The Illiberalist’s Temptation of Democracy

EVENT TRANSCRIPT: The Illiberalist’s Temptation of Democracy

DATE: 6:30 pm-8:00 pm, 21st March 2019

VENUE: Committee Room 1, House of Lords

SPEAKER: François Zimeray, Pascal Bruckner, Vladislav Davidzon, James Rogers, Lord Richard Risby

EVENT CHAIR: Lord Richard Risby


Sophie Wiesenfeld: Good evening to everyone, thank you for coming tonight. Thank you to the Henry Jackson Society for welcoming us to this mythical venue, in that mythical moment just a few days before the Brexit or the non-Brexit, we will see. Thank you to Lord Risby and Sophie Wiesenfeld of the Hexagon Society: a Franco-British intellectual movement which aims to promote writers, intellectuals, artists from Paris to London through unique cultural content. The Hexagon Society tries to spread the values of intelligent democracy and responsible entertainment by impactful cultural content. It was born in March 2016 before the Brexit referendum, the Hexagon Society intends to renew the centuries old cultural bridge between the UK and Europe, marrying the spirit of freedom so British and the spirit of revolution, so French, as you can see with the Gilet Jaunes that will be part of the debate tonight. For this very special evening, a few days before Brexit, I am very honoured to receive a bit of the best of Europe tonight, from Kiev to London, which are the extremities of European territory.

So François Zimeray, so much to say. International lawyer, former human rights French ambassador, former ambassador to Denmark and MEP, Pascal Bruckner: one of the most renowned French intellectuals and philosopher Vladislav Davidzon: an American-Ukrainian intellectual, co-founder and editor in chief of the Odessa Review, and James Rogers: director of the Global Britain program at the Henry Jackson Society. Thank you very much for attending. Thank you Lord Risby.

Lord Risby: Thank you. Well, my name is Richard Risby and it’s my great honour and privilege to be chairing this event and I’m really massively looking forward to it, and I would again like to thank the Henry Jackson Society which does so much in our Parliament to attract the finest and best speakers from all over the world, such as this panel this evening, and of course to Sophie, who’s the [Speaks French, there’s no question about that, for organising this so beautifully and linking our two countries together and our different traditions.

I just thought I would make some opening comments if I may. This is a quite extraordinary time, for our French guests here this evening of course we are in a very febrile atmosphere in this building. It’s perfectly true we’ve been here since the 13th Century and we’ve seen a few things happen, but it’s a particularly difficult and problematic time for this country and our European neighbours, and of course the causes of Brexit in the first place, but if you look around the world and across the channel we’ve been seeing these violent demonstrations and a sense of disconnect amongst many people in France and in this country and in many other parts of Europe, and of course what people feel is, in different ways, that they are not included in the society in the way that of course should in theory be the case. What we have seen is a rise of populism, sometimes of a very attractive variety, we’ve seen indeed, migratory flows that have caused huge tensions in different societies in different ways. We’ve seen Mr. Trump, who is regarded by many in the United States and many in Europe as being a somewhat divisive figure, but that is of course the nature of American society in some ways. We’ve also seen some really repellent manifestations of Europe like the rise of anti-Semitism, which is so shocking for the history of Europe, and what we’ve also seen is that the European social and economic model has not provided the success for many in the continent of Europe, particularly amongst young people, where in many European countries, there is very high unemployment where their job opportunities are quite limited. All of this is adding to a considerable mix of difficulty not only for European governments but the governments of all democracies, and so what’s happening I think, is that the European social model, the liberal democratic model that we have been so used to since the Second World War is under considerable pressure.

We have four speakers, who I think are going to enlighten us, explain their point of view on all these particular subjects, and I’m just going to briefly and very inappropriately introduce them very shortly, because in fact they come with extraordinary CV’s and backgrounds which are remarkable. Our first speaker is going to be Pascal Bruckner, somebody who personifies the extraordinary intellectual tradition which I admire in France. He’s written extensively, he’s won many literary prizes, he’s part of what’s called the New Philosophers group and much of his work has been a critique of French society and culture, and of course he has spoken about multiculturalism and of course that actual debate and what he’s written about has spread into other countries. Our second speaker is somebody who’s been a friend of mine for a number of years: Vladislav Davidzon. This is a sort of Mr. International Man, because I bump into him in Paris and London, we both have an interest in Ukraine, and he of course is the co-founder and editor in chief of the Odessa Review in, of course, Ukraine. He has a considerable American interest. He has been involved in a whole number of programs, both in the United States and indeed in different parts of Europe. He’s reported widely from all parts of the continent of Europe and particularly Ukraine, which of course is a matter of such difficulty for us all. Our third speaker is going to be a really exceptional figure as well. Somebody who has been a human rights ambassador, ambassador to Denmark as well, he’s been in the European Parliament, somebody with huge experience of international legal challenges, and of course done an enormous amount of preparatory work for the European charter of fundamental rights, and of course in the area of human rights, arbitration and transnational crime, nobody is in a better position to comment on that. James Rogers is of course director of Global Britain from the Henry Jackson Society. His interest in the Henry Jackson Society came from our old alma mater which is Cambridge, and has been at the Baltic Defence College in Estonia and worked at the European Institute for Security Studies in Paris. So I think we’re going to have a treat this evening, now I welcome you again and I know that this is going to be something of a very memorable evening. Mr Bruckner may I ask you to commence?

Pascal Bruckner: Thank you Lord Risby and thank you for receiving us in this magnificent building. I came one time before, invited by Nigel Lawson for a conference about the environment a few years ago. I am just a common man and a French one so I am very honoured to be here tonight. I am sorry for my French accent but I see there are many French citizens in the audience so at least I know that they will understand. [Speaks French] So I will start very classically by the definition of democracy, which is made of two words: demos in Greek which means the people and kratain which means the power, and we are in a time of special crisis as we have the feeling that democracy is this regime that betrays both the people and that stresses the powerlessness of the power. So let me just start with the powerlessness, our regimes, especially in Europe, seem to be unable to cope with the main challenges of our continent, which are to control the streams of migrants, the giant multinationals, the speculators of our money, which are unable to eradicate Islamist terrorism, or to maintain the presence of peace and the defence of our borders.

All of these issues demand collective answers and for the citizens of Europe, Brussels seems to have failed in ensuring all of those issues, and traditionally democracies have two enemies: external and inner enemies, and this time, although we have a few enemies in Russia, China and maybe other foreign governments, the internal enemies seem much stronger than the external ones. Of course we are not in the situation of the thirties, when both the Nazi regime and the Stalinist regime had partisans in every country of Western and Eastern Europe, but still our nations seem to be slowly disintegrating themselves for a few reasons which I will try to stress.

