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Worldwide Week at Harvard | Contemporary Europe Study Group

A Conversation with Douglas Alexander – Are We Destined to a Decade of Populism?


October 24, 2018
2:00pm - 3:30pm
Goldman Room, Adolphus Busch Hall
October 24, 2018
2:00pm - 3:30pm
Goldman Room, Adolphus Busch Hall

"The forces that have catalysed the rise of populism are: economic anger, political alienation, and cultural anxiety. Both in the UK and the US there have been consistent majorities for a number of years believing the country is heading in the wrong direction. I would contend that the vote for Brexit and election of Trump demonstrated a desire for change, and a conscious rejection of the status quo - propelled by that sense of discontent.

Think of the winning Trump slogan: “Make America Great Again” or the Brexit slogan “Take Back Control”. The most important words here are: “Again” and “Back” - the populists offer is not to take society forwards, but to take society backwards. In weaponising nostalgia, their goal is not so much transformation, as restoration.

Time and time again in the years since 2008 we have seen candidates and parties, both on the left and on the right, prevail electorally by running against the political system and politics as usual - portraying themselves as principled, authentic, outsiders up against unprincipled, inauthentic insiders."

About

Douglas Alexander offers a depth of experience and understanding of the changing political landscapes in Europe and the United States. In this presentation, he will share his thoughts on the growth of populism, the rise of Trump, the impact of Brexit and democratic politics. With a unique perspective on the global economy, Alexander will discuss key issues impacting business and our world today and present actionable ideas for solutions.

The Right Honorable Douglas Alexander is a British Labour Party politician, who served in the Cabinet of the United Kingdom under Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Alexander held numerous senior U.K. Ministerial positions (2001-10), including as Minister for Europe, Secretary of State for International Development and the U.K.'s Governor of the World Bank. He subsequently served in Labour leader Ed Miliband's Shadow Cabinet. He was a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1997 to 2015, representing Scottish constituencies. In November 2015, Douglas was appointed senior advisor to singer-songwriter Bono. In this capacity, he has been advising Bono on how best to secure investment to tackle global poverty, particularly in Africa. Alexander also serves as a senior advisor to EY, Pinsent Masons, and the Rise Fund, a new global impact fund.

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