Audio-interactive transcript of The Conversation UK's podcast episode "Anthill 8: Goodbye 2016, hello 2017" of 21 December 2016

Last modified: 
7/3/2017
Transcription of: Anthill 8: Goodbye 2016, hello 2017, a podcast published on the 21st of December 2016 by The Conversation UK and authored by Annabel Bligh, Gemma Ware and Laura Hood, featuring guests Andy Price, Jane B. Singer, Maria Garcia, Patricia Hogwood and Steve Keen.

Note: To correctly cue the audio to the transcription, please specify your current Internet browser below, as there will be a slight offset depending on your browser of choice. Correcting for this will allow you to choose which portion of the audio you would like to listen to (by clicking on the [red timecodes below]), more conveniently.


[0m00s] [Gemma Ware]: It's been quite a year, hasn't it?

[0m02s] [Annabel Bligh]: I'll say. First Brexit, then Trump. I mean: I keep waking up to some news alert that I was not expecting.

[0m09s] [Gemma Ware]: Yea, but you know ... this global whirlwind, this political maelstrom that we are all in, doesn't seem to be slowing down in any way.

[0m17s] [Annabel Bligh]: Yea, I think we better get ready for more to come in 2017.

[0m26s] [Gemma Ware]: Welcome to The Anthill, a podcast from The Conversation. I'm Gemma Ware ...

[0m30s] [Annabel Bligh]: And I'm Annabel Bligh ...

[0m32s] [Gemma Ware]: So, in light of everything that has been going on in 2016, in this episode, we'll be asking some academics to give us their take on the big themes that have emerged this year; and take a look at what might happen next in 2017. We'll talk about what lies in store for your Europe next year, ...

[0m51s] [Patricia Hogwood]: I think the European Union now really has to pull itself together, or ... or, risk falling apart. [0m59s] [Annabel Bligh]: We'll also talk about our responsibilities as consumers of the media ...

[1m03s] [Jane B. Singer]: We can do a lot about fake news by checking it out. I mean: a lot of this comes back down to us. [1m07s] [Gemma Ware]: ... and about what we can do to hold our leaders to account in 2017.

[1m13s] [Andy Price]: You know: we think about what we have got to do better for 2017; I think one of the key things we've all got to start doing ... and I speak from a politics background ... is: pay more attention. [1m21s] [Annabel Bligh]: But first I am going to try and explain a concept that has taken a bit of a beating this year: and that's globalization. 2016 saw anti-establishment nationalist parties around the world come into power. Britain voted to take back control and leave the European Union. Americans voted for Donald Trump who promised to make America great again. And it's a trend that looks set to continue in 2017. One of the frontrunners in the French elections is the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, and support in Italy is rising for the anti-Euro five star movement led by Beppe Grillo. At heart, these political movements represent a backlash against the dominant economic force of our times: globalization. The last 20 years have seen an acceleration of global trade, with money, people and just all this stuff easily transported around the world at break-neck pace. To understand the evolution of globalization and attitudes towards it, I spoke with Steve Keen, an economist at Kingston University in London. He explained how the idea of free trade took hold in the early nineteenth century, thanks to a political economist called David Ricardo.

[2m28s] [Steve Keen]: So the argument was first put, in the technical sense, by David Ricardo, and he was writing in the early 1800s, and at that stage, the main rival that England faced was Portugal. And he was facing people in Parliament and his own intellectual circle, saying: well, if we open up trade with Portugal, which would be by abolishing [what was called the] Corn Laws. Portugal is better than us at everything, therefore we'll lose out and industry will go into decline. But Ricardo's argument was a very simple one. Imagine it takes 120 men to make a certain quantity of wine in England, and it takes 90 men to make a certain quantity of cloth. And then in Portugal it takes only 80 men to make the same quantity of cloth and, say, 70 to make the quantity of wine. So, Portugal is more efficient at both of those industries. What Ricardo argued was that if England specialized just in producing cloth, and Portugal specialized just in producing wine, then you get higher efficiency out of Portugal, the best efficiency put out of England. There'd be more of both wine and cloth, you could trade the excess and everybody benefits. Now, that really has become the one-trick-pony of economic theory ever since: it's about how you shuffle things around, you'll improve specialization. So that's the argument in favour of it at an intellectual level. [3m49s] [Annabel Bligh]: So the idea was that this combination of countries specializing in one type of good or service, and trading freely with others doing the same, would increase productivity, and lower costs for all countries involved. The logic was, that so long as the gains produced from this were shared out evenly, everyone would benefit. But this hasn't happened. As Steve explained, there have been winners and losers from globalization, as manufacturing has been moved around the world.

[4m13s] [Steve Keen]: What's actually going on in that, is you have ... if you imagine two economies which are sanding along quite nicely, like what was called Golden Age [...] growth, and you then relocate production from one of those countries to a third-world country, and export back; the workers in the first-world country lose their jobs. The workers in the third-world country get a job, but they get much lower salaries. There is a profit margin shared between the capitalists in both countries. You definitely get gains in terms of distribution of income, from the workers to the capitalists, in both countries. The workers in the third world definitely gain, which is one of the reasons you see such support for globalization in China, and most of Asia. But the workers in the first world lose their jobs, and the argument that they can find other work to do, assumes full employment ... assumes there are actually positions for them to go to. Now, the reality is that hasn't been the case and Joe [Joseph] Stiglitz came out saying this in, back in the early 2000s, with a wonderful book called "Globalization and its discontents". So, the gain is ... it's [...] class distribution of income from workers in the first world, to workers and capitalists in the third world, and capitalists in the first world; with the double whammy of course: you produced [...] in the source country. [5m22s] [Annabel Bligh]: For many economists, the solution is to find a better way of re-distributing the gains of globalization. But few have come up with a good way of doing so. And Steve is critical of the idea.

[5m32s] [Steve Keen]: The reason, by saying that, revolt against globalization beginning effectively in the working class areas of the first world, is because they have been screwed by this. No two ways about it. And all the economic talk about: ah, if we'd share the gains from trade more fairly ... I mean: the gains from trade ... the gains exist from investment. That's where the gains come from: investment and innovation. If this is happening, then what's occurring back in America is: they are not doing that investment, they are not doing that innovation. So you don't get the actual improvement in technology and knowledge. What you get into the high level ... so, [if you speak now the] ... Silicon Valley work is [...] very nicely, because they are the ones who actually design the products in the first place; but the production lines we used to have there for working class labour and so on, disappear. So there is a lot of frustration building up out of this, and it comes back to the essential question of: what's an economy for? And we've forgotten that it's ... economy has to provide a living for the majority of the people [...], or if it doesn't you get what we used to call peasant revolts under the feudal system, we are now getting worker revolts under capitalism; and it's worker revolts like the ones that elected Donald Trump ... that have it looking like Marine Le Pen might be the winner in France, that they're going to give Beppe Grillo control in Italy. All this sort of stuff is a legitimate revolt, which my profession ... and I consider I'm a rebel in my own profession ... [... laughs ...] ... is trying to de-legitimize by saying: oh, there are gains, we could have just shared them more fairly; let's just keep on doing all this stuff and share them more fairly. [It's about time they] got realistic. [7m02s] [Annabel Bligh]: So what exactly does 2017 have in stall? To find out how global trade might change as a result of Brexit and Trump, I spoke with Maria Garcia, a Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Bath. Despite Donald Trump's isolationist rhetoric, she doesn't think his presidency will see the US close its doors to trade any time soon.

[7m20s] [Maria Garcia]: On the one hand, Donald Trump has won an election on a very strong narrative; against certain aspect of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, against [...] to open these products being produced in developing countries ... on the other hand, he himself is a business man. He is selling out his cabinet with leaders from business and from industry. In a sense, these are the people who have benefited from globalization, from breaking down barriers to trade and services globally. Trump himself: his business empire has outlets and golf courses and hotels across the world. So, I think there is going to be an interesting dichotomy there. [8m07s] [Annabel Bligh]: When he becomes president, Donald Trump will have a huge constituency of people in the U.S. who have benefited from globalization to contend with. One thing he has made clear is that he will not sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP trade agreement. This is a trade deal that took 7 years to negotiate, and involves 12 countries including Japan, Australia and Mexico. Instead, Trump has mentioned moving towards a more bilateral approach to trade.

