We want to consider the causes of the decline of the political centre ground in many western liberal democratic nations. Is it, as some have said, due to a strong reassertion of national self-interest because of the alienation of those who have lost out in globalisation? Is it because of the resurgence of illiberalism when confronted by greater numbers of refugees and migrants.
Previously western liberal democratic nations represented a pinnacle of human development to a number of pre-eminent figures. ‘To thinkers like America’s Francis Fukuyama, this was the time when it became evident that political freedom, underpinned by economic freedom, marked the ultimate stage in human society’s development: the “end of history”, at least in a moral sense. (Economist Jan 14th 2010)
However, are the West’s ‘chicken’s coming home to roost’ after decades of dominance and enjoyment of the benefits of prosperity? The collapse of the central political ground may show the decay of liberal democracies over the last 15 years. Brexit, for example, has been viewed as an expression of dissatisfaction of those who felt they had lost from the dilution of national sovereignty, immigration and greater competition within the EU and its international trading agreements. Donald Trump’s message to American blue collar workers that a Trump Presidency would bring back jobs that have moved overseas has some similarity in that it appeals to those who have lost out in globalisation.
During UK Parliament Week, as a consequence of Brexit, right or wrong, we can consider a future of greater significance for Westminster politics. Whether that will be a polarised and fractured political discourse or will the political centre ground reorient itself within the new context remains to be seen. Can the political centre ground of liberal democracies around the world reassert themselves again based on international conventions, the rule of law and with a supportive appreciation of the role of the United Nations and its programmes?
The panel for this discussion event will include:
Humphrey Hawksley: Journalist and Author
Joyce Onstad: International Development Professional and Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the Liberal Democrats
Matteo Bergamini: Founder and CEO Shout Out UK – Youth Oriented News
Robin Marsh: Secretary General, Universal Peace Federation – UK
The event is kindly hosted by Mr Virendra Sharma MP, Patron of the Universal Peace Foundation.