Britain halts populist advance


Britain halts populist advance

The UK is leading the fight against the populist advance that continues to blight the Western world, says Charlotte Kude. 

Theresa May’s decision to hold a General Election on June 8 took the country by surprise, including her own party. Ever since she became Prime Minister, she has repeatedly ruled out a snap election to instead focus on the process of exiting the EU. She soon realised that she would need to bring Westminster together behind her and just three weeks after triggering Article 50, decided to call an election.

She could have hardly chosen a more opportune time for her party, enjoying up to a 20-point lead in recent polls. More than a parliamentary majority, an entire country is about to unite behind the change of direction chosen during last year’s referendum. Dozens of seats in the North of England where Conservatives hadn’t won for decades, but that largely returned a Leave vote are predicted to turn blue. Contrary to all fearmongering about the United Kingdom breaking up, the Scottish National Party could lose as many as twelve MPs as voters reject independence.

The British electorate will be asked to make a major decision at the ballot box for the third year in a row. Contrary to most western democracies, voters are abandoning the fringes to rally to the centre. UKIP’s approval ratings have either stalled or dropped in recent weeks. This shows that more democracy, not less, is the answer to current populist trends – and Britain is showing Europe, and the world, exactly how it’s done.

Never mind the arrogance of those who portray French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron as the saviour of liberalism, ignoring that over three quarters of the French electorate didn’t vote for him. Never mind that these same voters also put the National Front in second place and that Marine Le Pen’s rating are at an all-time high. The centrist candidate may very well win the election on Sunday, but that doesn’t change the fact that populism is on the rise in France, not declining.

Similarly, in the Netherlands, where despite losing the election on March 15, far-right leader Geert Wilders nevertheless managed to come out a strong second. Twenty Members of Parliament were elected on a protectionist, Eurosceptic and anti-Islam platform.

The forces behind French and Dutch nationalism have little in common with the outcry that prompted Britain’s rejection of the EU via the ballot box. Pro-EU voices may find it convenient to amalgamate the two, which is precisely why populism is threatening their system in the first place. Instead of dismissing their people’s concerns as populist, they should learn from Britain that only more democracy can sustainably appease tensions.

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  • Charlotte Kude
    Charlotte Kude
    Charlotte is the Secretary-General of the International Young Democrat Union. Until 2016 she served as Treasurer of the European Young Conservatives, a youth alliance promoting free markets and free people in Europe. Born in Munich, Charlotte grew up in South Africa and Australia and attended high school in the suburbs of Paris. She speaks fluent English, French, German and Spanish.
    • Brian Hall

      Good analysis. The europhiles forget that much of the so called “populist” policies were in the center for much of the 90s. A heyday for democracy across Europe and the world before OTT globalisation kicked in.

    • StrawDog

      Populism is called public frustration. If you do what the public wants, you don’t get populism. If you want the public hates, you get populism. If you don’t deal with the source of public anger it will rise beyond a critical mass and finally destroy you. Many European politicians are of the “lead the crowd, don’t represent them” mould. The modernised Conservative party is different.

      Doing what the public wants is not an achievement. It’s a travesty we have to celebrate something so basic.

    • Vuil

      Poor Charlotte a masterpiece of being out of touch with the electorate.

      A lady of the world, but not worldly. The populist movement is just getting started and has now been adopted by May.

      How out of touch can one be?

    • UKVoter

      Whoever wrote this superficial article has no idea about UK politics and has scored an F in political analysis. UKIP’s voters voted Tory to ensure Brexit is delivered. A fact fairly obvious to most children. This article should have been published on Monday to celebrate some gigolo’s victory in France. Even though his victory doesn’t mean that populism has been abandoned, but an article saying this would make much more sense than this vacuous garbage.

    • GampUK

      Tosh, May is only as popular as she is because she has espoused the key popular policy of UKIP and is running with it. And don’t think this isn’t about self interest, after all, what better way to have an historical legacy, what better way to be more than a footnote in our nations history.

    • Coeur de Lion

      There’s nothing populist about competence, which is severely lacking in both the EU and the Labour Party. Easy win.

