Lies, damn lies, and self-reported sexual activity statistics

According to “Womens Hour” on BBC Radio 4, Tuesday 30 Aug 2016

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07q2d5v

“a US study” said that people born after 1980 (ie under 35) are having “less sex than previous generations”.  The study was published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behaviour (a journal I know from my Psychology degree).  I believe this was the August 2016 study “Twenge, J.M., Sherman, R.A. & Wells, B.E. Arch Sex Behav (2016)”, found at the URL below.

As the quote from the study below shows, the above BBC description of the study findings was a simplification.  The trend was more pronounced for women, but nonexistent for Black Americans, and for all college graduates.

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Brooke_Wells/publication/305783331_Sexual_Inactivity_During_Young_Adulthood_Is_More_Common_Among_US_Millennials_and_iGen_Age_Period_and_Cohort_Effects_on_Having_No_Sexual_Partners_After_Age_18/links/57a36f2008ae3f4529226dac.pdf

“Americans born in the 1980s and 1990s … were more likely to report having no sexual partners as adults compared to [those] born in the 1960s and 1970s … The shift toward higher rates of sexual inactivity … was more pronounced among women and absent among Black Americans and those with a college education.”

I have removed the obscure US slang terms for the different generations.

The data came from the US “General Social Survey” (GSS), from people aged 20-24, who were asked about their number of sexual partners since age 18.  Thus the data and the finding relates to the age range of 18 to 24.

According to the same radio programme, the UK National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles “appears to show a similar pattern” in the UK.  However this too was inaccurate.  The “NATSAL 3” 2012 study does indeed show a continuing small decline in the median number sexual encounters over the past 4 weeks, but that was in a sample of the UK population aged 16 to 44, not 18 to 24 as in the US study.  The UK age range is thus very different from that of the US study above, which makes a direct comparison with the US figures impossible.

This self-reported UK decline in median sexual activity is relative to previous higher figures from 1999, and still higher figures from 1990.  The study was set up around 1990 because of the need for accurate statistics on the topic due to the AIDS epidemic, so those are the earliest comparable figures.

http://www.natsal.ac.uk/media/2102/natsal-infographic.pdf

“On average over the past two decades there has been a decrease in how often people [aged 16–44] say they have sex.”

According to the BBC radio programme’s description of the 2012 NATSAL3 study, “1 in 5 people aged 16-24 said that they didn’t have a sexual partner.”

http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(13)62035-8.pdf

In fact the 2012 NATSAL 3 study reported that 19.8% of people aged 16-24 had *never* had a sexual partner, not that they currently lacked one.  The sloppy wording on the radio programme suggested more sexual activity had been self-reported than was actually the case.

To summarise:

o In the USA only *some* categories of people reported having less sex (when aged 18-24) than those born before 1980, not the entire US age cohort (as the BBC alleged).

o Contrary to the BBC report, the available UK data logically *cannot* tell us whether the same thing happened here (because the UK NATSAL age range studied is much wider than the US GSS one).

o UK data does tell us that a different age range from the US study (16-44) have been reporting less sex in 1999 than in 1990, and less again in 2012.

o The UK 2012 NATSAL data also tells us that 19.8% of people aged 16-24 reported *never* having a sexual partner, not (as the BBC claimed) that they “currently” lacked one.

I’ll leave the last word on the more interesting question (“Why?”) to the BBC.

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170508-the-many-reasons-that-people-are-having-less-sex

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TravCon 2017

“For I have dined on honeydew*, and drunk the milk of paradise*.”

(* or vegan equivalent)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xanadu_(Rush_song),

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kubla_Khan

In the days of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, you would have had to take copious doses of opium, or read gothic fiction, to match the many faceted glories of the small gem that is TravCon.  The array of different visions of Traveller on offer this year was breathtaking.

I experienced a Call of Cthulhu shocker, re-imagined in a classic Traveller location.  The novelty of this approach was brilliant, and the plot turns took us all by surprise.  I won’t spoil it for others by giving details.

