European Values, Identity, and Politics in 2019

European Values, Identity, and Politics in 2019



welcome to our session on European values identity and politics I'm Robert guest on the foreign editor of The Economist I'm moderating this session and we have a wonderful lineup here we have Douglas Alexander here who among his many accomplishments is doing a radio 4 series about belonging in in Europe iron here's the ally who is currently working on a book about women and migration in Europe we have Gemma Mortensen who runs the more in common foundation which was set up after the murder of Joe Cox MP to try to seek common ground and Douglas Murray who contrary to what I think one of the slides said earlier is in fact the author of the strange death of Europe so we're going to go straight into questions so it's quite in straight into talking and I'm going to start with Douglas Alexander what do you mean by belonging well I spent some two decades involved in British politics and the defining questions of British public life at a time where questions of income and expenditure did you want a larger state and higher taxes did you want a smaller state and lower taxes and yet the dominating questions of our public life today are questions of belonging do we feel British or do we feel Europe the brexit debate do we feel Scottish or British is it possible to feel Scottish British and European in the United States can you be a Mexican or a Muslim or can you have to be an American frustr so in that sense I asked myself what is it that explains that shift from a politics rooted in ideology to a politics rooted in identity and I traveled around Britain and I talked to a very wide range of people and essentially what I heard were two points firstly that for most people a sense of belonging a sense of home is intimately associated a sense of security and on the other hand belonging relies on the telling and the shilling of shared stories and actually as I try and make sense of why we've seen this shift in the tectonic plates of politics across the west I think you have to look back to the financial crisis essentially it trashed the public's confidence in the powerful so undermined the conventional storytellers of the time at the same time as a heightened people's economic insecurity and into that vacuum have stepped new storytellers and new stories to try and make sense of the world as it exists today and I think that helps explain some of the changes that we're seeing in contemporary European politics okay um storytelling I an I mean you're you bring a sort of personal perspective to this you were born in Somalia one of the most violent countries in the world you came to Europe had to leave Europe because of death threats after you stopped being a Muslim and said so now live in America and you're thinking about the the effect that that migration have on the way life is lived for for women in Europe what does what does your story tell us about that what what are you finding I think what I'd like to add to what Douglass says is if you think in terms of belonging you know there's the ideology and identity I'm trying to choose my words very very carefully here when I came to Europe and I learned the language and I found a job I had this immediate sense of economic belonging but I didn't belong in terms of storytelling I didn't belong in terms of religion culture and so on over time of course I adapted I came to understand I lived in Holland so I came to understand what it was that made the Dutch tick and and I adopted some of those very basic let me put it this way the idea that maybe we don't have the same origins but we may have the same destiny I liked what I found and I wanted to belong to it but it was a conscious choice and the conflict that I see in Europe today is the host nations and the elites of the host nations when they discuss immigration they're very comfortable talking about bit about economic belonging let's have these people come in and you know let them get a job let them learn the language but then when it comes to all the other intangible parts of belonging which I think are more profound we put a taboo on that and as we were sitting preparing for this talk I was saying to you thankfully I don't suffer from I'm completely indifferent to accusations of being xenophobic racist Islamic you can diagnose me with all of that stuff but I tuned that out and I really would like us to have a conversation about the cultural elements of belonging the intangibles the stories the intangibles so I mean I recall from your Dutch experience you you worked as an interpreter for a while interpreting from Somali to Dutch and dealt with some of the misunderstandings I suppose or gulfs in understanding one story this brings to mind was the time when and you'll correct me if I'm wrong there was a smiley boy in a Dutch school who was getting into fights in the playground and beating up you know another child and the teachers called him in called in the parents and said you know someone was rude to your son and he beat the crap out of them and what the teachers meant was this is terrible behavior and it must change and the parents were incredibly proud of him he said your excellent someone insulted him he beat them up brilliant and so the the job of interpretation meant that you actually had to say rather more then yes the teachers were saying I had to say another more than just the words and I had at some point to ask for permission may I please culturally interpret not just the words from Somali to Dutch and Dutch to Somali and explain to them the context that if you are living in Somalia when I was a little girl my mother would send me but if I was hit by a child she would send me back and say you've got to hit twice as hard so I learned to bite I learned to scratch I would braid my hair and put thorns in them anticipating that girls would come and fight with me and when they tried to pull my hair they would have their hands in thorns I don't want to say this is our culture I want to say it's our context it's the context of survival and after the civil war started you have now the civil war in Somalia started in 1991 so you have children who were born in 1991 will know nothing other than their way of survival is to engage in violence now when you get masses and masses of people from Somalia from Iraq from Afghanistan places where violence is the norm number one number two where women are commoditized and so on and they come to Europe Britain France Germany United States etc I think it is almost criminal to then put a taboo on that reality and what's been going wrong with Europe for the last three four decades is to say let's just talk about the material let's just talk about the economic integration