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Campaigning in populism, governing in the right of centre… October 30, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Andy Beckett has an useful overview of contemporary right populism. And one key point that needs to be stated time and again:

Having claimed to represent the people against the elite, populism also loses some of its credibility and vitality when populist premiers create their own versions of the establishment. The always-centralising, often complacent governments led by Trump and Boris Johnson look ever less like insurgencies and more like circles of cronies. They’ve made populism feel less novel and iconoclastic by pursuing traditional rightwing policies, such as outsourcing state functions to corporations and cutting taxes for the rich.

Pick example after example of right populists and it is remarkable how they conform to the nostrums of the right when in government. Of course the clue is in the name some may say, but the scattergun approach of populists, particularly in the way they pitch themselves as being different to previously existing formations and sections of the right, does point up a contradiction in their approach.

Perhaps this reality may bring home to those who place their trust in such quarters that such populisms of the right are – quite literally – business as usual with little or no deviation in that respect from previous approaches. Indeed the key difference could be said to be rhetoric, even in government. But that, as Beckett notes, only takes one so far.

Having been in government and in some instances failed abysmally in areas as basic as health and security of citizens then the gap between rhetoric and reality is quite clear. Which is not to say that right populism’s moment is over. Perhaps Trump will win another term, the course of events in the UK has yet to be determined and there are others near and far.

But as Beckett notes, populism has, in a sense, entered its own middle-age. And that must make for some differences ahead.


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