As a complete contrast, I also took part in a free-form simulationist approach to planetary government.  Despite the oncoming TNE computer virus, we managed to cooperate just enough to save 1% of our planet’s population.  It doesn’t sound like much of a victory, but it felt like an achievement.

My third session was a more familiar type of scenario (interstellar intrusion and sabotage), but set in an unusual bit of the galaxy – the Vargr extents.  As mission leader I failed to anticipate the predictable effects of close confinement on one character’s compulsion to deploy a mini-nuke from orbit.

On Saturday evening I opted for the miniatures wargame Striker, so that I could drop out early if necessary and go to bed.  Despite having played once before, I failed to recall the supreme importance of the command and control rules.  My newbie opponent wiped the floor with me, despite her having a broken arm, and holding a baby.  (Her “command and control” of the baby was also impressive.)

Finally, on Sunday, another familiar Traveller mission (bodyguards), but again with another unfamiliar twist.  The person we were guarding had to be kidnapped (on the orders of his dad), and the “valued customer” we guarded was an infuriating wastrel.  There were also some colourful local NPCs on the jungle planet Gin, but none of those “Ginsters” really was a “patsy” as I had suspected.

My thanks to Andy, Sarah, and the referees, for their hard work to create another fantastic event.

UK Patriotism in the 21st century

I probably shouldn’t blog when I’m cross, but I am, and it relieves my frustration.

At the Conservative conference today (5th of October 2016), the prime minister Theresa May just said “Just listen to the way a lot of politicians and commentators talk about the public. They find their patriotism distasteful, their concerns about immigration parochial, their views about crime illiberal, their attachment to their job security inconvenient. They find the fact that more than 17 million people voted to leave the European Union simply bewildering.”

Rather than argue (as Samuel Johnson famously did in 1775) that “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel” I take a pragmatic position.  The UK electorate’s vote to give up shared sovereignty over the entire EU, in the hope of increased sovereignty over the tiny UK, is (in my opinion) clearly against the national interest, and thus by definition unpatriotic.

The economic consequences of that decision will hammer the UK economy, and reduce our diplomatic influence across the world.  As a result of the economic damage the UK will also have less money to spend on national defence, such as providing aircraft for those useless aircraft-less carriers.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-11577395  Both a weakening of the UK economy, and a reduction in our influence abroad would clearly be against the national interest, and thus (to me) unpatriotic.

Another consequence of leaving the EU will be the weakening of one of our major political and economic allies against Russian expansionism, the EU.  If Vladimir Putin approves of Brexit, then it can hardly be patriotic.

Ah, I feel better for having got that off my chest!

Channel 4’s “Naked Attraction”: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

Goodness that last political post was heavy and depressing, wasn’t it?  “… And now for something completely different”, a TV review.

This is the clipped, cleaned-up version, without any latin, or colloquial, terms for the human “naughty bits”.

Given that the series consists of attractive young men and women choosing potential partners based only (at first) on what they look like in the nude*, then what is my excuse for viewing this “filth”?  Well, this Channel 4 TV series is a cultural phenomenon (although I admit to not being as interested in “Bake-Off”).  I’m watching this new phenomenon closely so that you don’t have to!

(* When I say “nude” I really do mean completely naked, from all directions, and in close-up.)

The Good

The series was moderately inclusive, in terms of build, size, fatness, disability (including prosthetics), sexual orientation, occupations (an indicator of socioeconomic class), regional accents, and ethnic origins.  However I have seen nobody either old, nor ugly.  Potential advertisers and viewers would probably not have accepted that.

The Bad

The format was extremely shallow.  The “educational” content was minimal.  Things they could usefully have mentioned in particular contexts were left unsaid.  Having read “The Annals of Sexual Behaviour” for my Psychology degree tutorials, studied human evolution and development, I honestly think I could have provided more educational facts myself.

Throughout the series the term used to describe the external female “naughty bits” was actually the term for an internal organ.  That was a crime against language, and such incorrect terminology could promote confusion if used in a medical context.  (So much for “educational content”!)

