“Leaver Brands Delisted by Tesco” shown in the picture above.

I have noticed that Otto Rank’s thoughts about the fundamental directions of motivation are very useful in understanding what drives us and what lies beneath. These motivations help to explain Brexit and the unraveling of our networks that is following it.

Rank proposed a creative tension between life’s two great desires: to merge or separate. We can observe these playing out in early years and then throughout our lives thereafter. In adult life and consumer behaviour the merge/separate dimension is usefully thought of as Progression and Regression, where progression is the drive to individuate, to evolve, to progress, while its opposite, regression is driven by merging with tradition, earlier patterns, familiar people, places or things. Regression is comfort, safety, familiarity, while progression is more risky, exciting, adventurous.

All of us do both, but tend to see ourselves as primarily favouring one or the other. In recent years, individualism and autonomy have been key drivers in our communities and progression has tended to receive more approval and endorsement.

The model, having two pulls in opposite directions, required a third factor to account for motivations concerned with correcting or repairing errors of judgment along the Progression > Regression continuum.

Rank and others have christened that third core motivation as Reparation: the desire to repair, adjust, mend, fix or alter inappropriate judgments in the other two.

The influence of these forces are exemplified and demonstrated brilliantly in the Brexit phenomenon.

It wasn’t long before the world reacted to the Regressive drive beneath Brexit, because although superficially Brexit looks like a progressive, individuating movement, this is quickly repudiated by the regressive nature of Leavers’ demands: getting our country back suggest reverting to a former state that was better which we must regain, some version of the ‘good old days’.

The markets, sensing this regressive drive, have responded by devaluing the pound. If the Brexiteers continue with this stance, insisting that they hold all the cards and will not reveal them, in Bulldog Britain style, the markets will unsurprisingly view this as hubris and delusion and devalue the pound further.

In a beautiful illustration of the price of regression, a set of brands were de-listed by Tesco yesterday. All of them classic Leaver brands in Campaign’s view:

Top 10 brands: Leave voters

 

  1. HP Sauce
  2. Bisto
  3. ITV News
  4. The Health Lottery
  5. Birds Eye
  6. Iceland
  7. Sky News
  8. Cathedral City
  9. PG Tips
  10. Richmond
Top 10 brands: Remain voters

 

  1. BBC.co.uk
  2. BBC iPlayer
  3. Instagram
  4. London Underground
  5. Spotify
  6. Airbnb
  7. LinkedIn
  8. Virgin Trains
  9. Twitter
  10. EasyJet

In summary, the adman’s bible, ‘Campaign’, suggests:

Leave Brands more likely to be seen as…

traditional, straightforward, simple, down-to-earth, good value and friendly

Remain Brands more likely to be seen as…

progressive, up-to-date, visionary, innovative, socially responsible, intelligent

Read more at Campaign Remain & Leave brands

The de-listing of the brands is fomented by a quarrel between Unilever who make them and Tesco who sell them. The devaluation has driven up Unilever’s costs which they wish to pass on in price increases to Tesco. Tesco have refused to pay the increases and so have de-listed the products. However this one plays out, it will not be long before all manufacturers, paying more for raw materials, particularly anything that incurs energy costs, strive to pass price increases onto retailers. This will apply to Own Label brands as well as their premium counterparts. In the end all three parties, manufacturers, retailers and customers will pay towards the cost. We will all have less money for the same products by spring next year.

We have been saying for some weeks now that Brexit is akin to shooting yourself in the foot, driven by a longing for something idealised that was always something of a fantasy. If the direction of travel is backwards, you can’t expect future prospects going forward to look rosy.

This is just the beginning. Expect the Brexit politicians to blame everything except their own attribution error for the worsening consequences as they multiply. 

[Reviewing this post in 2021, it is clear that every effort is being made to blame the intransigence and inflexibility of the EU for the problems the UK initiated by withdrawing not just from membership, but also the Single Market and Customs Union too. We have engineered our own isolation, based on a tiny majority for leaving in the 2016 Referendum.]

attribution errors explained

They must be hoping for strong ‘leave’ populist votes in France, Spain, Germany and Italy. But in any event their arrogant, insouciant, passive-aggressive posturing will undoubtedly alienate and irritate everyone until more trouble is on the way.

[Again from a 2021 perspective, the opposite of the Brexiteer’s fantasies has happened. Seeing the UK’s struggles, the popularity of the EU has risen in nearly all member states.]

Suddenly, Brexit heartland supporters will disappear from the news as suddenly as they appeared. But the suffering there will be real – particularly in those parts of the UK used to substantial funding from the EU’s regional development funds.

[In 2021,this is happening too, supported by a narrative which claims that the benefits of Brexit will take ten years or more to appear. See here: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/feb/14/raab-shrugs-off-brexit-troubles-urging-people-to-take-10-year-view]