but let's completely ignore all the cultural aspect the context out of which people come and the context into which they come and if we don't talk about that I think we're destroying Europe and we're holding a false promise to those who hope to come to Europe in search of a better life so if we're talking about you know how the the people who come here from very different cultures and the people who already live here are going to get on best where where does the responsibility lie how much of it is on the newcomers how much of it is on the people who are already here would you like that answer for me um I was actually gonna ask Jim uh that I think but if you want to disagree with her as soon as she's answer that would be fine I'm absolutely happy to agree or disagree but yeah let's listen as long as we don't have any taboos no I mean I would I would agree with a lot of what you said and to the to the question of who bears the responsibility I think we need to realize that we're entering into a time in our societies particularly in Western democracies I think there's an existential threat the liberal democracies in which we live and if we want to preserve them and preserve the many things that are that we have enjoyed our parents have enjoyed then we need to work hard we can't take it for granted and that means everybody living in our societies either incumbent or newcomer needs to commit to increasing the extent of the social group blue digging deeper into understanding who each of us are and what it takes to hold together and I think there is also the necessity of realizing that there are extremes at both sides and what much of the more in common research shows that we've done of late is that there's a majority actually in each of the countries that we've studied which is France Germany United States in Italy that you have a majority which we're calling the exhaustive majority who doesn't feel represented in the mainstream political discourse certainly it's certainly not on social media that there's a tribal ization of the political extremes and actually people in the middle have what may foul may feel like contradictory feelings about what's going on in the world on the one hand there is a feeling of a great degree of care compassion human response to what's happening to people who are less well-off less fortunate well privileged with those are the poorer people in society with that immigrants or refugees for example but there's also deep fears and concerns what's my place in this future that you tell me about what's my place in this picture of a evering globalizing world where the rich get richer and we get forgotten what's my place when I see that other people in my own perception are given preference to me my family when it comes to the things that I need that I have been promised and have been the things that I could count on in previous generations and at our peril we ignore that I think and it is not that is not a reactionary thing to consider and look at I think it is an absolute necessity if we're going to get through what will be the next few decades of rupture the likes of which we have never ever seen before on on almost every indicator and the the way in which the more uncommon research has been done is it says well it really does ask a deep question of what's happening and it says that any of the X planet Earth at are normally given economics or immigration or in group output tribes you know none of these on their own are sufficient to explain what's going on and they take leave off an American academic imagine there's quite a few Americans in the audience called Jonathan heights I don't know how many of you are familiar with moral foundation theory but it's really interesting because it says that everybody draws on five pillars of morality in their life so on the left so people typically on the left or on two things care you see somebody who's employed you respond to that emotionally fairness so are people treated equally or is there just desserts and then typically those that are not accessed by people on there on the left that are also accessed by people on the right you also have the moral properties of care and fairness are loyalty I think that it is a prerequisite for a good society that people my mine my family my community my my group are looked after Authority it is necessary for my sense of security and stability that there are institutions that protect me and keep me safe and keep this world one that I can manage and purity there are some things which are just beyond the pale it's a kind of Retd in evolutionary idea of disgust and I think what we have at the moment is we have competing stories to Douglass's point of the world which either are only told in terms of care and fairness or only told in terms of loyalty and authority and purity disgust and what we need to find is the story that covers all of those can you give me an example of that so I think so what we typically describe is as well I think there's a the world populism I think has become loose and I would prefer to narrow it down to what we described is nativist which is the deliberate use of using racial law fractures around faith to trigger in-group out-group kind of tribal identities I think what we're seeing in the in a lot of Western democracies at the moment is an increased sense of threat which in social psychology terms makes you retreat into a much more smaller group of who you know your your people are your group are and that's very dangerous because you know that doesn't reflect the modern world all of the challenges that we face require us to come together in some form of a way to combat climate change or inequality anything that you care about so I think what what nativists have been very good at is saying the elites have don't care about you they're not loyal to you they have completely screwed you over which it has to be said in many cases is true they can say that look at these look at these systems that are meant to protect you the immigration system what it who is in control the the politicians not only do they not care about you but they are completely incapable through the institutions of exist of securing your interests and then the thing which we see a lot in just a pre-election kind of periods is a deliberate spreading of stories particularly through social media which really trigger that moral foundation of purity so for example stories that we saw in Germany about kids not being able to eat pork sausages or diseases being spread by migrants coming over over the borders etc now and I'm not saying that it is I think one of the problems at the moment is that it is there is not enough space to have hard and honest conversations about how people are feeling on what are the