I hesitated whether to contribute my tuppence-worth to this momentous occasion. Of the three taboo subjects – religion, sex, politics – that one is not supposed to talk about in polite society, nowadays politics is possibly higher up on the list. For some, money is also a taboo subject and perhaps why it is easier to talk about what money can do, such as property prices, buy-to-let, tax avoidance, than how much of it one has under the mattress. The more I thought about the more I realised that this referendum is a rare opportunity for every single vote to count. With party politics, every vote normally only counts in marginal seats.
In 1973, we weren’t asked if we wanted to join the Common Market, as it then was, but in 1975 we were asked if we wanted to stay in or leave. Age 26, I voted leave. I don’t know why. Never much interested in politics and economics, I didn’t know anything about the advantages and disadvantages, but it didn’t for me feel right. Now, forty-one years on, my interest in politics and economics hardly changed, I have for the referendum had to research for myself, the information dispensed by politicians and others lacking as far as I am concerned.
I rarely read a daily newspaper or watch TV news or listen to radio news; and frankly I’m not interested in reading about current affairs, sport, the arts, celebrities, or the BHS post-mortem, so I get what I need from my own interests, family, friends and other people’s comments on websites. Amongst the comments are gems of wisdom. From wisdom one can often guess the rest and even if not always factually correct would then still be enough to go on. I say ‘go on’ because the aim is to progress. Not to get caught up in other people’s stuff and end up stuck in a rut.
It was only from doing my own research that I read that EU is an experiment in socialism. Having a deep interest in psychology – to be any good at rent review the psychology including but not limited to negotiation is vital; for example to work out why the opponent-surveyor should misrepresent when a simple check would reveal the facts: a conundrum that is solved by thinking that the truth will out; the opponent-surveyor agrees with me but dares not admit it for fear of the wrath of their client – socialism as an ideology has, as a friend tells me, a lot going for it -“From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs “- but what’s wrong he said is that its principles go against human nature, greed, etc. On the contrary, as I said to my friend, much of what is popularly known as human nature is what I call the adverse effect of social conditioning on human nature. Each individual knows her/his own limits and would not stray if themselves, but feelings about ourselves have resulted in the system accommodating emotional baggage. Power struggles.
Now that I can more readily understand the principle upon which the EU is based, it is apparent that the only way for the experiment to succeed is for member countries to give up their national identities. Here’s where it gets interesting. The migrant and refugee crisis provides EU bureaucracy with an opportunity to dilute the stronghold of national identity in member states. In the UK, bearing in mind that much of the indigenous population including ancestry is of immigrant origin, whether that would happen anyway in the long term, is immaterial: it is now and the foreseeable future that is of concern; which rather suggests, at least to me, that the issue is not the new arrivals per se, but the number of new arrivals being overwhelming. In other words, whether we can afford to be (as) accommodating.
A study of ‘accommodating’ uncovers much of interest. Fitting in with someone else’s wishes or demands in a helpful way. To be accommodating is to agree to or go along with something for a quiet life. Although help is instinctive, whether one must help for the sake of it depends upon your own philosophy. Often the wish to be helped is conditional – to get the better of someone else, but at your expense. Say no to someone trying to sell you something is likely to trigger questioning wanting reasons; anything to overcome your resistance. Despite my policy of not giving reasons for personal decisions, I can find myself softening in some situations. So widespread is the ‘accommodating’ nature that its pervasive influence is a social norm. Contrary to popular belief, human beings are not social animals. Being sociable is not an instinctive automatic process: we have to have social behaviour instilled in us, if only for compliance with law and order.
For all its advantages, being accommodating puts pressure on the natural rate of growth and expansion, from the macro-economy to the micro-individual. At a macro-level, UK national planning policy is obliging county councils/planning authorities to be accommodating, regardless of the impact on quality of life within their particular administrations. In our town, for example, failure by the county council to demonstrate 5 years land availability for new housing development has resulted in a planning inspector overturning a refusal to grant permission for some 300 houses on prime agricultural land on the outskirts, to the chagrin of residents and local planners alike for whom the by-pass ring-road was intended as the boundary of town development. With another 700 or so houses in the pipeline, the population is likely to swell by 30% over the next few years, increasing pressure on existing infrastructure for which the public sector austerity has no money to upgrade.
At a micro-level, the individual person, being accommodating is a prime cause of stress (in the popular meaning of the word). I define ‘stress’ as being pushed and pulled and pushing and pulling oneself in different directions simultaneously. People are not machines: we cannot function 24/7. It is common for stress to be cited as the cause of many ailments but the more serious ill-health is normally associated with something more tangible. So my reckoning that obesity is caused by stress where becoming fed up has gone beyond a joke might be laughed at by the health-professionals who themselves might’ve also ridiculed my claim years ago that sugar is a high-risk ingredient, (don’t get me started on chocolate and coffee!). The taking on of consumer debt to have more money to spend and prop up the economy is coming to a halt. Some retailers are not in trouble just because of the internet, but also that credit-card spending has distorted the value of money and given the impression that price and quality are related. By (brand names) cutting corners and offering inferior quality, profit margins can be maintained, but customers are not daft; customers can also cut corners and cut out the retailer.
For decades, the three main political parties had the field to themselves. It was the same for the four big supermarkets, Adsa, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s Tesco. In the same way that UKIP has disrupted the political scene, so too for the 4 supermarkets has Aldi and Lidl, The common thread between UKIP, Aldi and Lidl, is single issue. By concentrating on what’s at the heart of the matter, voter/buyer focus can be steered away from being accommodating.
Competition, having heated up and coming to the boil, between ‘remain’ and ‘leave’ for votes outpours the opinions of politicians, business leaders, and commentators, to an increasingly incredulous electorate how uncertain it all is. Uncertainty is not necessarily symptomatic of not knowing, it can also be of discomfort. Generally, people prefer their positions of comfort: how we ‘see’ things from our point of view and the benefit we get from our existing stance. Anyone born in or after 1973 or that has not lived in the UK before 1973 has only known what it is for the UK to be in the Common Market, now EU. Prime Minister, David Cameron, age 7 in 1973 embarked upon his political career in 1988, (albeit a few years beforehand some interest in politics). Inevitably, there are vested interests galore. Businesses whose modus operandi is geared to the EU are bound to be concerned. Traditionally, politicians have ‘bribed’ voters with financial offerings. For preservation of the status quo, it is we are encouraged to think so much easier to be accommodating.
Except that it’s not. There is a limit to how accommodating anyone can be. Limits vary depending upon the person and circumstances, but essentially according to my reading of the undercurrents and groundswell there is no uncertainty. Whether or not the referendum outcome is remain or leave, it is evident that being accommodating is on the way out.
In the world of rent review, where power-games are played for high stakes, being accommodating is lengthy communications to and fro. A proposal, a counter-proposal, reasoning galore, disclose all so it is easier for the other person to see where you’re coming from. As I tell my clients, keep calm, do not let off steam, anything you say to the other side will be taken down and used in evidence against you.
The alternative to being accommodating is to say yes or no but mean it. None of this are you sure? So, whether the referendum vote is a close-run thing or overwhelming, I think there’s going to be an almighty surge of discontent and frustration. Which means that in the aftermath, for those into being accommodating, plod on what can you do, but will the disappointed people’s hearts be in it? And for those who are not into being accommodating, are we on course for a political revolution?