A Lost Tribe: Britain’s Young Eurosceptics
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A Lost Tribe: Britain’s Young Eurosceptics
2 October @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
One of the dominant narratives which has emerged since the June 2016 UK vote on EU membership as been the “young versus old” divide – where the country’s pro-Leave older generation is pitted against its pro-Remain younger generation. Moving away from this “intergenerational divide” Brexit narrative, HJS research fellow Dr Rakib Ehsan’s new report “A Lost Tribe: Britain’s Young Eurosceptics”, investigated intragenerational differences between Britain’s young pro-Leave and their pro-Remain peers: with key points of difference between their perspectives on cultural diversity, prioritisation of national policy issues such as immigration, education and the environment, and their level of trust in educationalists.
The Henry Jackson Society is delighted to invite you to this event where Dr Rakib Ehsan and Phillip Blond will discuss the main findings of his newest report ‘A Lost Tribe: Britain’s Young Eurosceptics’.
Dr. Rakib Ehsan is a Research Fellow who sits in both the Centre on Social & Political Risk (CSPR) and Centre on Radicalisation & Terrorism (CRT). He holds a BA Politics & International Relations (First-Class Honours), MSc Democracy, Politics & Governance (Pass with Distinction), and a PhD in Political Science, all from Royal Holloway, University of London. His previous publications include a co-authored paper for Parliamentary Affairs titled “Resources, Values, Identity: Young Cosmopolitans and the Referendum on British Membership of the European Union”.
Phillip Blond is a Director of Respublica – an independent and non-partisan think-tank. He is internationally recognised political thinker and social and economic commentator. He bridges the gap between politics and practice, offering strategic consultation and policy formation to governments, businesses and organisations across the world. He founded ResPublica in 2009 and is an academic, journalist and author. Prior to entering politics and public policy, he was a senior lecturer in theology and philosophy, teaching at the Universities of Exeter and Cumbria. He is the author of Red Tory (Faber and Faber 2010), which sought to redefine the centre ground of British politics around the ideas of civil association, mutual ownership and shared enterprise.
James Rogers is a Director of the ‘Global Britain’ Programme at the Henry Jackson Society, of which he is a founding member. Formerly, he held a number of positions at the Baltic Defence College in Estonia and has worked at the European Union Institute for Security Studies in Paris.
On the 2nd of October the Henry Jackson Society hosted the event “A Lost Tribe: Britain’s Young Eurosceptics”, chaired by James Rogers, a Director of the ‘Global Britain’ Programme at the Henry Jackson Society. Phillip Blond, the founder and director of the ResPublica think tank and the author of Red Tory (Faber and Faber 2010), was hosted for a discussion on the often neglected younger generation of Brexiteers and the socio-cultural factors that influenced the outcome of the Brexit vote. Mr. Blond was joined by Dr. Rakib Ehsan, a Research Fellow in both the Centre on Social & Political Risk and the Centre on Radicalisation & Terrorism at the Henry Jackson Society.
Mr. Rogers first introduced Dr. Rakib, who began with a presentation of his new report “A Lost Tribe: Britain’s Young Eurosceptics”. He noted that much of the existing research focuses on young voters who are pro-Remain due to Britain’s younger generation’s proclivity towards voting for remaining in the EU. Dr. Ehsan added that the dominant political narrative presents the debate on Brexit as intergenerational, as well as tend to focus on the economistic rather than the socio-cultural factors. In contrast to that, Dr. Ehsan’s research focused on what drove the pro-leave sentiment, especially amongst Britain’s younger generation.
After a brief mention of the methodology and data used in the research, Dr. Ehsan outlined the descriptive statistics and the ways in which they differ between pro-leave and pro-remain voters aged 18-30 in May, 2016, when the data was collected. The descriptive statistics discussed during the presentation were gender, educational attainment, social class, work and education status, policy priorities, perspective on cultural diversity, trust in politicians, distrust of social actors and primary identities. Dr. Ehsan emphasised the universal distrust of politicians felt across the pro-leave/pro-remain divide, as well as the importance of the differences in attitude towards cultural diversity and distrust of social actors such as teachers, academics and trade union leaders. The research concluded that members of the younger generation more likely to vote for Brexit were less trusting of academics and academia, more security-oriented and tended to be more socio-culturally conservative. Dr. Ehsan concluded his presentation by noting that the remarkably low levels of trust in politicians among both the pro-leave and pro-remain young people are an important issue that should be addressed in the future.
Mr. Rogers then introduced Phillip Blond, who began with expressing interest in Dr. Ehsan’s research, including on why the EU has become the proxy for societal dissatisfaction and anger. Mr. Blond argued that the pro-leave vote was an expression of support for the feeling of marginalisation caused by liberalism and individualism in their extreme forms. He continued with a brief critique of liberalism and its neglect of the importance of honour-based societal structures and community-focused societies that are greater than the sum of their parts. Mr. Blond emphasised the importance of status for both society and people as individuals, and criticised current Western societies which he described as having a system of individually engineered status, as opposed to collective status which would not result in a zero-sum game where the losers are neglected and marginalised by society.
Mr. Blond believes that the EU is seen as an elite project and associated with politically correct elitism, which sneers and condescends to the wider population. Voting for Brexit, Mr. Blond said, was a way for people to stick it to the man, mobilise against the elite monopoly on status in society. He concluded with a point on nationalism as one of the causes for Brexit, saying that it is an attempt to gain group-based status for communities that have been denied status, and as such is at odds with liberalism as an individual-based form of status creation.
The event then closed with a Q&A session.
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