[8m25s] [Maria Garcia]: By negotiating individually with each country, the United States has a lot more power and a lot more say on what goes in the agreement because they can also play countries off each-other, either purposefully or as a by-product of the individual negotiations. If you are, say Peru, and you see that the country next to you; Columbia; is negotiating a trade deal with the United states, and they're likely to be exporting similar products as you are; so avocado, for instance. So you think: you know the avocados are going to now be cheaper in the United States because they won't negotiate over [...]. So, the idea is that the Peruvian avocado farmers will then lobby their government and demand that the government also enters into negotiations with the United States, so that they have the same level of access and are not worse off then they were previously vis-à-vis Columbia. That's the idea of a domino-effect taking place. [9m21s] [Annabel Bligh]: So 2017 could see the U.S. strengthening its trade position. Europe, meanwhile, is seeing a different kind of shift in its approach to trade. This was sparked by criticism to its now stalled trade-deal with the U.S: the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP.

[9m37s] [Maria Garcia]: The new European Union trade policy, the trade-[...] policy, is quite striking in its wording; in the sense that it does not really read like a trade policy. It talks a lot about human rights, about the environment, about social life. It is really taking on board a lot of the criticism that civil society raised against the now stalled negotiations of the trade agreement with the United States. So this is really trying to engage with those concerned about secrecy of negotiations with this regard for [labour-...] and all of these things. [10m12s] [Annabel Bligh]: The extent to which these principles will inform negotiations in 2017 and trump the interest of big business, remains to be seen. But this new approach to trade at least offers hope of a brighter future. For economist Steve Keen, governments would be better off abandoning their obsession with free trade. Instead, they should focus on developing their industrial policies. He's not calling for closed borders and a return to tariffs, but he argues an economy will do better if it develops its own industries.

[10m37s] [Steve Keen]: So South Korea is a classic instance on that front. So is Japan. When you look at what they actually did ... and a guy called Dani Rodrik has done a lot of good work on this front ... what they did initially there was go against the whole argument for free trade. They protected their own industries. But they protected them under the duress that protection would drop over time. They had to improve their products, they had to improve their efficiency. And so, if you think of what Japanese ... I'm old enough to know what Japanese cars looked like in the 1950s, 1960s; and they were jokes, you would never buy one unless you were just trying to save money. Of course fast forward 40 years, Japanese cars are high quality and they are one of the elite brands. And the same thing applied with South Korea as well. So they start off protecting an industry to some degree, in various ways: local purchase advantages and ... as rather not as just tariffs, but they force it to industrialize and develop. Now, what happens of course, over time, is: because they are improving efficiency and improving a product. We all benefit from that. More so than we would benefit from dropping all trade barriers one day and saying everything reshuffle itself around the planet. [11m47s] [Annabel Bligh]: Whether or not politicians in U.S. or Europe will heed Steve's advice is another thing entirely. But after a year of so much upheaval, this could be as good a time as any to change tack.

[12m01s] [Gemma Ware]: So, while economists and trade negotiators have all that to look forward to in 2017, some big court cases and crucial elections are looming on the horizon for our political leaders. At some point in January, the U.K. Supreme Court will rule on who has the right to trigger their Brexit process: either the government or parliament. Meanwhile, the rest of Europe will be dealing with those Brexit negotiations at the same time as preparing for two key elections in France and Germany.

[12m23s] [Annabel Bligh]: Our politics editor Politics Editor, Laura Hood, has pulled together a panel of experts to discuss how both our leaders, and we as citizens, can move on from the shocks of 2016 and embrace the year ahead.

[12m42s] [Laura Hood]: We, the people of the Western world; left and right; old and young; can hardly be said to have showered ourselves in glory over the past 12 months. We have been divided by fundamental questions about our values, and we have thrown ill-tempered tweets around like they are going out of fashion. And whether we admit it or not, we seem to have become alarmingly intolerant of each-others' views. International leaders have been tested in their abilities to respond to the needs and desires of their citizens, and they have been found desperately wanting. Populist antagonizers have led divisive campaigns to achieve progress, often resorting to the most underhand tactics to appeal to the least noble tendencies of their followers. And many voters are ending this year feeling as though they no longer understand the people with whom they share their everyday lives. How did we become to be so disjointed in 2016? And what can we do to recover? Joining me in the studio, here in London: our Patricia Hogwood, Reader in European Politics at the University of Westminster, and Jane [B.] Singer, Professor of Innovation Journalism at City, University of London. Joining us down the line is Andy Price, Head of Politics at Sheffield Hallam University. Thank you all for volunteering to sort the world out with me ... [... laughs ...] ... I want to start by talking about what 2017 has in store. Of course, January will see Donald Trump take office in the U.S., but what are the other pressure points that we can expect, Patricia?

[14m10s] [Patricia Hogwood]: Well, I think the pressure points for the European Union are going to come between spring and summer 2017. The EU's informal leadership alliances are really going to have to be redrawn, because of the shake-up of the member states' top leadership. We have a series of really important elections and political decisions, either just made or coming up. President Hollande, France, has indicated that he will not stand again for presidence. That leaves the field open to the right or the far-right. Spain's minority government is really only tolerated because the option to that government was a third general election in the course of one year, which would have been extremely damaging for the legitimacy of Spanish state. Really, of the informal leadership group in the EU, only Angela Merkel has a chance of remaining in post into 2017. She will be fighting as lead-candidate for her Christian-Democratic Party in the 2017 German federal elections. So only she will remain, possibly. This means that the informal [...] that has helped to lead the member states in the European Union will be scattered and will have to be reformed. The other pressure point that would fall between spring and summer 2017 is possibly the Brexit process. [15m32s] [Laura Hood]: What do you feel current leaders need to do to respond to the kind of sentiments that have been expressed by voters in 2016?

[15m43s] [Patricia Hogwood]: In the short-term, they really need to put the differences aside. Because the European Union is facing multiple crises now. If you'd ask me, after the Brexit vote: will this destabilize the European Union? I would have said no. But given the subsequent developments, I think, the European Union now really does have to pull itself together or risk falling apart. So, the first thing they have to do is talk to one another, and they have to put some considerable differences aside. They need to face key challenges in the European Union, including a good honest look at whether austerity politics is working in the Euro-zone. They have to make an arrangement for incoming asylum seekers, whereby all of the member states take on asylum seekers according to their resources, which isn't happening at the moment. They've got a number of neighbourhood challenges in ... very serious ones, including how to deal with EU-Russian relations, how to deal with Turkey. And it looks like Turkey's bid for European membership is really at an end now ... and of course they've got all the problems in the Middle-East. So, they really do have to pull together at this time. And were it not only with one-another, but also with the leadership of the institutions of the European Union. There has been an emerging rift between some of the member state leaders and some of the leaders of the European Union institutions that has to be mended. [17m08s] [Laura Hood]: I presume you talk about Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker, ...

[17m11s] [Patricia Hogwood]: Indeed. [17m12s] [Laura Hood]: They've not had a great year, in 2016. What do you think they need to do in 2017 to re-ignite passion to the European project?

[17m18s] [Patricia Hogwood]: They are doing quite a lot behind the scenes, as part of their regular work. There is another problem I should have mentioned, really. A problem with emerging authoritarianism in some of the member states, particularly the central and eastern European member states. This really does threaten the core identity of the European Union. I think Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk and others really need to make a stronger political statement about what the EU really stands for in the future and what the benefits of the European Union are. [17m55s] [Laura Hood]: Jane [B. Singer], the media coverage around some of these issues reflects many of the tensions of 2016. It's been quite extreme and uncompromising. Do you have any thoughts on how we can consume that media in a more sensible way, maybe in a way that doesn't further fuel the problem?