If we start with the countries of Eastern Europe and if we try to understand their concerns, we should maybe go back to the fall of the wall in 1989, which meant two different things for the countries on the other side of the iron curtain. First it was a way to go back to the common house of Europe, for the Poles, for the Czechs, for the Hungarians, for the Romanians, but at the same way it was also a way for those nations to exist again as nations. We have to remember that a country like Poland nearly disappeared three times in its history, and that all those nations on the other side of the iron curtain have a deep feeling of national insecurity, and they were hoping that Europe would reinforce this feeling, but they feel disposed by Brussels as they feel dispossessed by Moscow. As one prime minister, I think it was of Romania or Bulgaria said: “Now you have to say yes to Brussels, yesterday you had to say yes to Moscow”, which of course is not exactly the conception of a democratic European Union that we have at least in France. So, if we fail to understand these feelings of national insecurity, we will fail to address the issues posed by those countries.

So, one of the problems of democracy in our regime is that it is by nature deceptive. It necessarily disappoints people and why? Because democracy is a regime that is both conservative and both subversive, and it is too subversive for the conservative and too conservative for the revolutionaries, so the conservative always stresses the fact that democracy has destroyed the traditional bonds of the people, that it gives a voice to the minorities, that it allows a small group of people to express their concerns, and for the revolutionary democracy is dangerous because it constantly delays the arrival of a revolutionary situation through those mediations which are called elections, representation, parliaments, and that explains why for example in France, recently one of the main parties, called La France Insoumise, led by Jean-Luc Me Mélenchon, they were hoping that the Yellow Vests would take over the Elysee, make a big fire of the palace and install the people of France as the head of our great country. Of course thank God this did not happen, but every Saturday we have a kind of rehearsal of the French Revolution of 1789 in a kind of comedy, which does not result in a real toppling of our president, but which explains why the French revolutionaries hate, they claim to be democratic but they hate democracy in the name of a kind of hyper-democratism, which means that every group should be able to impose its will, especially if it comes from the people, in the name of the people, even if it’s just a minority.

So as I said, the main enemy of democracy nowadays is not anymore an outside and totalitarian regime, we have of course autocratic regimes, but the main enemy of democracy nowadays is democracy itself, in its fundamental contradiction. And so, as I said, it’s deceptive because it never realises its idea, and it creates a gap between the hope it elicits and the reality it constructs. And so our democracy repeats slanders preferred by our enemies, according to them they are right to hate us in all sincerity, and from the imperfections of our own governments, we deduce the fundamental perversity, but we should on the contrary maintain the reverse. To publicly exhibit our faults as we do every day in England and every day in France, is to be conscious of our vices, whereas our real fault is to be ignorant of what ails us. We have towards our regimes what could be called extravagant expectations. We want so many things out of them, and such contradictory things, that the normal exercise of political life is a muddle we see now today in this country, and I really sometimes feel sorry for Theresa May and I think she must be exhausted and also, ok, I like her just because she’s under such pressure and I sometimes pray for her.

So this explains why now we don’t have any more outside enemies, this explains why disappointment is at the very core of our regimes. Democracy is disappointing. And there is also another reason which explains why our regimes are disappointing, it’s that we are not only citizens but we are also consumers and as consumers, we have this idea that problems could be and should be solved immediately, right now, ASAP. The impatience of the citizen is also the impatience of the consumer and as consumers we can obtain whatever we want, whenever we wish, in a few hours. Where there is a will, as they say in America, there is a way, and we think only that the laziness or the bad will of our governments prevents or determines the situation, and if you will take the demonstrations that take place now in every European city, every weekend about climate change, the idea behind those demonstrations is that we should stop the global warming: now, we should clean the planet right now and we should be independent right now, and there is no distance between what we want and what we have. We don’t consider the fact that maybe to change the climate overnight is to face problems that do not entirely depend on the goodwill of our government, that they are material obstacles which should be overcome, but no if the temperatures rise again, it is because London, Brussels, Paris, Copenhagen doesn’t do the right thing. Let’s do the right thing and suddenly the planet will change, and the temperature will go down. So citizenship and activism are being confused with a kind of childish whim, to have power on the world, instantly, and of course this explains why the situation is so complicated.

Of course in our modern attitude, we just forget how much we have hated democracy, at least on the continent, not here in this country which has practically invented it, but in France, in Germany, in Italy, in Spain we have hated democracy for centuries and even today democracy is admitted but under strong conditions, and of course as a European I’m really sorry about what happened in England those last years and I watched the process with friendly and concerned eyes, because I believe that in the centre of the Middle East, Africa, Asian countries, threatening Russia, democracy has to be powerfully armed in order not to be defeated by the forces of tyranny. Except in Europe I don’t see many democracies in the world, with the exception of India of course, South Africa and a few African countries. Why are democracies so important? Because they are the depositories of an infinitely perishable and fragile treasure: human rights and respect for principle, and so our democracies, united or divided, are responsible for the perpetuation of democracy itself.

I was making part of those idealist woo-woo after 1989, so that voluntary agreement to give up part of our national sovereignty meant progress in the construction of Europe, but obviously Europe has made huge mistakes which explain why it is today the sower of its own division and just I would conclude on that, one has been the main error of European construction after 1989, it’s a simple reason, Europe has constructed itself on the disinclination of the people which composed it, and we saw that as World War 2 had shown the inner evil inside the European culture, we had to get rid of European identity as it was rotten in its very heart, and what better illustration of that than the Euro money. Take the English Pound, take the Swiss Franc, take the French Franc as it used to be before, the Peseta, the Lira, the Deutschmark. They had figures, they had faces, they had people. They had flesh in the banknote, and look at the Euro now. The Euro only shows arches, bridges, squares, as if Europe was nothing but a big waiting room, waiting for every people of goodwill to step inside our political space and to settle there.

Lord Risby: Thank you. Well I think we’ve had a wonderful start to this discussion and thank you, it was incredibly comprehensive and what I thought was so interesting was the central point which was the fact that we don’t have external enemies like we used to, but we are creating our own internal dynamic of… My dear friend Vladimir.