    • Claphamomnibusbloke

      Oh dear Charlotte. Rather let yourself down here dear. Or are you just dim?

    • Jack Rocks

      I think this piece is a roundabout way of saying that it’s better to govern with one eye on public opinion than not.

    • 3aple

      Dutch political scientist Cas Mudd (decidedly not a right winger) writes thus of populism,

      “Populism is most common in democratic nations. Many observers have noted that populism is inherent to representative democracy; after all, do populists not juxtapose ‘the pure people’ against ‘the corrupt elite’?”

      Little wonder the EU establishment is against populism.

    • 5th column traitors

      What? The reality is the Tories are now implementing UKIP policies and hence have taken up the “populist” mantle. Anyway, since when did populist (ie a member or adherent of a political party seeking to represent the interests of ordinary people) become a bad thing? Oh yes that’s right… when what the ordinary people want no longer tallies with what the globalist elites want.

    • This is just elite drivel.

      Mrs May has adopted most of UKIP’s policies, set up a remoaner threat in the EU and Farron/Corbyn and been rewarded with being lent some votes. That’s the triumph of those policies, not their defeat or halting.

      By the way the use of the term ‘populism’ is just the condescending snob’s new word for plebs. Little in politics appears to have changed since the Roman republic.

    • GUBU

      May I ask what you were smoking when you wrote this article?

    • Malcolm Marchesi

      It was always a dishonest tactic to conflate UKIP with the so-called “far-right” parties in mainland Europe . UKIP represented the majority scepticism about all things EU and the fact that it was unfairly and dishonourably linked with the extreme parties did manage to reduce it’s popular appeal , but not enough to frustrate it’s raison d’etre , The EU elite and indeed the elite in the UK were unable to counter the simple argument that it put forward , and in this respect more democracy did win . To say that the UK has halted the tide of populism is misleading . Populism is the will of the people , it will always prevail in the end .

    • This is a continuation of the war against the EU. The British public are marching their way through the institutions of power at a local level and kicking out the pro-EU globalists and leftists. In June they will do the same to Westminster.

      Just because the British have a functioning democratic mechanism to enable them to achieve this do not be fooled into thinking that there has been any kind of return to the old status quo. There is a very British a revolution underway.

    • chuffer1961

      One day, when you’re old enough to vote, Charlotte, you’ll realise what a steaming heap of horse poo this article is.

    • Altesegel

      This article is complete and utter drivel. What’s happened in Britain is that the populists have taken over the Conservative Party. It’s no triumph for the centre, no, its the right grasping the reins of power. Expect to see Wilders and Le Pen triumph in the end – already they are driving politics in Europe right wards and making it difficult for the establishment to continue to defend the EU.

      • Shadow Warrior

        You are half right and half wrong. The Tories have indeed survived the post-Brexit carnage by getting on board with the will of the people, you are correct in that. Where you are wrong is in expressing it in terms of left vs right, which is yesterday’s thinking. If anything, the current Tory party is drifting slightly to the left of centre.

        • Altesegel

          Yes I tend to agree with you. Increasingly the terms left and right are redundant. Populism is ascribed to the right where as it is not the property of the wealthy and the well fed . The Tory Party is drifting philosophically – that has been apparent for some time but in what direction I cannot see…

    • Jeff Evans

      There was a cartoon in Private Eye magazine a few weeks ago, which showed a ballot paper with two options; “Populism” and “Unpopulism”.

    • Fred Tomlinson

      The Conservatives appear to have become populist, to hoover up the UKIP votes, so the party that wins is the one that becomes the most UKIP-ish, and Jeremiah is unelectable as well.

    • Chris Martin

      It’s our ‘first past the post’ system that thwarts populism…. Many other countries have proportional systems for their legislatures and this means that non-mainstream parties can soon begin to show effect. Here, in contrast, even when a party like UKIP got about half of the votes of the Labour Party at the General Election it only had one MP – and that was only because Douglas Carswell defected. This process forces voters to vote for mainstream parties even though the majority of the population has then to ‘hold its noses’ and vote for the same old same old….

