Sunday, 29 October 2017

Sorry remainers, my vote is worth the same as yours


There is something of an ill natured debate on Twitter following some or other nonentity MP saying that remain voters are, statistically, better educated. Our entitled academic class is feeling under siege. It's true that the ratio of graduates may be tilted in favour of remain but that is no indicator of intelligence or indeed education.

For starters not every intelligent person gets the opportunity to go to university. I was eventually able to give it a crack but found it woefully under-stimulating and had no intention of jumping through hoops and sitting through lectures covering that which is either self-evident or basic level stuff. It wasn't worth the money then and it certainty isn't worth it now. Moreover universities are geared to group work which I'm just not wired for. I went my own way.

If I took one lesson from my university experience is that it's an exercise in learning how to limit your thinking and conform. Some of the most credulous people I know are graduates simply because they check a source of institutional prestige rather than validity of argument. It is assumed that if a work has gone through an insular peer review system then it stands up to wider scrutiny. In theory it should, but in practice it doesn't.

Worse still any kind of qualification can lead to intellectual atrophy. Learning is a lifelong process but many take a degree as a licence to stop learning. Ukip MEP Julia Reid has a PhD in pharmacology but bizarrely is one of the dimmest specimens I have ever encountered. Similar can be said of John Redwood.

Intellectual curiosity is something you either have or you don't. Meanwhile applied functional intelligence can be found everywhere. The science and maths applied by ordinary people to their interest in motor-sports, football and horse racing forever impresses me - and for all I can programme complex database systems the discipline of music or engineering escapes me entirely.

Intelligence manifests in many ways. I look at it as more of a mixing desk than a volume dial. Education is another matter. I never completed my A levels. I don't think I managed a year of sixth form before I was asked to leave. I was bored rigid and stifled. I wanted to get out into the world.

For a number of years I bounced between jobs trying to find my place but in so doing I've seen inside banking, manufacturing, aerospace, chemical processing, utilities and retail and even tried a short stint in the Territorial Army. That didn't end well as you might imagine. I've stood for parliament, I've flown gliders, represented myself in court challenging a law, and now I'm a political writer. I didn't see that coming. 

By 2004 I was one of Blair's mature students progressing to become a "dole queue creative" where I learned web design, photoshop and photography. More than I ever learned at university. The old man was horrified at the time but I have to laugh since the chief beneficiary of my internet abilities was him and eureferendum.com.

For a while I was lost. I did a number of private software contracts and one contract made enough money to take a couple of years out where I spent my time producing techno and touring as a DJ. I've seen how deep that rabbit hole goes and I've stories to tell. I've had junkies and perennial street dwellers for friends. I've seen the ugly consequences of the welfare state. I am well placed to comment on that.

I sometimes wonder if I would be richer and better off had I chosen a conventional path. I had the intelligence if not the patience. But I wouldn't trade my experiences for an LSE economics degree and when it comes down to it I have a better grasp of trade and Brexit than pretty much every wonk in the business.

Though at 38 I'm no longer a spring chicken and knocking on the door of middle age I'm a well rounded person with plenty to say for himself and I know when some shitbird politician is shooting a line. I've seen every kind of bullshit there is. I've lived in four major cities, lived in the countryside and lived by the sea. I might not have seen the world but I have been in every town and every county at least once. I know this country better some hack who never ventures outside the M25.

I know plenty of graduates who went through the system. They did their A levels, got their degree, did their gap year, got their mortgage with a loan from the Bank of Dad, and went on to become thoroughly two dimensional people with wholly pedestrian views, largely inherited from their parents.

My adult life started from a damp terrace in a rainy Northern mill town. I've see how good it gets, I've seen how bad it gets. I've earned top money in my field, but I've also seen absolute rock bottom. I've been an adult for twenty years now. My experience is rich and varied. I still do not have a qualification to my name and would I seek to correct that. It is of no importance to me. I will argue any point on any grounds and if I don't win then I will hold my own.

So am I saying I'm special? Nope. That's the point. I'm really nothing special - but a crappy degree doesn't make you anything special either. A few years extra remedial schooling a specialist area doesn't even begin to compete with a life well lived.  

17,410,742 people voted the same way I did. They may not be graduates but they are the aerospace technicians who keep the airliners running, the programmers who keep the systems online and the mechanics who keep your car on the road. More importantly they are the citizens of the UK who have just as much, of not more experience of living on this island than you. And that is what makes them the experts.  

The subtext of this debate is that the plebs are thick, racist, and don't know what is good for them - and should doff their caps to their betters. It implies that somehow my vote is worth less than than theirs; that somehow being able to conform to the institutional restraints of modern day British society is a measure of intellect. Well, baby, it ain't, and if you want to put that to the test, come play me, but you better bring your A game. 

No comments:

Post a comment