cultural consequences of societies in which there are people from many cultures I think that's something that this country in particular has been ill equipped at frankly but we also have to be very much on our guard against a very tiny minority of each of the populations in Western democracies deliberately exploiting what I think is quite a sophisticated read of hidden moral architecture to trigger us into much more daring narrow definition of ourselves than may otherwise be the case I mean one of the principal findings of of your most recent study was that there's a very large middle ground of people who are quite reasonable quite open to compromise and very quiet yeah they're not making much noise but presumably because they exist there is a possibility that you know they could vote in that you know in in in in various countries you could find moderate parties winning I want to move it over to bring in Douglas Murray who's been sitting very patiently there we have Paris's burning Sweden can't form a government Denmark is thinking of putting unwanted immigrants on small island are we witnessing the strange death of Europe if so why is it dying and how can it be prevented from dying um well I say there are two principal reasons one is that Europe is changing very significantly in its demographic it's not obvious to me at all that you massively change the population and the population remains of the same ilk as the people who previously lived there we have this thing in London all the time that you know if anything bad happens here people say well London is displayed Blitz spirit there's no Blitz vous it doesn't come in the water and actually I think whenever there has been something recent years they don't show blitz spirit it wasn't blitz Bert on Oxford Street this time last year when there was a rumor that there was a terrorist attack going on started because two guys started rowing on a tube station at Oxford the tube stopped and there was a stampede all the way down Oxford Street people flinging themselves in stores barricading themselves in changing rooms that wasn't blitz spirit was panic because people don't just imbibe things because they live in a new place and we've been incredibly reckless in our presumption to the contrary so the first thing is populations are changing very significantly that's the case all across Western Europe and the second thing is Europe's inability to or lack of desire to believe in itself or to know what it's for and there are various answers that are going around on this at the moment the political left by and large has an answer to this vacuum that consists of embedding a new metaphysics in Europe roughly along the lines of minority rights gay marriage women's rights a racial minority rights anti racism all good things all good things but not I would suggest a very good basis for foundational principles of a society these are good products of liberal democracy but then very very bad foundations the political right by contrast has a big problem the left everywhere always wants the same thing equality equity justice the say and so on but most people on political rival Colet say conservatives want to preserve what they have and I mean I spend I'm a different European country most weeks still and one of the things you can't help noticing everywhere is that everyone is preserving something different Austrians are preserving something different from Germans who are preserving something very different from the French who are preserving something very different from people here and all across Europe as we know I mean it's unbelievably diverse and richly diverse continent already so when you say we need to conserve it's not that easy because it shifts as I say from country to country and I would just say that there's one thing in particular which is a very very bad sign already I mean there's quite a lot about signs but let me give you one we found it incredibly difficult to just establish the most basic norms so do we yeah let me give an example I mean metaphor I'm sort of fond of on this is if I'm if I moved to another country let's say I moved to France and obviously I said okay I'm gonna drive in France and I want to bring my car from Britain okay maybe just attach to his car sort of eccentric British guy and I just prefer the wheel on this side now the moment that I try not just to bring my car with its steering wheel on the right-hand side but also insists on continuing to drive the wrong wrong way down the road is the point when the state needs to say absolutely not you do not get to carve out your own Road policy and the oddity of European integration strategies in recent years has been that there was a period where people were allowed to carve out their own strategies their own ways of living and so we had this confusion that is evolved from as Angela Merkel said in the Potsdam speech in 2010 we didn't expect people to stay then we did realize they were staying and we decided they could pursue whatever life broadly speaking they wanted to pursue and have their own culture and then in the last 15 or so years of years we said actually no we want you to become like us we want you to integrate these are three totally different things and I blame no migrant for being confused about that because we were confused the the analogy you use of driving on the wrong side of the road I mean nobody does that the penalty for doing that is death it's whereas you know if the question is is all sort of cultural norms and how you behave you know I mean there are some things that we think is fine if you wish to cook food that smells different that's most people think that's okay some people don't think it's okay if you wish to conduct honor killings in the United Kingdom in awful loud to Douglas you wanted to I offered a rather more confident perspective we're gathered here in London the essence of London historically has not been ethnically but pluralism it was the designated capital of what was first a Celtic nation and the choice of capital was decided by Romans who came from Italy you know you look at the great cathedrals of England and they were overseen by Norman bishops look at richard the lionheart outside parliament just across the bridge the very embodiment of english fighting spirit he spoke French and he secured his release when Jewish citizens of the country at the time put up the money to be able to allow him to be released as a hostage so there is a long heritage not just in Britain but in Europe of pluralism as much as purity being our hallmark but then look at more modern history it was what seventy years ago that just owned the river from here at Tilbury Docks and the wind rush landed bringing the first significant wave of afro-caribbean migration