22/06/2016 1 Comment
It seems that in yesterday’s post, I failed to mention the main argument of the brexiters for why we should ignore the overwhelming economic evidence and vote Leave instead.
It seems to go like this (please correct me if I am wrong):
There are examples in history of an economist, or more than one economist, being wrong on something. Therefore we should ignore all economists now when they say that leaving the EU would be bad for the UK economy.
I’m not altogether sure this works as an economic argument, or indeed an argument of any kind. I think also, I have been quite generous to the brexiters with that summary. They aren’t actually asking you to ignore economists on the economic argument, they are actually asking you to look closely at the view of economists and then go out and vote for precisely the opposite of what they say.
Are economists alway right? Of course not and they often disagree with one another. Economic consensus on the scale that we see on brexit is actually fairly rare. This is in part because of the lack of any cohesive economic argument for brexit – there basically isn’t one, but also it’s a much simpler task we are asking economists to model here than we often give them. We aren’t asking economists to give an exact number on the size of the economy in five or 10 years time, just asking how it would be if we stayed in the EU relative to leaving. The majority of the variables and unknowns that you would need to get to a precise number cancel out when you are only comparing one aspect, (even if it is in this case a big one).
Of course, the argument from the brexiters against economists doesn’t stop there. Today Michael Gove, helpfully informed the public, that the economists’ motives are actually akin to those of Nazi sympathisers.
I’ll tell you something – they really aren’t at all. I’m pretty sure the IMF, the OECD, NIESR, the LSE, the Bank of England etc are not heavily staffed by that kind of person and given how stupid a thing it was to say, we should perhaps leave it there.
Even if we do though, we are still looking at an economic argument with economists on one side and Michael Gove and Boris Johnson on the other. Like I say, the economic community’s economic forecasts aren’t always right, but I doubt they are less accurate than those of Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker.
I did say yesterday that I thought the whole referendum was a massive waste of time and while it is, it won’t for one second stop me taking the time out of my day to go to the polling station and voting to stay in. I did like Ben Goldacre’s conclusion on the same subject:
Just vote remain. It’s boring, there’s nothing awesome about it, but sometimes you have to take a break from useful productive work to stop idiots breaking things.