[18m17s] [Jane B. Singer]: I mean, I think that what we see in the media is a replication or reflection ... a different form of what we see in the electorate. I mean: it's becoming increasingly bifurcated. And I think not just bifurcated in terms of where they stand on the issues, the different outlets in the UK; but also how they talk about them. And I think that, say, one of the things that we want to talk about today is how we can make a better 2017 than 2016 was, and I think that is some ways an impediment. I think that, increasingly, the media are facilitating the ability of people to reinforce their own ... not just information ... but their own views, and not really even acknowledge any others. We definitely see that in the media. [19m09s] [Andy Price]: If I can come back to Jane on that. Interestingly, you know: we think about what we have got to do better for 2017; I think one of the key things we've all got to start doing ... and I speak from a politics background ... is: pay more attention. And paying attention to things like where the media has gone in this country. Where the mainstream media has gone. And, you know, the response to the Court of Appeals decision is a great indication of that. Let's be honest here: some of the responses from places like the Daily Mail and the Express were unacceptable to a functioning, solid democracy. They were unacceptable responses. And we've kind of lost sight of that in the past. And I have been thinking a lot about this lately and discussing this with other people lately. Perhaps, in 2017, one of the big new concepts that we'll be dealing with, is this idea that we shouldn't normalize Donald Trump in the U.S., that we shouldn't normalize that kind of approach to politics. Well, if that's the case; I think in the U.K., we might have to think about de-normalizing some of the problematic aspects of our political debate. And part of that might be the media reaction to the Court case and similar media responses to issues that confront us in 2017. [20m14s] [Jane B. Singer]: Yea, no, I think that's really important. But, I would say, that; really; the only people who can do that, are the people ... [... laughs ...] ... I mean: it's the public, it's the readers. You know: we have to vote with, you know, our pens and our fingers: where we click. Because particularly the media that you mentioned, but to some extent all media are going to respond to want to draw a reaction from their audience. I mean: it can't be the government coming in and saying: you are going to do this or that. And personally I also think it's problematic to have regulators making little air quotes that you can't see on the podcast ... [... laughs ...] ... Come in and do it as well. I think that we, as a public, have to kind of step up and say what kind of media we want, just as we step up and say what kind of politics we want. [21m06s] [Andy Price]: Yea, I couldn't agree more. That's absolutely true. [21m08s] [Laura Hood]: I think a big part of this comes down to our social media consumption towards the end of the U.S. election. There's a lot of talk firstly about the issue of fake news, but also this idea that we are tailoring our feeds in our Twitter-accounts, in our Facebook-account, and on Snapchat even, to filter out people whose views we don't agree with. I personally saw a lot of people on my Facebook feeds announcing that they would be un-friending people who voted for Donald Trump; and I thought: well, that's not really gonna to help the situation ... [... laughs ...] ...

[21m40s] [Jane B. Singer]: Tempting though, isn't it? ... [... laughs ...] ... [21m43s] [Laura Hood]: In 2017, do we have to sort of accept that our feeds need to be filled with people we don't agreed with, in the interests of being awake to different views?

[22m00s] [Jane B. Singer]: No, it's a really interesting thing that's going on with social media, and the extent to which the information that we get is tailored partly by us and partly by algorithms and various other things we can talk about ... but I want: if just real quickly ... we can talk more about that, but I want to come back to the idea that we can't do anything about fake news. I actually think we can do a lot about fake news by checking it out. I mean: a lot of this comes back down to us. We can learn an awful lot, and we can find out what's fake if we work at it just a little bit, and refrain from passing things on through social media before we've done that. There is a ... one of the positive things that happened in 2016, and actually over the past couple of years, has been kind of an explosion of what are called fact checkers. So, there is ... there are organizations ... most of them either associated with or backed by media organizations, but basicly they are people who do journalistic kinds of things and they are able to provide, in a very accessible and sometimes entertaining way, assessments of what's true and what isn't. And ... you know ... but how many ... who goes and looks at fact checkers ... [... laughs ...] ... well, probably those of us here, and perhaps listening to the podcast. But I think, but they are there, and were people can do that. So I think there is some ability for us as people to hold the media to account, but not in a ... not necessarily in the way we think of that: hold the social media to account; hold the people who are trying to stir up hate through the media to account. We can do that, we just have to do it. [23m39s] [Andy Price]: It goes further than that, doesn't it Jane? It goes back further than social media. [23m39s] [Jane B. Singer]: Oh, absolutely. [23m41s] [Andy Price]: If we return to the Brexit case, we know that a large number of people ... and this isn't the criticism ... it's been our approach to the European Union for many years. A large number of people who were voting in the referendum don't really understand what the European Union is. [23m54s] [Jane B. Singer]: Yes! ... [... laughs ...] ... [23m54s] [Andy Price]: And not because, you know ... it's ... it's failure of politicians , as well as people, but no-one has really explained the social case for the European Union in Britain for many years. So, we've got a much older problem really, and it's about engagement with politics. We know that ... the numbers show us, over recent decades, that engagement with politics is in decline. It's in free-fall in places like the U.K., and thus in a sense it goes back to your point, Jane, about the people holding the media to account. We have to hold our political system to account. The only way we do that is actually by giving it a little more of our attention. ... [... laughs ...] ... [24m06s] [Patricia Hogwood]: Well, it's very important about what you said about fact-checking yea, maybe one of our tasks is to popularize fact-checking. Because for me, Andy [Price]'s point about the polarization of political debate, and; you know; the normalization of rhetoric that would have been considered unacceptable even a few years ago, has gone hand in hand with the main-streaming of populism, certainly in Europe. And we see it in almost every country. And one of the challenges facing political leaders in these upcoming elections is to try and keep the populist threat in check. I really think the French presidential elections might set the parameters for a pendulum swing back to the right, you know: we've been seeing this pendulum swing away from social democratic solutions to governance through more centre-right, and now possibly right-wing solutions. [25m19s] [Andy Price]: That's an excellent point, isn't it? There should be one thing we should say here: we can say this total ... as objectively as we can ... whether we ourselves are on the left or on the right. We know that, over the last few decades of neo-liberalism, the left has moved increasingly towards the centre ... [25m32s] [Patricia Hogwood]: Indeed. [25m33s] [Andy Price]: ... across the West. And that partly explains why the left across the West, as we traditionally understood it, is in decline. It's, you know, that itself is falling apart. The old locus of progressive politics has seemed to move towards the centre and the right, over the last 3 decades across the West, and we see it in the U.K, the U.S., in other parts of Europe. What, then, do we do? You know, I recently, [Nicholas William Peter] "Nick" Clegg, and a few other politicians, calling for a new progressive alliance in the U.K. And, in a way, we need something to replace the old traditional labour movements. We need another new progressive force. And that of course is feeding into the events we are talking about today. [26m14s] [Laura Hood]: So, is that an opportunity for 2017? Is that something that we could encourage among our leaders?

[26m21s] [Andy Price]: I think so, I think so; but it will take one thing that we have not seen for a long time as well ... Laura [Hood], and it will take: bravery. Real bravery amongst our politicians. You know: can any of us the last time a British politician stood up and made the progressive case for the European Union? People are scared around the issue of sovereignty and all the other things that make ... that fire people up in Britain about migration and control in borders. We are in desperate need of politicians to be brave, stand up and say: ok, look: this is what the European Union does, this is what it has given us, and this is the problem with the old ... [27m06s] [Jane B. Singer]: I absolutely agree and that's a really important point. I think, one of the things that we're also seeing, in this rise of populism, is a real ... a disappointment that our leaders in various spheres haven't done what Andy [Price] is calling upon them to do. But also we've lost trust in them to do what we think they should be doing across the board, and I think we see a huge loss of trust in our political leadership, in our media, in our ... you know, to some extent in academia: we certainly saw, in the Trump election, there was this complete riding off of people seen to be members of what might be called an elite society. And to some extent, one would ... you know, to some extent that's healthy; but to another extent it's very difficult to get that back once it's lost and I think that it's kind of lost at the moment, so ... [27m51s] [Laura Hood]: Yea, it was the same happening in the U.K. with the rejection of experts ahead of ... ahead of Brexit. [27m53s] [Jane B. Singer]: Absolutely, absolutely. [...] came right out and said that, although I think he was perhaps taken a little bit out of context. But yes: I mean, I think we absolutely saw that. People ... with Brexit, didn't know who to believe; and so they believed kind of what their gut was telling them in the first place. [28m15s] [Laura Hood]: We were talking about bravery, along politicians a moment ago. I wonder if we can sort of turn that lance on the British government as it heads towards Brexit negotiations, and depending on what happens in the Supreme Court, the aim is to begin Brexit negotiations in March. What does the British government need to do to reassure people who voted to remain in the European Union that they are not being forgotten and that their interests are not being neglected, even if they've lost the referendum. Andy [Price], perhaps that's one for you.

