Opinion

Personal views from University of Bath researchers on the news of the day

Topic: Uncategorized

US Elections 2016

  

📥  Uncategorized

As the US takes a new direction with the election of Donald Trump as its next president, University of Bath researchers from the Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies and Institute for Policy Research are on hand to provide expert analysis and commentary.

For media interested in finding out more about researchers available see our US election experts list and contact our press office on 01225 386319. Get a flavour below of what our experts have to say about Donald Trump's surprise win over the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

The race for the White House enters its final day. (Image courtesy of skeeze / 10207 images)

The race for the White House enters its final day. (Image courtesy of skeeze / 10207 images)

Professor Nick Pearce, Director of the Institute for Policy Research, says:

Once again, mainstream progressive politics has been found wanting. Trump gave voice to deep wellsprings of racism in American society, and now stands as a global figurehead for nativist, far fight movements.

The European Union will now face massive challenges: defending its Eastern borders against an emboldened Putin; defending an embattled global economic order against rampant protectionism; and defending itself against resurgent fascism and the break-up of its historical project.

Read Nick Pearce's blog, 'A World Collapsing'


Professor David Galbreath, Professor of International Security, says Donald Trump's win will change American defence policy and relations with other members of NATO.

Watch his commentary on US defence policy, NATO and Russia

Professor Galbreath is an American, from Tennessee, who has lived and worked in the UK for the last 17 years. What are his thoughts on the future of the so-called special relationship between the US and Britain?

Watch his commentary on the special relationship and Brexit


Professor Charlie Lees, Professor of Politics. says:

(1)  The American electorate has deliberately given the Washington elite a collective slap in the face.

(2)  Like Brexit, Trump’s election is a cry of rage from voters who have seen their way of life under attack in recent decades. The difference is that, whereas Brexit will transform the UK, a Trump Presidency could transform the whole world.

(3)  The election of Donald Trump brings to an end the world that emerged with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. All of our assumptions about the benefits of free trade, the resilience of the Western alliance, and in particular the future of NATO, have been shattered. America has turned its back on the world and we will all be poorer for it.

(4)  The current tide of angry nationalism in Western democracies has been turbocharged by Donald Trump’s victory. You only have to look at who has welcomed the result around the globe to know that we are at the start of a dangerous period in world politics.

(5)  In the sort term, a Trump victory will make Theresa May’s job of delivering Brexit easier. In the long term it leaves the UK even more isolated than it was before.


Professor Bill Durodie, Chair of International Relations, says:

Donald Trump’s win in the US presidential election is a victory for the anti-politics of our times. It ought not to have been completely unexpected as the Republican and Democratic parties he sidelined on his way to the White House have been devoid of political principles for over a generation. The moment should wake up all those who prioritise pragmatism and process management over the need for vision and values.

Hillary Clinton certainly eased his way by fighting a campaign bereft of ideas and appealing initially to the mere biological fact that she was born a woman. When push came to shove she descended to Trump’s level, focusing on his personality flaws rather than policies, and labelling his supporters deplorable. Her emails exposed her to be not so much a security risk as someone lacking direction and convictions of her own.

The period ahead will be uncertain and turbulent for all. But it will also offer an opportunity, for those savvy enough to seize it, to re-inject some principles into an otherwise dead body politic, paralysed by the technocracy so many resented and sensed themselves alienated from. Trump is the beneficiary of this mood rather than the driver of it and further afield real progress will require engaging those who voted.

For now it behoves us to respect the democratically endorsed wishes of 120 million Americans rather than to question democracy itself - an outlook that is far worse than anything Donald Trump is held capable of doing and that is part of the reason so many voted for him in the first place.'


Dr Matthew Alford, Teaching Fellow in Politics, says:

The seemingly inevitable prospect of a Clinton victory weighed heavily on me overnight:  a candidate already so bathed in blood she would surely have rushed to open up the taps, with severe consequences for Syria, Russia, and to ourselves. In a political system where the Head of State is particularly unrestrained in foreign affairs, what he or she wants to destroy should be the central concern.

Come morning, the imperative is quite different.  We must encourage the incoming Trump administration to solidify, appreciate and formalise the inconsistent but positive commitments the President-elect has made during his campaign:  no first use of nuclear weapons; minimal military intervention overseas, and a better relationship with the rest of the world - especially Moscow. In such points, there are seeds of hope, even optimism.  For now.