The Ugly

It was essentially nude flirting, which could be regarded as pornography.  To my mind this should not be normalised by appearing on a mainstream TV channel, even after the 10 pm watershed.

The show exploits the exhibitionism of some young people, who should have been dissuaded for their own good.  It uses images of foolish people’s bodies to create marketable content (a sort of “naked Facebook” business model).

It’s dating for the Tinder generation, as the presenter is quoted as saying in The Guardian newspaper.  In my opinion, anyone who makes a decision about whom to date based primarily on physical attraction is probably heading for disaster.

What is the function of democracy?

Until 2014 the majority of the UK electorate supported the re-introduction of the death penalty.  Only in 2014 did they turn against it in the annual British Social Attitudes Survey (run since 1983), and only by a very narrow margin.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-32061822

Mainstream political parties (run by an enlightened liberal elite) have conspired to keep this issue off the agenda since capital punishment was suspended in 1965.  That suspension was unpopular at the time, and has probably remained so until recently (even longer than I’ve been a member of Amnesty).

The issue of the death penalty has been highlighted recently, because voters for Brexit were more likely to support hanging than they were to be members of UKIP.  If liberal democracy does not (usually) give an apparently illiberal electorate the brutal and self-harming policies that they say they want, then what is it for?

One could try to argue that democracy is a way of taking decisions that are popular, even if they are bad ones.  However the Brexit referendum result has highlighted the weaknesses of that argument.

Direct democracy (referenda for example) often lacks a deliberative element.  Some people decided how to vote in the recent referendum based on what they saw on Facebook, or in the tabloid press.  They didn’t really think for themselves about the issues, they didn’t read serious newspapers, nor watch/hear TV/radio documentaries.  It would have been preferable to have unbiased expert advice put to a citizens panel, and their conclusions included on the ballot paper.

According to the Venice Commission code of practice for referendums in Europe, a majority of 50% +1 person should be enough to win a referendum, even if this leaves an electorate deeply divided.

http://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/default.aspx?pdffile=CDL-AD(2007)008-e

Even representative democracy can still be very divisive.  The last coalition government was the result of an election in which no party had an overall majority in parliament.  Nobody voted for the compromise programme of legislation that they enacted.  I’m not saying that all of it was bad, merely that it lacked legitimacy.

A significant minority are either unable, or unwilling, to vote.  This is true even in referenda, where the issues are clear, and every vote counts.

A tiny majority in a referendum, or a coalition of minority parties at a national election, or even a low election turn-out can all reduce the perceived legitimacy of the outcome.

Regardless of the issue of legitimacy, any group is more likely to make bad decisions than an individual.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07jysds
“Democracy and the Wisdom of Crowds”, “The Human Zoo”, Series 8, Episode 5 of 8

According to this documentary, had the electorate been asked a simple numerical question, such as guessing the number of jelly beans in the jar, then we might have had a better collective decision than an individual one.  More complex value judgements often tend to come out wrong when a crowd is making the decision.

Unfortunately, the alternatives to democracy are even worse.  I think the best thing we can hope for to help democracy to work better is that basic economics is made compulsory in schools.

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Winston_Churchill

“Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

Winston Churchill, Speech in the House of Commons (11 November 1947).

“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter”

Attribution debunked in Langworth’s ‘Churchill by Himself’. First known appearance is in a 1992 Usenet post.

The ironies of Brexit

In my previous post earlier today (I know, I should get a life) I described how authoritarian people (who value order and national power) voted for Brexit on 23 June.  This set of values is very ironic in the light of the consequences of the Brexit vote.

Brexit has directly caused a significant period of political, and criminal disorder.  We’ve lost the prime minister David Cameron, and almost all of his cabinet.  The Brexit referendum outcome has also triggered a melt-down in the main opposition party.  The spike in hate crime shows no sign of lessening, although that could be just increased awareness and reporting.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36869000

Confirmation by the new PM of the UK’s decision to leave the EU has already cost us good will, and political influence, in Europe.  Brexit will embolden an expansionist Russia, particularly if a newly enfeebled EU decides to drop sanctions against the illegal seizure of Crimea.  Presumably such sanctions are something that the smaller group of NATO nations cannot do effectively?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-36629146

A period of short-term economic turmoil was expected by both Brexiteers and Remainers.  This has now happened, and the value of the pound has still not fully recovered a month later.  That will make exports cheaper, but will also push up the prices of critical imports, such as oil and food.  The price of oil will of course push up the price of everything else.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-36641174

 

So much for “order”, but what about national power?  