Vladislav Davidzon: Thank you Lord Risby. A good friend and thank you for having us in the House of Lords, thank you Sophie my dear for organising this, for being a good friend, a good friend of Ukraine also. So I’m going to speak as an American and as an Eastern European so when I say ‘we’ or talk about someone who’s not ‘we’, it’s people, or a phenomenon outside of that thing.

So what is it exactly that beguiles the sceptics of liberalism? What ails liberal democracy? What is the source of the illiberal temptation? It’s clearly something strong but we’re not sure what it is. It could be any number of things and there are lots of explanations, right? You start breaking down the taxonomy and there are lots of traditional answers. There are also people of good will who say that “no, there’s actually no reason, it’s just the gilet Jaunes are just angry or they’re sated by consumerism or they’ve nothing to do on Saturdays so they’re going to run around, break stuff, you know. That’s the fake news theory, right? The distraction strategy, to direct attention of the populace away from something nefarious, whatever that nefarious thing might be, but, you know, if we get to the grand narratives, if one is a conservative or for the sake of taxonomy let’s say broadly speaking of the right, the problem is one of immigration or demographics is one explanation, or the decline of traditional forms of social life, or the collapse of the family and the traditional institutions. Adulation of martial spirit, malignant tinkering with gender roles, decline of religion, mass secularization, and you’ve heard all these things before, the collapse of social trust, debasement of patriotism, the belief of a nation, however that nation might be constructed whether it’s an ethnic nation or a civic nation. If one has ones sympathies with the left, the answer to those problems will be with capitalism, globalization, wage deflation, wage stagnation, rampant inequality, resurgent forms of blood and soil racism, xenophobia, some people say it’s the digitisation of the economy, some people say it’s the loss of old vocations and ways of being in the world, along with the respect those roles offered men and women, especially young men and women.

Whenever people tell me immigrants or robots are going to be the ones to steal all our jobs you can basically tell which camp they fall into. Some combination or some combinations of all those explanations are probably satisfying to some people, and there are combinations which are bipartisan, as an American would say. Automation and offshoring of industrial jobs, the loss of an imagined coherent community, the loss of national sovereignty or at least the imagined loss of national sovereignty which might be just as bad, the existential boredom of modern man, again something that left wing existentialists and right wing existentialists can agree on, perceived or not perceived real democratic deficits, dissolution of the community through the financialisation of the economy which, actually is what I think happened to America and you need not be a conservative or a liberal to think that way. Lastly but perhaps most importantly we have culpability of a feckless, or unaccountable, or nepotistic, or incompetent, or corrupt elite who have mismanaged the nation. Mismanaged it while also enriching themselves and creating a self-perpetuating mechanism to hand their dynastic wealth and power over to heirs, which are not always the kind of people that we want to hand over our dynastic power to. No one likes those people, even when we are those people or we hang out with those people.

The democratic gains that swept the world after the collapse of the Soviet Union have certainly been reversed, and lots of countries that have been classed as liberal democracies have sadly relapsed. The new liberalism is indeed on the march and the old liberal internationalist regime that has been buttressed by American and European power, Atlanticism, it’s in retreat, but the problem is that the new liberals are all different in character and ideology, they’re all different, and not all of them are undemocratic or totally undemocratic, and lumping them all in together is not the most helpful decision to do, and I think leads to certain problems. Critical distinctions do need to be made and those who see the new landscape and posit the existence of a “fascist Internationale” probably do more harm than good. I don’t think that’s a useful lens to group things into, the new illiberal movements or the undemocratic movements, they’re not all the same and they’re not all fascists, and to call them fascists is to create a lens that reframes traditional conservatism as fascist, which actually leads in some cases to fascism.

My own president Mr. Donald Trump is certainly an authoritarian figure who indulges in his darker passions and lives though his illiberal tendencies on television and on Twitter. On the other hand anyone who compares him to the next coming Hitler is certainly not doing anything useful in terms of analysis, maybe just the opposite. The Russian president Putin is a post-modern authoritarian, kleptocratic head of a mixed regime, whether it’s called McMafia or KGB state, or managed democracy or a cocktail of nostalgia for communism or its tsarism or it’s some sort of heterogeneous thing which is not in any way like Brazil at this moment or like Orban’s regime in Hungary or like Turkey. The Polish case is closer to the Turkish case in that the driving force is rejection of liberal-secular norms, resurgence of religion. Mr. Orban’s system has nothing at all to do with religion and everything to do with nationalist politics, good or bad, I make no normative claims on whether he’s good or bad.

There’s a need to separate populism from the legitimate functioning of the democratic process and the legitimacy of national feeling even when the outcomes of it are not attractive or are not as pleasant or attractive as we’d like them to be. The idea of a healthy, non-corrosive nationalism is now taken in some circles to be a form of proto-authoritarianism. The idea that liberalism is too weak a doctrine to nourish men and women, ravenous for meaning and commitment to a cause or to something beautiful is not a new one, again we have neo-Nazis on one side, we have neo-Bolsheviks on the other side, we have lots of groupings around that taxonomy, and liberal democracy is both a foundation and a product of the order of states. Populism and globalism pose twin threats to that order, one from below and one from above. Attempts to collapse those distinctions, whether in the name of a primitive, archaic idea of a popular will or a thoughtless universalism or pseudo-universalism, a half-baked universalism are historically and culturally unsound and they’re also very dangerous in my view. Both roads lead to totalitarianism, which is this time around going to be backed by insanely powerful and intrusive technologies, which will make the fantasias of Platonov, Orwell and Huxley look like child’s play rather than prophecy, and we see one example in Russia and another one in China, and it’s no accident that those two countries are allies, if not ideologically then certainly technically.

The question of temptations which this panel is based around is very important. I think also the next question is one of practical damage control, how should we distinguish between liberal forms of popular will and popular forms which liberals are not going to find appetising but we have to tolerate. We’re not going to have the same conversations and arguments that we had in the 1930’s, history rhymes but it doesn’t really repeat, not totally, not exactly. There’s a muddle, an institutionalised muddle between the way that we refract political, ideological boundaries, between liberals and national conservatives, between conservative nationalists and illiberal nationalists, between progressives and liberals and classical liberals. It’s a confusion that lends credence to the nationalist response that normative boundaries of debate are not being respected. That’s going to keep going in the direction that it’s already going. Mr. Orban’s party was kicked out of the centre-right grouping in the European Parliament yesterday.

So just to conclude, we’re living in a moment of practical marriage, divorce between nationalism and liberalism. The challenge is to distinguish between a robust, cosmopolitanism and not to fall into traps, and, you know one does not have to be a 19th Century figure like Cavour to think that one can both be a liberal and a nationalist. Those things don’t need to be in contradiction. Thank you.

