Andy Beckett presents a completely destructive image of populism (This is a moment of truth for rightwing populists – but don’t celebrate yet, 23 October). There are various unlucky examples in our current age of how harmful populist actions might be. Nonetheless, he seems unaware of earlier and extra optimistic episodes of populism, particularly the founding of the Individuals’s celebration in 1891 within the US. This turned a big political celebration, gaining 8% of the favored vote when it fielded a candidate within the 1892 presidential election.

The origins of the Individuals’s celebration, also referred to as the Populist celebration, lay within the exploitation of sharecroppers and tenant farmers by enterprise monopolies and the banking elite. These agrarian staff had been plunged into debt, after taking up loans to fund investments in new farming tools, after they had been hit by droughts and falling crop costs, along with extortionate mortgage phrases and rates of interest.

The Populist celebration agitated for enormous political reforms, which included the popularity of unions, regulation of the railway trade, the direct election of senators, progressive earnings tax, and girls’s suffrage. These concepts had been thought of radical on the time, and nonetheless are!

The present drawback with populism is that the majority of it’s not real, however is both generated by cynical teams with a hidden curiosity, or is hijacked by unscrupulous politicians for ulterior functions. Nonetheless, there nonetheless are populist actions that serve a better goal. Watch out to not diss populism per se, because it has a distinguished pedigree. It’s the pseudo-populists who have to be challenged and delivered to heel.
Dr Stephen Blomfield
Sheffield

Andy Beckett’s piece on populism was an excellent dialogue of one of the crucial urgent questions of our time. I solely have one small quibble. He says we must always do not forget that populists do generally “get re-elected”.

However that’s not the purpose. Populism is democracy’s ugly sister. It prospers when the primordial democratic promise of political equality is negated by a dysfunctional political system. The reply is the utmost attainable diffusion of energy. It’s not an accident that federal methods are much less more likely to be contaminated by the populist virus than centralised ones. A radical overhaul of our dysfunctional political system is the one manner out of the populist lure.
David Marquand
Penarth, South Glamorgan

I disagree that the “predictable and cautious politics” of the Nineties and 2000s provoked an outburst of populism. It was as a result of these political intervals had been unstable that there was a backlash. The administrations of John Major and Tony Blair produced growth and bust, two large recessions with widespread unemployment and widening inequality.

The Blair authorities was nonetheless primarily Thatcherite regardless that it tried to fiddle across the edges to make issues a bit higher for the least prosperous. The inevitable crunch got here in 2007 exactly as a result of banking and housing remained unreformed. Then got here David Cameron, George Osborne and austerity. Populism is the muddled response towards 40 years of Thatcherism.
David Redshaw
Gravesend, Kent

David Runciman highlights the necessity for politicians with expertise and judgment when confronted with a disaster just like the Covid-19 pandemic (Boris Johnson is learning that in politics you cannot simply ‘follow the science’, 24 October). The issue is that our pluralist democratic system is just not designed to supply politicians with the knowledge and sensible expertise to make use of details in a related manner, however solely ones that may achieve resonance on the poll field. Each Boris Johnson and Donald Trump exemplify the deficiency.
Derek Heptinstall
Westgate-on-Sea, Kent



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