[28m48s] [Andy Price]: OK. yea, well, the first thing they should do is actually what the rest of the political system seems to have been asking them to do; since the 23rd of June, and that's actually give some more detail. You know, one thing that certainly isn't brave is; despite that they are being portrayed as such; is this idea of them keeping their cards close to their chest, because they don't want to ruin negotiation. That really doesn't wash, actually that doesn't ... you know ... doesn't give anybody any reassurance; even people who voted for leave. So, if they were able to [...] and deal with some of the divisions that we've already talked about ... we know how divided Britain now is amongst leavers and remainers. And we know the nature of debate is really quite problematic and getting more so it seems. So, you know, the brave thing for the government to do now, and the brave thing for Brexit in general to do now; is actually just start having the full and frank, and open conversation; you know with the ... one eye on negotiations, book full and frank conversations with people in Britain about what this means. And that's; you know; the real brave element that that would be. For the people who are in favour of Brexit, for the government to say: OK, look, people; we voted for this; here's what's gonna happen, but you should all know that here's some of the more difficult things that's going to happen to. Here's the positives, here's what we argued we could do. But, some of the things we've said; some of the things we want, we might not be able to achieve. We know that's the nature of politics. And it seems that, since the debate, that kind of idea of saying: OK, look, we voted one way, but we can't have it all our own way, disappeared from the ... from the discussions. And that now would be the brave thing to do, I think. [30m31s] [Patricia Hogwood]: I think that is a problem Andy, because the tone of the Brexit and the leave campaign was that we're doing this so that we can get all our own way. You know, there's possibly been some rather false expectations, laid by them, the leave campaign. [30m47s] [Laura Hood]: Does that mean there's a role for people who voted for Brexit in sort of detoxifying the discussion in 2017?

[30m54s] [Andy Price]: But, you know, it's a very good point; the leave campaign was based on some rather outlandish promises [...] Some things that can't be delivered. But one thing that we should remember: Theresa May wasn't involved in the leave campaign, and her government was not elected on a Brexit mandate. In a way, the Prime Minister is in a perfect position to actually say: OK, yea, the referendum has happened as you know; we ... some of use weren't on the leave campaign. We're now in charge; here's what we need to really address and we need to address that some of the things that we've promised are going to be difficult to achieve. And that's ... you know ... that's one of the worrying things about the May government, is that; that kind of obsession doesn't seem to be forthcoming. [31m31s] [Patricia Hogwood]: Yea, it's not happening. [31m34s] [Laura Hood]: Is there equally though a role for remainers to sort of resist the temptation to leap on every failure? Would that help? If sort of ... having a more measured discussion if we stopped sort of looking for chinks in the Brexit armour?

[31m46s] [Andy Price]: Well, that's a good question, on the remainers. But, I mean, remainers do have some ... you know: we talked earlier about the idea of us being more engaged in politics and more informed. When we see the examples of politicians misleading people, and we know that happened; a couple of times in the referendum campaign. Then we do have to call out, I think it's fine to call out. But you are right in another sense, that the narrative overall ... I mean; it's so painful for remainers, we know that, don't we? The idea of leaving the European Union, the idea of many people have plans of their children would travel around the European Union as freely as they did; all of these kind of things. There is a lot of pain there, but you're right; there needs to come a point where they say: well, remainers; conceed that they too can't get everything they want. Just like the leavers can't. The remainers can't have everything they want, after a democratic vote like this. But they have to say: OK, yea, we too will make concessions here, but we will always still make the case for A: the European Union; and B: for the fact that there was some misleading campaigning. [32m58s] [Laura Hood]: I think that also just takes us back to this discussion we were having about social media, which I sort of swirled you off from ... [... laughs ...] ... This idea of us diversifying our feeds, of embracing opinions that are different to our own. How can we do a bit more of that in 2017?

[33m08s] [Jane B. Singer]: Well, it's an important issue. I'm actually not sure that social media is the best way to diversify our views ... well particularly Facebook, so ... We're probably friends with people who, at some level, have a like view of the world to us, or have similar experiences, because those are the people that we know and are friends with. But there is another opportunity to diversify our media mix, just in general. We look at what ... particularly in the U.K., where there's ... where it's clear ... [... laughs ...] ... it's clear where different media outlets are coming from. You know: most people I know never watch Fox News. ... [... laughs ...] ... I told you were I'm coming from. And we need to do that, I mean, the ... we need to watch it, not just in terms of: ooh, gotcha, there's another stupid thing that they've said, but to watch it to understand what they are saying, to understand the perspective that their audience is getting and is coming from. So I think there's many opportunities to do that ... there's actually quite a lot of very good liberal and also very good conservative magazines and publications that we ... that are accessible to us. And I think, you know, those are well informed views that we may not disagree with, but they are well-informed views and we should understand what they are and learn from them. [34m33s] [Laura Hood]: OK. I think we've covered quite a lot of ground here. I feel a bit more optimistic about 2017 than I did about 2016. I wondered if you could all perhaps just give me one piece of advice that I can apply to my daily life tomorrow about how I, as a citizen, or indeed someone else as a leader, can make 2017 a nicer place to be than 2016. Patricia [Hogwood]?

[34m59s] [Patricia Hogwood]: Well, I would say: when you talk about contentious issues, make it constructive. [35m05s] [Laura Hood]: Andy?

[35m06s] [Andy Price]: Yea, I think that's a great point, isn't it? Because that's the other thing I was just thinking about when we were talking about the Brexit campaign. We don't ever want to stop disagreeing with each-other, because that's the nature of democratic politics. But it's just about, you know, it's about how we do it. We can disagree with each-other, and it not be necessarily the end of the world, and not be such a huge conflict, so I think that's absolutely right. My advice would be, in terms of the Brexit ... is quite an old-fashioned media advice. My advice would be: pick up a book or a chapter of a book, and just read as much as you can about the history of the European Union. What it's for. I know most of us have some idea of it. But we should always remind ourselves of the genesis of the European Union, in the conflict of the middle of the 20th century, and the more we remind ourselves of that, I think, the better. [35m45s] [Laura Hood]: And Jane?

[35m47s] [Jane B. Singer]: I think that, one thing we might all be able to do, and would be beneficial is to try to avoid stereotyping each-other. I think we've certainly seen that in Brexit, we've certainly seen that in the U.S. vote. There's a great tendency to say: the people who voted differently than I did are just wrong and they voted that way because they are X, Y and Z. And that's just not at all helpful. I think we need to ... [...] agreeing with my colleagues ... I think we need to do a better job trying to understand each-other and move forward from there. [36m23s] [Laura Hood]: Thank you very much Jane [B.] Singer.

[36m25s] [Jane B. Singer]: Thank you. [36m26s] [Laura Hood]: Thanks to you Patricia Hogwood.

[36m26s] [Patricia Hogwood]: Thank you. [36m27s] [Laura Hood]: And thanks for joining us down the line, Andy Price.

[36m30s] [Andy Price]: It's a pleasure. Thank you. [36m35s] [???]: Happy new year, everyone!

[36m43s] [Annabel Bleigh]: And with that, it's time for us to say our goodbyes to 2016. Thanks for listening in to The Anthill this year. We hope you've enjoyed it as much as we've enjoyed talking to so many brilliant academics. Do please tell your friends about us. And if you can: please tell us what you think about the show by giving us a review on whichever platform you use to download your podcasts.