after the Second World War now there were tough times and the decades that followed remember it was 50 years ago when Enoch Powell declared his infamous Rivers of Blood speech at that time there was a profound pessimism as to the capacity of people in the United Kingdom to live together in harmony and yet I believe overwhelmingly that group that jemma spoke of do now see citizens as being of equal Worth and wanting to live in a genuinely inclusive society so as I try and make sense of what's happened in Europe of course we need to understand the cultural anxiety that people feel about the world changing round about them but we also need to recognize the economic drivers of the anger and indignation that people feel at the moment if people feel left out and left behind by an economy that isn't working for them then whatever integration strategy you have is not itself going to be adequate to give people a fundamental sense that we're all in this together and actually if we have the levels of inequality that we're observing at the moment it's very difficult to feel that people genuinely have a shared stake and a shared interest in our common life and in that sense I I'm more optimistic after say than the accounts that we've heard that we can find ways of transcend difference and live in harmony together I think that it has to do now with sitting here and saying I'm optimistic or I am pessimistic whatever our attitude is optimism or pessimism and I think all four of us here maybe all five of us here are in fact optimistic but the optimism will only be justified if we actually really start talking about what the issues are yes in the past and I don't think when Douglas was talking Douglas Marie I didn't hear him say anything against pessimism against you know ethnic purity I don't think he's arguing for ethnic purity I think what Douglas is saying we are all saying is in order to maintain this heterogeneous and pluralistic society those of us who either excluded on economic grounds or who are from elsewhere have crossed borders and come here we have to initiate them into what is here and what is the best about this place and to do that we have to have an honest discussion about what it is that you need to discard yes if you drive your car in the opposite direction yeah it's a death sentence but what if you stand in a mosque and you call for the death of all infidels and apostates what if you say I'm going to establish a law that is going to completely segregate women introduce polygamy in most European countries with considerable populations for Muslim majority countries these are some of the trends that we are seeing we're seeing an assault on free speech an assault on free press an assault on the rule of law and what is it that we should do and what is it that we can do to impress upon these newcomers that we do things differently as did the teacher she when she talked to the parent he opened with that scene where I was translating and the Dutch teacher told the Somali parents as gently as she possibly could if you want your child ahead get ahead in Holland you've got to convince him not to hit other children aggression doesn't pay here if you imbibe in your if you tell your child you know go and knock them out he's going to put in something he put in some kind of special school and he's not going to get ahead he's going to drop out so how can we have these honest compassionate conversations without virtue signalling okay well you know very big I got a call on you to answer but as soon as he's finished I'm gonna take questions from the audience so if you can think of what you're going to ask and put your hand up after does that be great definitely very quickly I think it's very important always to avoid the sort of competition to see who can be more optimistic there's no innate reason why being optimistic it's a good thing it's like we could you can win if you're really optimistic as opposed somebody who's moderately optimistic but let me get on to the fact so you mentioned quite rightly Douglas the the changes that have always happened and this is what I call the Ship of Theseus issue as you'll know the old issue of the Ship of Theseus that it changes over time you have to put things into it to keep it over time you've put so many things to change it that it's not still the ship that Theseus set out on but it is still the Ship of Theseus now as a society what you want is you you allow things to move you allow things to add on but you want to have the recognisable vessel that you originally had normally unless you want to totally destroy it and start from scratch or something like that in which case say so but the specific example you give the Norman evasion was until the 20th century the most significant act that had happened in these islands and the Norman evasion is thought to have altered the population of the UK by around four to five percent okay by the 2011 census it was published in 2012 23 out of 33 London boroughs had people who identified on the census as white British as a minority so we moved from this thing of yes people have always shifted they've always changed to gosh in a generation people in London who identifies white British censuses term not mine are a minority well if you say things have always changed it was always like that look at the Normans look at the Romans what are you moaning about fantastic way to further disenfranchise the public say it's always been like this it hasn't the speed and the nature of this immigration is very different who in the audience would like to ask a question you can raise your hand I will recognize you and if you can ask a question not make a speech that would be great yes gentlemen over there address it to anyone all just just to the panel raise this issue of what I haven't seen any research that says what is the rate at which society can accommodate change so you I'm a great believer in kind of liberalism progressivism but can you do too much to create these these tensions and I haven't seen in all the reading I've done I haven't seen research that says actually this is the rate at which a society can change and evolve without tripping itself out well then what could you do to improve that rate of change well I mean one thing you could do you could look at Australia and Canada which would be the two places which have the highest proportion of foreign-born people in their population and they're two of the nicest most peaceful prosperous places in the world but Douglas you wanted to say a point of agreement between the two Douglass's on the panel I don't think there's a virtue in optimism equally there's no great virtue in pessimism why am i moderately optimistic when I try and answer your question because actually those London