The longer term economic impact of Brexit will not be clear for many months, or years.  Most comentators expect it to be bad.  Predictions by various bodies independent of UK government suggest that the loss of national economic power will be much worse than any  terrorist attack could have achieved without serious weapons of mass destruction.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-36834977 The IMF
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-36826166 The IFS

Loss of economic power leads to loss of military power.  The decades of failure of any party in government to regulate the banks properly led to the UK not having the money to commission aircraft carriers after the crash of 2008.

“The taking back of control” after Brexit is partly an illusion.  

Gain in power at Westminster is at least balanced by loss of power in Brussels.  After Brexit is complete we will no longer have a say in legislation across the EU.  We will become able to pass our own legislation on air pollution and fisheries within the UK, but those pesky fish and chunks of air will still keep moving around Europe!  We will still need international cooperation on many issues, both at EU level, and more widely.  The kind of “control” that we are taking back will end at the UK’s borders.

Before the EU referendum, we already had control of non-EU migration, and yet Theresa May allowed such immigration to the UK to continue at the same average level while she was Home Secretary, because the economy needed those migrants.  The economic benefit of inward migration will not go away, however much some Brexiteers might wish it to.  Again, “taking back control” is an illusion here as well.

https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=6&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiun7eUr4rOAhXLKMAKHRzPCDkQFghAMAU&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.parliament.uk%2Fbriefing-papers%2Fsn06077.pdf&usg=AFQjCNFv_sKfGqsF4LNhmk5zZN8J2-4ZTA

(see page 13)

We will still import large numbers of students and tourists, yet we will still have no national ID card to prevent them from overstaying and working illegally.  The amount of “control” of migration being taken back has been oversold.

The Psychology & Sociology of Brexit

Sociology

Despite the 2:1 majority vote to remain in 1975,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_European_Communities_membership_referendum,_1975

according to 2 Sociologists  James Dennison and Noah Carl

The ultimate causes of Brexit: history, culture, and geography

“the UK has been the least well-integrated EU member state, and so the closer the EU was moving toward political union, the more likely Brexit was becoming.”

People in the UK were the least likely member state citizens to identify themselves as “European”.  They are amongst the most distrustful of the EU, and the least likely to live in other EU counties.

The UK trades less with other EU countries than most other EU members trade with each other, and has less investment to, or from, most of the other EU countries than they have with each other.

They claim that the reasons for this are:

o “Britain is the only allied European power not to have been occupied during the Second World War.”  But, unoccupied neutral European powers now inside the EU include: Spain, Portugal, and Sweden.  Of these only the Iberian pair suffer from Euroscepticism, due perhaps to the Eurozone economic problems.

o Geography – the UK is relatively isolated (checking other EU islands for myself, Cyprus comes out with similar figures, but curiously not Eire)

o The English legal tradition.  This is completely different from the Code Napoleon basis of most of the continent.  However, I must point out that Scotland has a hybrid system closer to the European ones.

o An established national church.  This would not apply to secular France, but they do not mention that other smaller EU members also have national churches.  I’m not convinced this difference from continental Europe is relevant here.

Their conclusion: “Britain is the least well-integrated EU member state” and “as the EU moved closer toward political union, the UK’s fundamentally less European character meant that Brexit was increasingly likely”.  Obviously (as the authors admit) other factors provided the immediate trigger for Brexit.

