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Why On Earth Were We Surprised About Trump and Brexit

We normally write our blogs about our work. But today it felt like time to share some wider thoughts about society, politicians and the silent majority!

I spent the morning wondering, am I surprised at the US Preseidential election result because it is not what I wanted or because it is not what I expected?

I realised that it is neither of those. I am surprised because, it turns out, that along with everyone I know, I am so very out of touch with ‘the silent majority’. It may be a slim majority, numerically, both in Brexit and the US Election, but given I thought I lived solidly in the mainstream of opinion, its a pretty sizemic revelation.

When you look at why people voted for Trump yesterday, its actually pretty obvious he would win, hence my surprise at being so surprised.

  • I learned at a conference, run by the British American Business Council, this morning, that in America, the bottom quarter of the population’s children, will never have more money than their parents had (98% will live and die without any social or financial improvement), thats a tough pill for a poor or jobless parent to stomach.
  • I learned that for half of America, their household incomes have risen by just $25,000 in 15 years, whereas the cost to send their children to college has risen from $5,000 to $30,000, meaning they cannot afford or even hope to educate their children beyond school.
  • I learned that the average Trump voter, is a solid member of the middle classes, who voted for their children’s future and not their own present.
  • I learned that this same group, may find Trump distasteful, but would prefer him, to voting for yet another member of the Washington elite, who is promising business as usual.

Given those few facts and there are many more I haven’t recorded here, it is hardly surprising that people voted in such huge numbers for Trump. Whether he can deliver what he is promising is another debate, but he was the only one promising to try and change these peoples lives, or the only one who had the credibility to make people think that he could.

The story isn’t so different in the UK with Brexit, it seems generally accepted, that the majority of the Brexit vote, was not people asking for parliamentary sovereignty and a break from European free trade agreements, but a very loud and powerful message that said, ’things may be ok for you lot, but they are not for us’.

The bit that is surprising, is it has brought home the message that those who are happy, are stuck in a bubble talking to each other and without reaslising that they were never reaching out to the majority who are unhappy. That is why everyone I know and most politicians, newspapers and even polling organisations got it wrong..again!

What is tragic, is that it has taken a Brexit Vote and US Presidential vote, to give these people a voice. They have turned up to vote, often in instances when they have never voted before and in order to say ‘we are unhappy things must change’ they have been forced to ignore the powerful and reasonable arguments for and against Brexit and the different preseidntal candidates, to lodge a protesting vote. It may well be the Western version of an Arab Spring, where the silent mass rose up to overthrow their rulers, for better or worse, unknown replacements. Thank goodness we benefit from the luxury of democracy, that our rising, has at least been peaceful.

I don’t think I have a nice rounded conclusion to this, except that our leaders and politicians, need a wake up, a huge wake up.

  • It is no longer acceptable to allow career politicians to administer our country, if they cannot do it in the interests of all the people, rather than just their voter demographic, own self interest, or that of their party.
  • The interests of big business have to be properly balanced with social issues, albeit understanding that business funds so much of our lives, the balance cannot be so business centric.
  • The wealthy that have benefitted from growing up in the UK, or making money here, even if they ‘believe they made their money themselves’, did so in an incubated environment. That incubated environment, the United Kingdom, has been paid for by hundreds of generations, some generations made financial contributions to build infrasturture, schools, universities, banks and the NHS (to name very few), while others paid with their lives to keep us safe, but it has made the UK a place where it is easy to make money with the right skills or luck. So it is right, that those that can, pay their way, to help those who are growing up without the same opportunities (a school should never struggle to buy a computer, when businesses waste them so prolifically).
  • The offset to this, is that when handed opportunities, the unemployed, low skilled or out of work, must enthusiastically take them. We do not want to fund a ‘benefits nation’ by incentivising people to stay at home, but the opportunities we do give people, must be real and offer genuine prospect and advancement.

This will cost and must be paid for in taxes, or by businesses directly, but it is a long term investment. Already half of the UK and the USA’s populations, are so unhappy and disenfranchised by the countries they live in, that they have felt the need to register their powerful protest, they won’t be re-engaged and made to feel better for free!

We need a change, or Brexit and Presidential votes will only be the start of people exercising their democratic right to remove those in power, even if it is not in their own best interests.

By Robbie Beak

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