Across Europe and America, the last ten years has witnessed the steady retreat of social democratic politics in the face of right-wing populism and nationalism. From the Front Nationale in France to the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) in Great Britain to Donald Trump in the US, the politics of grievance and loss is seeing historically left-wing voters choose far more conservative parties. Fuelling this political realignment is a mix of mass immigration and the steady erosion of living standards in working-class communities. These were the forces leading Britain to vote to leave the European Union, and traditionally Democrat voters look to Donald Trump for answers. In the face of this change, social democratic parties are increasingly divided between their liberal and conservative wings as the impact of globalisation reshapes the political map.
As a British Member of Parliament for an historically Labour community which strongly voted ‘Leave’ in the EU Referendum, Tristram Hunt is well suited to explore these issues. He will argue that social democratic parties need to have a much clearer answer to the challenges of mass migration, the economic inequalities of globalisation, and a stronger sense of national identity and belonging. If not, the 100 year history of European social democracy could be in peril.