A populist fire is burning – Brexit and Trump

Catherine Stihler MEPjpgIn her latest Brexit Blog, Catherine Stihler MEP says the force behind the US election result has parallels in the UK and in Scotland.


After the year we’ve had – the last five years or so come to think of it – Donald Trump becoming President-elect of the United States of America shouldn’t surprise me. And yet it did.

I woke yesterday morning to see that a man who has vilified and abused Mexicans and Muslim Americans, boasted of his rampant misogyny and stoked racial and social tensions for his own political ends has been granted the keys to the White House.

I shuddered as I checked the TV news and my social media accounts, flashbacks to the wee small hours of June 24th of this year when it became clear similar negative forces were set to prevail in the EU referendum. I remember the chill that raced along my spine when I saw Nigel Farage declaring victory after he had dragged his campaign through the gutter with that poster.

I know how the hardworking Clinton campaigners will have felt as the reality unfolded before them and that their anguish won’t subside for a long time. This was a chance to do something really, truly special and break one of the ultimate glass ceilings for women. The result – the missed opportunity to elect the first female President of the United States – is made all the more galling when the victor was caught bragging about his demeaning attitude to women.

A few questions have swirled around my head since, such as: “What is going on; is there a connection between the rise of populism on either side of the Atlantic?” and “How can the mainstream centre-left combat this growing threat?”

Neither is simple to answer, although simple and simplistic solutions to complex problems are part of the problem and go some way to explaining how we got here.

Populism is the short answer but how it has grown and how it can be confronted is where the real answers lie. It may seem clichéd to go back the Great Recession of 2008 but that is where populism really dug in its heels and started to shake up our political, social and economic landscape.

Populism is like a fire but it can only burn if it has the necessary ingredients. A fire needs a flammable material to use as a fuel source, a spark to ignite the flames and oxygen. Populism too requires a raw material, in the case of the West it comes in the form of tensions that have grown as a result of globalisation. The spark was the financial crash which lit the touch paper. The oxygen comes from politicians and others who stoke the fires of anger, pain, fear and hatred.

People, many of them in Labour heartlands have watched as traditional industries were forcibly reduced in size and stature or removed altogether. These citizens may benefit in many ways from globalisation but the rapid changes to the economy and society created fear and uncertainty. Communities began to feel cut adrift, that the “political elite” are only interested in themselves and not in helping the country and its people.

When the crash hit in 2008 and people began losing their jobs and what little economic security they had, tensions rose still further and populists were waiting for their time to strike. Populist politicians, newspapers and commentators who had cultivated fear of others and a loathing for the “Establishment” now had the perfect opportunity to scapegoat members of society.

The argument goes: the crash happened because of political elites who are corrupt and that the unemployed were only struggling to find work because of the tidal wave of immigrants coming here to steal jobs.

It was simple, easy to understand and it was very effective. The fact it was wrong doesn’t matter.

Power held by others became one of the key issues: ‘if only we held the power here, the people would make better decisions than unelected politicians in Brussels’. The populists of the Scottish National Party have used this kind of argument for a considerable length of time in Scotland.

“You don’t have a job? You are angry at political elites in Westminster? You love the NHS and want to ensure its survival? Well independence is the answer!” You can substitute in any question prior to the simple solution of independence, as the answer is always the same for nationalists. Their populism relies on knowing the answer and making it fit to any and all questions. Not only that but a stoking of the fires of division, anger, fear and hatred in order to aid conversion to the cause.

In 2014 the Scottish nationalists used fears over the NHS in the final weeks of their campaign in order to close the gap in the polls. Post-referendum polls showed a significant number of voters decided to back ‘Yes’ in the final month. They failed in their endeavour to overturn a large lead for ‘No’ but perhaps it was because they didn’t adopt this tactic earlier, or perhaps they did too soon. A poll with one or two weeks until Polling Day moved ‘Yes’ into the lead; this made the markets panic and perhaps enough people stayed firmly where they had originally positioned themselves, with ‘No’.

With Brexit the tune was the same but a far more ominous beat accompanied it. People like Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Nigel Farage picked one issue in particular and didn’t just increase the oxygen supply to the fire, they used immigration as lighter fluid to make a Brexit bonfire. They succeeded where the SNP failed and perhaps it was because polls in those final couple of weeks showed a trend towards ‘Remain’. The confidence of the markets wasn’t truly tested as it was in early September 2014 and so voters couldn’t see what was to come on June 24th when the Pound collapsed and markets had to be suspended with the Bank of England stepping in to stabilise the jitters.