[36m56s] [Gemma Ware]: A big thanks to all the academics who've spoken to us this episode, and to the journalism department of City, University in London for letting us use their studios. Don't forget that The Anthill is brought to you by The Conversation UK. We're a charity funded by UK universities and research bodies. Do check us out at TheConversation.com, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks for listening in. Goodbye!

[37m22s] [Annabel Bligh]: Goodbye!


[0m00s] [Gemma Ware]: It's been quite a year, hasn't it?

[0m02s] [Annabel Bligh]: I'll say. First Brexit, then Trump. I mean: I keep waking up to some news alert that I was not expecting.

[0m07s] [Gemma Ware]: Yea, but you know ... this global whirlwind, this political maelstrom that we are all in, doesn't seem to be slowing down in any way.

[0m14s] [Annabel Bligh]: Yea, I think we better get ready for more to come in 2017.

[0m28s] [Gemma Ware]: Welcome to The Anthill, a podcast from The Conversation. I'm Gemma Ware ...

[0m33s] [Annabel Bligh]: And I'm Annabel Bligh ...

[0m35s] [Gemma Ware]: So, in light of everything that has been going on in 2016, in this episode, we'll be asking some academics to give us their take on the big themes that have emerged this year; and take a look at what might happen next in 2017. We'll talk about what lies in store for your Europe next year, ...

[0m51s] [Patricia Hogwood]: I think the European Union now really has to pull itself together, or ... or, risk falling apart. [0m57s] [Annabel Bligh]: We'll also talk about our responsibilities as consumers of the media ...

[1m01s] [Jane B. Singer]: We can do a lot about fake news by checking it out. I mean: a lot of this comes back down to us. [1m07s] [Gemma Ware]: ... and about what we can do to hold our leaders to account in 2017.

[1m11s] [Andy Price]: You know: we think about what we have got to do better for 2017; I think one of the key things we've all got to start doing ... and I speak from a politics background ... is: pay more attention. [1m21s] [Annabel Bligh]: But first I am going to try and explain a concept that has taken a bit of a beating this year: and that's globalization. 2016 saw anti-establishment nationalist parties around the world come into power. Britain voted to take back control and leave the European Union. Americans voted for Donald Trump who promised to make America great again. And it's a trend that looks set to continue in 2017. One of the frontrunners in the French elections is the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, and support in Italy is rising for the anti-Euro five star movement led by Beppe Grillo. At heart, these political movements represent a backlash against the dominant economic force of our times: globalization. The last 20 years have seen an acceleration of global trade, with money, people and just all this stuff easily transported around the world at break-neck pace. To understand the evolution of globalization and attitudes towards it, I spoke with Steve Keen, an economist at Kingston University in London. He explained how the idea of free trade took hold in the early nineteenth century, thanks to a political economist called David Ricardo.

[2m31s] [Steve Keen]: So the argument was first put, in the technical sense, by David Ricardo, and he was writing in the early 1800s, and at that stage, the main rival that England faced was Portugal. And he was facing people in Parliament and his own intellectual circle, saying: well, if we open up trade with Portugal, which would be by abolishing [what was called the] Corn Laws. Portugal is better than us at everything, therefore we'll lose out and industry will go into decline. But Ricardo's argument was a very simple one. Imagine it takes 120 men to make a certain quantity of wine in England, and it takes 90 men to make a certain quantity of cloth. And then in Portugal it takes only 80 men to make the same quantity of cloth and, say, 70 to make the quantity of wine. So, Portugal is more efficient at both of those industries. What Ricardo argued was that if England specialized just in producing cloth, and Portugal specialized just in producing wine, then you get higher efficiency out of Portugal, the best efficiency put out of England. There'd be more of both wine and cloth, you could trade the excess and everybody benefits. Now, that really has become the one-trick-pony of economic theory ever since: it's about how you shuffle things around, you'll improve specialization. So that's the argument in favour of it at an intellectual level. [3m49s] [Annabel Bligh]: So the idea was that this combination of countries specializing in one type of good or service, and trading freely with others doing the same, would increase productivity, and lower costs for all countries involved. The logic was, that so long as the gains produced from this were shared out evenly, everyone would benefit. But this hasn't happened. As Steve explained, there have been winners and losers from globalization, as manufacturing has been moved around the world.

[4m12s] [Steve Keen]: What's actually going on in that, is you have ... if you imagine two economies which are sanding along quite nicely, like what was called Golden Age [...] growth, and you then relocate production from one of those countries to a third-world country, and export back; the workers in the first-world country lose their jobs. The workers in the third-world country get a job, but they get much lower salaries. There is a profit margin shared between the capitalists in both countries. You definitely get gains in terms of distribution of income, from the workers to the capitalists, in both countries. The workers in the third world definitely gain, which is one of the reasons you see such support for globalization in China, and most of Asia. But the workers in the first world lose their jobs, and the argument that they can find other work to do, assumes full employment ... assumes there are actually positions for them to go to. Now, the reality is that hasn't been the case and Joe [Joseph] Stiglitz came out saying this in, back in the early 2000s, with a wonderful book called "Globalization and its discontents". So, the gain is ... it's [...] class distribution of income from workers in the first world, to workers and capitalists in the third world, and capitalists in the first world; with the double whammy of course: you produced [...] in the source country. [5m25s] [Annabel Bligh]: For many economists, the solution is to find a better way of re-distributing the gains of globalization. But few have come up with a good way of doing so. And Steve is critical of the idea.

[5m38s] [Steve Keen]: The reason, by saying that, revolt against globalization beginning effectively in the working class areas of the first world, is because they have been screwed by this. No two ways about it. And all the economic talk about: ah, if we'd share the gains from trade more fairly ... I mean: the gains from trade ... the gains exist from investment. That's where the gains come from: investment and innovation. If this is happening, then what's occurring back in America is: they are not doing that investment, they are not doing that innovation. So you don't get the actual improvement in technology and knowledge. What you get into the high level ... so, [if you speak now the] ... Silicon Valley work is [...] very nicely, because they are the ones who actually design the products in the first place; but the production lines we used to have there for working class labour and so on, disappear. So there is a lot of frustration building up out of this, and it comes back to the essential question of: what's an economy for? And we've forgotten that it's ... economy has to provide a living for the majority of the people [...], or if it doesn't you get what we used to call peasant revolts under the feudal system, we are now getting worker revolts under capitalism; and it's worker revolts like the ones that elected Donald Trump ... that have it looking like Marine Le Pen might be the winner in France, that they're going to give Beppe Grillo control in Italy. All this sort of stuff is a legitimate revolt, which my profession ... and I consider I'm a rebel in my own profession ... [... laughs ...] ... is trying to de-legitimize by saying: oh, there are gains, we could have just shared them more fairly; let's just keep on doing all this stuff and share them more fairly. [It's about time they] got realistic. [7m02s] [Annabel Bligh]: So what exactly does 2017 have in stall? To find out how global trade might change as a result of Brexit and Trump, I spoke with Maria Garcia, a Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Bath. Despite Donald Trump's isolationist rhetoric, she doesn't think his presidency will see the US close its doors to trade any time soon.

[7m23s] [Maria Garcia]: On the one hand, Donald Trump has won an election on a very strong narrative; against certain aspect of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, against [...] to open these products being produced in developing countries ... on the other hand, he himself is a business man. He is selling out his cabinet with leaders from business and from industry. In a sense, these are the people who have benefited from globalization, from breaking down barriers to trade and services globally. Trump himself: his business empire has outlets and golf courses and hotels across the world. So, I think there is going to be an interesting dichotomy there. [8m03s] [Annabel Bligh]: When he becomes president, Donald Trump will have a huge constituency of people in the U.S. who have benefited from globalization to contend with. One thing he has made clear is that he will not sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP trade agreement. This is a trade deal that took 7 years to negotiate, and involves 12 countries including Japan, Australia and Mexico. Instead, Trump has mentioned moving towards a more bilateral approach to trade.

