Time to move on?

    Spotlight Audio 5/2020
    Colin Beaven vor Großbritannien-Flagge
    Von Colin Beaven

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    Transcript: Time to move on?

    It’s finally happened: The UK has left the EU — well, sort of. There’s still a lot of issues left to be to sort outklärensorted out by politicians, economists and in peoples’ minds. Our columnist Colin Beaven is also trying to to come to termssich arrangierencome to terms with the split. Now he’s hoping weather forecasts might help him find a way to to cope ,zurechtkommencope.

    The numbers 52 and 48 are still fixed in my mind, even four years after the referendum — well, almost four years. They’re the results: 52 per cent voted to leave the EU, 48 per cent voted to remain. It’s such a small difference, but oh, my! What trouble it’s caused!

    Is it finally time to move on? Those of us who voted remain always come across as being negative; perhaps we should now make an effort to be optimistic, and try to be more relaxed about these percentages. In this, we can learn from the weather forecast.

    Forecasts on the BBC are now provided by MeteoGroup. Ironically, it’s a company based in Europe. BBC weather reports traditionally came from Britain’s Met Office. (“Met” is short for “meteorological”, but quite franklyoffen gesagtfrankly, that’s a bit of a to be a bit of a mouthfuletw. sperrig seinmouthful.)

    When the Met Office lost the contract to MeteoGroup, the BBC’s online weather forecast began telling us the probability of rain in percentages: 21 per cent, 43 per cent, 97 per cent and so on.

    Last winter was very wet, with some really nastyfies, schlimmnasty floodingÜberflutung, Überschwemmungflooding, so we ought to be grateful for extra information. Yet while the percentages may sound incredibly scientific, anything between 1 and 99 still means that no one’s really sure.

    The difference between a 48 per cent and a 52 per cent chance of rain simply isn’t worth worrying about. It’s a shame we can’t import that mentality into politics.

    We do it in our personal lives when we’re torn between remaining and leaving — when 48 per cent of us thinks we should stay in the pub, and 52 per cent says it’s time to go home, like a centipedeTausendfüßercentipede with 52 legs voting to go one way and 48 voting to go another.

    After a few drinks, many of us really do look like a centipede trying to walk in two different directions at once, but our legs generally come to some sort of agreement in the end.

    And after a rowStreitrow with our partner, our own private referendum might show that 48 per cent of us wants to remain and 52 per cent has voted to leave, but that doesn’t automatically lead to divorce.

    So, why can’t we relax about politics, and act as if life’s just approximateungefähr, vageapproximate, like statistics in a weather forecast? Not objective and clinical, like some sort of difficult business decision, with a PEST analysis of all the relevant factors: political, economic, social and technological.

    I’ve tried to be relaxed about it, but it isn’t working. In fact, when it comes to an issue like the UK’s future after Brexit, we should probably make the list of factors even longer: political, economic, scientific, sociocultural, ideological — and, above all, meteorological.

    OK, that’s no longer a PEST analysis. And if you take the first letter of each word in my list, they almost spell the word “pessimist”. Oh, dear! That certainly wasn’t the plan.

    I’ll stop here. After all, a pessimist doesn’t even think it’s worth spelling the word “pessimist”.

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