Maybe you’ve seen the reports in the Guardian, the Times, the International Business Times, the Independent, Huffington Post, Russia Today, and the Irish Times about Brexit Britain and Trump’s America sliding down the “Good Country Index” rankings this year.
The study alleges that these nations are losing credibility as good international actors. But what the news reports don’t make clear is what the “Good Country Index” is, who it was started by, and what it hopes to achieve.
Simon Anholt — an honorary professor at the University of East Anglia — has made quite a career out of the platform, the criteria for which includes global co-operation on climate change, open border immigration, United Nations contributions, the number of refugees taken in, and international aid contributions.
In a nutshell, most things both Brexit and Trump voters cast their ballots against in 2016.
This doesn’t stop the mainstream media presenting the rankings — effectively the pet project of a globalist Oxford graduate — as some kind of independent measure. By Prof. Anholt’s own admissions, these aren’t independent rankings.
While the FAQs section of the Good Country website alleges the author doesn’t believe in “one world government”, the mission statement of the organisation reads as follows:
Most of the world’s problems are really just symptoms of a bigger, underlying problem: that we haven’t yet worked out how to organise ourselves as a single species inhabiting a single planet. This can change.
Prof. Anholt boasts in his biography of having advised 50+ governments, dozens of corporations, and has “served as the Vice-Chair of the UK Foreign Office’s Public Diplomacy Board… has a Master’s Degree from the University of Oxford… has been awarded the Nobels Colloquia Prize for Economics and the Prix d’Excellence du Forum Multiculturel pour un Développement Durable (Excellence in Sustainable Development)”.
He also has a linked survey called “The Global Vote”, which quizzes around 20,000 people across 25 countries, reporting on their perceptions of nations and cities.
But this is also scarcely scientific. The Global Vote website admits in its FAQs section: “it’s a self-selecting sample of people who are attracted by the Good Country and/or the Global Vote, so the results have little value as a statistical representation of the views of the world’s population. No surprises there, because the Global Vote is not research.”
But this hasn’t stopped left-wing media outlets — no fault of Prof. Anholt’s, perhaps — from presenting this non-research as a legitimate insight into what the world thinks of Brexit Britain or Trump’s America.
On Nov 7th 2016, Time magazine reported the headline “Hillary Clinton is the World’s Choice for U.S. President, Poll Finds”. Except the self-selecting survey isn’t a poll, and the “world’s choice” is no such thing by the survey’s own admission.
But while this isn’t Prof. Anholt’s fault directly, he has done little to try and correct news outlets, even given a quote to Time to fuel the fire, where he stated: “What is clear from commentary around this vote is that Donald Trump is seen by many as a threat to international prosperity and stability… The degree of international unpopularity of the two main candidates is evident from the high number of votes that went to the relatively unknown third party candidates, as well as the 8% who chose to abstain.”
But remember, it is NOT RESEARCH.
USA Today fell into the same trap, though I imagine it was more wilful than not.
Effectively, between an honorary Professor in the East of England and the left-wing media, there is an attempt to shame the proponents of nationalism and national sovereignty. And Mr. Anholt’s efforts to undermine elections and the democratic process doesn’t stop there.
He shares on his website the following wish:
I do have a recurring fantasy that a country will turn up sooner or later wanting to submit, say, 5% or even just 1% of its general election to an international vote. That would be an incredibly powerful gesture: and in our hyper-connected, interdependent world, by no means a stupid idea either.
I don’t know… in a world of “collusion” allegations and endless attempts to interfere in each other’s elections from all major powers around the world, I’d say it’s a pretty stupid idea.
Raheem Kassam is the Editor in Chief of Breitbart London