Lord Risby: Well thank you and I think that’s a very telling point you make because when of the way that nationalism has become almost pejorative, there’s a difference between having a national sense of a country and ones pride in a country, and taking it into realms which aren’t acceptable.

Well now, it’s such an enormous pleasure to introduce our third speaker, and as I explained he has a very, very distinguished record both as a member of the European Parliament and ambassador and of course as a lawyer of great distinction. I always think, as a parliamentarian myself that lawyers are marvellous because they always have to think sequentially. It’s not the total ability of all politicians, so we listen with great eagerness to what you have to say. Thank you.

François Zimeray: I hope you will not be disappointed. [Lord Risby laughs] First I would like to thank you for welcoming us and I would like to say that it’s a privilege for me to be here in this house with you and to speak with such distinguished speakers, and I would like to congratulate Lord Risby and all the organisers as well.

Let me share with you a few thoughts inspired by our era, of course by the topic in light of my own experience as a former MEP, as a lawyer in Paris as well as the international criminal court of The Hague, and as a former French ambassador for 10 years. The first one is the unpredictability of our times. If we go back 10, 15 years ago, who could predict the Arab Spring, with all its consequences? Especially on Europe. Who could have predicted what happened in Ukraine and Crimea? In North Korea? Who could have predicted Trump? And who could have predicted Brexit? No one had predicted that at the eve of the 21st Century, the democracies, and especially in Europe would be so sick. Personally I have identified three illnesses, three sicknesses. I think that we are living in a brutal era, a narcissistic era and an amnesic era.

It’s a very brutal time. Never have the relations between the states been so difficult, especially in Europe. Never have the international relations and the democratic relations been so brutal, and the spirit of co-operation, which is at the core of this house, at the core of the European ideal, of all democracies, the spirit of co-operation disappeared, including in my country. If five years ago one had told me that 60 years after the adoption of the Rome Treaty, which was one of the founding treaties of Europe, the French ambassador in Italy would have been recalled, I would not believe that.

It’s also a very narcissistic period, and I think that for many reasons. This is true an individual, this is true for communities and this is true for nations. Nations are challenged by this new era and especially the new era. Belongings are not only national. We have our passports but people are not only British, French, German, Spanish, they also maybe for some of them are above anything Facebookians, Instagrammers, and they belong to these communities and this is a challenge for our democracies, and I think that the promotion, narcissistic promotion of particularism, regionalism, which is a phenomenon one could observe all over the world, is a poison against universality and especially the universality of mankind. What are the very roots of this claim for independence in Spain, in Catalonia? I have recently read a very interesting text from Sigmund Freud from 1914 named: The Narcissism of Minor differences, Le narcissisme des petites differences. I forgot to say that as a French ambassador, former French ambassador, I should not speak English but French, or English with a strong French accent and I’m doing my best for that. Le narcissisme des petites differences, The Narcissism of Minor differences, is I think very useful to understand what’s happening, and Lord Risby you better than anyone could tell if Brexit could be analysed and interpreted in light of these phenomenon, and you have the response and I will not claim to say, but being in this Parliament with you, let me share with you an anecdote, it recalls me an anecdote. The first time when I arrived in the European Parliament I was the youngest of my delegation and as my name starts with a Z, it was very new, the first day we emigrated to the new Hemicycle in Strasbourg, and as I was the youngest and I was with a Z, I was at the very end of my group, sitting. I think that the same year you have positions, we have seats, and I was at the very end at the very limits of another group, and in the European Parliament you have, I don’t know how it works here but you have the moment of the debate, it’s separate from the moment of the vote, and all the votes are concentrated in one hour, where you have to vote on many things, many issues that you have not been following, and that’s why you have a voting list, provided by your political groups, and as a new MP I have been instructed that there is no nationality but we are structured only by political groups and parties. So I was following carefully my voting list but the person on my left was not in my group because I was in the limit so I had, when I hesitated, you had three buttons, one red: against, green was in favour and white was abstention, and it was very fast so I have to follow my list and to look on my right because on my right I have a colleague from my group but on my right I have a colleague from the Labour and a British colleague, and at one point came something different between the one I have seen I have seen on our list and the one, what he made and I said “maybe he, I misunderstood or it was doing a mistake”. So I asked him and he told me “no, no, no, no, don’t vote like me, this is a special British position”.

[Audience laughs]

Lord Risby: How unusual [laughs].

François Zimeray: This is why, this is why there is after, or before this Brexit time, they are still in Europe but they are not European, and I think it’s important to say that we will not apologise for being democracies. One should not apologise for being in a space where there is no death penalty, for the welfare state, for the European ‘a de vivre’ as well. And the third sickness that I have identified is that, I say that because we are in an amnesic era, and probably Europe has been built with this obsession with economy, but civilizations are not based on, do not rely only on coal and steel, and directives in economy, but on values and history, and as a diplomat serving in a European country, I’ve been often surprised by a grand misunderstanding. For many, and I don’t know if it’s the case for the UK, for many European countries, Europe has been seen as an opportunity. An opportunity for economics, for the economies, for trade, for agriculture, but for us Europe is not an opportunity, and probably for the Germans, it’s existential. It’s a condition of our very existence, and because somehow it has to deal with peace and war, and here comes the challenge of education.

My dear friend Pascal Bruckner mentioned some of the challenges of our democracies and especially facing climate change. I remember when we were, as diplomats, preparing the COP 21, one of the slogans was What ‘Earth Should We Leave to Our Children?’, but also I think one should phrase it in the other way. Thinking of the challenge of education and history, what children should we leave to our Earth? I started talking about unpredictability of this world. One thing we know, or we don’t know, we feel our way, like the blind groping, and you say when there is a will there is a way. I wish I could believe in this volunteerism in politics, but I think that there are many situation where there is a will but there is no way. But I think that one has to try to seek if there is a way, and if there is a way there should be a will. Merci.

Lord Risby: Thank you very much and again I think we’ll agree this is just stunning stuff, we love it. Now, finally we have James here, we’re really looking forward to what you have to say and all the experience that you bring to this discussion.

