Another reason for voting Leave: Big isn’t Better.

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In today’s world it is not size but flexibility that matters.

Big does not equal better. The greatest success stories in the animal kingdom are not huge elephants and rhinos, but ants. Billions and billions of them, in multiple self-sustaining colonies, underground, chattering away, getting on with the work of looking after each other and forming what is now believed to be a global network.

Today’s most successful wars are not won with nuclear bombs.  They are won with IEDs, Kalashnikovs, an empowering vision, and inspiring words. Small things. Lots and lots of them.

Big things are vulnerable and are easily crippled. “A bee can bite the bottom of the Pope in Rome” (Les Miserables”).  An easy target. Billions of small things are difficult to get rid of, as anyone who has had an infection knows only too well.

So how does this reflect on the Brexit campaign? 

The EU is focused on more and more centralisation and regulation, with fewer and fewer people making the crucial decisions. Common this, and common that. Fewer decision-makers mean slower decisions – and less time to make them so the quality becomes compromised. In today’s world that is bad news. The problem is not size in itself.  It is speed. Big things take a long time to get going, buy-in from all the parties takes close to eternity, and once they are on the move they are very difficult to stop – or even redirect.  And almost impossible to reverse.  Eventually they stop.  (See image above.)

In this world of exploding chaos and complexity, where centralised decision-making cripples progress, the world’s key decision-makers are those at the edge, ‘little people’ facing the immediate local situation who can switch twice in a day, adjusting to what they find.  And the best leaders are those who understand that principle, training those people, educating them, inspiring them … and then giving leadership-power away to them, empowering them to decide ‘there and then’ at the point of need, equipped with the knowledge they need. It is immediate connectivity and flexibility that are key in this context. The delivery driver on his mobile phone in his little white van phoning the customer, the school teacher in the classroom dealing immediately with the behaviour of a student, the bobby on the beat sorting an argument, the child deciding on what to have for breakfast.


Think ant not articulated truck. When faced with a challenge, ants get into a little community group and sort out the problem, attacking, defending, and even dying when necessary. (They are typically called ‘worker’ ants.  I like that!) When the problem is solved, they go back to their work until needed again.  They will go to incredible lengths to support each other, sacrifice, and work.  The one in this pic is carrying a seed many times its weight and size.

And it all happens in seconds and minutes, not months and years. Quick, efficient, local decision-making by those affected by the decision sorting the problem out together. Collaboratively.  Without a formal structure.

So the predictions for the EU are speculated upon for the next 15 years. “It will be like this in 2030.”  One thing is sure.  Every prediction will be wrong, whoever makes it. Remember 15 years ago? It was the everyday people, filled with vision and purpose, who decided that for them there was no box to think out of. Like the bumble bee that is technically unable to fly because of it’s weight and wing area, they just get on and do it.

When I see the EU voting for the development of smaller government, disbanding important parts of itself (especially those that currently meddle uninvited in the detail of human community), distributing decision-making power to the edge, promoting freedom, encouraging diversity and speed by building connectivity (roads, airports, internet access), maybe it will get my vote.

I’m not holding my breath.  Today it seems to me to be more of a big overloaded truck stuck in a narrow lane, shouting at us about how we cannot do without it because it’s going places, yet blocking the way for the farmer, mother and deliveryman queued up behind, trying to get on with real life.

Meanwhile the flexible little ants quietly march past, over, under and round it, vote it off the job and get on with the work of living.

Those who want the EU are welcome to it. I’m voting ‘ant’.


7 Replies to “Another reason for voting Leave: Big isn’t Better.”

  1. It is a certainty that I will be voting for an exit of EU. I am English, they call me British and the choice of being from England does not exist any more

  2. Jan do me a favour please and promote it on your facebook. The last blog had 54,000 visits, with people telling me that it had made their mind up for them. Great. Thank you. Between us ‘little people’ we can make a difference.

  3. Hi Andrew,

    Ants may be admirable in many ways, but human societies are just a bit more complex. You’re right to say nobody can accurately predict the future, but we can look at the past for clues. So let’s look at Europe in 1973, when we joined the EC. Spain and Portugal were right-wing dictatorships, Greece was run by a junta of colonels, and Poland and the Baltic states were controlled from Moscow. Now they’re all EU member states. Not forgetting that the UK had a little civil war of its own going on, in Northern Ireland. The EU has transformed life for us and our European neighbours, and I’m proud that the UK has played its part, with funds and expertise.

    Europe is more stable and prosperous than at any time in its long history, and old enemies are now friends; British and German sailors jointly commemorated the anniversary of the Battle of Jutland just yesterday.

    On big versus small – depends on the context. Much world trade is on 15,000 TEU container superships, built around fast, efficient turnaround at hub ports, such as Europort. It is environmentally ‘friendly’, reducing fuel burnt per container mile, and with entry port clearance within the EU, less paperwork, faster operations and lower costs. I’ve not seen any workable alternative from the leave camp!

    The EU’s not perfect, but it has created the best cooperation on our continent, ever! So the real choice is – stay and help improve it, or walk away into an uncertain future, for ourselves and our continent.

    In any event, the notion that the EU can impose its will on member states is risible, as well as insulting to the rest of the EU citizenry. Look at how the French react, to cite just one example.

    You’ll still be living in one of the traditionally most centralising democracies, although tempered now by devolution.

    You fail to give the EU any credit for the positive transformation it’s helped to facilitate, so more anti than ant, I’m afraid.


  4. Well argued and coherent, Tom. However, I’m in favour of Scotland leaving if it wants to. And Northern Ireland. And Lithuania. And whoever wants to. We are voting to decide what the ‘little people’ (as I’ve called them!) want. I will happily go with their decision. I’m simply saying I’m consistently suspicious of ‘Big’. It very soon becomes a Bully. My risable thought that we have choice reflects the choice I gave my children “Do you want your bath now or after supper?” It is loaded by my power. But the UK is adult, not a child. It can decide not to bath at all. Ever. The person providing the choice has the power. If they don’t choose the way we want, we remove it. Greece? The EU is another level of control. I want less control everywhere. Just to confirm your worst suspicions(!?) I want the power of WTO and the UN reduced too.

  5. Andrew,

    History tells us that countries can’t be kept together these days, unless we’re prepared to follow the ‘Putin’ model (another cheerleader for Out).

    The entire rationale for N Ireland staying with the U.K. was that they could choose to remain in the existing arrangement, being more like Scotland than the rest of Ireland at the time. I don’t pretend to know the Greek story, again, it depends on who is making the case. I don’t recognise the UN as having much power, but after working alongside some of their field staff in Former Yugoslavia, believe it’s better than any alternative currently available.

    Remember, we’ve only ever had 3 UK-wide plebiscites in our long history, and each time it was because the political party/parties in power were split internally.

    Richard Dawkins on the vote – “It is an outrage that people as ignorant as me are being asked to vote. This is a complicated matter of economics, politics, history, and we live in a representative democracy not a plebiscite democracy. You could make a case for having plebiscites on certain issues – I could imagine somebody arguing for one on fox hunting, for example – but not on something as involved as the EU. This should be a matter for parliament.”

    Given the current level of the ‘debate’ on Social Media, he has a point.


  6. Good one Andrew!!!

    Warm regards,

    John and Angie

    John and Angie Hindmarsh

    Nelson Barn

    The Old Riding Stables

    23 Lower Street



    NR13 6RW

    M: 07880 33 77 14 – John

    M: 07775 90 33 33 – Angie


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