[8m28s] [Maria Garcia]: By negotiating individually with each country, the United States has a lot more power and a lot more say on what goes in the agreement because they can also play countries off each-other, either purposefully or as a by-product of the individual negotiations. If you are, say Peru, and you see that the country next to you; Columbia; is negotiating a trade deal with the United states, and they're likely to be exporting similar products as you are; so avocado, for instance. So you think: you know the avocados are going to now be cheaper in the United States because they won't negotiate over [...]. So, the idea is that the Peruvian avocado farmers will then lobby their government and demand that the government also enters into negotiations with the United States, so that they have the same level of access and are not worse off then they were previously vis-à-vis Columbia. That's the idea of a domino-effect taking place. [9m21s] [Annabel Bligh]: So 2017 could see the U.S. strengthening its trade position. Europe, meanwhile, is seeing a different kind of shift in its approach to trade. This was sparked by criticism to its now stalled trade-deal with the U.S: the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP.

[9m52s] [Maria Garcia]: The new European Union trade policy, the trade-[...] policy, is quite striking in its wording; in the sense that it does not really read like a trade policy. It talks a lot about human rights, about the environment, about social life. It is really taking on board a lot of the criticism that civil society raised against the now stalled negotiations of the trade agreement with the United States. So this is really trying to engage with those concerned about secrecy of negotiations with this regard for [labour-...] and all of these things. [10m11s] [Annabel Bligh]: The extent to which these principles will inform negotiations in 2017 and trump the interest of big business, remains to be seen. But this new approach to trade at least offers hope of a brighter future. For economist Steve Keen, governments would be better off abandoning their obsession with free trade. Instead, they should focus on developing their industrial policies. He's not calling for closed borders and a return to tariffs, but he argues an economy will do better if it develops its own industries.

[10m39s] [Steve Keen]: So South Korea is a classic instance on that front. So is Japan. When you look at what they actually did ... and a guy called Dani Rodrik has done a lot of good work on this front ... what they did initially there was go against the whole argument for free trade. They protected their own industries. But they protected them under the duress that protection would drop over time. They had to improve their products, they had to improve their efficiency. And so, if you think of what Japanese ... I'm old enough to know what Japanese cars looked like in the 1950s, 1960s; and they were jokes, you would never buy one unless you were just trying to save money. Of course fast forward 40 years, Japanese cars are high quality and they are one of the elite brands. And the same thing applied with South Korea as well. So they start off protecting an industry to some degree, in various ways: local purchase advantages and ... as rather not as just tariffs, but they force it to industrialize and develop. Now, what happens of course, over time, is: because they are improving efficiency and improving a product. We all benefit from that. More so than we would benefit from dropping all trade barriers one day and saying everything reshuffle itself around the planet. [11m46s] [Annabel Bligh]: Whether or not politicians in U.S. or Europe will heed Steve's advice is another thing entirely. But after a year of so much upheaval, this could be as good a time as any to change tack.

[11m59s] [Gemma Ware]: So, while economists and trade negotiators have all that to look forward to in 2017, some big court cases and crucial elections are looming on the horizon for our political leaders. At some point in January, the U.K. Supreme Court will rule on who has the right to trigger their Brexit process: either the government or parliament. Meanwhile, the rest of Europe will be dealing with those Brexit negotiations at the same time as preparing for two key elections in France and Germany.

[12m22s] [Annabel Bligh]: Our politics editor Politics Editor, Laura Hood, has pulled together a panel of experts to discuss how both our leaders, and we as citizens, can move on from the shocks of 2016 and embrace the year ahead.

[12m45s] [Laura Hood]: We, the people of the Western world; left and right; old and young; can hardly be said to have showered ourselves in glory over the past 12 months. We have been divided by fundamental questions about our values, and we have thrown ill-tempered tweets around like they are going out of fashion. And whether we admit it or not, we seem to have become alarmingly intolerant of each-others' views. International leaders have been tested in their abilities to respond to the needs and desires of their citizens, and they have been found desperately wanting. Populist antagonizers have led divisive campaigns to achieve progress, often resorting to the most underhand tactics to appeal to the least noble tendencies of their followers. And many voters are ending this year feeling as though they no longer understand the people with whom they share their everyday lives. How did we become to be so disjointed in 2016? And what can we do to recover? Joining me in the studio, here in London: our Patricia Hogwood, Reader in European Politics at the University of Westminster, and Jane [B.] Singer, Professor of Innovation Journalism at City, University of London. Joining us down the line is Andy Price, Head of Politics at Sheffield Hallam University. Thank you all for volunteering to sort the world out with me ... [... laughs ...] ... I want to start by talking about what 2017 has in store. Of course, January will see Donald Trump take office in the U.S., but what are the other pressure points that we can expect, Patricia?

[14m07s] [Patricia Hogwood]: Well, I think the pressure points for the European Union are going to come between spring and summer 2017. The EU's informal leadership alliances are really going to have to be redrawn, because of the shake-up of the member states' top leadership. We have a series of really important elections and political decisions, either just made or coming up. President Hollande, France, has indicated that he will not stand again for presidence. That leaves the field open to the right or the far-right. Spain's minority government is really only tolerated because the option to that government was a third general election in the course of one year, which would have been extremely damaging for the legitimacy of Spanish state. Really, of the informal leadership group in the EU, only Angela Merkel has a chance of remaining in post into 2017. She will be fighting as lead-candidate for her Christian-Democratic Party in the 2017 German federal elections. So only she will remain, possibly. This means that the informal [...] that has helped to lead the member states in the European Union will be scattered and will have to be reformed. The other pressure point that would fall between spring and summer 2017 is possibly the Brexit process. [15m31s] [Laura Hood]: What do you feel current leaders need to do to respond to the kind of sentiments that have been expressed by voters in 2016?

[15m40s] [Patricia Hogwood]: In the short-term, they really need to put the differences aside. Because the European Union is facing multiple crises now. If you'd ask me, after the Brexit vote: will this destabilize the European Union? I would have said no. But given the subsequent developments, I think, the European Union now really does have to pull itself together or risk falling apart. So, the first thing they have to do is talk to one another, and they have to put some considerable differences aside. They need to face key challenges in the European Union, including a good honest look at whether austerity politics is working in the Euro-zone. They have to make an arrangement for incoming asylum seekers, whereby all of the member states take on asylum seekers according to their resources, which isn't happening at the moment. They've got a number of neighbourhood challenges in ... very serious ones, including how to deal with EU-Russian relations, how to deal with Turkey. And it looks like Turkey's bid for European membership is really at an end now ... and of course they've got all the problems in the Middle-East. So, they really do have to pull together at this time. And were it not only with one-another, but also with the leadership of the institutions of the European Union. There has been an emerging rift between some of the member state leaders and some of the leaders of the European Union institutions that has to be mended. [17m05s] [Laura Hood]: I presume you talk about Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker, ...

[17m08s] [Patricia Hogwood]: Indeed. [17m09s] [Laura Hood]: They've not had a great year, in 2016. What do you think they need to do in 2017 to re-ignite passion to the European project?

[17m18s] [Patricia Hogwood]: They are doing quite a lot behind the scenes, as part of their regular work. There is another problem I should have mentioned, really. A problem with emerging authoritarianism in some of the member states, particularly the central and eastern European member states. This really does threaten the core identity of the European Union. I think Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk and others really need to make a stronger political statement about what the EU really stands for in the future and what the benefits of the European Union are. [17m58s] [Laura Hood]: Jane [B. Singer], the media coverage around some of these issues reflects many of the tensions of 2016. It's been quite extreme and uncompromising. Do you have any thoughts on how we can consume that media in a more sensible way, maybe in a way that doesn't further fuel the problem?