boroughs that Douglas describes have some of the most integrated attitudes towards immigration one of the great paradoxes that we've seen is those areas with lower levels of immigration very hoff very often have higher levels of antipathy towards inward migration you know what and those communities let me finish the sentence and then you can answer and and in that sense in many of those cities where you see high levels of inward migration people create habits of shared citizenship they discover that their sense of being white British isn't undermined by living next to somebody who prays differently or eat stuff foods although incidentally the most popular British dish today is chicken tikka masala so in that sense of course there is an economic dimension to the fact that even though we've got great inequality in London most people in London have a sense as part of the great city that they are part of the future and the economy that is becoming and actually one of the great divergences that we've seen in Europe over recent years is not just the divergence between the educated and manual workers but also between booming cities and broken provincial towns and that's why again I'm not in any way undermining the importance of those tough and honest conversations and sharing those habits of cultural integration but I think it would be naive to wait the conversation in the direction of immigration to the exclusion of the structural changes in the economy which is causing for example the provincial towns of Britain to diverge sooo rapidly from the international city in which we're sitting today um Jamie you want to say something then Douglas I think that's an excellent question when I've asked myself a lot and I have two responses to it one is that I think the pace of change regardless of what society will compare is gonna outstrip it anyway so in some ways it's a redundant question therefore our ability is how do we mitigate it the other is a piece of work that we've drawn on a lot wit by this fascinating academic called currents dinner and she's developed something called the authoritarian dynamic what that shows is that in every population there's she estimates approximately 30% of people who have a latent tendency towards authoritarianism where that is triggered into actually being expressed in your behavior by a sense of threat and the pace of change so what we're seeing in today's world given its complexity in the rate at which things are changing is people who would not otherwise be activated responding to their external environment whether that's the economy or demographic it could be an very number of factors and feeling much more feeling a much greater disposition towards authoritarianism that could be feeling like you know you need a a very strong ruler that it's going to break the rules looking for political parties that break apart the system etc so I do think it is a responsibility for us to ask the question what does it take not to heighten people's sense of threat but to do that in a way which is fair and just and does protect the diversity in the societies that we love and is part of us and that is going to be you know I think one of the staple pieces of public and political debate in the next 10 20 years it's incredibly important focus I agree very quickly to shoot down the point the other dog has made the the reason why the polls show that is dog-eat-dog world is not an alone I loathe all abbreviations on that we Australian audiences in the summer not to go with Doug oh the the reason why it's wrong is because of the the polling that shows this which is which politicians in particular much like citing suggests that the British people and indeed other publics across Europe who are not suitably in favour of mass immigration and and so on just haven't had enough of it the problem is the polls show something quite different which is that the areas which you're talking about in for instance London are going to be a self-selected group aren't they because a lot of people had the diversity didn't like it left so that's that's why in poll after poll yes if you live in a very diverse area the likelihood is that you are at least beige about it if not enthusiastic because the other people moved out and that's one of the causes of the bifurcation between London and the rest of the country that's replicated in every other country secondly very quickly there's there's a those of us who enjoy these sorts of liberal paradoxes that have thrown up by this but collect examples of where these the rubber hits the road here and let me give you one so it's meant to be the idea that migrants come into the society we inculcate a sort of sense of liberal values into them and we sort of agreed as I said at the outset what those liberal values might be now everywhere you can poll for instance attitudes in the nation about minority sexual rights gay marriage for instance there was a poll a couple of years ago I cite in my book support for gay marriage opposition to gay marriage you would have thought this would smoke out some homophobes in Wales or rural Yorkshire or Cornwall no nationally rural areas and everywhere else about 14% of the public were absolutely opposed on moral grounds to gay marriage well what was the result in lovely diverse London double that twice the number from the rest of the country were opposed to gay marriage in the UK why is it how could this be but we thought we were so diverse and liberal maybe these things all rub against each other in ways which we haven't yet even imagined just just to come in there because I think I I have to dispute this idea that the only reason why you would be beige as you put it towards people of difference is because all the people who dislike that have left so hold the whole field of social science of social concept theory proved beyond a doubt that if I have genuine interaction with somebody who is different from me in a certain way over time I come to know you better I realize what we have in common and my attitudes generally shift so in our research in Italy we found out that people who had property you know strong relationships or friendships acquaintances with people with Muslims were twice as likely to see that they shared values that they had heard things in common so I think we've got we've got to do both things we've got to recognize that you know London is this incredible anomaly within this country but we've also got to understand that as a society and this is not just in the UK this is in other European countries we are becoming separated from each other on every single access the type of work we do where we've been educated where we live whether that's urban or rural of our faith or race and this is not healthy for a society and