If it’s true that the main division in almost every nation’s politics just now, cutting across the traditional left-right one, is between ‘establishments’ on the one hand and those who are disillusioned with conventional parties and politics on the other, as it seems to be, then yesterday’s report from the Commons cross-party Treasury Committee, unanimously lambasting both sides in the current British EU referendum debate for grossly exaggerating and falsifying the figures they are putting out in support of their respective arguments (http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/may/27/misleading-eu-referendum-campaigns-treasury-select-committee-report), is not going to do either of the ‘establishment’ camps, ‘Brexit’ or ‘Remain’, any favours. This really has been a very unsavoury campaign so far, bereft of balance, truth and even normal civility, with both sides – but especially George Osborne and Boris Johnson – hurling claims and counter-claims around in an effort to shock the electorate one way or another: every family losing £4,000 a year if we leave (Osborne), the EU costing us £350 million a week (Johnson), both rubbish; but in a fashion that must surely be counter-productive, now that their exaggerations have become better known – and more newsworthy – than their actual arguments.
What effect this will have on the result is hard to say. It may well put people off voting at all, on the ‘plague on both your houses’ principle; and who could blame them? In the long run it is likely to increase people’s distrust of conventional politics in a way that could push them into a number of non-conventional channels: the rising left-wing protest one, anti-austerity and all the rest, represented by Corbyn here and by Sanders in the USA; or the right-wing quasi-Fascist one that Trump and UKIP seem to be inching towards. Any anti-global capitalist voter – which most of them are, au fond – could be pushed in either direction.
Establishment politicians seem entirely oblivious of this. The other day Tony Blair admitted that he was ‘struggling to understand present-day politics’ (https://www.totalpolitics.com/articles/news/tony-blair-gets-candid-corbynism-‘i-used-think-i-was-good-politics’). I’m sure he is. The same applies to most of his old ‘New Labour’ cronies, which is what puts them so much against Jeremy Corbyn, who maybe does understand, from always having been outside the ‘Westminster bubble’ before now. The view from there, looking in, is different.