Dr Bruce Morley, Lecturer in Economics

Although after the announcement of the Trump victory there was a fall in the financial markets, with the FTSE 100 index down about 2%, since then UK markets have gradually recovered. In addition the dollar has moved very little against the main currencies such as the pound. Although the main impact will be on the US markets, the performance of the UK market suggests it shouldn’t be too volatile.

The main economic uncertainty relating to the financial markets is future US trade policy, with Donald Trump suggesting some forms of trade restrictions with countries that run large trade surpluses with the US. However the detail of this policy is not yet known and whether it would pass through Congress or the Senate is also questionable despite the Republicans winning both houses.


Media interviews

Dr David Moon explained to BBC Somerset how Donald Trump won a clear victory despite a knife-edge result in the popular vote.

Listen to the interview

Dr Benjamin Bowman, whose family comes from Ohio, joined BBC Radio Bristol's John Darvall on his mid-morning programme to weigh up the outcome.

Listen to the interview 

Professor Bill Durodie gave his views of the election outcome and its implications to Ben McGrail on BBC Somerset.

Listen to the interview


Before the votes were cast, Bill Durodie and Charlie Lees offered their insight into America's choice.

Explaining the appeal of Donald Trump - Bill Durodie

 

For more videos from Bill on other aspects of the campaign, see https://vimeo.com/190537834 and https://vimeo.com/190537833.

The EU response to the US elections - Charlie Lees

For more videos from Charlie on other aspects of the campaign see https://vimeo.com/190688019 and https://vimeo.com/190687676 .

 

Comment on the Nice Attacks

📥  Public Policy, Society, Uncategorized

The massacre in Nice of almost 100 people, including many children and inflicting serious injuries on many others, as they enjoyed the Bastille Day celebrations by the beach on the south of France, seems almost too predictable. There is now a long and tragic roll call of similar incidents in the last few years alone. We all know that it is not possible for security agencies to assure the safety of all the people, in all places, at all times. It ought to act as a reminder to us all, as well as our leaders that there are no security solutions to what, at their heart, are social problems.

Too many of the readily disaffected in society today are effectively indulged in their dangerous fantasies by authorities reluctant to challenge their views - for fear of being accused of racism or imperialism - and unsure as to where they wish to lead their societies or what values they should hold. From nursery onwards children are now taught that their feelings are sacrosanct, in schools teachers report not wishing to broach difficult subjects in history for fear of causing offence, and by the time they reach university students demand, and are provided with safe spaces and trigger warnings to protect them from having their, by then unquestionable opinions challenged.

The rise of sheer barbarism that we now witness on a regular basis ought also remind us however that the small groups and individuals who perpetrate such acts in the name of those who they never consulted are not held to account by any moral code or community. That, in the long run, is their ultimate weakness - that they stand for nothing and have no-one behind them - so long as we can clearly articulate our own purposes and engage our people in these.

There is no fixed EU to remain in

📥  EU Referendum, Society, Uncategorized

The election of two Five Star Movement candidates in Italy to the Mayoralties of Rome and Turin should act as a wake-up call to those still campaigning for the UK to remain in the EU.

Right across Europe and beyond – including in the US with Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders – mainstream political parties are being challenged by movements described variously as populist or anti-establishment.

These are loathed, sneered at, tolerated or occasionally, grudgingly accepted, by the old guard according to their particular outlooks, hues and figureheads.

On the old Right of the political spectrum in Europe they encompass Nigel Farage’s UKIP that came third in terms of votes cast at the 2015 British General Election, Marine Le Pen’s recalibrated Front National in France, Geert Wilder’s Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, and Norbert Hofer’s Freedom Party that so nearly took the Presidency in Austria a month ago.

On the old Left, the most notable include Podemos in Spain and Syriza in Greece, whose Leader, Alexis Tsipras fought a futile stand-off with the EU over debt repayments – a conflict settled, in the end, by just three individuals, none of which were Greek, behind closed doors in Brussels.

In Italy, in part due to the once seemingly endless saga surrounding Sylvio Berlusconi and his eventual replacement by an unelected EU bureaucrat in 2011, there are several parties fighting for the accolade of being anti-elite, which include the Lega Nord that adopts a regionalist perspective and comedian Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement, which campaigns against corruption in politics.

While emanating from differing directions, what unites these various groups and individuals who – as in the American case need not even have previously been aligned to any side or indeed may have swapped sides – is their identification of a problem with the mainstream elites and their appeal to those who sense themselves as having been by-passed or overlooked by parties that used to represent them.

None can claim to being fully formed and indeed there are quite evident problems with the maturity of some of the main players and their organisations, though this should not blind us to their ability to galvanise significant numbers of people such that we ought to expect them to change and develop into more mature movements in due course.