James Rogers: Ok, thank you very much for that introduction, thank you for these fascinating insights. I hope that they will stimulate discussion in a little while. Well I thought I’d begin by pointing out something very flippant and that is that the title of this event is ‘The Illiberalist’s Temptation of Democracy’. The title is interesting in that I think that it reflects the debates of the times. It infers that illiberals are using democracy to serve or to secure their agendas and I think there’s significant evidence that they are. For much of the past 20, 70 even, years and certainly since the end of the Cold War, an equivalence has been drawn between liberalism and democracy, however I’m not sure that liberalism and democracy are natural bedfellows. I think it’s important to point out that the two are different. Simply put and put formally, liberalism is a political ideology, while democracy is a form of government. Where we have succeeded since the Second World War is in articulating the two together. Democracy has come to be viewed from a liberal lens or a liberal frame, hence we have liberal democracy. However in recent years we have seen a surge in so-called populist forces, but what is populism? According to this week’s addition of The Economist, and I quote: “Soon after the Soviet Union imploded, The Economist felt able to assert that there was no serious alternative to free-market capitalism as the way to organise economic life, yet today the notion that a global-capitalist economy, hitched to a liberal internationalism can bring peace, progress an prosperity has taken a beating. That is evident not only in the violence in Iraq and Syria, where what used to be called the civilizing hand has proven incapable of stemming the bloodshed, it is evident too in the vitriolic populism resurging at the heart of Western democracies. In Brexit, in the rise of Marine Le Pen in France and in Donald Trump’s tumultuous route to the White House.”

So there we have it. Populism includes Brexit, it includes the National Rally or the National Front in France and it includes Donald Trump in the White House, but these I think are three very different political forces, they came about through very different political reasons and they will probably have very different political consequences. Originally, the term ‘populism’ tended to mean something quite specific, the condensation of the political space under the hegemony of a strong man, and the emergence of a cult of the leader, however in recent years populism has been utilised to describe all forms of politics that are unconventional and do not fit in with the liberal orthodoxy. In this sense populism in a way the new fascism. The problem here is that the term has come to mean almost anything, but it also now means practically nothing. As George Orwell reminded his readers in Politics and the English Language, and I quote: “the word fascism has now no meaning, except insofar as it signifies something not desirable”. We might say the same of populism today, or indeed the term ‘illiberal’.

So what is the problem beside the fact that democracy and liberal are not natural bedfellows? And what is the problem given that non-liberal forces are seemingly ascendant and in Western democracies, even in the leading Western democracies of Europe and North America? Does this mean that movements like the Yellow Vests in France, the AFD in Germany, EKRA or the Estonian Conservative people’s Party in Estonia, or the English Defence League in the UK are not dangerous? No it is not, I think that they are actually extremely dangerous political forces, but if we focus on the illiberals and on the populists, I think we start to focus on the symptom and not on the problem, let alone the cure. Of course it is easy to castigate and admonish the populists and the illiberals, they do tend to be unpleasant people. One wonders where we might be if they are allowed to push forward with their agendas and in fact I don’t think that I personally want to find out. But at the same time I think we need to move beyond what’s now called ‘virtue signalling’. We need to review our own societies in the West and ask where we have been going or indeed where we have gone wrong.

So where have we gone wrong? Now this is a loaded question because it assumes we have gone wrong. I believe that we have gone wrong and I think we need to solve it and I think we need to solve it fast. If not the consequences will be an increasingly ugly politics. Potentially leading to stagnation and the decline of the West, not only in terms of power, but in terms of its ideology and its sense of the good life. The problem for me is that we misunderstand the end of the Cold War. In the West we thought that liberalism had triumphed, that after all is what The Economist proclaimed when I mentioned it earlier. We thought that liberalism had conquered democracy to the extent that all politics and all social issues could only be viewed from the liberal lens. We moved towards a managerial politics, we moved towards that particularly in the UK and in the US. Think a little bit about the time of Bill Clinton’s presidency or the time of Tony Blair’s premiership in the UK. But I think we went further than that, we took liberalism, in a way, to its logical conclusion. Liberalism and democracy both emerged within the context of the national community. Indeed where we succeeded during the Cold War was because we managed to hold liberalism, democracy and the nation-state together, in a delicate balance with one another. The emptiness of liberalism was tempered by the citizenship and identity afforded by the nation-state, which was in turn reinforced by the legitimacy bestowed by the democratic process.

For me democracy cannot exist outside of the nation. Formal democratic procedures can exist of course, but the desire of a group of people to come together, to work together, to govern together for the common good requires a pre-existing sense of national identity. Humanity and the world do not exist as political communities, and I’m not sure that Europe or Europeans do either. I’m not indeed sure that they ever can. Theresa May stated in 2016 that if you believe that you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what the very word citizenship means. She was of course heavily criticised for saying this. It seemed to rankle those that we might now describe as liberal elites above all else, however at the time I thought she was on to something, and I actually believe that she still is. Our societies in the West have gone wrong. They have not gone wrong because of Brexit, nor because of Trump, nor even Le Pen, the English Defence League, or Estonia’s Conservative People’s Party, or even indeed the Yellow Vests. Brexit to some extent may be an attempt to correct the imbalance or the failures, maybe strangely Trump is too. The other movements are all consequences of our failures, they won’t be solved by more global liberalism. Our societies have become so angry because we have opened them up too much. We have de-articulated liberalism, democracy and the nation-state. We have destroyed the sense of shared citizenship and national identity that bands us all together in our respective national units. Until we draw them back together, the illiberals will seek to tempt society towards bleak and destructive political forces, not least the pettiest forms of ethnic and cultural nationalism. The Yellow Vests and the English Defence League and all the rest, cannot be allowed to be the future. As such perhaps we need to dwell a little bit more on the founding and development of both Britain and France. Both developed differently, but both have ended up to some extent in the same place. To what extent do both Britain and France offer us the solution? Maybe that’s something we can think about in the next few minutes.

Lord Risby: Thank you very much indeed and now we’ll open in it up to questions. Can I just explain something, I have been part of this building for 27 years. There is no more, rather like the unwritten British constitution which is deeply eccentric, this building is very eccentric. I just want to explain that, I asked for a bigger room by the way, I’m sorry it’s a bit uncomfortable. This was the only room they were allowed to give us so I apologise if we had to limit the numbers because we should have had a cast of thousands listening to this so there we are, I’m afraid this is just the way it works.

