Just months after the UK’s Brexit vote and the recent victory of Donald Trump in the US presidential election, European leaders are warning about a far-right surge across the continent. Their fears are not without merit. Polls are pointing to a new sweeping wave of nationalism across Europe. Some analysts blame the failed policies of certain governments for the rising insecurity across Europe which in turn has caused hardships for people. In this episode of The Debate, Press TV has talked to Ian Williams, a senior analyst with Foreign Policy in Focus from New York, and Robert Oulds, the director of Bruges Group from London, to discuss the rise of radical nationalism in Europe and the threats it can pose to the whole world.
Ian Williams maintains that the political labels of left and right no longer apply to the current circumstances. He said people should not be labeled just because they are in favor of domestic control of economy, labor, and capital formation.
“I'm not quite sure the old labels really work anymore when we say far-right,” Williams said. “If you think, in Britain, UKIP and the Brexit party campaign on a program of diverting money from the European Union to the British National Health Service. We know they're lying through their teeth. Because they wanted to dismantle the British National Health Service.”
“In the US," he continued, "you had Donald Trump campaigning against the plutocrats and Goldman Sachs, against a so-called left-winger who was in bed with Goldman Sachs, but actually supported gay and minority rights which made her [Hillary Clinton] left and him right. It’s very difficult to work out these labels.”
Nevertheless, if people support increased welfare payments or dislike immigrants, that does not make them left or right, the analyst argued, insisting that the political parlance needs to be reformed.
Williams further reiterated that since 30 years ago, both left and right sides of the politics in the US and the UK have united in asserting that the problem with poor people is not poverty, but the high number of poor people who don’t work.
"So, they've been blaming the victims and the victims are now revolting," Williams noted.
Meanwhile, Robert Oulds, the other panelist on the show, refused to accept the common understanding that Britain is moving towards right-wing parties, claiming that the empowerment of Jeremy Corbyn, the far-left leader of the Labour Party, is indeed a move towards the left.
He also noted that in his view, the current tendency towards extremist parties in Europe is just an effort by the ordinary people to make their voices heard by the governments which have ignored them for many years.
The referendum was simply about Britain taking control of its own affairs and leaving what is in reality a European Union that works for those who have access to money and corridors of power, according to the analyst.
“So, retaking control of their own democracy is not a move to the right. In fact, the reverse has happened ... It's about being a democratic self-governing country. It's as simple as that. That's not actually a move to the right,” Oulds underlined.
“If you take away people's democracy through the European Union, people will have no choice but to go to either the far left or far right …. So in terms of European politics, people are going to extremes because it's the only way they're making their voices heard because democracy means nothing in Europe at the moment,” he concluded.