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Enjoying my role as camp cook,
'Great Outdoors' weekend, West Wales, 2008

Ramblinactivist's Blog:

About the Blog

I like data, and the tools of science which gives that data meaning; I spend most of my working time devoted to this pursuit. I already have short- and long-form blogs that give access to my work, but this is something different. Something stand-alone, unconnected to my professional work. Less analysis; more direct to the point.

I sometimes joke that "I could have been a hacker, but I spent too much time backpacking". There's a truth in there which is not immediately obvious.

It's not that my computer skills are any less as a result of spending time backpacking. It's that rambling, and generally spending time outdoors, has given me a very different, critical perspective on life.

If you look at the core of what annoys Brexiteers it's not just about immigration or borders – it's about regulations on safety, requirements to carry out critical assessments before development takes place, and "non-tariff barriers" to trade (e.g. banning GMOs or antibiotics in meat). You know – those things which science and data increasingly tell us is highly questionable from an ecological perspective; but which business interests won't let go of because it enhances their competitive advantage over traditional, less intensive producers.

From my 30 years working with community groups, I know it's precisely the same list of things which allows the public to defeat or frustrate local development proposals, or lobby nationally for change, because present policy is demonstrably not based on sound evidence. Instead it promotes a neoliberal ideology the core of which is not evidence-based, it is assumption.

Yes, consulting people takes time. Yes, finding or waiting for evidence to be produced takes time, and delays things. And yes, a precautionary approach, where you do not carry out actions if the evidence is demonstrably uncertain, stops people carrying out development or releasing new 'widgets'. But that's the whole point about 'evidence-based' policy – you take the evidence on its own merits, not the 'evidence' that agrees with the proposers' view.

The thing is, the kind of Brexit its proponents want, where private rights over-power the public's interests, will not result in the 'utopia' for a majority which the Brexiteer's promote. Quite the opposite in fact. It will benefit the wealthy few – such as those who have been funding Eurosceptic lobby groups for the last 30 years.

In the end, all we have is evidence that is able to demonstrate its veracity through method and logical analysis – and in the case of Brexit that's the one thing those involved, and especially the media, have failed to pursue.

People ask me why 'I use' the name, "Ramblinactivist".

The answer is, technically, 'I' don't.

/croughton_1985 The name was given to me in the 1980s by peace campaigners – when I looked like I did here on the left. Bemused that I was leading and teaching them about activism through the medium of 'rambling', that's the name I was given.

Only later did I come to appreciate the label, when I deliberately sought to use those skills to teach others – as in the picture above right.

Thing is I didn't become an 'activist' as an intellectual choice. My experiences walking in the countryside made me follow this path through questioning 'why' what I saw and experienced was as I found it. From that set of 'critical' choices – and using my technological skills to 'hack' the operation of the law, or local authorities, or regulatory processes – I've built a career that's occupied much of my working life.

Now fast-forward to the present…
Our nation is about to enter a potential future of collective stupidity, "Brexit"; but in my critical view, not for any of the reasons that dominate the popular debate.

I actually don't think that Brexit is politically significant – it's hardly going to change UK politics that much; or rather, the people behind the scenes who fund and influence our national politics.

What will change is the conduct of our politics, and in particular the 'democratic' and 'criticial evidence' values that Europe has bought into British governance and decision-making. In particular, those things which Brexiteers hate because it gets in the way of their pursuit of neoliberal economics and the exploitation of private rights.

This blog might be about many things, but at its core, its true focus is on all those 'other' things that we are not considering – due to the narrow, "mainstream" focus of the mass media Brexit debate. More importantly though, it's about the lack of critical analysis in assessing claims made by politicians and pundits, on everything from fracking to fusion power, that are allowed to pass by the media when there is ample evidence that we should be critical of those ideas.