there has to be a major major investment on every aspects of policy at reconnecting us as human beings and across those lines of difference and that's not something that a magical you know political one can get waved at that schooling it's about housing it's about really reimagining our societies in a way that Douglas talks to the necessity of storytelling and you know you say when you talk about the fundamental values we need to be much better at finding an articulating can we bring in another question from the audience please raise your hand if you would like to quiz one of the panelists on something yes can you wait for the microphone please thank you hi I'm from the United States where Trump first mentioned the wall it was just an absolute fantasy and everyone thought it was crazy and slowly none of the red Trump supporters are converting to blue and slowly the Blues are just kind of accepting we're gonna have another four years what advice what do you see that walls for America like from from what you've seen in Europe and what do you think that walls do to this social interaction that we're talking about because the United States is all about do we build a wall or don't build a wall that's what the conversations about yeah I own perhaps you live in California I live in California which is solidly blue I will say just listening to my European friends here I think that one thing if you want to challenge Donald Trump and you want to change things you have to hear you've got to put your ear to what it is that he had and he seems to here which is this enormous chasm there's a huge gap between what's perceived as Washington Washington elites maybe Silicon Valley elites and how real people live and I think Europe has been getting that wrong I wanted to point out to a moment during the 2016 elections when Hillary Clinton someone asked her who are these people who are voting for Trump and then she said oh well there's a basket oh there's a basket of homophobics Islamophobic xenophobe she started to diagnose what could have been her voters with all sorts of phobias and I think that as as the Democrats or the elites as they're perceived to be continue to hold this attitude not only Trump but people who could potentially be worse than Trump could win I didn't want to answer the study its gentlemen asked you know I haven't seen a study all the studies I have seen in the last 15 years in Europe and in the United States was that is that I feel were dishonest and doctored and we need to look back into that data and that is why we're getting things wrong because it's all about confirmation bias do we really really want to understand what's going on in Europe what's going on in the United States of America we have to reflect on the plusses and minuses of globalization I'm beneficiary of globalization I wanted to continue I think human beings around the block can get together but you have to look at the people who are bearing the burden of that globalization it's usually the poorest people in rich countries who are hurt the most by immigration and unless we recognize that they are going to have to listen to the siren songs of populist s' what does it do to women look I think it is completely and utterly shameful that in 1945 we said never again and look at the Jewish minorities all over Europe who are living where there are significant minorities from Muslim majority countries we have to change our language the way we talk about I'm listening to the people sitting on either side of me and I'm thinking goodness me you haven't learned anything we've got to be really explicit what we learned from George ole was speak in words that are just for you know four letters five letters long explicit straightforward yes the world is getting closer together people are coming from countries with completely different cultures religions priorities we have encounters and some of those encounters are good and they have been good and the people in this room have benefited but we cannot turn away from the people who didn't I mean there are quite a lot of examples or of people who have spoken plainly and who have figured out I've been dismissed as being racist xenophobic you name it all the decent people people I think of as decent serious you know solid members of the establishment absolutely terrified of taking on these identity issues they just don't want to do it and I don't blame them and when I talk about those people I'm talking about immigrants I'm talking some of the famous names in Germany in Sweden in the Netherlands they're from Pakistan they're from Iran they're from Samar they're not going to get into that because they think whoa I don't want to be threatened by the Islamists I don't want to be dismissed as a turncoat or what was it they call me a bounty Uncle Tom I've even been called a Nazi so it's just to pick up an ions point I was in Germany again the other day and I was being in a conference and I had hammered a balsamic I unknown yeah ex-muslim in Germany I knew he was coming and seen for a bit because it was as if the Chancellor would come in the amount of security he needs the the amazing woman who's the Imam of the first progressive liberal female run mosque in Germany came in to join me a bit later and again I thought maybe it's Chancellor Merkel because the amount of security that accompanies her and it's not because of AFD supporters I mean goodness knows maybe it could be down the road but it's not because of that is because the German government decided to do something absolutely insane in 2015 and I just went very quickly wanted to say something about this when I was travelling around all the places not only countries people were fleeing from in that time but the places they were coming in I realized that we had this goes back to one of the points he made earlier the fundamental problem about understanding how to think about this we were thinking about it in terms of let me say mercy the virtue of mercy to anyone in the world who wanted to make it to Europe and mercy is a very fine emotion but justice also matters and Aristotle says somewhere that when you have two things that strong working in Contra stinking to each other it may be that you're misunderstanding one of the virtues and we have been misunderstanding the virtue of Justice which includes justice for people here not just people justice for everyone around the world a very quick other point the the whole business of walls relies like the optimism pessimism thing on something being built in to the discussion before you even started it and that is something along the lines of Europe in recent decades which we all know the virtues off but it goes something like build bridges not walls and we've been running on these exhausted 