“If you like it so much, …”

A brief note and a puzzle. When left wing or progressive people say that they prefer the arrangements in another country (or even that they dislike arrangements in the UK) they are often challenged by right-wingers “if you like it so much, why don’t you go and live there ?”.

Two points. Firstly, the complete illogicality of the idea.  I want UK trains to be better, its taxation system to be fairer, its rivers clean, its supermarkets full and its GP lists to be smaller: pretty uncontroversial stuff, I would guess.  How can those goals be better achieved if I were to move to Spain, or France, Denmark, or Portugal ?

Secondly, why is this form or political jousting only one way ?  No one says to a right winger – “if you like a market driven health service, why don’t you move to the USA ?” (or, “if you want an economy with few regulations where the rich pay little tax, why don’t you move to Haiti ?”).

I have a theory. It is that the example of other countries successfully tackling issues which our government is bungling  takes away the usual right wing excuse for poor service and unfair policy – that it is inevitable, that it is how the world has to work these days (as Thatcher would have it, “there is no alternative”).  It also removes the ‘slippery slope’ argument – if you want to end tax evasion, you must like Venezuela, and look what’s happening there.  And, of course, it prevents the necessity of actually thinking about how things can be done better.