Psychology

There is an underlying variable behind the apparent statistics on what sort of people voted for Brexit, in my previous posting.  According to Eric Kaufmann (Professor of Politics at Birkbeck College):

It’s NOT the economy, stupid: Brexit as a story of personal values

the underlying variable is authoritarianism.  “For me, what really stands out about [the British Election Study 2015] is the importance of support for the death penalty [in predicting Brexit voting intention].”  It outweighs all demographic data and party loyalties.  “… 71 percent of those most in favour of the death penalty indicated in 2015 that they would vote to leave the EU.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-36803544

According to Stian Westlake, Head of Research at the think tank Nesta “If you look at attitudes to questions such as, ‘Do you think criminals should be publicly whipped?’ or ‘Are you in favour of the death penalty?’ – those things are much better predictors [of Brexit voting intention], and you get over 70% accuracy,”.

As Ben Shimshon of Britain Thinks (which advises businesses and political parties on how to communicate with the public), broadly agrees with Westlake. What united Leave voters in focus groups in the run-up to the referendum, he says, was support for a whole set of “traditional” values.

“They tended to value things like order, stability and safety against things like openness, modernity and other social-liberal values that were more popular among Remain voters. Often it’s about harking back to the past – sometimes a feeling that they don’t belong to the present.”

Which previous demographic findings does this explain?  Young people are generally less authoritarian, and were thus less likely to vote for Brexit.  The same applies to people with experience of higher education, who were also much less likely to vote for Brexit.  Authoritarians may tend to be concerned about national identity, and less accepting of transnational bodies like the EU.  They may also be more prone to “aggression towards sanctioned targeted minority groups”.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authoritarian_personality#Current_reinterpretations

According to Lord Ashcroft Polls

How the United Kingdom voted on Thursday… and why

“By large majorities, voters who saw multiculturalism, feminism, the Green movement, globalisation and immigration as forces for good voted to remain in the EU; those who saw them as a force for ill voted by even larger majorities to leave.”  These too seems consistent with underlying authoritarianism.

According to “30 years of British Social Attitudes self-reported racial prejudice data”

https://www.natcen.ac.uk/media/338779/selfreported-racial-prejudice-datafinal.pdf

there has always been much more low-level racial predjudice in the UK than I would ever have imagined.  This is apparently similar in other EU countries.

http://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra_uploads/146-EB2005-summary.pdf

The EU referendum was like turning over a stone.  Some very unpleasant things were revealed lurking underneath.

The People have spoken – Heaven help us!

As you may have gathered, I am not happy about the referendum result.  The Leave majority was only 2% of the electorate (1.3M), with almost 30% not voting.  (I admit that the lack of any turnout threshold, or of any majority threshold, is in line with The Venice Commission guidelines on European referenda.  http://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/default.aspx?pdffile=CDL-AD(2007)008-e)

There was no need to hold a referendum.  It was cynically called by Cameron, for purely “party political advantage”, which showed “poor judgement” (as former *Conservative* cabinet minister Michael Portillo said on BBC TV http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07jgw73).

Referenda are a poor way to make decisions on complex political and economic issues: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2092182-there-are-better-ways-to-decide-the-big-issues-than-referendums/

Unlike the most recent referendum in any part of the UK (Scottish independence in 2014), no vote was given to 1.5M largely pro-Remain 16-17 year olds.  Exactly like the 2011 UK Alternative Voting system referendum, the public debate was “bad-tempered and ill-informed” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_Alternative_Vote_referendum_2011).  At the start of the campaign even I did not understand all the issues properly, yet I have 2 degrees and once published a magazine article critical of the Common Agricultural Policy.  So, I have few illusions about the EU.

o How many voters actually know how the EU’s democracy works?  None of the ones I spoke to, nor the ones I saw interviewed on TV.

o How many people know whether the UK will be forced to accept freedom of movement of EU citizens, in return for access to the EU single market?  Absolutely nobody, because that can only be decided by negotiation, after leaving the EU.  I have to say this is not looking promising, and even some leading Brexiteers (Ms Leadsom) concede that it may not be possible.

o How many people understand why an unnecessary Brecession is so likely to follow Brexit?  Not many people understand even the basics about economics.  I understand little more than the basics myself.

o How many voters grasp how their lives have been improved by EU legislation?  Precious few, I can tell you, and I’ve argued with intelligent and educated Brexiteers.

o How many people understand the legal differences between an economic migrant, and a refugee?  Surprisingly few, on either side of the debate!

o Did any Brexiteer actually know that the net cost of EU membership was only half that of NATO membership last year?  https://fullfact.org/europe/our-eu-membership-fee-55-million/

o Do Brexiteers know where EU spending in the UK goes?  I doubt it, but Agriculture, Higher Education, and poor regions of the UK are likely to be hit hard by Brexit.