1968 motifs for too long because it's it's just not a decision between bridges and walls if you if you walk across Westminster Bridge you'll discover that Westminster Bridge is covered in walls it's covered in walls to stop people driving trucks into the population so it's not an either/or thing and we've got to stop the political debate pretending that it is I'm gonna come to drugs we're gonna have time probably for one more question so if you can raise your hand and we get a microphone to you so you're ready for after Douglas has spoken is there a hand some working it's one that yeah do we get the microphone there but Douglas first let me try and answer the lady's question but just firstly let me return the compliment to Douglas the main reason people are leaving London is not because they don't like their neighbors it's because they can't afford a house and in that sense economics is driving significant change in London and in terms of walls we also need to understand what's the interaction of culture and of economics if Donald Trump was serious about building a wall to protect the jobs of middle America with the greater respect to iron he'd build a wall around Stanford or certainly build a wall between California and the rest of the country because that's where the robots are coming from and in that sense robots are gonna take far more jobs in Middle America than Mexicans or people from the southern border the reality is to why he is making such a deal more Douglas on that point if then robots are taken that's exactly what's happening then how is it how can he explain that he's going to bring in law skilled people from countries that have a surplus of low-skilled labor so how can you explain to the American in Ohio Wisconsin all of his middle country places that your jobs will be taken by robots and by Louis Cole that's not the question just let me finish that's not the question Donald Trump's trying to answer he's not he's not offering a better tomorrow he's actually offering a better yesterday what was the winning phrase of his campaign he just make America great again the key word is again because actually what he's saying is I will take you back in the case of most of those are hire workers to probably the mid-1980s when I really have work economically and culturally I'd like to take that last question and can you make it Swift yeah sure I'll be brief many of the countries in Western Europe are suffering from low road rates of growth low productivity growth stagnation and there's a shortage of skilled labor as well as even unskilled labor in in many of the marketplaces what's wrong with the analysis that says that migration with all of the obvious pitfalls and challenges is also the obvious solution to at least part of that problem okay we give one minute to Gemma and one minute to Doug David Brooks the famous American economist wrote a excellent con the other day which said it's not the economy stupid its relationships relationships relationships and I think there's something very dangerous about any side only looking at the economics of this it is true that there is going to be massive disruption from automation and it is also true that when the robots take jobs and even if we put a ban on all immigration which is never going to happen that people would still feel a massive feel of threat and endanger about the future now what the more in common research shows is that people are humanitarian they look out and they see people from other countries in their plight that their and they believe in the principle of asylum they believe that we have a responsibility to help across Europe but they are also asking fair and legitimate questions about how do we build societies and these times have changed where we can get the skilled labor that we need where we can make sure that we look after our arcade's everybody in the country no matter where they're from or what culture or or backgrounds that we can make sure that we get through these times of rupture and dislocation alone and together and I coming back to the point of optimism or pessimism I don't care about either what I care about is that we have to enable a new generation of leadership to come and say there is a possible way it is viable economically but it also speaks to where people are feeling where they do get that sense of belonging as Douglas says and we need to pay attention to that which is not currently in our lexicon of politics and economics frankly so that that's the challenge for us now one minute I'm entirely agree I'm I believe in asylum which is why I believe that you don't open the borders and then pretend that that was an orderly asylum policy after 2016 the Vice President of the European Commission France Timmons admitted that at least 60% 6% of arrivals in Europe from 2015 to 16 had quote no more right to be in Europe than anyone else in the rest of the world so these are very very bad policy decisions that have been made at a very high level and my own view is that the asylum component is going to suffer magnificently and tragically from precisely that equation of the two things that's been going on in recent years very quickly the gentleman asked about the there has been a motif I write about in one of the opening chapters of my book of various reasons that people give in retrospect for decisions that would have happened anyway and one of them is that the migrants can come and do these jobs and because we're aging for instance it always ignores the extraordinary fact that migrants get old as well and it's this sort of strange short-term justification for something that's going to happen anyway by the way there are countries in Europe like Sweden that added 2 to 3% to its population in 2015 to 16 the only thing that Sweden needs less the more unskilled labor is unskilled labor that doesn't speak Swedish it's cruel it's cruel to the people who can't come it's cruel to the people in Sweden and it's a magnificently awful way to set up a future for your society because we have consistent you know finish on this point we have consistently in Europe underestimated a number of people who want to come here and massively overestimated our ability to integrate them and between those two misunderstandings why all of the problems that we've been talking about today and many more than we could issue and address in years to come one could add to that that the Swedes had a policy of not letting the asylum seekers work for a very long time which was probably not brilliant for integration but well this is clearly this this debate could last for a very long time and we we're out of it so I'm going to ask you to join me in thanking our panelists Douglas Alexander ayaan Hirsi Ali Gemma Mortensen and Doug mark Douglas Murray