[18m15s] [Jane B. Singer]: I mean, I think that what we see in the media is a replication or reflection ... a different form of what we see in the electorate. I mean: it's becoming increasingly bifurcated. And I think not just bifurcated in terms of where they stand on the issues, the different outlets in the UK; but also how they talk about them. And I think that, say, one of the things that we want to talk about today is how we can make a better 2017 than 2016 was, and I think that is some ways an impediment. I think that, increasingly, the media are facilitating the ability of people to reinforce their own ... not just information ... but their own views, and not really even acknowledge any others. We definitely see that in the media. [19m07s] [Andy Price]: If I can come back to Jane on that. Interestingly, you know: we think about what we have got to do better for 2017; I think one of the key things we've all got to start doing ... and I speak from a politics background ... is: pay more attention. And paying attention to things like where the media has gone in this country. Where the mainstream media has gone. And, you know, the response to the Court of Appeals decision is a great indication of that. Let's be honest here: some of the responses from places like the Daily Mail and the Express were unacceptable to a functioning, solid democracy. They were unacceptable responses. And we've kind of lost sight of that in the past. And I have been thinking a lot about this lately and discussing this with other people lately. Perhaps, in 2017, one of the big new concepts that we'll be dealing with, is this idea that we shouldn't normalize Donald Trump in the U.S., that we shouldn't normalize that kind of approach to politics. Well, if that's the case; I think in the U.K., we might have to think about de-normalizing some of the problematic aspects of our political debate. And part of that might be the media reaction to the Court case and similar media responses to issues that confront us in 2017. [20m17s] [Jane B. Singer]: Yea, no, I think that's really important. But, I would say, that; really; the only people who can do that, are the people ... [... laughs ...] ... I mean: it's the public, it's the readers. You know: we have to vote with, you know, our pens and our fingers: where we click. Because particularly the media that you mentioned, but to some extent all media are going to respond to want to draw a reaction from their audience. I mean: it can't be the government coming in and saying: you are going to do this or that. And personally I also think it's problematic to have regulators making little air quotes that you can't see on the podcast ... [... laughs ...] ... Come in and do it as well. I think that we, as a public, have to kind of step up and say what kind of media we want, just as we step up and say what kind of politics we want. [21m05s] [Andy Price]: Yea, I couldn't agree more. That's absolutely true. [21m08s] [Laura Hood]: I think a big part of this comes down to our social media consumption towards the end of the U.S. election. There's a lot of talk firstly about the issue of fake news, but also this idea that we are tailoring our feeds in our Twitter-accounts, in our Facebook-account, and on Snapchat even, to filter out people whose views we don't agree with. I personally saw a lot of people on my Facebook feeds announcing that they would be un-friending people who voted for Donald Trump; and I thought: well, that's not really gonna to help the situation ... [... laughs ...] ...

[21m44s] [Jane B. Singer]: Tempting though, isn't it? ... [... laughs ...] ... [21m48s] [Laura Hood]: In 2017, do we have to sort of accept that our feeds need to be filled with people we don't agreed with, in the interests of being awake to different views?

[22m04s] [Jane B. Singer]: No, it's a really interesting thing that's going on with social media, and the extent to which the information that we get is tailored partly by us and partly by algorithms and various other things we can talk about ... but I want: if just real quickly ... we can talk more about that, but I want to come back to the idea that we can't do anything about fake news. I actually think we can do a lot about fake news by checking it out. I mean: a lot of this comes back down to us. We can learn an awful lot, and we can find out what's fake if we work at it just a little bit, and refrain from passing things on through social media before we've done that. There is a ... one of the positive things that happened in 2016, and actually over the past couple of years, has been kind of an explosion of what are called fact checkers. So, there is ... there are organizations ... most of them either associated with or backed by media organizations, but basicly they are people who do journalistic kinds of things and they are able to provide, in a very accessible and sometimes entertaining way, assessments of what's true and what isn't. And ... you know ... but how many ... who goes and looks at fact checkers ... [... laughs ...] ... well, probably those of us here, and perhaps listening to the podcast. But I think, but they are there, and were people can do that. So I think there is some ability for us as people to hold the media to account, but not in a ... not necessarily in the way we think of that: hold the social media to account; hold the people who are trying to stir up hate through the media to account. We can do that, we just have to do it. [23m36s] [Andy Price]: It goes further than that, doesn't it Jane? It goes back further than social media. [23m39s] [Jane B. Singer]: Oh, absolutely. [23m40s] [Andy Price]: If we return to the Brexit case, we know that a large number of people ... and this isn't the criticism ... it's been our approach to the European Union for many years. A large number of people who were voting in the referendum don't really understand what the European Union is. [23m57s] [Jane B. Singer]: Yes! ... [... laughs ...] ... [23m57s] [Andy Price]: And not because, you know ... it's ... it's failure of politicians , as well as people, but no-one has really explained the social case for the European Union in Britain for many years. So, we've got a much older problem really, and it's about engagement with politics. We know that ... the numbers show us, over recent decades, that engagement with politics is in decline. It's in free-fall in places like the U.K., and thus in a sense it goes back to your point, Jane, about the people holding the media to account. We have to hold our political system to account. The only way we do that is actually by giving it a little more of our attention. ... [... laughs ...] ... [24m06s] [Patricia Hogwood]: Well, it's very important about what you said about fact-checking yea, maybe one of our tasks is to popularize fact-checking. Because for me, Andy [Price]'s point about the polarization of political debate, and; you know; the normalization of rhetoric that would have been considered unacceptable even a few years ago, has gone hand in hand with the main-streaming of populism, certainly in Europe. And we see it in almost every country. And one of the challenges facing political leaders in these upcoming elections is to try and keep the populist threat in check. I really think the French presidential elections might set the parameters for a pendulum swing back to the right, you know: we've been seeing this pendulum swing away from social democratic solutions to governance through more centre-right, and now possibly right-wing solutions. [25m21s] [Andy Price]: That's an excellent point, isn't it? There should be one thing we should say here: we can say this total ... as objectively as we can ... whether we ourselves are on the left or on the right. We know that, over the last few decades of neo-liberalism, the left has moved increasingly towards the centre ... [25m37s] [Patricia Hogwood]: Indeed. [25m38s] [Andy Price]: ... across the West. And that partly explains why the left across the West, as we traditionally understood it, is in decline. It's, you know, that itself is falling apart. The old locus of progressive politics has seemed to move towards the centre and the right, over the last 3 decades across the West, and we see it in the U.K, the U.S., in other parts of Europe. What, then, do we do? You know, I recently, [Nicholas William Peter] "Nick" Clegg, and a few other politicians, calling for a new progressive alliance in the U.K. And, in a way, we need something to replace the old traditional labour movements. We need another new progressive force. And that of course is feeding into the events we are talking about today. [26m14s] [Laura Hood]: So, is that an opportunity for 2017? Is that something that we could encourage among our leaders?

[26m22s] [Andy Price]: I think so, I think so; but it will take one thing that we have not seen for a long time as well ... Laura [Hood], and it will take: bravery. Real bravery amongst our politicians. You know: can any of us the last time a British politician stood up and made the progressive case for the European Union? People are scared around the issue of sovereignty and all the other things that make ... that fire people up in Britain about migration and control in borders. We are in desperate need of politicians to be brave, stand up and say: ok, look: this is what the European Union does, this is what it has given us, and this is the problem with the old ... [27m05s] [Jane B. Singer]: I absolutely agree and that's a really important point. I think, one of the things that we're also seeing, in this rise of populism, is a real ... a disappointment that our leaders in various spheres haven't done what Andy [Price] is calling upon them to do. But also we've lost trust in them to do what we think they should be doing across the board, and I think we see a huge loss of trust in our political leadership, in our media, in our ... you know, to some extent in academia: we certainly saw, in the Trump election, there was this complete riding off of people seen to be members of what might be called an elite society. And to some extent, one would ... you know, to some extent that's healthy; but to another extent it's very difficult to get that back once it's lost and I think that it's kind of lost at the moment, so ... [27m52s] [Laura Hood]: Yea, it was the same happening in the U.K. with the rejection of experts ahead of ... ahead of Brexit. [27m54s] [Jane B. Singer]: Absolutely, absolutely. [...] came right out and said that, although I think he was perhaps taken a little bit out of context. But yes: I mean, I think we absolutely saw that. People ... with Brexit, didn't know who to believe; and so they believed kind of what their gut was telling them in the first place. [28m15s] [Laura Hood]: We were talking about bravery, along politicians a moment ago. I wonder if we can sort of turn that lance on the British government as it heads towards Brexit negotiations, and depending on what happens in the Supreme Court, the aim is to begin Brexit negotiations in March. What does the British government need to do to reassure people who voted to remain in the European Union that they are not being forgotten and that their interests are not being neglected, even if they've lost the referendum. Andy [Price], perhaps that's one for you.

