Is it ever easy to predict a revolution? It has obviously become easier to predict unrest in any area of the world since we now live in what is termed the information age. But this is merely a transitory period on the journey to the next big event in human evolution. How did my counterpart in Paris in 1789 or Moscow in 1917 know that change was coming? Were there subtle hints or did wholesale change become the only option ?
Millennials Hold the Key
Human life has undergone a change not seen since the industrial revolution with the coming of the information age but even that is not the end. As far as digital innovation is concerned a quote from Winston Churchill sums it up best. "Now, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
Where technical innovation and advancement can take us from here is limited only by imagination. Imagination is mostly the province of the young. Millennials have, according to their parents, wasted their formative years interacting not with other millennials but with computers, games consoles and the internet. Their level of knowledge where information has been absorbed, rather than learned, outside of the normal educational sphere is incredible.
One major change is the coming together of ideas under different banners. The breakdown of class barriers and the easier, although still not perfect, access to further education has led to wider access to different attitudes and opinions. There is no longer an inheritance of ideology since there is no limit to a child’s access to information channels. One newspaper, perhaps two on a Sunday and four TV channels were often the only access to the outside world. Often even the TV channels were limited, publicly funded for some and independent for others. It was a choice between Panorama or Coronation Street.
Use it Don’t Abuse it
The recent General Election in the U.K. had the largest potential electorate ever yet the turnout was still only 68.7%. This was appreciably better than 2001 when it was just 59.4%, which was the lowest since 1945 since when it had been gradually falling. The next election is scheduled to be the first when those born after 2000 can vote. This won’t be particularly significant other than in a symbolic manner. In the most recent election there was a huge surge in turnout by 18/25-year olds. This was synonymous with their access to information which drove a desire for change which is the purview of the young. Labour did far better than expected and much of their support from non-traditional supporters was in the 18/25-year-old sector which stands to reason.
How closely linked are those two pieces of information? There hasn’t been a particular upswing in support for socialist ideals, not in the traditional sense anyway but the Labour Party is a more “caring” party. It is a matter for another day to decide if this is a fact or a remarkable piece of election campaigning. Politics is a “grown up” matter. The average age of MP’s following the 2010 election was 51 and there were twice as many over seventy as under thirty. It is interesting that the over seventies were dominated by Labour MP’s where there were twice as many as Conservatives.
What is needed is an independent Parliamentary committee that encourages all people to vote but to particularly concentrate on the young. The old “they are all the same dogma” needs to be consigned to history along with the old Party-Political divides. No Party can have policies that 100% appeal to its members any more. The electorate will no longer allow that.
Brexit: The Catalyst?
There can be no more illustrative issue about the workings and shortfalls of Parliament in a modern society than the Brexit negotiations. It is being managed by a Party who whilst Eurosceptic to the core, is led by a remain voter. It is difficult to imagine such a person being able to consider the most effective negotiation tactic or even a set of desired outcomes. The opposition is also paying lip-service to its Brexit credentials although, again, its leader is Pro-EU. The entire Brexit process is flawed and in danger of collapse. A brave forthright and politically astute Prime Minister, which the U.K. doesn’t have and who probably doesn’t exist would make bold decisions. Such a decision would be to appoint a Brexit Commission which would take up the negotiations since this is clearly not a Party-Political matter.
This commission would be made up of leave proponents drawn from several disciplines, appointed and approved by Parliament. It would have a mandate again agreed by the House of Commons and provide the final draft treaty to Parliament for ratification before the final decision is taken. In this manner, every one of the conditions precedent would be met. The pressure on any one Party would be removed and the will of the people no matter how narrowly decided would be catered for in a professional and dedicated manner.
Could this happen? It is doubtful, in fact it’s virtually out of the question. It is an insult to the people to suggests that they didn’t know what they were voting for but the complexity and magnitude of the decision is only now entering the collective consciousness of the country. Could the decision be reversed? Another impossible question and again without anyone bold enough to actually ask let alone answer. So, we are left with an aging population sleepwalking into a disaster of its own making. It will take a long time but maybe not so long as time is concertinaing as new innovations, communication methods and ideals develop.
Alan is an award-winning market commentator, providing bespoke content delivery for all aspects of the FX Industry. He has been working in the financial services industry for over 30 years and has a wealth of experience across banks in Europe, North America and the Middle East. A former trader, Alan holds a bachelor of business administration in Politics and Economics from the Mark Hall School.