Friday 22 September 2017

Rising public anger is not just down to economics

A flawed consensus is emerging about those who are left behind by economic change

Take leave: Boris Johnson, left, leading the Vote Leave campaign, speaking at an event in Bristol ahead of the Brexit referendum, flanked by former Defence Secretary Liam Fox Photo: Ben Birchall/PA
Take leave: Boris Johnson, left, leading the Vote Leave campaign, speaking at an event in Bristol ahead of the Brexit referendum, flanked by former Defence Secretary Liam Fox Photo: Ben Birchall/PA
Dan O'Brien

Dan O'Brien

Last Friday, US President Barack Obama spoke of those who have been "left behind" by economic change generally, and globalisation in particular. He is one of many. Across the western world and across the spectrum of political opinion, a new consensus is emerging.

The swelling of the ranks of those left behind is, the emerging consensus holds, the reason for rising popular anger. The manifestation of this is the lashing out at elites, the establishment and experts. Donald Trump, Brexit and the rise of populist parties across Europe are symptoms of the same phenomenon.

Anger and disillusionment are plain to see in election results and opinion polls across the western world. But there are many reason to question the 'Left Behind' thesis.

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