    • geo

      populism is popular … and winning in a democracy is about being popular … so populism is democracy in action?
      (or doesnt it count because the liberal left are getting the shaft? :o)

    • Corporate Kitten

      The scourge of doing what people want, eh!

      An idea that must be erradicated in the author’s world

      • Jack Rocks

        I didn’t get that impression from the piece at all.

    • SonofBoudica

      Populism is a denigratory name for democracy by socialists who don’t accept that people could possibly not vote for a wholly socialist government.

      • Bill

        Correct. It’s anything anyone on the left feels uncomfortable with.

    • Debs

      “the populist advance that continues to blight the western world ” so we the majority who want out of the socialist/ globalist nightmare of the EU are part of a blight. Great. This person needs to grow up and get into the real world from her privileged political world. Already in the bubble.

    • Nockian

      Eh ? Democracy is populist by its nature. What seems to being said is that there is a populist uprising that trancends the sham two party duopoly and that May has capitalised on the lack of a credible opposition by drawing all the votes of those who don’t have a representative.

      This doesn’t stop the reality of the lives of people who are seeing stagnant wages, rising inflation, unaffordable homes, crumbling infrastructure, collapsing health service and bad education. It doesn’t touch the ballooning public and private debt. It doesn’t address any of the problems that people face daily.

      What happens after an election when things don’t get better. Are the people simply going to forget that they are unhappy ? I doubt it. May might well begin to wish that she hadn’t won if she does get the promised landslide, just as Macron will realise the ethereal nature of a victory in France. Governments have run out of money to improve people’s lives and as things inevitably worsen the populist movement wil grow in size and ferocity. I think France will explode with Macron in power and that might well inspire more violent populism across the West than we currently see.

      • Shadow Warrior

        Shrewd analysis. Le Pen in the Elysee Palace would have allowed some steam to be vented. Macron bottling it all up will make the explosion even worse when it happens, which it will.

        • Jack Rocks

          The difference between the UK and France is the UK had a 1979. France did not (Sarkosy pretended he was going to be France’s Thatcher and then bottled it at the first sign of union discontent). I’m not saying that this is good or bad, only that every year that goes by the ratchet clicks and producer interests become a little more entrenched. Eventually something is going to snap and when it does it could be worse than Le Pen.

      • obbo12

        Macon or Le Pen do not offer the solution to Frances woes. Neither are willing to do the massive deregulation and the fight will the unions that entails. Neither have rejected the France bureaucratic state and both want continue unsustainable working protections. Le Pen just offers quicker economic suicide of protectionism without degranulation than Macon’s more of the same.

        • Nockian

          Absolutely in agreement. But remember too, how Le Pen was prevented from getting a bank loan in the West. That isn’t something which is the remit of Governments, that’s a deliberate attempt by the private sector bankers to starve her of funds. Closed borders, sovereignty and protectionism are real issues for globalist financiers-these people don’t produce anything but confetti and so they need actual production with actual labour to do the work and feed the machine.

          Macron is clearly a globalist schill-it couldn’t really be more obvious-he is therefore a fascist. Le Pen is a communist. Neither side have a solution even if they began by truly believing they did. It always ends up in brutish conflict with the innocent suffering for the ideology of their cretinous overlords. It’s a rich mans war and the poor will fight it.

    • rugbyfan85

      Author as clueless as the rest of lib turd, liabor rejects…. The right are all pulling in the same direction. Allez Le Pen!

    • obbo12

      Its unfortunate but its will take a crushing defeat before the European political classes will admit that one of their central tenets of the last 30 years in wrong. The EU institutions just don’t work very well. The Euro can’t work without fiscal transfers between the North and South and Northern taxpayers don’t see why they should fund Southern Europe’s spending lifestyles. Free movement has distorted the labour market, so low skill work wage growth is practically flat. This has worked out well for business but not the working class communities the left claims to serve. This has left a large section of the electorate with no voice and hence the appeal of the populist parties.

      The Tories have always been ambivalent about the EU and only for a tiny minority of Tories has the EU been a key plank of their beliefs. This is in common with most of the British public, so both can move away without a backwards glance.

