Stumbling and Mumbling

Author: chris dillow   |   Latest post: Tue, 16 Oct 2018, 01:25 PM


On forecasting failures

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Economists take a lot of stick for their inability to foresee crises and recessions. But I wonder: wouldn't it be fairer to chastise politicians for their lack of foresight?

Two current events make me ask.

One is the scandal about Windrushers being deported. This injustice was not just foreseeable but foreseen. Ministers were warned of it two years ago. It should be no surprise that a "hostile environment" and crude targets would hit law-abiding British citizens. As I said in 2016:

Just as "anti-terror" laws have been used to harass journalists and peaceful protestors, so immigration controls will hurt decent people. And for the same reason - because they are the softest targets.

The second is that confusion about the fate of the Irish border is holding up Brexit negotiations. Again, this should be no surprise: we were warned of the problem at the time of the referendum.

And yet in both cases, some ministers and commentators seem surprised. They remind me of the hotel guest who complained of the poor view to whom Basil Fawlty replied:

May I ask what you expected to see out of a Torquay hotel bedroom? Sydney Opera House perhaps, or the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically?