is necessary. No wonder it will fail.

  38. ian
    May 20, 2019

    How can they be getting it wrong when they the few are bailout by the many when they do get it wrong, for them, there is no wrong, the few are always taken care of by the many as dictated to by international groups and laws that keep them safe, offshore banking is growing bigger along with the darknet.

    Have you ever heard of an offshore bank is in trouble, of cos not, it only onshore banks that get into trouble where you keep your money.

  39. agricola
    May 20, 2019

    Politics Live again we have the Soubry rolling her eyes and looking skywards trying to rubbish a WTO departure with an offer to the EU of an FTA and Art 24 continuity. It is quite obvious that apart from the Brexit Party candidate they have on the panel none of them understand trade. This silly woman and her party have a 3% following in the polls. Brexit have 34%. Read the tea leaves woman and do us a favour and shut up.

    The Labour person on the panel can only rubbish Brexit. Trying to do a Democratic Party black ops job on Nigel and the party, with help from a load of nonsense from Gordon Brown, remember him.

    Nicholas Soames has turned up and is talking a lot of sense with a good touch of humour.

  40. David Maples
    May 20, 2019

    You mention the fallibility of experts in your book when referring to the ERM, and the 60% debt ceiling/3% deficit max….and of course you are absolutely right. Btw, I thought Black Wednesday was the result of the £ being set too high against the DM, thus over pricing our exports and under pricing our[particularly German]imports ie cars, leading to excess demand for the DM. Too many pounds were being offered in the FX markets, resulting in a collapse in Sterling, with the consequent huge drop in foreign currency holdings required to bid it up? You take the view that there was an almost unexplained sudden loss of confidence by some traders who got it into their heads that the £ was
    overvalued. Mind you, all these reasonings apropos fixed v. flexible rates, depend on the elasticities of demand and supply. The big historical problem for the UK has been our flattish demand curve for imports and the steep supply curve of UK exporters.

  41. mancunius
    May 20, 2019

    “They seek to prevent elected governments changing things by locking future governments into the system by binding International treaties. ”
    Precisely, Sir John, nail on head. The two things that make me most furious are
    1) MPs and peers in a conspiracy, attempting to push through a covert form of unbreakable UK constitution by subordinating us to a Treaty with the EU which we have expressly rejected at the ballot box, and trying to pull the wool over our eyes while doing so.
    2) the insult to our intelligence in the pretence that it does not matter, and that somehow this organisation which has behaved with such aggressive hatred and resentment towards Britain is a benevolent, peaceful and ‘democratic’ institution which the presence at final meetings of one or British politicians or civil servants will turn in our favour, once the real decisions have been taken in a Brussels-Paris-Berlin telephone stitch-up.

    Nobody voted for a ‘deal’ with Brussels. We voted to leave, and we must and shall leave with no further strings attached. Now that politicians can see our determination to do so, they are viciously redoubling their efforts to lastingly prevent our country from doing so in the future.

  42. Fred H
    May 20, 2019

    off topic – but rather important.
    The link shows Conservative seats in marginal to ‘safe’ order. As a guide it can be seen there are 70 seats with 6% swing to nearest challenger would unseat him.

  43. Andy
    May 20, 2019

    What a load of rubbish. What you advocate is not independence. It is obscene and unjustifiable irresponsibility. It is fecklessness of the highest order.

    You simply want the United Kingdom to be the equivalent of an absent father. All too happy to enjoy a good time but not prepared to ever take any international responsibility.

    Some of us hold our country in higher regard.

    1. Edward2
      May 20, 2019

      I dont think anyone could claim the UK has not been prepared to ever take any international responsibility as you ridiculouslyclaim Andy.
      There is a long history of our involvement both militarily and of our charitable generosity to help others in need which is testimony enough.
      That will not change whatever our relationship with the EU turns out to be.

      1. margaret howard
        May 20, 2019


        “There is a long history of our involvement both militarily ”

        Yes, like the illegal attack on Iraq to please our American taskmasters which has destabilised the whole Middle East sending millions of terrified refugees flooding into Europe. And then leaving them to pick up the pieces.

