Creativity Versus Fish
It happened again last week. Someone threw the example of the fishing industry at me in their argument for Brexit. Passion always overrides the facts; they had passion. I had facts. I knew I would lose, because nobody wants facts thrown at them. They only confuse people; look at Mr Trump.
So, a few facts.
In June 2017 479 MPs declared for remaining in the European Union and 158 declared for Leave. That’s a 3:1 ratio in favour of staying, which the BBC then tried to flatten out in their misguided attempts to offer ‘balanced news’, by creating an artificial representative balance. They then fell into another trap; because all those Brexit items are a bit boring, they succumbed to lightweight gossip journalism, endlessly covering the antics of capering ninnies like Johnson and ‘Farridge’ over the presentation of essential production data because you know, yawn, turn off.
The Brexit scandal has many fingers pointing out where the blame lies, and there are too many culprits. The latest, the involvement of Cambridge Analytica, adds to the outrage but makes no difference. The blame for this disastrous mess starts and ends with David Cameron, very likely the worst and weakest prime minister ever appointed to the position.
Now comes an analysis from the highly respected musicologist Howard Goodall on the coming difficulties creative people will face.
Creativity relies on the openness of cultural exchange – something we can currently do within 27 countries. You only have to look around in our towns and cities to see the extraordinary positive impact that freedom of movement has had on the creative industries. Of the 3 million EU citizens who live in the UK a huge number are involved in them. As Theresa May offers vague reassurances about their post-Brexit rights while simultaneously trying to ship Windrush descendants back ‘home’ to countries they weren’t born in, does anyone have any faith at all that a sensible working solution will be found?
Mr Goodall points out that touring Europe with an orchestra is about to become near impossible. MPs think that’s just the arts and unimportant. For decades one of our national traits – a penchant for free-thinking creativity – was derided and dismissed. Had I been born a decade earlier, my desire to be a writer from an early age would have been treated as a social stigma. How times change; today British films, music, video games, crafts and publishing are taking a lead role in driving the UK’s economic recovery, accounting for 14.2 per cent of the UK’s Gross Value Added.
And yet a combination of toxic patriotism, anecdotal evidence and old-school racism pushed through a vote that only one in three MPs wanted (thanks to dirty data tricks we’ll never know how many people actually voted themselves out of a future).
Which brings me back to fish.
One simple fact would have knocked out the fishing industry argument last week.
The UK fishing industry is worth £774 million.
The UK creative industry is worth £84.1 billion.
Politicians have never understood how creativity makes money. They don’t understand the value of origination, copyright, licensing, sales territories, social reach or anything else connected with creativity. Like your granddad, they don’t understand how you can manufacture and sell something that’s invisible. The UK’s days of steel, wool, clay and iron are past. Now we make and sell ideas. And a few fish are a drop in the ocean.
(Above fig. 1; fish, below fig. 2; creativity)