44 thoughts on “European Values, Identity, and Politics in 2019

  1. Funny thing, when Ayaan says that California is solidly blue (save San Diego) it's because the red has left the state in droves over the past 30 years .

  2. Chicken tika-masala is a British creation. It's base origins are Indian dish brought to the Britain by Bangladeshy chefs who altered the dish so much it is seen as inauthentic by Indians, ie savy chefs gave the British a new dish that was made to suit their tastes👌

  3. The moderator is not very impartial. He critiques Murray on two occasions, but allows all other comments to go unchallenged. For instance, when Murray makes his analogy of a migrant bringing not only their car but their road rules, Mr Guest responds ‘nobody does that, the penalty for doing that is death!’, that’s right, it’s an analogy you cretin! Also, Murray’s final comment about Sweden not needing anymore unskilled migrants, especially those that don’t speak Swedish, again Mr Guest has to have the final word, ‘the Swedes had a policy of not allowing migrants to work.’. Yes, well done for your impartial moderation Mr Guest! 🙄

  4. i mean, since modern english and american think they wishfull thinking version of European History written in napkins is the reality, i can t be very surprised by a panel like this about a theme they know barely anything about (or care)

  5. Ayaan hirsi Ali ,the pinnacle of assimilation a great woman ,who's story should be a household name.

    And I have to be honest through personal experience people who do not like diversity like that of London DO move OUT.

  6. Why must we accept the discomfort of this challenge of change when we dont want to? This is the point not being addressed.

  7. Merkel, thinking she was being a good European has actually harmed the EU immensely. Merkel and her minions are blind to the harm they have done to the ideology they follow. The rest will follow.

  8. Roses are red, violets are blue
    Douglas Alexander and Gemma Mortenson are the problem
    Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Douglas Murray are the solution

  9. Wow ….. this chat surprised me. I was expecting a Polarised Diatribe but found it reasoned and balanced…… Thank You.

  10. Douglas Alexander self identifies as optimistic and identifies Douglas Murray as pessimistic. From the above 52 minutes I would dare to identify Douglas Alexander as deluded and delusional and Douglas Murray as enlightened and enlightening.

  11. Jeez, that moderator (Robert Guest) really is an idiot. He repeatedly keeps calling Douglas Murray "Doug" but magically gets Douglas Alexander's name right… Guess he's just another classic moderator from The Economist!

  12. The first guy is from "centre for social cohesion". I thought that was Douglas's old outfit that became "Henry Jackson Inst".

  13. Contact theory isn't at all proven to the extend Gemma claims; https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057/s41290-017-0028-8. Conflict theory is just as likely

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