Populism in retreat?

A PWB Webinar

16 April 2021 – 14:00 BST/15:00 CEST

Isabel Carvalhais MEP, Portugal, S&D working group on extremism.
Dr Rohit K Dasgupta, University of Glasgow
Prof Conor Foley, Pontifícia Universidade Católica, Rio de Janeiro
Alison McGovern MP, for Wirral South, UK Labour

National Conservative and far right populism came into 2020 riding on the crest of a wave. Donald Trump looked likely to retain the Presidency of the United States. Brexit would happen after the comprehensive victory of the Conservatives, In Turkey, Brazil, India, Russia, Hungary and Poland ‘strongmen’ continued to rule unchallenged and in the European Union far right populists were the fourth largest parliamentary Group.

2021 saw the advance of populism stalled and, in some instances, rolled back, though the future remains a long hard road. Historically, removing parties of the populist and fascist right has proved difficult short of war, revolution, or economic collapse. In 2020 Covid-19 played a role of sorts in disrupting both the narrative of populists and the globalised system they railed against.

Are democrats learning how to fight the war on truth? What are the lessons of 2020? When the promised land of Brexit and closed borders fails to deliver where will the legacy of appeasing populism leave us? Is the democratic response and the decline of working class organisation leading us toward authoritarian conclusions and further appeasement of populism?

These and other questions were explored by our panel – watch their contributions below. They are, in order of appearance:

Alison McGovern MP, has represented the Merseyside constituency of Wirral South for UK Labour since 2010. She has since served in a number of shadow portfolios including within the Labour Treasury team, on Children and Families and on International Development. A PPS to former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, Alison is a founding member of the Advisory Board of Politics Without Borders.

Prof Conor Foley, currently Associate Professor at Pontifícia Universidade Católica, Rio de Janeiro and a Senior Evaluator at Center for Civilians in Conflict. Conor worked on legal reform, human rights and protection issues in over twenty conflict, post-conflict or fragile zones including in: Afghanistan, Angola, Azerbaijan, Albania, Armenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iraq, Kosovo, Liberia, South Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Timor Leste, and Uganda with a variety of UN human rights and humanitarian agencies. He gained his Ph.D. in international law from the University of Essex and is a Visiting Fellow at its Human Rights Centre. Conor has authored a series of books including The Thin Blue Line: how humanitarianism went to war and, as editor, In Spite of You: Bolsonaro and the New Brazilian Resistance.

Dr Rohit K Dasgupta, is Senior Lecturer in Cultural Industries at University of Glasgow and a Visiting Fellow at Loughborough University. Rohit is a UK Labour Councillor & Commissioner for Social Integration & Equalities in the London Borough of Newham. His work cuts across several disciplines with particular interests in South Asia, communication and social change, cultural industries, Indian cinema, digital culture, queer identities and politics. Rohit has been a UK Labour candidate at Westminster and European parliamentary elections.

Isabel Carvalhais MEP,
A member of the Socialist and Democrat working group on extremism, Isabel serves on the European Parliament’s Agriculture & Rural Development, Fisheries and Regional Development Committees, Delegations for relations with the USA, Canada and the EU-ACP Joint Parliamentary Assembly. Before being elected from Portugal she was Professor of Political Science and International Relations at University of Minho. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology (University of Warwick, UK) and has researched on migration and migrant communities.

All participants at PWB events speak in a personal capacity. Their views are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of any of their organisations nor of Politics Without Borders.