The possible link between the Brexit vote and the Australian election a few days later has exercised a few commentators. Some think there will be no flow-on effects. Some think it will benefit the Coalition. The financial effects are thought to be short-term. Some think the new Britain will want to buy more from us. An occasional comment suggest that this is the end of the world as we have known it. Some seem to think it was all a conspiracy by climate change sceptics.

What fascinated me was the fury of the Remain brigade at the outcome. How dare people fail to listen to those who prophesied doom and destruction if Britain were so presumptuous as to vote to leave! This is the worst example of the foolishness of democracy, and so on. The more-than-somewhat OTT Dana Nutticelli, Climate Botherer, has written a piece in The Guardian to the effect that elderly Brits in voting as they did sacrificed their children and grandchildren. Here is a bit of it.

Youth will bear the brunt of the poor decisions being made by today’s older generations. In last week’s Brexit vote results, there was a tremendous divide between age groups. 73% of voters under the age of 25 voted to remain in the EU, while about 58% over the age of 45 voted to leave.

This generational gap is among the many parallels between Brexit and climate change. A 2014 poll found that 74% of Americans under the age of 30 support government policies to cut carbon pollution, as compared to just 58% of respondents over the age of 40, and 52% over the age of 65.

The problem is of course that younger generations will have to live with the consequences of the decisions we make today for much longer than older generations.

This is pretty silly stuff, especially because of the turnout figures. Guess what they were? Well, the older the voter, the higher the turnout. It might be true that younger voters wanted to Remain, but they spectacularly failed to show up at the polling booth to say so. While 83 per cent of those 65 and older arrived to vote, only 36 per cent of the youngest age-group did. Some of the latter seem now to be furious at the outcome.

It will be some time before we have any clear idea of what caused the result, given that the outcome was 52-48. But three ingredients seem to stand out in what I have been reading, mostly from British sources. The first is a deep-seated feeling among the older voters that what had happened as a result of Britain’s joining the EU was not what they thought was going to happen, and certainly not what they wanted. Britain seemed to have lost the capacity to govern itself, and people in Brussels, whom they had not elected and who were not responsible to them in any form, were telling them, in all sorts of small and inconvenient ways, just what they were to do about this or that aspect of their business, farming and even personal lives.

Their leaders, Conservative and Labour alike, might be telling them that things were good and could only get better, but that was not what we call their ‘lived experience’. Given a chance to express an opinion, they expressed it, loudly and clearly. This applies to older voters because they had memories and some experience of the past. You wouldn’t expect it of the young, because they had no real memory of what it was like before the EU — for them, Britains’s connection to and membership of the EU was the status quo, and they didn’t want it disturbed. In this sense the young were the conservatives, and the old the radicals.

The second was immigration. Membership of the EU increasingly involved the UK in an inability to control its own borders. Yes, it was and is useful to have a new cohort of young people who will work hard and do the things that are needed in Western societies whose age distribution has shifted towards the elderly over the last fifty years. Australia is no different. But, as John Howard memorably proposed at the turn of the new century, when ‘boat people’ were the issue of the day, a country needs to be able to say what its rules are about immigration — and enforce them. If it cannot do that, it is no longer a nation. He was right then as now, and I am sure a large proportion of Brits would say now that their country must be able to control its own borders. This is not Islamophobia, or even xenophobia run wild. It applies to all those, mostly young men, who see the rich Western countries as an opportunity denied to them in their own country, whether it be Poland, Roumania or Syria. All countries that are desirable societies to come to have rules about who they will admit as immigrants. But the EU countries individually have lost that attribute. Angela Merkel’s role here, as the immigrant-welcoming Chancellor of Germany,  is hard to over-estimate.

The third was something I have written about recently, the rise of a populist antipathy to ruling elites, including ‘experts’. It seems to have been the case that neither of the parties and their leaders has had any real understanding of the deep-seated feelings within their own society about just what it is like to live in the UK when you have any memory of the past. It seems that the Conservatives are hardly any more popular than Labour, despite their convincing victory in the recent elections, while Labour is having leadership convulsions that may lead soon to a change at the top.

And to jump to our election on Saturday, in which I have already voted, in Townsville, I can detect some of that populist irritation in Australia. There is no enthusiasm for either side. One is voting for the lesser of two evils, however you see it, unless you are a rusted-on Labor or Liberal, and fewer Australians are. I will watch the outcome on Saturday night from the comfort of our hotel room in Mt Isa, having had a look at politicking in that mining city during the day. Mt Isa is the largest urban area in remote Queensland (population: 22,000 or so) and is the major service centre for the far west. It is also the seat of Bob Katter, and I expect him to retain his seat. He and his father have held the seat, with one three-year loss to the ALP, for almost sixty years. Before then it was safe Labor. His father was a Country Party MP, but his son now leads his own Bob Katter Party. My sense of North Queensland, which has about half a million people and a reasonably lively new state movement, is that Independents will do well, and that Glenn Lazarus could well retain his Senate seat.