In the USA there is a similar fear for the future, a dislocation between electors and the elected, a sense of loss regarding the deindustrialisation and outsourcing that globalisation is seen to have brought. Donald Trump used the same playbook as those who advocated Brexit – identify the democratic, societal and economic stresses and offer simple and simplistic solutions. He did this to great effect in the Rust Belt. He created the appearance of understanding those whose vote he sought while offering them a way to change what is happening to them and their communities.

The hallmarks are all there, the only differences between nations is the shade of the populism. With the SNP there has long been an acceptance that they must position themselves as a mainstream party that deals with shades of grey and not just the black and white associated with most populist movements. Perhaps this is why their campaign lacked the potency of Brexit and Trump?

The biggest question is what mainstream centre-left parties do now. There are three options: ignore the forces of populism – this is not an option now if it ever truly was, attempt to co-opt some language or policy advocated by populists to show a willingness to listen and finally to challenge the populism directly.

The final option has to be the best in my opinion. The SNP, Brexit and Trump were all ignored as a real threat to mainstream parties; their opponents have all tried to close the policy gap by sharing promises in an attempt to nullify the threat. Neither of these approaches has worked.

Centre-left parties must now confront the stresses within society, the tensions that these groups have exploited in pursuit of their own aims. It is up to the progressives in the West to provide the real solutions to the problems our countries face – policy that doesn’t evade the complexities of life but meets them head on and deals with them directly. Only by offering credible alternatives that go deeper than the easy rhetoric of the populists can the left of centre grow and return to power.

I dread to think where we will end up next if we don’t get our act together – we must be the agents of change once more.

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32 thoughts on “A populist fire is burning – Brexit and Trump

  1. “In 2014 the Scottish nationalists used fears over the NHS in the final weeks of their campaign in order to close the gap in the polls.”

    What a load of lying shite, do you honestly think anyone has forgotten Gordon Brown prancing about throughout the country telling everyone that they wouldn’t be able to get an operation if Scotland went independent.

    Nae wonder nabody trusts labour in Scotland.

    1. Why are you saying this is a lie? It’s a stone cold fact. The Yes campaign and the SNP used fearmongering about privatisation of the NHS in the final weeks of the campaign. It’s a fact.

      1. Fearmongering? Well Labour/Tory Better Together would know all about that sure enough.

        However, it was (and still is) a genuine concern. Within a unitary state like the UK, where the central govt decides budgets and policies for the vast bulk of the health services with inevitable knock on effects for the devolved budgets, there will always be pressures on the latter to follow the former’s lead.

        Coupled with an ever increasing number of managers, administrators and accountants from the English NHS “culture” taking up posts in NHSS (the Scottish Govt has no control over recruitment) and you get pressures from below, as well as above, to “change”.

        Health may be devolved, but the money to pay for it and everything else isn’t. And the visions, agendas and mind-sets of NHS mgt are out-with the control of the Scottish Govt. With the help of a future pro-privatisation Scot gov such as the Tories (who are) or Labour (who certainly were pre 2007), the threat to the Scottish NHS could become very real.

        You may disagree, but I’ve worked in the NHS for over three decades and know full well where the threats are. And it’s not independence.

        1. I hear you. Though of course you’re ignoring the fact that both governments are committed to protecting health spending, and the only Barnet consequentials that have come from English NHS spending have been massive cash injections into the Scottish budget which, oh, the SNP haven’t always chosen to spend on the NHS. So let’s not cast the current Scottish Government as its protectors.

          You posit a future Tory Scottish government. I think you’re right to do so – I have been making the point for a while that one is inevitable during the next 30 years or so – but if such a thing is a threat under devolution then surely independence offers no safeguard against it? If Scots elect a Tory government they will govern as Tories, independence or no.

          The scaremongering over the NHS in 2014 came from the Yes campaign and they claimed independence was the only way to save it from privatisation. Not only have they been proved wrong thus far, your own logic proves the scaremongering was dishonest.

          Oh, and let’s just remember that the Scottish Parliament now sets income tax levels, so the whole “we have no control over how much money we have to spend” argument is also untrue.

          But mostly my point is that you clearly agree. Independence would not be a protection for the NHS. The risks to it are ideological, not constitutional.