The lazy approach is to sneer at them and especially their current leaders with a view to dismissing the entire enterprise. That would be a grave error for, as we see now in Italy, they are all placed to achieve significant breakthroughs, if not now, at some point in the not too distant future.

And what this means for the Remain campaigners in the current debate in the UK over membership of the EU is that their very name and aim – to Remain – is erroneous. No matter what the outcome from the referendum on 23 June, there will be no remaining in an unchanged Union.

The lie perpetrated by the Leave side to this debate is that there is a significant Brussels machine hell-bent on usurping our national sovereignty. In fact, it is popular sovereignty that is under threat as the real decision-makers in the EU are figures that are well-known to us all, including David Cameron, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande.

But that European Union – the one primarily driven by its Council – is only as strong as the sum of its parts. And if all of its parts are under attack domestically, through the rise of the alternative movements we see elected in parts of Italy today, then it will be a very different EU irrespective of the outcome.

It is to this most pressing need that all ought to be turning their attentions to in the immediate future – the need to reconnect politics with the people. And it is that that only the Leave side represent – in whatever corrupted form they present it in.

 

Two questions about Brexit

  , ,

📥  EU Referendum, Uncategorized

Two things intrigue me about Brexit, although I have not yet seen them discussed.

First, one of the key concerns of the Eurosceptics and of the PM has been to re-assert the sovereignty of Parliament. However, Parliament was allowed no role in endorsing the terms on which the PM sought to negotiate, nor was it asked to give its blessing to the deal he brought back and commend it to the electorate. I did not however hear the Eurosceptics complaining at this. Curious.

Second, it seems to be assumed that if the referendum decides for Brexit, it will be incumbent on Parliament and Government to implement this decision: incumbent in a political - but hardly a constitutional - sense. But that will not mean exit the day after the referendum result is in: there will be a perhaps two-year process of negotiation, to establish the new relationship between the UK and the EU27. After all, the UK will not want to be suddenly without any relationship with the EU (even North Korea is not in that situation).

It is also however widely recognised that the EU might well negotiate a hard bargain, if only to discourage others who might think of heading for the exit. Will the UK  Parliament and Government feel themselves obliged to persist with exit however hard those terms? Or will they realise that under those conditions they would have no alternative but to take back the responsibility - I suppose Cameron might want to call this his 'emergency brake Mark 2' - if only to put the terms on offer at that point to a new referendum?  It is those terms on offer in 2018 that will be far more important in the long run than the terms which Cameron brought back from Brussels to launch the referendum campaign.

We are I suppose unlikely to get that far down the road. The Conservative Party is showing signs of fracture: in the circumstances sketched above, its fabled capacity to hold together, for the sake of retaining power, may prove insufficient. Cameron would in any case be unlikely to survive a vote for exit in June: whoever succeeds him would have to clear up the mess.

Read more comment and analysis from Bath researchers in relation to the EU referendum http://blogs.bath.ac.uk/opinion/category/eu-referendum/.

 

EU environmental meeting takes GLAMURS project to next level

  , , ,

📥  Low carbon futures, Uncategorized

Participants involved in our EU-funded GLAMURS project met for the third Consortium meeting the second week in October here in Bath. The project has an ambitious goal to investigate the prospects for and obstacles to the adoption of more sustainable environmentally-friendly lifestyles. Involved in GLAMURS are 11 partner institutions from right across the continent.

Opening the meeting, Professor Colin Grant, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Internationalisation) reminded participants of the timeliness of our project, in view of the upcoming UN Conference on Climate Change, to be hosted in Paris from 30 November – 11 December, as well as pressing questions over individuals’ own environmental behaviours.

EU GLAMURS project looks to shift people's environmental behaviours. Image credit: NASA

EU GLAMURS project looks to shift people's environmental behaviours. Image credit: NASA

Promoting a shift and tipping point in environmental thinking

Regulation on environmental matters has changed considerably over the years, responding to the issues and reflecting the ability of policy-makers to address environmental pollution. This has focused mostly on the large polluters, where emissions at source are relatively easy to observe, yet as the world’s population expands and the demand for better living standards rises around the globe, how individuals conduct their own lives with regard to the environment will be increasingly in focus.

Through GLAMURS, we are looking at how seemingly small individual behaviours – not recycling or turning off lights for instance - can have significant adverse impacts when scaled up across a country, region or global population. On a global level, climate change is a case in point.

(more…)

 

Volkswagen in crisis: how to salvage their reputation?