We will see. I wish I could say that after the election there will be a new sense of reality in Australian politics, whichever party takes government. I can’t see it at the moment.

End-note: Despite Nutticelli, I couldn’t find any significant evidence that antipathy to governments and experts forecasting ‘climate change’ had anything to do with the Brexit outcome. However Joe Romm, familiar to many as a Climate Botherer in the USA, thinks global warming caused the outcome.

Join the discussion 26 Comments

  • Neville says:

    I think the Brexit result will help the Coalition, because people fear more uncertainty and most people understand that Labor are hopeless economic managers. Of course our budget is a mess thanks to the 6 wasted years when people were stupid enough to vote for clueless Rudd or Gillard. Helped of course by Windsor and Oakeshott who were enthusiastic supporters of Gillard’s stupid Co2 tax.
    I’ll make a prediction that the Coalition will lose some seats, but will retain govt. The Senate could be a real challenge and the Coalition will have to rely on independents to pass their legislation. And I wonder how a joint sitting will add up after the election , when the Coalition tries to pass the legislation bottleneck that caused this double dissolution election?

    • Peter Kemmis says:

      Yes, Neville,
      The results for the Senate may leave us with a still-stymied Parliament. Another concern I have is that Turnbull’s leadership is a mix of the entrepreneurial (business and the economy) and the progressive (AGW, SSM, and other leftish causes). In a sense, he is a pragmatic leftie. He would have thrived under Bob Hawke.

  • Howard says:

    Don mentions the anger of the REMAINERS in Britain. But that was nothing compared to the anger at Brussels when Cameron and Co visited.

    I remember only too well staying at the Communist Parliamentary building in Minsk after the collapse of the Soviet Union as a guest of the foreign Minister of Belarus and seeing the doubt and anger in the eyes of Parliamentarians as they saw the possibility of the collapse of their whole lifestyles (which in some cases included their Finnish molls). Sadly that may not have happened, but now the Euro that has disadvantaged the poor countries of the EU is under threat and also the rule of Angela Merkel and the absurd privilege of the Commissioners.

  • Peter Kemmis says:


    Unsurprisingly, I agree with your analysis. The issue of sovereignty was initially felt at the petty level, with all kinds of regulations about the size and religious beliefs of fish, the shape and colour of tomatoes and bananas whose political correctness had to be of the best quality . . . and so on with these irritants. I find it startling to hear that 1/6th of UK legislation has been supplanted by EU law. The presumption of some of the EU politicians about diminishing local sovereignty while seeking to hide the fact, speaks volumes (rather like our current Coalition government introducing an ETS through the back door, from next Friday).

    Brexit and current US politics have front and centre the issues of sovereignty, population mix and welfare, and what I would call “sovereign identity” – the “who we are, and what we stand for”. Our election results here in Australia this Saturday, may show some of these issues emerging more strongly.

    I’m not sure about that link between climate denialism and Brexit. I see a much stronger link between Brexit and these frosty mornings we are having here in Canberra. Both have happened at the same time, and I thought the connection would be obvious to you.

    There was an appalling diatribe against the Leave “wrinklies” in the Times the other day, reprinted in The Australian. Our generation doesn’t care a fig about the younger generation, only interested in our own well-being, all of us on zimmer frames . . . . but some of us even like our grandchildren, and to be told we don’t care a fig for their well-being, is a bit rich. But I guess this diatribe is another example of the vituperation from the upset Remain camp, a bile that has quite surprised me, and tells me something about some of its proponents.

    Meanwhile, enjoy Mt Isa. I worked there for three months in 1959. And have a look at the height of the copper smelter stacks. I think there are two there now. While I was there, the smaller one was being built to replace an older and shorter relative. I have a story about that one under construction, a story for another time and place.

  • Chris says:

    Rita Panahi noted a similarly interesting foolishness:
    “It’s quite extraordinary that the same people who are desperate for Australia to break away from Britain to become a republic are aghast that Brits want to break away from Belgium and reaffirm their sovereignty.”

    • michael says:

      I was in UK for the last 4 weeks of the “debate’ which was a series of lectures by the Legarde cohort. Both sides made very dubious claims on the remain side there was no investigation to their wild claims, the media was not forensic of their claims as they were, quite, rightly, of the leavers. If one drills down the result it was London and Scotland against the rest. The plain fact is that living standards have not improved for nearly 10 years, particularly the North (labour country, no more, apparently, housing prices are ridiculous and their country has been “invaded” (in their eyes) by others who are taking their jobs. I think this is the first time the country has had an opportunity to vote across party lines – a wonder to behold.