          1. It’s obviously late, and I need my bed, so I’ll make this brief for now.

            You are ignoring the inevitable cultural pressures that come from being part of a unitary state.

            You are also pretending the Scots gov has control over tax when it only has “some control” over one tax with the vast bulk of its budget still being set by Westminster.

            Related to the last points, you are also ignoring the difficulties posed by both govts pulling in different directions while the “big govt” largely controls the smaller ones budget within a unitary state.

            And lastly, for now, you are also making the perennial unionist “mistake” of assuming that everything stays the same after independence. UK Tories within a unitary UK state, pandering to SE England, are unlikely to be of the same ilk as Scottish Tories within an independent Scotland 30 years from now.

            Independence ensures Scotland gets the health service it wants, and not some Anglo-Scottish hybrid made inevitable by circumstances within the unitary UK state.

            Not as “brief” as I’d intended but hey-ho 🙂

          2. Please show your working for that figure. What does “15% of tax powers” mean?

            Do you accept that the Scottish Parliament has the power to decide income tax rates and bands for the next financial year, alongside control over property taxes, council tax and other local taxes, and a range of other specific taxes like APD? Do you further accept that the current Scottish Government has pledged not to reverse Tory tax cuts for the lifetime of this parliament, with the minor exception of a small tweak to the top rate tax band? Do you acknowledge that the cuts that that government complains have been imposed by Westminster could easily be reversed with a relatively small use of the extensive powers they have? And do you, like me, understand that their refusal to use these powers is rooted in their desire to blame others, and stoke grievance, because they care only about pushing people into support for independence, not about governing our devolved country?

          3. The Scottish Govt only has power over raising about 15% of its budget. The only tax of note it now has any power over is income tax and that is only the power to vary it slightly. It will barely raise the Scottish Govt’s budget by 1% if used and nobody tried to evade it. Even Kezia admits it may raise absolutely nothing.

            APD is another peripheral tax that only raises a tiny fraction of the Scottish Govt’s budget.

            The citing of local taxes is extremely disingenuous. Those taxes go to local govt, not Holyrood.

            In short, none of what you have cited will do anything to increase the Scottish Govt’s budget by a significant amount. And they could be detrimental to revenues if people simply move.

          4. Wow, how massively disingenuous. So when you said 15% of tax powers you actually meant the ability to raise or lower the budget by a massive 15%. That’s billions of pounds, and you’re trying to pretend it’s peanuts? You could double the local government budget! You could build schools and hospitals. You could train doctors and nurses and teachers. Instead by sticking to Tory tax plans we end up cutting school building, cutting nurses, falling short on training places, GP surgeries closed to new patients, teacher shortages and class size problems. That is the choice the SNP government has made. Why do you refuse to hold them to account for it?

          5. Ermmm …. you seem to have misunderstood Mr Hothersall.

            I said the Scottish Govt only raises about 15% of the budget in Scotland, NOT that they could raise it BY 15%.

            It is unlikely the tax powers so grudgingly given to Scotland could be manipulated to increase the monies available to the SG by a significant amount. As I said, even Kezia admits raising income tax could result in no extra revenue as people use simple expedients to avoid it.

            The money has been set aside for all you claim the SG are deliberately not addressing. Unfortunately, all the money in the world cannot magic up people who don’t exist, or make said magical people work in the NHS against their will …. unless Labour are now contemplating conscription for the NHS.

          6. You’re being dishonest again. Kez’s comments were about the top rate increase from 45% to 50%. That’s because the very wealthy are more capable of moving income outside of jurisdictions. (That’s incidentally why we need a wealth tax so that the very richest pay their fair share without it having to be tied to mobile income.)

            Increasing the main rates of tax would of course increase income. If you can’t accept that, why not read what John Swinney said about it. He acknowledged it would be progressive too.

            You refuse to show any working for your random 15% number, so let me ask you this: by how much can the Scottish Government increase its budget through taxation should it want to? To the nearest billion. If you can’t answer that honestly I’ll know you are just in the excuse business like the SNP, not in the getting things done for Scots business, like Labour.

          7. You’re scratching around Mr Hothersall.

            I merely stated Kezia’s opinion on increasing income tax. And you’re right, it was for the higher rate but then that was all Labour were proposing. I wasn’t aware Labour were also planning to raise the taxes of low and middle income families. A “brave” move if true.