So, on the basis of lies and exaggerations we’ve voted to crash the economy, reduce the UK’s diplomatic influence, cut worker’s rights and environmental protection, and break up the UK.  Why did we do it?

Some have argued that the protest vote was justified: https://medium.com/@mrianleslie/the-people-have-spoken-the-bastards-b96d01f1c808#.pjge8ikr9.  I profoundly disagree.  The protest by the low-paid and unwaged is self-harming (putting the far right of the Conservative party into power), and incoherent (no specific issue is highlighted).

Voter demographics and social attitudes (Lord Ashcroft Polling http://lordashcroftpolls.com/2016/06/how-the-united-kingdom-voted-and-why/):

o The older the voters, the more likely they were to have voted to leave the EU (65+ – 60% leave).  I saw elderly women in Essex on C4 News saying that they voted to leave, and how great it was in the 1950’s before the EU.  Strangely they forgot to mention low wages, smog, rationing, conscription, the Suez crisis, and illegal back-street abortion.  If they think they can vote to go back to 1950 (as the negative view of multiculturalism, feminism & the Green movement held by leavers would suggest) they will be disappointed.

o The less education you had, the more likely you were to vote to leave (students 80% remain, graduates 57% remain, higher degree graduates 64% remain).  I think that tells you something about the quality of the debate.  Those who knew least voted to leave.  Yes, the UK has “had enough of experts” telling the unpalatable truth.

o The less income you had, the more likely you were to vote to leave.  The low-paid and unemployed who think they voted Leave for more jobs and higher wages are in for a shock.

o Just under half of voters “always knew” which way they would vote, so presumably did no time-consuming research before deciding.  (Sometimes I wish I had not wasted days on this.)

o Leavers claim that they voted (in order, most important first) on sovereignty, immigration, and lack of control over EU expansion.  Having spoken to Brexiteers I can confirm that they are very ill-informed on these topics, as are most people.  I can only conclude that they have been influenced to vote against their own interests by the tabloid press.

If Leavers think they can #takebackcontrol by throwing away our influence on EU legislation (which we would still have to conform to if we want access to the single market), reduce the number of people coming here to work (without trashing the economy still further), and block the (very distant) threat of Turkish accession from outside the EU, they will be sadly disappointed.

As a result of their vote Leavers will find agricultural production moving abroad, and rising food prices, because farmers cannot get access to cheap seasonal labour, also due to a decline in the value of the pound.  They will find future staff shortages in social care and the NHS.  The prospects of continuing Turkish help in managing Syrian refugees just became even more remote.

The control of huge trans-national issues (pollution, refugees, climate change etc) requires powerful trans-national institutions.  The 17th century nation state is unfit for purpose, we need a European super-state, just as much as we sometimes need migrant workers.

The Inequality Trust says that the protest vote was about low wages, which were not due to globalisation.  https://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/brexit-and-inequality-its-not-about-globalisation?platform=hootsuite

“By 1988 the UK had already become a deeply divided country with extremely high levels of inequality and this did not dramatically increase up to 2008.   As globalisation took off, it doesn’t appear to have caused further large increases of inequality in the UK. … People from areas with lower wages were more likely to vote to leave, whilst those with higher wages were more likely to vote remain.”  I believe that leading figures in the Leave campaign (such as Ian Duncan Smith) cared so much about low pay that they voted against the National Minimum Wage in Parliament.