May I just ask the first question and James thank you very much. Some years ago we had a slight foretaste of what has been going on in Paris and other cities, which was dreadful riots, and it was the first time that the police had to deal with no obvious leadership, because it was done by mobile telephones and other forms of communication. We have a situation now which you’ll be entirely familiar with, whereby people are protesting for a variety of reasons, but for a government it is very difficult to react because who do you talk to and what do you talk about? And I just make this point, it just breaks my heart to see what has been going on in the Champs Elysees for example, who are the people being most affected? The people who work in the shops, the people who are waiters, the people who are meant to be being defended. It’s an extraordinary situation. I just wonder in this day and age how governments can deal with this kind of disconnect and lack of leadership, which is all brought together by communications. It’s a very tricky one, I’d love to hear what anybody’s thoughts are. Thank you. Anybody want to fire away? Please.

Pascal Bruckner: I think you are totally right because usually in working class struggles, the union and the parties, they had claims to be implemented: they wants rises in salaries, they wanted a better situation for families, and so this was a classical, if I may say so, class struggle as it occurred in France in 1945, and with the Yellow Vests and much before with those radical groups, they have no claim, they don’t ask anything concrete. They just exist to challenge the capitalistic state and France as a nation. Their only goal is to destroy, and many books have been published over the last few years about this movement, and one of them is called The Invisible Insurrection, which means that a new era will start when France is reduced to ashes. We have, you have to go through chaos to create a new, perfect society, but of course chaos is more fun than perfection, so those groups, they use the Yellow Vests, or the Yellow Vests use those groups, we don’t know exactly who is using who, to install a total disaster in order to create a condition favourable to a new society, and why is that so? Because as you know, communism has failed, globally the left have failed all over Europe, they have lost the working class which has migrated to the extreme right, they have lost the third world, they have lost the Soviet Union, so what’s left? Rioting in the streets, terrorism, and that explains why triumphant democracy has to face the most dangerous enemies that it has ever faced coming from the inside.

Lord Risby: Very good. Please, I’d love to take some questions if you could just indicate, [speaks in French], and if you could just indicate who you are that’s be wonderful. What about right at the back? I see a hand going right up at the back there. I can’t see you. No? You’re not going to ask a question? Could you stand up? Thank you. Could we hear who you are, that’d be very nice.

Natalie: In French or in English?

Lord Risby: Yes well, whatever suits you. Esperanto will do nicely. [Audience laughs]

Natalie: First of all I’m very happy to be here because Sophie is a good friend and Samuel as well. So I don’t know exactly whether it is a question but in my perspective, I’m living in Paris, my name is Natalie, I’m living for 10 years in London and after Brexit I had a situation where I had to go back to Paris, and I was remembering what a beautiful country it is, it’s not an emerging country so I’m sure I can relax myself and I can have a, how you say, departure and a new lunch, and for some reason I started watching many different people lunching quietly, being out in the open air, so I wasn’t really looking at political aspects. So, my point was just I want to lunch myself, I want to be in the open air. Let’s start again in France, it’s a beautiful country, you have fantastic know how. But then, you realise that there was something that was the old fashioned manners that was…

Lord Risby: Ok, thank you. Thank you so much. I think, was there a question somewhere in there? I think we need, because a lot of people want to ask questions, can you come directly to the question if you’re going to ask a question or was that your observation?

Natalie: Sure, sure. My question is Sophie, what is your point of view of this whole situation, we’d like to hear from you, from your perspective on this situation…

Lord Risby: Ok. Well thank you very much but I think what we’ll do, all I would like to say to you is I hope you’ll come back to London. We need you here because you’re an entrepreneur, but we can have a chat about this. So, this gentleman here. Please.

David Conway: One, one, my name is David Conway and my affiliation here is with a think tank called Civitas, and one feature of all presentations that struck me was the conspicuous absence in all of them of any reference to what many who talk and write about populism speak of, and that is a globalist elite, cosmopolitan elite who have as it where, favoured supranational organisations and who identify with one another, much more than they do with their own nation states, and one sees this most importantly, in the way in which since 1989, parties on the left, such as the Labour Party, have as it where, evacuated their relationships or disengaged from their traditional relationships with working class communities and have favoured a neoliberal, globalist economy. Now surely that is something which needs to be addressed by anyone who is going to be speaking about the present discontents which we can see throughout the world.

Lord Risby: Well thank you for making that point and I think it’s a significant point. Does anybody want to comment on that particular, James perhaps you’d like to comment on that?

James Rogers: Maybe I didn’t make it clear enough but I think I was driving towards that. I think there is this perception within the UK and probably within other western countries as well, that it is actually this kind of globalist, cosmopolitan elite that is out of touch with the rest of the people and doesn’t understand their needs and has a different view of how society should operate, and I think that’s bound up with the triumph of liberalism over democracy and over the national sense of identity and that’s what I was driving at when I said that Theresa May talked about this idea of citizens of the world. And I think this is also an issue pertaining to our understanding of democracy. I mean a lot of people talk about democracy in a very formal way, the idea of voting, but actually I think democracy is more than that. It’s also about the will, the desire to vote or to partake within the national community in a political sense. So it’s directly connected to the idea of national identity, and I think that’s been lost and to an extent that’s compounded the problems that you’ve identified in the context of working class communities. That’s that national identity’s been taken away, or at least the civic national identity that was projected by those same elites in the past. We’ve seen the emergence of what I call sort of petit-nationalist or petit-ethnic nationalist identities, and I would call for example English nationalism one form of that, and you can see that in very clear display at football games in certain areas of cities with lots of English flags flying in the air.

Lord Risby: Ok. Thank you very much. Yes this gentleman here.

Ron: Yes hello. I have a question for Mister Pascal Bruckner and François Zimeray. It’s very short.

Lord Risby: What’s your name?

Ron: My name is Ron, I’m a Belgian and I’ve been living in London for a couple of years. Do you think that the growing presence in Europe of people coming from Muslim societies has an influence on current events in our countries?

[Panel Laughs]

James Rogers: Good luck with that.

Pascal Bruckner: Of course it has an influence. I have dedicated a book on this topic, because the novelty of a large population of Muslims in Europe, especially in France which has the strongest Muslim community, 6 million people and the strongest Jewish community, is that globally Islam doesn’t follow the same rules as Christianity and Judaism to integrate itself into a republican country, which means that for about half of the Muslim population in France, and it’s been documented by very serious investigation, the sharia is stronger than the republican value, and by republican value I mean equality for men and women for instance, a spirit of free examinations, the possibility of changing religions, the possibility of apostasy, and this explains why France is such a place of tension. Of course the presence of a massive Muslim community has helped populist movements to voice their concerns and say we are not at home any more, we are being invaded and colonised. The challenge being that we have to turn those French Muslim citizens into ordinary French people, whether Muslim or not, and this challenge is not being addressed for the moment.