      • g978

        Exactly and the Conservatives since 1992 have been hit either by the Liberals or UKIP in successive elections draining their support. Now the Conservative family of voters is back together.
        For those saying the Conservatives are populist – they are a centre right party enacting the legitimate referendum result.

    • Derek

      How is Britain halting the Populist advance? Authoritarian Populism versus Cosmopolitan Liberalism is on an orthogonal axis to conventional left versus right politics where the man parties are located. Nearly 50% of Adults are populist
      May is authoritarian and nationalist so appeals to Populists which includes a percentage of Labour voters in the regions.

      • obbo12

        Only by your definition of nationalist and there is the reason why May is where she is

    • realarthurdent

      I think that rather than a triumph for the centre, this is a triumph for the populists in the UK – their policies have been adopted by the governing party.

      Populism has become mainstream in other words.

      • MrVeryAngry

        Anyway, what is ‘the centre’? Furthermore it has never been a horizontal axis between left and right. At the extreme they are functionally the same. It’s a vertical axis. At the top is liberty, personal responsibility, the rule of law and by implication small government and a contained and limited ‘extractive class’ (I could also add sound money and finances). At the bottom is slavery and irresponsibility, arbitrary rule by self serving bureaucrats, big government and a massive ‘extractive class’ (with absolutely unsound money and massive unsound finances). I think that the UK demos has made a very clear demonstration that it wants to move to the sunlit uplands of liberty and self determination. And that’s not ‘populist’ (in the jargon) at all. And it’s certainly not ‘centrist’ in the same jargon. Nanny does not know best. The people do.

      • Shadow Warrior

        This is it in a nutshell, and the author has completely missed the point of what has happened in Britain. The political parties that continued to oppose the will of the people have torn themselves apart, the one that learned quickly that although it didn’t like what the people wanted it had best toe the line and deliver on it if it wanted to survive has done very well.

        One must also bear in mind, of course, that the Tory’s success in the polls and in the local election results today is massively flattered by the extreme paucity of the opposition.

        • Bill

          Are you suggesting that Labour doesn’t have a competent leader and “front bench?” Deary me!

          • sylvesterthecat

            Whoda thunk it?

          • Shadow Warrior

            You might say that, but I couldn’t possibly comment.

      • Hubert Cumberdale

        Agreed – people aren’t voting UKIP because the UK is leaving the EU and the key reasons for the parties existence no longer apply. UKIP achieved what it set out to and is now finished

      • A real liberal

        Quite so. What an arrogant and vapid piece of lightweight ‘journalism’. Could easily have been condensed into: “thank goodness the stupid people have started voting for me and my clever friends again; and especially good that they’re Brits”.

        • sylvesterthecat

          We have to make allowances, she’s only a kid.

      • ethanedwards2002

        Essex County Council results- UKIP took 11% of the vote. Came third won no seats but hey 11% – Lib Dems by comparison took just 6% and Labour 21%. So maybe a mistake to dismiss 11% of the Electorate.
        But Smell my Spaniel Farron will be on the media gurning…despite representing three men and his dog by comparison.

      • obbo12

        I disagree, Tory Eurosceptics pre date UKIP by decades.

        • Malcolm Marchesi

          You’re absolutely right of course but no reasonable person can deny that UKIP did the job that it set out to do and without it we would not be on the verge of freedom.

          • obbo12

            Yes I can. UKIP were electorally irrelevant, the referendum only came about because of Tory Eurosceptic mps votes were need during the coalition. Cameroon need to avoid the fate of Major and the referendum was the way to do it. If UKIP didn’t exist, Bill Cash, Jacob Rees Mogg, John Redwood, et al would still be in parliament and their votes would still be need to carry government legislation

            • Vuil

              Without UKIP the referendum would not have happened. UKIP raised the issue far more aggressively than the Europskeptic Tories.