[28m51s] [Andy Price]: OK. yea, well, the first thing they should do is actually what the rest of the political system seems to have been asking them to do; since the 23rd of June, and that's actually give some more detail. You know, one thing that certainly isn't brave is; despite that they are being portrayed as such; is this idea of them keeping their cards close to their chest, because they don't want to ruin negotiation. That really doesn't wash, actually that doesn't ... you know ... doesn't give anybody any reassurance; even people who voted for leave. So, if they were able to [...] and deal with some of the divisions that we've already talked about ... we know how divided Britain now is amongst leavers and remainers. And we know the nature of debate is really quite problematic and getting more so it seems. So, you know, the brave thing for the government to do now, and the brave thing for Brexit in general to do now; is actually just start having the full and frank, and open conversation; you know with the ... one eye on negotiations, book full and frank conversations with people in Britain about what this means. And that's; you know; the real brave element that that would be. For the people who are in favour of Brexit, for the government to say: OK, look, people; we voted for this; here's what's gonna happen, but you should all know that here's some of the more difficult things that's going to happen to. Here's the positives, here's what we argued we could do. But, some of the things we've said; some of the things we want, we might not be able to achieve. We know that's the nature of politics. And it seems that, since the debate, that kind of idea of saying: OK, look, we voted one way, but we can't have it all our own way, disappeared from the ... from the discussions. And that now would be the brave thing to do, I think. [30m29s] [Patricia Hogwood]: I think that is a problem Andy, because the tone of the Brexit and the leave campaign was that we're doing this so that we can get all our own way. You know, there's possibly been some rather false expectations, laid by them, the leave campaign. [30m43s] [Laura Hood]: Does that mean there's a role for people who voted for Brexit in sort of detoxifying the discussion in 2017?

[30m50s] [Andy Price]: But, you know, it's a very good point; the leave campaign was based on some rather outlandish promises [...] Some things that can't be delivered. But one thing that we should remember: Theresa May wasn't involved in the leave campaign, and her government was not elected on a Brexit mandate. In a way, the Prime Minister is in a perfect position to actually say: OK, yea, the referendum has happened as you know; we ... some of use weren't on the leave campaign. We're now in charge; here's what we need to really address and we need to address that some of the things that we've promised are going to be difficult to achieve. And that's ... you know ... that's one of the worrying things about the May government, is that; that kind of obsession doesn't seem to be forthcoming. [31m26s] [Patricia Hogwood]: Yea, it's not happening. [31m28s] [Laura Hood]: Is there equally though a role for remainers to sort of resist the temptation to leap on every failure? Would that help? If sort of ... having a more measured discussion if we stopped sort of looking for chinks in the Brexit armour?

[31m45s] [Andy Price]: Well, that's a good question, on the remainers. But, I mean, remainers do have some ... you know: we talked earlier about the idea of us being more engaged in politics and more informed. When we see the examples of politicians misleading people, and we know that happened; a couple of times in the referendum campaign. Then we do have to call out, I think it's fine to call out. But you are right in another sense, that the narrative overall ... I mean; it's so painful for remainers, we know that, don't we? The idea of leaving the European Union, the idea of many people have plans of their children would travel around the European Union as freely as they did; all of these kind of things. There is a lot of pain there, but you're right; there needs to come a point where they say: well, remainers; conceed that they too can't get everything they want. Just like the leavers can't. The remainers can't have everything they want, after a democratic vote like this. But they have to say: OK, yea, we too will make concessions here, but we will always still make the case for A: the European Union; and B: for the fact that there was some misleading campaigning. [32m42s] [Laura Hood]: I think that also just takes us back to this discussion we were having about social media, which I sort of swirled you off from ... [... laughs ...] ... This idea of us diversifying our feeds, of embracing opinions that are different to our own. How can we do a bit more of that in 2017?

[32m57s] [Jane B. Singer]: Well, it's an important issue. I'm actually not sure that social media is the best way to diversify our views ... well particularly Facebook, so ... We're probably friends with people who, at some level, have a like view of the world to us, or have similar experiences, because those are the people that we know and are friends with. But there is another opportunity to diversify our media mix, just in general. We look at what ... particularly in the U.K., where there's ... where it's clear ... [... laughs ...] ... it's clear where different media outlets are coming from. You know: most people I know never watch Fox News. ... [... laughs ...] ... I told you were I'm coming from. And we need to do that, I mean, the ... we need to watch it, not just in terms of: ooh, gotcha, there's another stupid thing that they've said, but to watch it to understand what they are saying, to understand the perspective that their audience is getting and is coming from. So I think there's many opportunities to do that ... there's actually quite a lot of very good liberal and also very good conservative magazines and publications that we ... that are accessible to us. And I think, you know, those are well informed views that we may not disagree with, but they are well-informed views and we should understand what they are and learn from them. [34m15s] [Laura Hood]: OK. I think we've covered quite a lot of ground here. I feel a bit more optimistic about 2017 than I did about 2016. I wondered if you could all perhaps just give me one piece of advice that I can apply to my daily life tomorrow about how I, as a citizen, or indeed someone else as a leader, can make 2017 a nicer place to be than 2016. Patricia [Hogwood]?

[34m40s] [Patricia Hogwood]: Well, I would say: when you talk about contentious issues, make it constructive. [34m47s] [Laura Hood]: Andy?

[35m48s] [Andy Price]: Yea, I think that's a great point, isn't it? Because that's the other thing I was just thinking about when we were talking about the Brexit campaign. We don't ever want to stop disagreeing with each-other, because that's the nature of democratic politics. But it's just about, you know, it's about how we do it. We can disagree with each-other, and it not be necessarily the end of the world, and not be such a huge conflict, so I think that's absolutely right. My advice would be, in terms of the Brexit ... is quite an old-fashioned media advice. My advice would be: pick up a book or a chapter of a book, and just read as much as you can about the history of the European Union. What it's for. I know most of us have some idea of it. But we should always remind ourselves of the genesis of the European Union, in the conflict of the middle of the 20th century, and the more we remind ourselves of that, I think, the better. [35m28s] [Laura Hood]: And Jane?

[35m30s] [Jane B. Singer]: I think that, one thing we might all be able to do, and would be beneficial is to try to avoid stereotyping each-other. I think we've certainly seen that in Brexit, we've certainly seen that in the U.S. vote. There's a great tendency to say: the people who voted differently than I did are just wrong and they voted that way because they are X, Y and Z. And that's just not at all helpful. I think we need to ... [...] agreeing with my colleagues ... I think we need to do a better job trying to understand each-other and move forward from there. [35m59s] [Laura Hood]: Thank you very much Jane [B.] Singer.

[36m00s] [Jane B. Singer]: Thank you. [36m01s] [Laura Hood]: Thanks to you Patricia Hogwood.

[36m03s] [Patricia Hogwood]: Thank you. [36m03s] [Laura Hood]: And thanks for joining us down the line, Andy Price.

[36m06s] [Andy Price]: It's a pleasure. Thank you. [36m07s] [???]: Happy new year, everyone!

[36m14s] [Annabel Bleigh]: And with that, it's time for us to say our goodbyes to 2016. Thanks for listening in to The Anthill this year. We hope you've enjoyed it as much as we've enjoyed talking to so many brilliant academics. Do please tell your friends about us. And if you can: please tell us what you think about the show by giving us a review on whichever platform you use to download your podcasts.

[36m34s] [Gemma Ware]: A big thanks to all the academics who've spoken to us this episode, and to the journalism department of City, University in London for letting us use their studios. Don't forget that The Anthill is brought to you by The Conversation UK. We're a charity funded by UK universities and research bodies. Do check us out at TheConversation.com, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks for listening in. Goodbye!

[37m07s] [Annabel Bligh]: Goodbye!


Please note that the names of the speaker per transcribed paragraph might have been undeliberately attributed wrongly, due to human errors.

Add new comment