François Zimeray: First I think, I’ve read and especially appreciated the books of Pascal on that, but I would say that one has to share what the impact on French society of Islamism, radical Islam, and how you phrased your question, the impact on French society of simply the fact that we have a lot of Muslims, and it’s different, even though of course there can be some bridges between the two, but it’s too different questions. Of course it’s a question of, I would say that I agree with what Pascal said but I would add a comment I think which is specific with French history. We have a very special look at this population due to our past colonial and conflictual history, and as I’m not anymore in the foreign-service I can say what I think. We promote everywhere in the world peace and reconciliation processes as had been the case in Sierra Leone, in South Africa for example unsuccessfully, but we never had with Algeria, and I think that rather than spending millions and billions in the suburbs, one should make, promote the idea [speaks of reconciliation in French] as it has been the case with South Africa, with Algeria, and maybe after that we will see them with other eyes and name them with other names.

Regarding Islamism, which is different, radical Islam. It of course exerts a strong pressure on our society, but I have to say there is a very impressive convergence between the impact of radical Islam and the puritan ideas coming from the West in fact, on our society. Both converge and act as an acid on some aspect of French civilisation, such as the long lasting relationship between genders, this long conversation throughout the centuries between genders. You know I, we had this debate in France regarding the veil, the Burka and more recently the Burkini, and we have been blamed all over the world for that. When I was French ambassador for human rights, I had to defend France’s situation in the UN, and I was very surprised to see that we were attacked and criticised by democracies such as Sudan, Iran, Pakistan, but also the United States, Canada and the UK, on the same questions. Recently a friend of mine told me, he’s a producer in cinema, and he had to make a contract in Hollywood, and in his contract it was said that he had no right to touch the actors and he was forbidden by contract to look at them for more than six seconds. [Audience laughs] So I would just say that this puritanism, they have reinvented a contractual burka. So our society, our civilisation is under the double pressure converging on this Islamist puritanism and the Western puritanism as well.

So yes, all that is a strong pressure on our society, and if I may if it’s not too long, just one comment about the yellow jackets. I’m very impressed by the symbol of the Yellow Jacket. First this movement is a good illustration of the sicknesses of democracies brutality, narcissism and amnesia. Brutality, that’s obvious, narcissism as well, you know the symbol of the yellow jacket is ‘see me’. When you put on a yellow jacket it’s too be seen, ‘see me’. But there is another symbol in France, there used to meet… [Translates French into English]. Roundabout! What is a roundabout? It’s a sort of symbol of… Roundabouts are built where people used to cross in the past, so it’s also the symbol of a society [speaks in French] where you cannot meet others, so I think it’s very symbolic of that.

Lord Risby: Well I go to Algeria a lot by the way and I can tell you there is a national Stockholm syndrome when it comes to France.

Pascal Bruckner: They cannot get rid of us. Well they cannot forget us.

Lord Risby: Well it’s Stockholm syndrome. Anyway, please. Over there? Yes, thank you very much.

Cecile: Good evening, my name is Cecile, I’m French editor in chief of magazine here in London, so I apologise if my question might not be that limited. I have been struck by the ability of people, or the discrepancy between perception and reality. When for example when we address the existence of Europe and the way it works, people will, how often do you listen or hear people criticising the way decisions are made, and they will use the word ‘dictator’ instead of democracy, when we’re going to have elections in the European Parliament soon, and these are elections were everybody here can vote and elect who will represent them, and still the process of decision is being denied, often by people who I have talked to. That’s the first point, my first comment.

Second comment, very quick sorry, is about this recent need for government to use referendum to give the impression to people that they can actually express and access democracy, but we know that referendums most of the time is answered by ‘no’, and not to get into contests but we can see it today here or elsewhere.

Lord Risby: Well we’re not Swiss, that’s for sure. Now who would like to just… any response to that at all? James thank you very much or…?

James Rogers: I didn’t quite understand what your question was but I do think I got the gist of what you were trying to say. I mean, I don’t think that democracy exists at the European level. Democracy exists in the formal sense, that people can actually go and vote for a faction within the European Parliament, and that’s not I think under any consideration as such. What I would say is that democracy does not exist in the sense that, democracy is not handed to the people via treaty, people actually have to raise themselves to democracy. To become a democracy people must raise themselves in a basically, fight for their freedom and fight for the right to vote. In Britain and in France, in our respective ways, I think people have done that, but nobody has done this at the European level, and it’s not clear to me that they actually want it, and if you see, if you think about the actual turnout in the European Parliament, or the turnout to elect representatives at the European Parliament, it’s actually very low in most cases. In some cases it’s as low as 16%. In Britain it’s been about 30-40% for the past 20 odd years, and I think generally across the whole of Europe if you take the average it’s been less than 50% since 1994. So it seems to me that there’s no desire there to create a kind of European demos or a European people as such in a political sense, so I’m not sure that the people actually, or people within Europe actually want that, and that opens up all sorts of questions that pertain to what we’ve been discussing here tonight.

Lord Risby: Well the only thing is that support for the European Union has increased recently because of our exciting efforts to form a new relationship, [Audience laughs] and there we are. This lady here.

Sandra Dangoor: My name is Sandra Dangoor, I’m a proud Brit, head of French Education from beginning to the end in this country. I grew up believing everything about France, about the French way of thinking, etc. etc., and Napoleon was my hero, but I voted for Brexit, shock horror, [audience laughs] and I tried to explain to people why I did that and it had to do with my French education, and I gave them the idea of top-down, whereas we’re more bottom-up, bureaucracy, disconnect of the people, etc. etc., but Mr Bruckner, you for me hit the nail on the head and I can now explain it. You said that the European countries: France, Italy, Spain, hate democracy, and that for me is what I was trying to convey.

Lord Risby: Well thank you, thank you very much for that. I think…

Sandra Dangoor: I think that’s, I think that’s what you said, you said that they’ve always hated democracy.

Lord Risby: Well I think they probably hate…

Pascal Bruckner: I said that? No! Mixed feelings.

Lord Risby: I think they probably hate politicians rather than democracy, how about that?

Pascal Bruckner: Yes. Yes.

Lord Risby: That gentleman over there. [Audience murmurs] Yes you?

Audience member: I have a question for François Zimeray, we saw in the present you are defending a Saudi woman who fled her country to come to Europe, and show that Europe is granting universal rights to its citizens, but does it mean they should grant it to potentially anyone in the world? Is it a bit peculiar to have universal rights for our citizens? Or should we guarantee these rights to anyone potentially.

