It’s a Language Thing

In a brilliant article in the FT, last September, Janen Ganesh correctly predicted that as ever the US mid term elections would be obsessively followed by the English political elite when many of the same people would struggle to name a cabinet minister in Berlin or Paris. The EU, Ganesh points out, is a regulatory superpower but our political class is far more interested in Iowa. From the perspective of a UK citizen the impact of this obsession is non-trivial. It is in fact the key to understanding the trouble we are in. The UK's political elite is so engrossed with the US as to confuse it for their own nation. And it has led the nation to act as though they too were a superpower…

The question is why? Ganesh insists we do not invoke the usual bogyman of imperial nostalgia (if it were that, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Portugal would show the same hubris.) Instead he suggests we blame the distorting effect of language. Its because the UK’s governing class can follow US politics as easily as their own, they get lost in it. They elide the two countries. What doesn’t help is the freakish fact that Britain’s capital, where its elites live, is as big as any US city, despite the national population being a fifth of America’s. You can see why, from a London angle, the two nations are comparable…

Former Prime Minister Mad queen Liz and her Chancellor are not alone in the modern Tory party in their conviction that a bracing dose of deregulation would be enough to unchain Britania releasing US levels of entrepreneurial dynamism. But of course it won't. As Ganesh pointed out "The creator of a successful product in Dallas can expand to LA and Boston with little friction. The UK doesn’t have a market of hundreds of millions of people…" it did once but we voted to leave…

David Garcia
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