        1. Edward2
          May 21, 2019

          I had a bet with myself you would do a “whataboutery” post mentioning Iraq, Margaret.
          Actually I was thinking in terms of the UK’s proud record on humanitarian aid to other nations suffering from famine, floods, earthquakes, disease and hardship caused by civil wars.
          We send our armed forces to these areas and do great work.And the public gives generously to requests for charitable donations to other countries in times of need.
          Militarily events such as Bosnia and Kuwait but also peace keeping efforts all over the world in conjunction with the UN.
          Currently we are engaged in over 12 such efforts with the UN.
          Saving millions of lives.
          But you just keep on sneering Margaret.

    2. rose
      May 20, 2019

      It is much more responsible to be an independent country than a member of a big unaccountable bloc.

  44. Dominic
    May 20, 2019

    The Electoral Commission is out of control and now acting on behalf of the EU to attack all political threats

    Do Tory Eurosceptic MPs believe this form of State backed intimidation of a political party in a democratic election is acceptable?

    When are Tory Eurosceptic MPs going to step up and confront this blatant and disgusting intimidation which no doubt is encouraged by this PM?

    You belong to a party whose leader is utterly devoid of decency, dignity and respect for our democracy, our values and our freedoms

    You have moral duty to expose the Electoral Commission and its blatant gerrymandering

  45. Mark
    May 20, 2019

    I don’t think it is true that our energy policy is governed by climate change treaties – at least not those signed in extravaganzas like Paris. The treaty there imposes no obligations on energy on anyone – only statements of aspirations, agreement to report statistics and to meet again. There are commitments to provide money to some other countries at some point in the future.

    We are of course still subject to EU energy legislation which has of itself been highly damaging to our energy policy. But we trumped it with the Climate Change Act 2008 and the edicts of Deben that follow from it. Ed Miliband’s 2010 Energy Act gives primacy to green interests over consumers. We have been shooting ourselves in the foot over energy policy for over 20 years. Gove’s interference from outside the energy portfolio doesn’t help. It is a very long time since we have had a competent minister in charge. The Australian election offers a warning that echoes the origin of the gilets jaunes: expensive energy is unpopular policy.

  46. Steve
    May 20, 2019


    “What you advocate is not independence. It is obscene and unjustifiable irresponsibility”

    Strange, that. Since the MAJORITY find EU membership obscene.

    “Some of us hold our country in higher regard.”

    You are clearly not one of them. Disdain for the English, contempt for the elderly, etc.

    What YOU advocate is a free ride through life and dispensation from patriotic duty, and hard graft for the common good.

  47. Mark
    May 20, 2019

    A worrying trend is the politicisation of experts and quango heads. They are only appointed if they support the views of particular orthodoxies, which means that they rarely question policy. Natascha Engel proved to be an honourable exception – but she was forced out, despite having evidently consulted experts in geology and seismology who could point to evidence that the government position is bonkers.

    Of course, much of the expert debate isn’t even conducted in the UK at all: Parliament rubber stamps the EU Directive that has been drafted in the Berlaymont on the back of lobbying by its preferred vested interest groups. That is equally politically corrupt.

    Part of the problem is that far too few politicians have sufficient knowledge to begin to ask the right questions about science, engineering, medicine, or even project economics. That’s how we end up with HS2, bad energy policy, unjustified demonisation of modern diesel vehicles, the spread of medical conditions that ought not to occur and much else besides.

  48. Colin Hart
    May 21, 2019

    This all goes back to the Atlantic Charter and Churchill and Roosevelt’s hope that the world would be a better place if run by Britain and the United States after WWII. It would have been but it was not to be.

    1. Mitchel
      May 21, 2019

      That was Churchill’s hope-a new Anglo-American empire;Roosevelt(who had no time for empire)envisaged a big four of USA,USSR,UK and China(not France) policing the world;everyone else to be disarmed.

  49. […] The reign of experts and the “post democratic”age […]

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