Professor Eatwell at Dinner in Eastbourne

Published on February 24, 2019

European Movement member Paula Welch wrote the following account of a recent dinner Eastbourne European Movement held.

Professor Roger Eatwell, University of Bath was the speaker at our January dinner held at the Hydro Hotel and attended by over 70 members and their guests. His talk centred on his latest book about national populism, a movement that in the early years of the 21st Century is increasingly challenging mainstream politics in the West.

He explained that national populism is not simply a passing protest but reflects views deeply held by many in the electorate who feel they have been neglected even held in contempt by distant mainstream elites. He and co-author Prof Matthew Goodwin had decided to write the book amid two moments that had shocked the West and few pundits saw coming: when Donald Trump was elected President and when British voters stunned the world by voting for Brexit.

The book tries to understand why so many people are angry and why they vote for radical parties and changes and it asks the questions; who is supporting these movements, what deeper currents are pushing them forward and what might be coming next. In looking at examples of various national populist movements he said there was no common format; some movements had a youth following others an older vote, some leaders were in power others not, but most leaders had strong tendencies to portray themselves as normal working people and make sweeping statements about ordinary people not being listened to or being taken seriously. He discussed the factors that give rise to populism and categorised them as distrust of mainstream politics, destruction of national and local communities, depravation and economic tension and dealignment where people no longer identify with one particular party but tend to float between them.

His fascinating talk gave us all a much better understanding of populism and the circumstances that influence its rise in the US and the West. The speaker at our next dinner on 13 March 2019 will be Dale Rodmell, Deputy, CEO National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations.

If you would like to come to our March event or just learn more about the Eastbourne European Movement, then please call our Chair, Paula Welch on 07510 851722 or visit

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