  • Colin Davidson says:

    Don, Thanks for this thoughtful piece.
    I think there were two issues, which are quite separate.
    1. Economic Union
    2. Political Union
    If a vote had been offered on both separately, then I think it would have been more clearly a 1. Yes and 2. No.
    But what was offered instead was: Do you want to live in a democracy. or in a dictatorship where you may be better off financially?
    The older and wiser took the choice which history suggests is the right one. The younger didn’t care.

    The way forward for the UK now would seem to be to negotiate economic union (the same as Iceland, Norway and Switzerland – all of which are doing nicely thankyou) but no longer political union or Schengen migration rules.

    In The Australian yesterday on p9 was a piece titled “Mogherini to bolster hard power without reluctant Brits”. This reports the thin edge of a very disturbing EU wedge, the first step in the EU Commission gaining control of the member nations’ armed forces. The EU wishes to gain “strategic autonomy” by “additional pooling of resources and more coordinated defence investment planning and EU-wide action to bolster the bloc’s defence industry.” “European security and defence efforts should enable the EU to act autonomously…” etc etc. I reckon the Poms are well out of it and have acted wisely. Transfer of the control of the armed forces to an unelected bureaucracy would be very stupid, history shows that this will result in a ruthless dictatorship.

  • Colin Davidson says:

    I’ve just noticed a report on JoNova’s site which references a story in the UKs Daily Express

    If the story is true, then they really are well out of it, and just in the nick of time.

  • margaret says:

    Hypothetically, since we are geographically part of south-east Asia (as incongruous as that is to those of us who have ancestry rooted in Ye old UK, thanks to ‘Great’ Britain’s penchant for empire building) – I wonder how Australians would have felt if asked to join a SEA Economic Union back in the days when the UK had reservations about joining the EEU.
    From Paul Keating’s Murdoch Oration:
    “As Prime Minister from 1991, I saw the writing on the wall as to the relative decline of the Anglosphere, perhaps more clearly than my predecessors. More than that, I rejoiced in the diversity around us and the fact that the big and old societies of the East, formerly locked down by colonialism and poverty, were free to go their own way. Not only that, I wanted Australia to go with them; to use a Curtinism ‘free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with the United Kingdom’, to which I would have added, ‘and the United States’, but not with any lack of appreciation or the nostalgia which attends our history and culture.”

  • Boxer says:

    I have thought that compulsory voting was desirable but now I am not so sure.

    The proverb “Homo homini lupus est” was recorded in Latin because they hadn’t invented English back then, but man remains the wolf to man. It’s hard-wired into us, like it or not, and drove much of the progress that we often take for granted. In the mid-19th century was the observation made by a slavery abolitionist: “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty; power is ever stealing from the many to the few”.

    Putting the two together, young Brits have just learnt that if you don’t watch what other people are doing around you, you will be overruled by those who will benefit from your downfall. At the moment many young people are mightily annoyed because the older voters rejected the EU, so the Remainers feel downtrodden. However the Leavers have saved the Remainers from themselves. The Leavers voted as they did because they took the trouble observe that, at the global level, the EU was increasingly overruling national sovereignty, so Leavers got off their butts and voted. The younger Remainer voters deserved to lose this referendum because their apathy blinded them to the incremental loss of control to the EU, and by not bothering to vote, also caused them to lose the referendum. Voluntary voting produced the correct result.

    If you can’t be bothered to vote, your opinions remain valid to yourself, but perhaps it is best if wiser heads ignore you until you take some notice of what the EU is doing, “stealing power from the many to the few”.

  • spangled drongo says:

    They can’t say they weren’t told or they didn’t know how corrupt it all had become:

  • gnome says:

    My head spins. Does Britain become little Britain again when they have to reconvert all those kilometres back into miles or is it bigger because miles are longer than kilometres? Where are they going to get all the money to put 240 pence back into every pound, when they only had to have 100 before? What can they do with all the offal tubes, now that they are allowed to eat sausages again?

    Our betters are right to criticise the ordinary folk who had the effrontery to vote against the firm direction of those so clearly wiser and better than themselves. They just couldn’t be aware of the real issues that will arise.

    • dlb says:

      Your compatriots also had issues back in 1969?

      “The Gnomes of Dulwich is a comedy series featuring garden gnomes which are living a secret existence alongside their human owners. The storylines were based mainly about the gnomes of 25 Telegraph Road and the European newcomers who have recently been introduced in the area, which led to many racial and cultural confrontations between the two groups of gnomes.”

  • Ross Handsaker says:


    “Mt Isa is the largest urban area in remote Australia (population 22,000 or so)”.
    Does Alice Springs, population more than 28,000, qualify as an urban area in remote Australia?

