Friday, 22 September 2017

Emotions in Politics and Brexit

Today I return to a subject that I have discussed before, that of Emotions in Politics, with some of my previous posts on this subject here and here. However I am interested today in how it impacts the strongest political issue of our times, namely Brexit.

When I floated the provisional idea for this post on twitter, another user thought it would be dangerous to cast people who feel one thing and hence vote based on that one way or another as being Type A or Type B, which is a fair enough objection. My hypothesis is, that if people vote to cut themselves off from one group of people (whether or not it will therefore be easier to work closer with other groups of people) I am interested in whether or not this may have a link to self-esteem.

I’ve been thinking about self-esteem as lot as a mother of a young daughter, I am concerned about the latest reports that up to 1 in 4 teenage girls are depressed, given their own responses to a survey recently. So it is on my mind. My question would be (if indeed this information does not already exist) – to what extent does internally generated self-esteem influence one’s need to change things like supranational trade agreements.

It sounds absurd, but people make politics and politics makes supranational trade agreements. However, I am interested in the politics that drove the appeal of “Take Back Control” and I’m wondering if it’s because the people felt particularly out of control. What’s interesting about the Brexit vote is that it assembled a coalition of people in areas that feel “left behind” where one might feel that one is not “in control” of one’s circumstances – justifiably so in some cases no doubt, but also folded into that coalition vast areas of the south with older people that were doing well but may not have that much tertiary education, with education being one of the major drivers  that seems to have decided someone’s Brexit vote. If, perhaps your status (what others think of you) is founded on things that can change such as wealth rather than on internally driven self-esteem that can be more of a product of education, then perhaps someone might feel more out of control? It’s hard to really make predictions, and possibly dangerous as my interlocutor seemed to think this morning, however, can be worthwhile too – I would be interested in any data or evidence around these lines.

With Bill Clinton’s memorable phrasing in our minds

 “Underneath all these debates that are going on today lingers one
simple question... whether you believe social strength, economic reform
and political reform flow from division or multiplication."

How can we win people to the cause of multiplication in the future – perhaps it is mostly about looking at what they think of themselves?