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The populist signal: Time for Labour to end machine politics

  • Date(s)
    29 September 2015
  • Time
  • Location
    Beachview Restaurant, 135 Kings Road, Brighton, BN1 2HX
The populist signal: Time for Labour to end machine politics

Labour’s election defeat leaves it in a tricky bind: how to appeal to its former coalition of Scotland, working-class voters and urban liberals? In a major Policy Network and Barrow Cadbury Trust report, Claudia Chwalisz argues Labour needs to start by tackling deeply rooted alienation from the political system. Large swathes of voters are put off by a traditional, hierarchical party system that leaves them feeling voiceless in our collaborative and interactive age. In this democratic void, populists have stirred up reactionary and hyperbolic debates on issues like immigration, Europe and welfare, creating divides and undermining social cohesion.

The report draws on new polling and international case studies to make a case for democratic innovation – new ways of engaging people that draw participants by lot and focus on deliberation. To counter populists feeding off of a politics of grievance, Labour should consider building new institutions that empower people to collaborate and contribute to the change they want to see.

The rise of populists can be a corrective signal for democracy if parties experiment with new ways of reconnecting people with politics. This goes beyond devolution between different levels of government elites, down to communities and individuals themselves.


Claudia Chwalisz, policy researcher, Policy Network

Katie Ghose, chief executive, Electoral Reform Society

Matthew Goodwin, professor of politics, University of Kent and author of Revolt on the Right

Phil McCauley, acting chief executive, Movement for Change

Emma Reynolds, Labour MP

Stella Creasy MP

Chair: Michael McTernan, acting director, Policy Network


Partner: Barrow Cadbury Trust

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