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Oops! It was a Queensland Government statement that told me this error, which i reproduced without thought. Alice Springs is a sort of capital, but there is no doubt that that it is bigger than Mt Isa, and just as remote. I’ll adjust the text accordingly.

      • spangled drongo says:

        While you’re out there, Don, keep your eye out for the Bustard from the Bush:

        Cook was obviously a better cook than I was but a sighting alone gives you all the nourishment you need.

        • gnome says:

          The bustard is back in a big way. Never tasted one, but I think the reason they were so much eaten is that they are so stupid. I was camped beside a bush track once and two started mating on the track less than 20 metres away, taking no notice at all of me.
          Now that they’re protected, they’re lucky they are so big, because they don’t have a lot of road sense but they’re easy to see. They fly better than emus, and that might be the reason you see dead emus by the roadside, and not bustards, but it could also be because they might be worth picking up when they’re fresh! (So far I’ve resisted the temptation to try it.)

          • spangled drongo says:

            Yes, Gnome, they’re a big bird and feed a lot of people. Being so big and heavy they are very slow to get airborne and the way they mince along with their snoot cocked in a superior attitude I used to take delight in galloping after them as they were struggling to take off and grab their legs.

            That was fun until one anointed me with large quantities of stinky whitewash. [Who was it said, “pointy birds, oh pointy, pointy, anoint my head, anointy, nointy?]

            They are a big version of the Stone-curlews.

  • spangled drongo says:

    So much for the doomsayers. The FTSE 100 is up 220, DJ 284, Nikkei 244, Hang Seng 264:

  • spangled drongo says:

    John O’Sullivan, writing in Canada’s Globe & Mail:

    “David Cameron had been walking a tightrope as the Europhile leader of a Eurosceptic party who hoped to finesse the issue of Europe indefinitely. In order to fend off UKIP and a Tory rebellion, he promised a referendum, hoping that his coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, would nix it in the next coalition. But he won an outright majority and had to keep the promise. Then, wanting the referendum out of the way, he held quick talks with the EU, asked for little, got less, and returned to London boasting of trivial concessions.

    Finally, he fought a tough campaign against half of his own party and lost it. It turned out that his Eurosceptic Tory opponents had a better sense of the Tory faithful (and U.K. voters generally) than he did. He fell off the tightrope with dignity, however, and will resign to allow a Eurosceptic to be elected Tory leader and prime minister who can conduct Brexit negotiations more plausibly than a Europhile.”

    And now, with supporters aghast, BoJo bows out:

  • dasher says:

    Britain was never a happy camper in the EU..Ted Heath took them in in ’73 with the idea to change it from the inside and they were still trying to achieve this a week ago. Over the years people were conned to think they were getting an economic union but it gradually morphed in to a political union as always planned..the Treaty of Lisbon being a major milestone which was accepted without the people having a say. This started the Cameron “we will have a referendum” mantra. The Euro is a massive stuff up and works to keep the poor states poor (what works for Germany does not work for Greece and Germany has the money and control). The only way to sort this out is to go deeper into a political union which is next on the agenda ..the United States of Europe with all fiscal and currency controls of for example, the USA or the Australian system. This means the Nation states will lose their sovereignty once and for all and of course control over their national treasure. It will be fascinating to see if the EU states will cede this sovereignty. Britain is the second biggest economy in Europe and a voice for good sense and they will miss her. Indeed, the Euros have to be careful they don’t cut off their nose to spite their face with petulant penalties. For goodness sake if the union is is to be held together by threats and diktat it is doomed. As someone said in the Canberra Times today a metaphor for this mess was Angela Merkal unilaterally inviting all refugees and economic migrants into Germany without consulting her Euro partners creating a massive problem for all… much for respect and probably the final straw for Brexit. I think Britain dodged a bullet by not joining the Euro (Against Tony Blair’s wishes) and now they appear to have got out just in time before the next step ..time will tell. (Oh and heaven forbid that Turkey is finally admitted…troubled on the horizon)

  • spangled drongo says:

    It becomes more evident too why BREXIT is to Australia’s advantage:

    ” Australians and especially war veterans are understandably irritated at Heathrow where they are required to queue for entry while citizens of other former enemies pass through unhindered as EU citizens …..and the UK will inexorably return to closer links with the realms and other members of the Commonwealth.”

    But it’s got the proggie republicers worried.

  • Neville says:

    Here’s their ABC’s forecast for wins and losses tonight. This will be Antony Green’s work. The Coalition could lose 5 seats in NSW and SA is a big unknown. Vic perhaps 1 win for Labor, Tas a couple of seats win for Labor, WA a couple of seats, Qld 1 win for Labor. Who knows. But the punters have Coalition as a strong favourite.
    I think there could be a higher informal vote for the senate this election.

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