Professor Emeritus Roger Eatwell and Professor Matt Goodwin (PhD Modern Languages 2007) joined nearly 50 guests at the University’s offices in Pall Mall on 17 October to discuss their latest co-authored book, National Populism: The Revolt Against Liberal Democracy. Many guests were also Roger's students during his time teaching in the Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies at the University.

What we are trying to argue in our book, is that underlying the obvious politics there’s a whole series of deep trends, and these are very threatening to mainstream politics.

Roger and Matt have scheduled several talks and appearances in the run up to their book’s release on 25 October 2018, with this University of Bath event being their first. Pre-release copies were available for purchase exclusively on the night.

Lively discussions

The evening was a great success, with lively discussions of some very current and controversial topics in politics from all around the globe – including Brexit and Donald Trump. The discussion was followed by some great questions and debate from the audience.

“The idea for example that leavers (for Brexit) didn’t know what they were voting for or the idea that Trump voters didn’t know what they were voting for is actually nonsense.” – Professor Matt Goodwin

Though Roger and Matt expressed little fondness for President Trump, they raised some interesting points about the current POTUS. Roger challenged: "I think there is a term that academics knock about sometimes which is authenticity. You might find it hard to believe but I think that a lot of Trump supporters think that he is authentic.”

He argued that people fail to differentiate Trump’s personality from his policies, and any good he may do for the United States will be countered by the strong dislike that some non-supporters have towards the President personally.

Starting the Brexit conversation

Matt spoke about Brexit, and felt that the UK and its political leaders did not spend enough time debating and discussing why a lot of Leave voters felt so disillusioned and why they wanted to change the social, political and economic settlement. “I think we will probably look back 10 years from now and think this was something of a wasted opportunity to have that conversation.”

We hope that everyone who came along felt that the evening was indeed an opportunity to get the conversation started.

As Gavin Maggs, the University’s Director of Development & Alumni Relations, summarised: “It’s been enlightening and entertaining in equal measure.”

This is certainly a book which has generated and will continue to generate much interest among academics and a wider audience. Professors Eatwell and Goodwin seek to unravel the complexities of the rise in prominence of populist parties and politicians as well as explaining the Brexit vote. The book is a timely addition to the literature in the field.

Dr Nicholas Startin, Head of Department, Politics, Languages & International Studies

We would like to thank everyone who came along to support Roger and Matt on the launch of their new book. We look forward to seeing you at a future event.

Buy a copy of National Populism: The Revolt Against Liberal Democracy