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The view from the bubble

Summary:
There is an old proverb that tells us, “Never criticize a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.” The corollary is that you are therefore a safe mile away when you voice your criticism, and you have his shoes.The humour notwithstanding, it can spread understanding if people try to see how the world looks from someone else’s point of view. Analysts sometimes speak of the “Westminster bubble,” named after the Westminster centre of government and administration. It includes Parliamentarians, political staffers, those employed by NGOs, civil servants, broadcasters and academics. It is alleged that they share a common standpoint, and rarely encounter the views of those outside their mindset. They live, it is said, in an echo chamber in which they think the views they hold in common with

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There is an old proverb that tells us, “Never criticize a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.” The corollary is that you are therefore a safe mile away when you voice your criticism, and you have his shoes.

The humour notwithstanding, it can spread understanding if people try to see how the world looks from someone else’s point of view.

Analysts sometimes speak of the “Westminster bubble,” named after the Westminster centre of government and administration. It includes Parliamentarians, political staffers, those employed by NGOs, civil servants, broadcasters and academics. It is alleged that they share a common standpoint, and rarely encounter the views of those outside their mindset. They live, it is said, in an echo chamber in which they think the views they hold in common with those of their milieu are the only possible views that reasonable people can hold.

In truth, they represent a class that extends beyond Westminster. Many of them will have attended good schools and gained university degrees. They tend to work in jobs that don’t actually produce goods and services other than communication, education and government. They socialize with like-minded friends. Their parallels can be seen in other big cities as opposed to ordinary towns, sharing similar lives and holding similar views.

Most would think of themselves as internationalists, regarding patriotism as insular and outmoded. Overwhelmingly they supported the EU and voted Remain. They despised Trump and regard the Tory party with a lofty disdain. They are on the Left politically, and regard business and profits with disdain. Most of their salaries are funded directly or indirectly from taxpayer funds, so they are above what they might see as the sordid process of actually making money.

Many of them acquiesce in anti-capitalist ventures that crop us periodically, from Occupy Wall Street to Extinction Rebellion. Many think the most important issues facing humanity are equality, diversity, decolonization of the culture and such environmental causes as don’t actually limit their own lifestyle. They adopt the changes in terminology demanded by woke culture. One can only guess at their reasons for looking down on the ordinary people outside of their world. Perhaps they think their education makes them superior in other respects?

And yet there is a world beyond the bubble, a world in which ordinary people are doing their best to lead decent lives, to get by as best they can, and to do their best for their children. They are no less honourable for being outside the bubble or for working in lower status jobs, and their views are no less entitled to expression than those of the bubble people.

They are mostly patriotic, taking a low-key pride in their country and its achievements, and not denigrating its past. This does not make them xenophobic, as bubble people seem to think. They tend to be tolerant, not racist, and not opposed to those who choose different lifestyles. They are as concerned about the environment and the world their children will inherit as their bubble counterparts are, albeit in a less strident way.

If they have a complaint about modern Britain, it might be that those at the centre of its government and its culture have overlooked and ignored them and discounted their legitimate views and concerns. The response of many of them was to vote Brexit and to vote Tory, as a protest against being told how to behave and what to think by those who believe their superior status, as they see it, entitles them to do this.

The bubble is not Britain, and those who move within its confines might learn something if they looked beyond it.

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