Some Brexiteers have cited EU corruption, or onorous EU regulations, or lack of EU democracy as reasons to leave.  We also have some of the most blatant corruption in the world in Britain, you may recall the Hillsborough and Levison enquiries (read “How Corrupt is Britain” by David Whyte).  The reason we know so much about EU corruption is that the democratically elected and powerful EU Parliament became aware of corruption and forced the entire EU Commission to resign in 1999.  Obviously the job is not complete, and corruption remains an issue in the EU, just as it does here.

Similarly I can assure you from personal experience that the UK Civil Service can compete with any in the world in drafting “onorous” legislation, to protect workers, consumers, or the environment.  If we had passed more “onorous” legislation for the banking sector, we might have been spared the 2008 crash.

If you don’t know how the EU democracy works, do a bit of reading (http://www.gr2014parliament.eu/Portals/6/PDFFILES/NA0113090ENC_002.pdf and https://fullfact.org/europe/eu-facts-behind-claims-democracy/).  That criticism might have been justified years ago, but the power of the EU Commission has been much reduced.  As of 23/06/16, 29 EU laws out of about 400 laws (7%) were rejected (permanently vetoed) by the democratically elected EU parliament in the last 365 days.

Others have said that they don’t want to be ruled by “rich posh people in Brussels”.  I’m sure that Old Etonians David Cameron and Boris Johnson, and former banker Andrea Ledsome, would sympathise.  Indeed, many MPs are highly paid lawyers, from rich families.  The proportion of MPs who were manual workers has fallen to it’s lowest recorded level since 1979.
http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN01528.pdf
https://smithinstitutethinktank.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/who-governs-britain.pdf

The referendum vote was an unnecessary act of economic and political self-harm, particularly harmful to the poor communities where the majority voted Leave.  If things go as badly as expected, then the next generation of pro-EU voters would have to apply to join the Eurozone, a worse position than we were in until 2016.  Given that 1.5M new pro-EU voters join the electorate every 2 years that is only a matter of time, unless of course life outside the EU really is as wonderful as Brexiteers believe.

The state of the nation (part one)

I am sick to the ‘brack’ teeth of the Eaton Mess that is the Brexit debate. ‘Broris’ stance is pure ‘brollocks’. All he wants is his former classmate Dave’s job, he doesn’t really care whether brexit happens or not.

phsothetruestory

There is a lot of talk of ‘sovereignty’ in the E.U. debate.  Of leaving the E.U. in order to regain our sovereignty – defined by the Oxford dictionary as ‘supreme power or authority’.  It might be worth thinking for a moment as to how this supreme power may be used should we break free of the unelected Eurocrats who are said to be running our country like a puppet state.

Let’s start with democracy.  We have essentially a two party, first past the post electoral system.  In the 2015 General Election UKIP received 3.9M votes (12.7% of the share) but only one seat in the house.   We have a majority conservative government on 36.8% of the vote.  Under proportional representation (used for EU elections) UKIP would have secured 83 seats making them the third biggest party ahead of the Lib Dems and SNP.  election-2015-proportional representation  Would…

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What polices could mitigate/avoid income inequality?

In the UK the April 2010 Equality Act imposed a duty on Government Departments when drafting legislation to take into account any potential impact on inequality.  Great policy, it’s a shame that it took the Labour government so long to formulate!

 

Only month after this act was passed into law, the Labour government was replaced by the Con-Dem coalition.  That new government then scrapped the public sector equality duty component of the 2010 act, before it was intended to come into effect (in April 2011).

 

The Scottish government has stated that they plan to re-introduce this duty.

 

https://www.holyrood.com/articles/news/nicola-sturgeon-plans-revive-legal-duty-public-bodies-reduce-inequalities?platform=hootsuite

 

This of course is only one such possible policy measure.  The OECD outlines several possible policies:

 

http://www.oecd.org/social/in-it-together-why-less-inequality-benefits-all-9789264235120-en.htm

 

Eliminate gender inequality in employment.

Promote good quality (permanent, full time) jobs with opportunities for staff development.

Reduce labour market segmentation (by improving the ability of workers to move between different occupations, different areas and different industries).

Provide training, and re-training, throughout the working life of the workforce.

Redistributive taxation and state benefit policies.