            • Mojo

              You are assuming that Tory eurosceptics were dormant for 40yrs and that Nigel Farage was irrelevant for 25 yrs. However, by this token how do you explain the strong groundswell outside London where Farage was talking to people in the country. At the end of the day his name is known all over UK. The likes of Matthew Elliott, Jonathan Isaby, Bill Cash et all were not well known as being synonymous with pushing to leave the EU. The long hard years of working towards the UK leaving the EU are down to Nigel Farage. If it had not been for UKIP there would be no referendum because the Tory eurosceptics were not rattling enough cages in the country. It is in the country and not London that this groundswell really started. The Tory eurosceptics votes in the coalition would be irrelevant without UKIP pushing the button. Cameron misjudged the following of Farage. He thought he would play a grand game of shutting down the EU debate once and for all and also neutralising UKIP. It backfired splendidly precisely because, like you, he underestimated Farage. He underestimated the feeling in the country and indeed the feeling growing across EU. By comparison Theresa May has listened, learned and is changing Conservative policy to suit the country. Most policies at the moment are indeed UKIP policies, now taken into the mainstream. And that is the secret of the perennially successful Conservatives. They manage to follow the waves of movement in the country and adapt. When they don’t they lose power. LibDems, Labour, SNP and Greens are still telling the electorate how they should think rather than shifting with the waves of fortune. They will suffer greatly.

            • obbo12

              For god sake man what’s hard to understand. Nigel Farage couldn’t get elected, the tory eurosceptics did . The government need their votes and without them Farge could safely be ignored. If you cant get seats in Westminster than you have no power to change things. UKIP is now and always was full of sound and fury but signifying nothing.

              The reality is that Farage was the remain camps biggest weapon. His Trump like brand alienated the majority of British voters. Dominic Cummings, who actually ran the vote leave campaign , Farage almost lost the vote with appearances.

              You overestimate the value of small but noisy minority that couldn’t persuade enough people in one constituency to elect the party leader.

            • Mojo

              4 million people voted for Nigel Farage. That is one million less than live all over Scotland. Yet the SNP get 56 seats. That is the anomaly of our voting system. The election he lost is now under investigation due to fraudulent overspending and harassing of the electorate by the conservative candidate. I have read Dominic Cummings piece and replied to him. No one on the official leave side were household names until Gove and Johnson joined. The back room boys were intellectuals speaking to the elite. Farage spend 20 years talking to the country and 15 years in the European Parliament fighting our corner. No conservative, labour or LibDem did that. It was indeed Farage that spoke to the country, the London media spent their whole time trashing him and the establishment jumped on board. There was a huge divide between the country and London. If you speak to many outside London they still say Farage delivered Brexit. Only London can put its head in the sand. The fact that we got the referendum was down to UKIP. The fact that Tory po,Ickes are now reflecting all the UKIP policies. There were a party outside the Westminster establishment and they have changed the complexion of politics in UK. They have probably changed the way UK will be governed in future too. That is a massive achievement for a party whose main following was outside London. In fact the people fighting the establishment and winning.

            • obbo12

              Farage talked but talk counts nothing. UKIP have no power. The SNP got seat but cause the got the 3 million out 5 million . UKIP got 4 million out 30 million voters.

            • Malcolm Marchesi

              Surely a party that has more seats in the EU Parliament than any other UK party can’t have been “electorally irrelevant”. If it was then where does that leave the other parties ? I repeat , UKIP has done what it set out to do , and I and almost 17,000,000 people with similar views are glad that it did !

            • obbo12

              Its Westminster has the power to decide on the status of UK not the EU Parliament. If you want to change things you have to win in Westminster and form a government. A credible opposition can force the government to change policy, no such thing exist currently. So the Labour party and Lib Dems are irrelevant. Its going to be like in the the Thatcher years were the only effective opposition comes from within the parliamentary party.

            • cambridgeelephant

              In a word – ‘Delusional’

              But if it makes you happy, keep dreaming.

            • Claphamomnibusbloke

              Beat me to it Jumbo

        • realarthurdent

          And should have left the party after Maastricht. But they put party before country. The Conservative way.

          • obbo12

            You mean they put the chance of actually get elected ahead of saying things in the pub. How dare they.

        • cambridgeelephant

          And did f all until Nige’ forced their hand.

          • obbo12

            UKIP were electorally irrelevant, the referendum only came about because of Tory Eurosceptic mps votes were need during the coalition. Cameroon need to avoid the fate of Major and the referendum was the way to do it.

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