The rise of the populist right will continue due to the top-down approach of the elites - Bill Carmichael

There have been two interesting developments in politics this week which I believe are deeply connected. First of all we have seen a remarkable swing to populist and right of centre parties in last weekend’s elections for the European Parliament.

In France there was a surge in favour of the National Rally (RN) party that so humiliated President Emmanuel Macron that he immediately called a snap election for later this month.

RN is on course for gaining 32 per cent of the vote - twice that of the President’s Renaissance Party.

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In Germany there was a similar picture with strong support for the populist AfD party, and right of centre parties also performed strongly in Italy, Poland, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands.

French President Emmanuel Macron during the UK national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day. PIC: Jane Barlow/PA WireFrench President Emmanuel Macron during the UK national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day. PIC: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
French President Emmanuel Macron during the UK national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day. PIC: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Admittedly, these elections were for the EU’s plastic parliament in Brussels, which holds little real power, and so there will be no significant change. Real power within the EU lies with the unelected executive known as the European Commission, and that is implacably opposed to any reform that would make the EU more accountable to its citizens.

I tend to avoid using the term “far right”, so loved by media organisations such as the BBC. Those words, along with “bigot” and “fascist” have been so overused in recent years as to become virtually meaningless.

Positions that would have been considered left wing ten years ago are now labelled “fascist”. If you believe only women can give birth, or that rapists should not be housed in women’s prisons, you are apparently “far right”.

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The second development this week was work carried out by the elections expert, Sir John Curtice, which showed a worrying collapse in trust and confidence in the UK’s politics and elections system by the British public.

Sir John’s National Centre for Social Research found that 45 per cent of voters would “almost never” trust the government to put country before party, and 58 per cent would “almost never” trust politicians to tell the truth when in a tight corner.

What connects these two developments? I believe that the answer is that both are caused by a type of top-down politics where, instead of listening to the views of ordinary citizens and acting accordingly, our political elites impose political change from above.

Take for example the issue of immigration. If there was one key message to take away from the Brexit vote in 2016, or Donald Trump’s victory in the US Presidential election in the same year, or in Marine Le Pen’s strong showing in the French presidential election in 2022, is that people wanted tighter controls over immigration.

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Immigration benefits the rich and big business by providing an endless supply of cheap labour, but it hits the poor by suppressing wages and increasing competition for resources, such as health care, housing and education.

But instead of listening to these concerns Western elites intensified their policy of importing millions of people from the developing world, and forcing dramatic demographic and social changes that nobody voted for.

In the UK, for example, net immigration more than doubled from around 329,000 in 2015 to almost 700,000 today. In the EU in 2022 5.1 million migrants arrived - an increase of 117 per cent on the 2021 figure.

In the US illegal crossings quadrupled from around 500,000 a year under President Trump, to two million a year under President Joe Biden. The number of illegal migrants living in the US has rocketed from 3.7 million in 2021 to 6.2 million in 2023.

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Is it any wonder that the populist right is surging, and Trump could be on for victory come November?

Incidentally, don’t believe for a minute that a Labour government will do anything to improve matters. Sir Keir Starmer and his Labour colleagues have voted against every single effort to curb immigration.

Another example of a top-down policy is the imposition of green taxes and burdensome environmental regulations in pursuit of net zero carbon targets. This led to a mass revolt by farmers across the EU, and partly explains the strong showing of populist parties in last weekend’s elections.

Finally, there’s the top-down imposition of trans ideology, which has seen NHS bosses trying to eradicate the word “woman” because it is apparently offensive to some people, and we are told we have to accept the unscientific nonsense that a man can become a woman on his say so.

As long as politicians in the West refuse to acknowledge new global realities, and continue to refuse to listen to what voters are clearly saying, the rise of the populist right will continue.

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