I have just finished a very readable book on National Populism by R. Eatwell & M Goodwin which they believe is not just a passing fad but here to stay. They explain how the rising of NP was typified by the election of Trump in America and the result of the British referendum in 2016. They also cover many of the other populist groupings in Europe.
In the first page of the Introduction they get straight to the point with this - “ NP prioritizes the culture and interests of the nation, and promises to give voice to a people who feel that they have been neglected, even held in contempt, by distant and often corrupt elites.”
The book is divided into six chapters titled Myths, Promises, Distrust, Destruction, Deprivation and De-alignment with the following notable extracts:-
- NP is not new with The People’s Party Omaha Platform of 1892 proclaiming ‘ We seek to restore the government of the Republic to the hands of the plain people.’
- The authors argue that NP has three core values – First, to make the popular will heard and acted on. Second, the call to defend the interests of the plain, ordinary people. Third, the desire to replace corrupt and distant elites.
- Lots of people feel frustrated about how their democracies are working, but most remain firmly committed to the democratic system.
- The number of people who feel that politicians put the national interests ahead of that of their parties has slumped.
- In 1960 in the USA 76% of people trusted their government most of the time yet by the time of Obama’s election the figure was 22%.
- The feelings of ‘voicelessness’ help explain why lots of people are now instinctively receptive to the model of ‘Direct Democracy’ with 56% to 38% of the British believing the people should be able to vote on national issue. In America it was 67% to 31%, Germany 74% to 23% and the French 74% to 25%.
- One way to get increased input from citizens is through referendums, especially local and regional, and devolving further powers from the centre.
- Patriotism share three factors – a shared history and values, the feeling of a national community and the right to self-determination.
- Four Ds fuel populism – Distrust of elites, concerns over the Destruction of a nation, Deprivation caused by an unequal economic settlement and the increase of De-alignment from traditional parties.
- The Brexit fiasco sets the scene for a serious examination of our system of governance which has thus far not yet materialised.
The final paragraph ends with this “ By word of final conclusion we will stress just one point. NP, in whatever form, will have a powerful effect on the politics of many Western countries for many years to come”.
THA has always realised, as with the Chartist movement before us, that its six demands will only become a reality when they are supported by the people at large who then provided constant and increasing pressure on our political class demanding they take notice or lose their support come re-election.