François Zimeray: I think that a reason to be proud of being European is that we have a quite open asylum policy compared to many countries. Probably that is why it’s the largest space of asylum in the world, and talking about asylum control, we need to be talking about immigration. There are no quotas, there is no limit so far, and of course this is a challenge for European countries, especially after the consequence of the Syrian crisis which is a consequence of the Arab Spring as well, but so far I don’t think this is a reason to be ashamed of being European at all. So yes, I think that one of the good and positive aspects of Europe is that we believe in the universality of mankind. If I may there is something paradoxical in the diagnosis of Europe. On the one hand it appears very weak and very fragile, more than ever now. On the other hand Europe demonstrates some strength. We have rarely been as united on military union as we are now, it’s a part of the European consensus. You might read we are quite united in the policy Vis a Vis Brexit.

Lord Risby: We noticed. [Audience laughs]

François Zimeray: And I think that one has to be fair with Europe. Europe can be blamed for many things but the crises that has affected Europe recently, the financial crisis, the terror crisis, the migration crisis, they challenge Europe, but none of these crises have been caused in Europe. The financial crisis found its roots in the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the terror crisis elsewhere and the migration crisis as well, so one has to be fair. Europe has not, you know Europe is a ship which has been designed by naval architects to cruise in blue and calm waters and which has not been finished completely, and this ship, designed to cruise in calm rivers and not finished, is now caught in a storm, and so we have to have the carpenters working fast on board and also a stronger, very clear heading. This is the challenge of Europe. I remember the words of Mitterrand [speaks French] it’s the adventure of one generation, he was thinking about the founding fathers, about his generation, but I realise it’s also the adventure of generations to come. This sentence is still true but it applies for the new generations.

Vladislav Davidzon: Lord Risby can I interrupt, I’m kind of…

Lord Risby: Of Course.

Vladislav Davidzon: I don’t know, maybe a subtractor or, I’d like to continue Mr. Zimeray with the metaphor of the ship built for waters which are not stormy. The one thing the Europeans are not so cohesive about, and they’ve learnt over the last two years they’re going to have to be, is defence. You have the second American president in a row, for completely different reasons, but have basically the same foreign policy towards what President Obama referred to as defence parasites right? Actually he didn’t quite say it like that, I think he used more lively language than that but, President Trump and his populist message ‘we’re being taken advantage of’, has been very honest to the Europeans that they’re not paying their fair share of defence, and so there’s a division within Europe and within NATO and the Atlantic alliance between those who are in favour of paying their fair share of defence and those who are not. So the consequences of those debates are playing out now in inability to project power in lets’ say Syria, inability to help the Ukrainians as much as the Canadians and the Americans are helping, in not being able to say to the Germans ‘no you can’t build Nordstrom 2 because that’s really, really good for the Russians’, and I’d like to hear Europeans say something more about defence and populism.

François Zimeray: I agree with you, when I was posted in Denmark they had this prize every year, the European of the year, and we had to brainstorm about who would be the European of the year and I suggested that it would be Trump for two reasons, the first one is that I have never felt as European as since he has been elected [audience laughs] and the second reason is that he said something that I think is very wise, probably the only thing he’s said that I fully agree, he said that Europe has to count on its own forces, and on that he is absolutely right, because so far European defence is mostly UK and France, and so yes you’re absolutely right and it will come with a change of mentality and not all countries have realised that they have to count on their own forces, and it’s also, for some of us it’s also difficult to realise that one has to invest in defence for at least two psychological reasons. The first one is that we have had a dream that Europe would be without borders, it overcomes the very notion of borders, now I think we understand it was a mistake, and the second one is that Europe is grounded in this idea of peace, and for many the idea that peace can be built on strength is not obvious and doesn’t come easily. We are as it has been said, we have to deal with our guilt feelings inherited from the past as well.

Lord Risby: I’m afraid this has to be the final question. I know this lady’s been very persistent in having a say.

Audience member: Thank you. I’d like to address the issue of Islam if I may, because I feel it is such a fundamental issue for all of us, and I’m very aware the whole situation is polarised, it’s sort of the Muslims against the Western world is the perception, but I feel it’s vital that we build a bridge and if one looks at the Qur’an, it clearly embraces Christianity and all of the other major religions, and more references to Jesus in the Qur’an than the prophet Muhammad. Jesus’s mother is the first lady of Islam, and I feel that it’s very important that instead of just metaphorically pulling grenades and having the Muslims feel as outsiders, misunderstood, and in my view they do have genuine grievances against the West, where we’ve gone into their countries historically for our own advantage, and I feel that we do need to strive to look at things from their position, and reach out and build a bridge with them, and I’m not defending for a moment terrorism but I do feel we need to stand in their shoes.

Lord Risby: Well thank you for making this point. Would you like to make a comment on that?

Pascal Bruckner: As you, I read the Qur’an, and I saw those references to Moses, Jesus, Mary and many Christian and Jewish prophets. The problem being that Islam considers itself as the last revealed religion, so in its view and in the view of the fundamentalists of this religion, Christianity and Judaism should disappear because they’ve done their time and they just announce the truth which has been revealed by the prophet and that’s a problem if I may say so, and that explains why the Middle East, in Syria, in Iraq, in Egypt, the Christians have been persecuted, kicked out by the Muslims because they consider them as being irrelevant, they should not exist anymore, they should convert themselves to Islam, so the most enlightened Muslims of course do not share this attitude, but as you know the Pope recently visited Abu Dhabi and had a [French] with the head of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, which is a kind of Rome of Sunnism. He had him sign a declaration of mutual respect and tolerance for religion, so I think it’s a very good step, but I think the main challenge of this century is the reform of Islam through enlightened and secular Muslim intellectuals and imams.

Lord Risby: Well I’m so sorry but we’re going to have to end it here because the House of Lords and the House of Commons are very strict about their rooms, but I think, again may I just thank the Henry Jackson Society, to thank Sophie for being part of the Hexagon Society for bringing us here, but I think we can all conclude that this has been a massive treat and it has been a fantastic evening of intellectual stimulation and honestly it was from a number of people who are real experts, and of course not only are they experts but they were articulate and could express their views in such a clear way, this has been absolutely terrific. Would you please come again soon, I don’t know what will be happening in this country when you come next time. [Audience laughs] Certainly you will remember this moment when we are going through a, shall we say, interesting time historically, you might just remember, but profoundly to all of you on behalf of everybody, thank you so


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