            I don’t know why a “wealth tax” should be any harder to avoid than income tax. Surely being rich doesn’t restrict your ability to move your domicile.

            I didn’t say raising the basic rates of income tax wouldn’t raise income. I just said it would not raise much. Of course I was assuming they would be modest increases. To get the £bns you desire would require seriously punitive increases for low and middle income families. That would be a truly “brave” move.

            Not sure how these large increases in income tax would help Scottish business. Surely taking that much money out of people’s income would reduce the amount they can spend on products and services.

            The bottom line is, as long as the Scottish Govt (of any hue) does not have control of ALL revenue collection, it will never be able to do anything but tinker round the edges without seriously unbalancing the whole fiscal framework. To get a balanced, rounded tax system that finances the direction you want the country to go in, you need full control. You can’t have another govt with polemically different goals setting the bulk of your tax policies.

            Sorry about posting so late. I’m on latest this week.

      2. The stone cold fact is you trying to change the direction of my comment by ignoring what I said about that lying prick Gordon Brown.

        But just to keep you up-to-date with the privatisation of the NHS down south, Virgin Care has just been awarded a 700 million health contract down in England.

        And that’s a real fact, not a hothersal fact.

  2. If you want to read total and absolute drivel then by all means visit Labourhame. 3 events that have rocked the political world which have absolutely no connection or relevance to each other in any way shape or form.

    Lets start with the first one the Scottish Independence referendum. Here it is being described as some kind of populist uprising against the elite establishment which used fear mongering to gain support.
    Worse the descriptive term “Independence” is being used and portrayed here to mean protest and discontentment.
    Never mind the fact that national self determination is the mainstream point of view across the globe and is the norm as far as concept society ideology and Democracy is concerned the actual use of Fear via “Project Fear” was actually employed by those who oppose this mainstream normal global point of view of National Independence and self determination making the pro union argument the populist extremist view point of protest and discontentment with an established globally favoured position of National self determination.

    We then had Brexit. This was a kind of protest which cant be fully defined or explained. It had roots in xenophobia a kind of blood and soil Nationalism stoked up deliberately by the extremists within UKIP and the right wing media which successfully used the refugee crises the UK helped to create as a catalyst. It had a touch of economic protest where the blame for the UK Governments ideologically imposed austerity and deliberate dogmatic drive towards increasing the wealth gap was somehow transferred over to Brussels and membership of the EU.

    Both examples of the established order using the media to create false fears deflection lies deceit and influence to bend the will of majorities to their own ends not examples of populist revolution.

    We then had the unbelievable election of Donald Trump into the Whitehouse. Yet there is no way on earth this can be described as populist because he gained the Presidency not on a wave of popular voting but on an undemocratic flawed electoral system which saw him elected with less of the popular vote than his opponent Hillary Clinton gained.
    He was elected by 25% of the electorate. Hardly a populist uprising.
    He only won because the Democrats put forward a candidate with a toxic brand at least the equal of Trumps own.
    This was a story of the Non vote being the populist choice.
    Both candidates gained around 25% of the vote while nearly 50% chose not to vote at all.

    So the reality is there are no forces of populism there is only the status quo. Those who are served by the political establishment and those who never will be

  3. Populism is here to stay all the establishment main stream parties and politicians make the mistake of thinking that all the folks who support Populism are illiterate and do not understand what they are doing, another reason for folks supporting Populism is when the mainstream politicians and the establishment intelligentsia look down upon folk as being illiterate stupid and thick and are not worthy to make their own minds up. Ordinary folks here in the UK with Brexit and in the USA with Trump have spoken and the mainstream politicians and establishment do not like them upsetting the gravy train well the party is over and it would not surprise me if a new populist party or movement is born in Scotland in the near future, all of the mainstream Parties SNP, Labour Lib, Dem Tories, Greens are the establishment are a spent force. Can somebody tell me why Kezia Dugdale was electioneering in the USA election and why Nicola Sturgeon was interfering in the newspapers as to who should be a president of another country namely USA. If there is another IndyRef2 and President Trump starts to get involved will Nicola Sturgeon like that I don’t think so, so the moral is that politicians of Scotland should get a grip in Scotland and not interfere in other counties business.

    1. They did interfere. Both Obama and Clinton ( H) spoke against Scottish independence.

  4. The “populism” of the SNP, and more importantly the YES movement, is one of inclusion and acceptance of “others” unlike the xenophobic platforms of Brexit and Trump. An Independent Scotland will be based on social democratic principles.

