How to tackle Trump populism?
02 February, 2017 — By John Gulliver
Polly Toynbee speaking at Tuesday’s debate with Keir Starmer MP, Stephen Bush and Caroline Flint MP
TRUMPISM is in the air in this country, columnist Polly Toynbee warned at a Labour Party debate about how to stop the surge in “right-wing populism”.
The Guardian newspaper columnist was on a panel with MP Caroline Flint, political analyst Stephen Bush and Holborn and St Pancras MP Keir Starmer, in St Luke’s Church, Kentish Town, on Thursday.
Pride in patriotism, securing more jobs for British workers and fighting small-mindedness with facts and honesty were among suggestions put forward.
Ms Toynbee, who lives in Chalk Farm, said: “That spirit of [right-wing] populism: we just want what we want, never mind the facts, never mind what works, never mind the practicalities. It is a bit of Trumpism. It is in the air, and it is very dangerous. The only real weapons in the armoury are straightforward honesty, sincerity, and telling the truth as we see it… Patriotism is something the left should embrace. We need to be saying: this is our country, we love it. All the best things this country has done have come from the left, the centre left. Creating the NHS, the welfare state – all of the great liberal reforms. Shying away from that kind of talk is a big mistake. It is there for Labour to take.”
On the Brexit negotiations, Ms Toynbee said that if amendments, put forward earlier that day by Mr Starmer were passed by the government then “you could begin to see a way that signing up for triggering Article 50 is fine”.
She added that Labour should oppose the government on Brexit if it refused to accept the “very reasonable terms” put forward by MP Starmer, who “has done brilliantly” in his role as shadow Brexit secretary.
MP Starmer, who was chairing the meeting, said: “We are living in a very divided world. To give you a sense of that, I was in Parliament this morning, I was in Euston. Holborn and St Pancras voted 75 per cent to remain in the EU. Took a train to Stoke. I stepped off the train into a city that voted 70 per cent to leave. The only question I got about Brexit was ‘why don’t you just get on with it?’”