"Populism is something we are going to have to experience before we realise it’s not very sensible."
Speaking about the rise of the far-right and far-left at a Reuters Newsmaker Event with Sir Harold Evans, Mr Blair said that:
“At the same as you find congregations on social media, you’ve also got a fragmentation in conventional media. And you’ve got increasingly the media in the UK being divided between a hard-right and a hard-left. That then reinforces the political parties moving in a more partisan direction. If you’re trying to become a candidate, the first thing you’ve got to do is get selected by your political party. But if your grassroots activists are being maintained in a perpetual state of grievance and anger by a combination of conventional and social media, if you’re not playing into that anger you’re going to get pushed to the side by someone who goes right into that.”
Reflecting on leadership in politics, Mr. Blair said that “leadership is about stepping out, not stepping back. But when you’re stepping out it’s good to look behind you and find someone. The thing about social media is that it disorients the politician as they look behind them and they’re not sure what they’re seeing.” He added that “democracy is not just about the form of your government, it’s about content, information and debate. It’s about how you create a conversation amongst the public in which people are hearing the other person’s point of view. This is much more difficult today.”
Mr. Blair also spoke about the result of the EU referendum, saying that:
“Britain has of course voted to leave the EU, but my view is we should keep an open mind. We should see how these guys get on. Let’s see their negotiation. Let’s see what they bring us. Let’s see what the terms are, what the effect is on our business, on our industry, on our people, on their lives, on our economy. I’m not saying you can reverse this , but I am going to wait and see what the negotiations come up with. I think there are a lot of people in Britain who will do this. There are 16 million people who voted to Remain; they’re entitled to have a voice.”
Further info, including a link to the full video can be found here.