Bookshop Barnie: Matthew Goodwin on National Populism

Saturday 13 October, 16:0017:15, Free StageFestival Attractions


In Populism: A Very Short Introduction, author Cas Mudde argues that populism derives from the competition between ‘the pure people’ against ‘the corrupt elite’. A true populist leader (according to the BBC) claims to represent the ‘will of the people’ in opposition to the current system. Author Lionel Shriver argues that some people lazily use the word ‘populist’ as a ‘polite code for racist, xenophobic, anti-semitic and anti-Muslim’.

In this session, Matthew Goodwin, author of National Populism: The Revolt Against Liberal Democracy, makes a compelling case for serious, respectful engagement with the supporters and the ideas of national populism – not least because it is a tide that won’t be stemmed anytime soon.

Goodwin contends that an analysis of the conditions of populism ‘leads us to a point that many find uncomfortable – that at least some of the grievances on which national populism thrives are legitimate’. He describes that the ‘loss of a voice’ in a political or economic system – marginalised people operating in a system that seems to encompass a lack of democratic accountability – are enlivened to challenge institutions that operate above the nation state.

So is populism good or bad? What causes it, and why has it become so unpopular to be populist? Are populist movements merely ‘morbid symptoms’ of a dying political order or the first signs of a democratic renewal?

Matthew Goodwin is in conversation with Austin Williams