    An independent Scotland will be free of the WMD’s of the USA/UK on Scottish land.

    The “crash” dates way before 2008 but you are too young to remember, but Labour in office in Scotland did very little to ameliorate the fallout.

    Hillary Clinton, the real Hillary Clinton, should never be a role model for women young or old. Like Lady MacBeth she will be doing lots of hand scrubbing. Or she may not be bothered.

    Placing the SNP alongside isolationist Brexiteers and neo- republican Trumpism is not very politically perceptive on your part, but I suppose it will do for another SNPBAD “credible alternative”.

  5. I can see a logic in drawing comparisons between the rise of the SNP, Brexit and Trump but did you deliberately forget to mention that Labour were in Government while the underlying causes of the problems you discuss took hold?

    If anyone felt their voice was being ignored or left behind in the UK then Labour must have to hold their hands up as part of the problem.

    I’ll be the first to say Labour lifted many pensioners and children out of poverty, brought in the minimum wage and helped regenerate places like Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield.

    But Tony Blair and Gordon Brown embraced globalisation, accepted privatisation and didn’t repeal many, if any, of the anti-union laws and bringing the markets into public services.

    If you don’t accept Labour share at least part of the blame, then you are going to end up sounding like one of the metropolitan commentators looking down on everyone with a superiority complex that is partly to blame.

    1. “I’ll be the first to say Labour lifted many pensioners and children out of poverty, brought in the minimum wage and helped regenerate places like Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield.”

      Except they didn’t! The wealth gap grew along with the cost of living while the standard of living fell under the so called level of the new “minimum wage” Labour introduced. Labour didn’t bring in a minimum wage they brought in a wage that was minimum. Just like their Devolution.

      They did nothing but increase poverty and entrench themselves within the established right wing order of privilege and patronage.

      Don’t give credit where it isn’t due and hasn’t been earned.

  6. This is a very, very shallow, and “populist” analysis of recent events.
    The situation in Scotland is entirely different to the misogyny, racism and scapegoating that the Trump victory represents. Nor was the candidacy of Clinton a very smart move by the Democrats. She carried a lot of her own, and her husbands baggage into the contest, and that should have led to a “clean skin” candidate ( preferably a woman) up against Trump, who was eminently beatable.
    Nor is Brexit an apt comparison. Scotland voted two to one to “remain”. We have not had the petty racism and ethnic attacks on anything like the scale suffered down south. And while we have “Scottish” versions of the worst gutter newspapers, they are reflections of, and are driven by the putrid southern tabloid-style “journalism”, largely under the control of non-UK ownership. Funny how the foreign controlled, mainstream English press are the most rabid right wing nationalist reads anywhere in Europe.

    The most “populist” movement in Scotland’s political history is surely the Scottish Labour Party, who have used sloganizing ( mostly against the Tories) as a substitute for policy, and played the “Scotland” card against Westminster all my life. And in all the 60 years they had total political hegemony in Scotland, they did little to modernise our social and industrial infrastructure, and build a strong economy for the electorate and future generations.

    It should also be pointed out, that the desire for “local” elected power predates the SNP’s success at elections by at least a century.
    Keir Hardie wanted Scotland to have Dominion Status (same as Canada and Australia etc ) at the end of the 19th century.
    The Liberal Party ( before they split) wanted Home Rule for Scotland.
    The Scottish Labour Party at the start of the 20th century wanted Home Rule.
    The Tory Party under Ted Heath promised a “Scottish Assembly” to the cheers of his Scottish Party.
    The Scottish Covenant for Home Rule, in 1950 attracted over two million adult signatures. It was totally ignored by Churchill.
    The Scottish Labour Party rediscovered its desire for “Home Rule” in the late1970’s, although the Party split and the power devolved was derisory.
    The Lib Dems claimed they believed in Federalism ( although there is scant evidence they have ever made any move toward it, when they held power).
    Over the period of the 20th century, Scotland lost much of its traditional industry, we had huge outward migration leading to a stagnant population, and we had an oil boom pass us by because London was, as usual, desperate for revenue ( worth reading the comments by Dennis Healey in this regard).

    And then we had the “new” devolved, Scottish Parliament, ran by Labour/Lib Dumbs, which had little power to grow our economy, or solve the deep problems that exist in Scotland.

