Understanding Paranoid Populism: how to misuse a theory and misunderstand history

At the weekend a very strange article appeared in The Mail on Sunday from one of the UK’s rising stars of political science, Professor Matthew Goodwin of the University of Kent.

One of his central claims – that 57% now backed Brexit – was shot down in flames and removed. Prof. Goodwin, somewhat unconvincingly, claimed it had been inserted by a sub-editor at the Mail. But by then leading Brexiteers like Steven Baker MP were already citing it as a “fact”.

But I want to focus on the opening of his article because it exposes a deeply worrying tendency to distort facts to suit an argument.

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The Tyranny of Innovation?

‘Innovation’ is cool. In the airport bookshop business section it’s probably about equal with ‘leadership’ as the hot topic (with AI coming up fast on the outside).

I mean, who can be against innovation, right? It’s brought us smart phones, Twitter, Instagram, Google, Netflix and take-away meals in the supermarket. What’s not to like?COBB

In my own main field of expertise – Government institutions and public policy, or what used to be called ‘public administration’ – innovation is now also ‘king’.

You can’t move for tripping over learned academic articles or gushing Government papers about the wonders of innovation in public administration and how it is going to solve the problem of ‘doing more with less’ (again).

At the risk of being accused of conservatism, let’s stop and think about this “innovation = good” fashion? Continue reading

How my first job shaped my life …..Monkeys, Mondism and LD50

I left school at 16 because my Mum, by then a single parent, simply could not afford for me to stay on to do A-levels. I needed to go out to work and earn a living.

It was 1969, and back then in the UK you could choose more or less what you wanted to do if you had any qualifications. I had 5 O-levels, which was enough for most jobs. You really only needed more if you wanted to do A-levels and go on to University. That wasn’t then an option for me. Or even a vague idea.

So I went to work for ICI Pharmaceuticals Ltd in Alderley Edge, Cheshire. I moved from my council house in the industrial working-class town of Barrow-in-Furness to the one of the most wealthy, leafy, areas of Britain. It was a shock.

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Change UK and the Brexit Party – collective versus authoritarian leadership?

by Colin Talbot

Change UK, the TIGgers, the Indepenent Group, or whatever they are called this week seem to be having problems.

Rachel Johnson, who is top of the new Party’s list for the southwest of England in the EU Elections, in a rather candid moment said “they want to focus group everything and they have a leadership team of about 11 people”. Change UK only have 11 MPs.

To be fair Ms Johnson is not the only one to criticise the apparent indecision and muddle in the way the new Party has launched itself. The general verdict from the political commentariat, even those sympathetic to the new project, is that it has been a bit of a shambles. The question is why? Continue reading

Is Farage’s New ‘Brexit’ Party Fascist?

A lot of people, including me, have been pointing out that Nigel Farage’s new “Brexit Party” has some very strange members.

 

Claire Fox, a former leading light of the Revolutionary Communist Party, and two other RCP graduates, have been put on the Brexit Party slates for the EU Parliament elections. (for more on this see John Rogan’s excellent exposes here).

The Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist Leninist) has apparently endorsed his new Party (although I’m not sure if they really exist anymore?).

This all seems slightly odd, and most of us who remember the far-left from the 1970s and 80s (because in my case I was part of it) have concentrated on exposing their extremist positions.

Most obvious of which was the RCPs and Claire Fox’s effective endorsement of the Warrington bombing by Irish Republicans in March 1993 that killed two children. Continue reading

Questions about EU Elections from Spain (El Confidencial)

I did an interview (online) with a journalist for El Confidencial in Spain. The article appears here.

Here’s the exchange in English for those (like me) who don’t read Spanish).

1) What are the chances for a pro UE party in UK at the moment?

With both the main Parties – Labour and Conservative – committed to implementing Brexit, although on slightly different terms, there is a big political space for ‘Remain’. Both the main Parties have also moved away from the centre of politics, which makes the space even bigger.

BUT – there is already a well established ‘centrist’ national Party – the Lib Dems. And well established nationalist Parties in Scotland (SNP) and Wales (PC) who are also pro-Remain. Continue reading

Petition for an Inquiry into the Conduct of the 2016 EU Referendum. The Government’s Response and a Reply

A few weeks ago I set up a Petition to call for an Inquiry into the conduct of the 2016 EU Referendum. At last view it had gathered 37,985 signatures. You can see the Government’s response at the same location.

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/250178

Subsequently Andrew Kemp has written a great letter to the Chair of the Petitions Committee (and all Committee members) demolishing the Government’s reply. Andrew has allowed me to publish it in full here: Continue reading