    It only THEN that the SNP vote started to rise, and THEY are now the “mainstream” Party in Scotland.
    Scottish Labour are a fringe Party, STILL under the control of London—see Trident.
    At the next local/Scottish/UK election Scottish Labour are due to slip further behind the Scottish Tories, a disparate bunch of chancers,with few policies, less answers, but a media savvy Leader.
    What is Scottish Labour to do? I would advocate a Federal UK solution, did so during the referendum ( I now think independence is best), but it might be too late for that.

    Who would believe you ? Gie few, and the rest are a’ deid.

  7. It’s not blind popularism that drives Yes voters – it’s consistently getting UK governments that they didn’t vote for which directly leads to governments making decision after decision that is bad for Scotland. Westminister supporters have gloated and enjoyed the suffering of the oil industry because of the fall in prices and the government haven’t attempted a positive contribution to help the industry. Consider how they’ve reversed promises of investment in the renewables industry which should be a massive growth industry in Scotland.

    Obviously there’s also the EURef result too. Once more Scotland’s will is ignored.

    What folk want is a government that has to respond to issues that affect Scotland. It’s not surprising that offering that makes them popular and opponents of it unpopular.

  8. This article is a perfect illustration of why Labour came 3rd in Scot parliament elections in May. Catherine demonstrates the ignorance of Labour. So angry at losing rather than re-evaluate their belief of divine right to rule Scotland, instead of addressing the failures of Labour and the Union in Scotland she conflates civic Scottish independence arguments with the racist, ethnic campaigns of leave and Trump. It is that similar mindset by Democrats which lost Clinton the election.

  9. In essence, you have no place to go because newlabour bought into the neoliberal paradigm. What’s happening now is that the whole thing is coming apart and the political elite of Westminster/ Whitehall, whose function has been to protect finance in the square mile, have been seen to have no answers. That is the underlying cause of Brexit. In Scotland, fortunately, we have another option. That option is self governance in a reformed Europe. Lsbour are an irrelevance.

  10. I thought Hillary would win I went to bed with Hillary got up with Donald nightmare Hillary was the establishment Donald the guy with the plan to build a wall American jobs first that worked for millions his coments on women were vile the sad thing is women still voted for him and appeared to accept his comments as I write ch 4 news is running film of anti trump demonstrations all over the usa Hillary won the vote Bernie saunders has said if Donald tries to implement his promise to send millions of Mexicans including American born children back to mexico and build the wall he will become the worst thorn in his side we have to realize trump cottoned on to something and we better realize it brexit is a disaster for us a referendum result has to be hrespected and I voted remain that result I did see coming it was always going to be about immigration people did not stop to think they were saying brittish jobs for brittish people nobody stopped to think about the benefits the next day the welsh fm was on tv pleading with the uk government to meet and maintain the eu grant money they fear they are about to lose and wales voted leave Scotland voted remain and the Scottish snp government is using it as an excuse to threaten another independence referendum all as a result of a referendum called by a pm trying to hold the tory party together and fend of ukip the referendum result will be with us for years

        1. Trying to read his comment in the manner he has written it, is difficult. If he wants to be taken seriously, then he should write in the appropriate manner!

          After reading some of your comments, you should try some manners yourself!

          1. Dave,

            You don’t know someone’s personal circumstances; they may have problems with literacy or haven’t had as good an education as most.

            You made no comment regarding the actual points raised by the poster. You just made a snide jibe about their writing style.

  11. Im seeing an increasing number of blogs and opinion pieces raging about how the SNP are nothing like Trump and Ukip (despite the constant banging of the same anti stablishment, anti media, blame the other, difficult questions/simple answers drums).

    Have to say, they are right to be concerned.
    Its going to become increasingly obvious that the SNP were just ahead of the curve when it comes to cheap populism.

    1. Labour’s constant rejection of the importance of identity in politics has led them to the problems they are currently in however.

      At the end of the day humans are emotional, they aren’t robots designed to understand and predict the future outcomes of complex economics, which even economists are pretty hopeless at.

      No point playing the morally superior card over nationalism, it might convince undergrad sociology students but it just doesn’t take enough of the voters with you.

      Hence why the campaign to stay in the EU lost, they focused too much on the economy and not enough on emphasising the importance of immigration to our economy.

      If Labout don’t come up with a pretty good answer to this by 2020, then UKIP will do to them in the North of England, as the SNP did to Labour in Scotland.

      And that really will be catastrophic for the country.

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