  , , , , ,

📥  Society, Uncategorized

Volkswagen board members meet today to decide on action as the ramifications of the emissions scandal unfurl. For one of the world's best known and trusted brands it surely won't be an easy road to recovery. To restore its trustworthiness VolksWagen has two tasks: to deal with the immediate crisis and to address the underlying problems within the organisation that have led to the crisis.

The need for sincerity

In terms of the immediate crisis, research on breaches of trust with other institutions tells us that the best course of action for CEOS is to apologise, in person, in front of people rather than a Twitter feed, express profound regret and order an immediate investigation.

This action of apology needs to be in person and in front of key audiences, customers, employees, environmental groups etc. The reason for it needing to be in person is because that is how people gauge the sincerity of the CEO or director. People gauge trustworthiness partly by actions and decisions of leaders but also their behaviour. Pithy statements down a Twitter feed are not enough right now.

Exits may be swift

The investigation of the immediate crisis has to be conducted by some independent third party who has not been implicated by the crisis. They could be internal or external but the process of the investigation needs to be open and transparent. Due to this need for independence and transparency, it may be impossible to keep key managers implicated in the deceit within the organisation. We may see swift exits.

In the medium term, and depending upon the outcome of the immediate investigation, in order to restore trust companies usually have to address one or some of the following factors: their ability or competence to fulfil their mission, be that car manufacturing or managing airlines or whatever; their basic levels of benevolence towards their communities, employees, customers, societies - are they entirely self seeking or are they bothered about the impact of their activities upon others; and, of course ,the basic integrity or morality of the company. What unspoken values underpin their decision making?

The heart of the problem

In Volkswagen's case their competence as a car manufacturer is not in doubt. What is in doubt is their integrity, their transparency and honesty: their moral compass as well as their sense of responsibility towards the environment, their customers and society as a whole. These issues can only be addressed by looking deeply into the way they take decisions, the way they choose their leaders and the way they measure and reward those leaders for the decisions they take. It's the underlying culture that causes these crises and that will take years to address.

Professor Veronica Hope Hailey is Dean of the School of Management

 

Our experts in the media

📥  Uncategorized

Throughout the course of the election campaign, experts from the University of Bath have been called upon by the local, national and international media to give their views on what's happening.

Here's a snapshot of our election coverage to date:

International

Cameron, Heading for Win, Faces Tough Challenges Ahead - David Cutts for the Wall Street Journal on Election Night (8 May)

Nationalism on the march across Europe - Aurelien Mondon for CNN (30 April)

Greens in Final Push to Double UK Commons Seats in Bristol - David Cutts for Bloomberg (28 April)

National

Why the performance of the Lib Dems could determine the General Election - Huffington Post (5 May)

What the Lib Dems need to do in the South West - David Cutts on Radio 4's Today Programme from 1 hour, 20 minutes (1 May)

The rise and rise of 'Surging Sturgeon' - Charlie Lees for MailOnline (27 April)

General Election 2015: Decoding the manifesto minutiae - Michael Beverland quoted on the BBC Election pages (21 April)

TV Election Debate - Michael Beverland was interviewed for BBC 5Live Radio from 2 hours, 6 minutes (15 April)

Who do you trust - business leaders or economists? - Chris Martin picked up by Robert Peston for BBC (1 April)

Who will be in seventh heaven? - Mike Beverland assesses the strengths and weaknesses of candidates ahead of the 7-way TV debate (1 April)

'Are you OK Ed? Are you all right?' - Michael Beverland quoted in MailOnline (27 March)

Regional

Prospects for an EU Referendum following the General Election - Nick Startin for BBC Somerset (12 May)

The crisis of democracy - Aurelien Mondon discusses turnout and engagement in this year's General Election with BBC Bristol (9 May)

What happened in the West - David Cutts used throughout BBC 1 Points West's Election Special (8 May)

Dissecting the results in Bristol and surrounds - David Cutts for BBC Bristol's Election Special (8 May)

Analysis on North East Somerset seat - David Cutts in the Bristol Post (8 May)

Bad night for Labour - David Cutts in the Bath Chronicle (8 May)

Setting the scene for the General Election - Nick Startin on BBC Wiltshire (6 May)

Latest Ashcroft polls and the likely impact in the South West - David Cutts for BBC Points West and BBC Bristol (both 27 April)

Who will come out top in the debate tonight - Mike Beverland quoted in the Bath Chronicle

The likely election outcomes - Charlie Lees for BBC Gloucestershire looking ahead to 7 May (30 March)

The Conversation

European reactions to the UK election result - Aurelien Mondon (11 May)

Experts respond to exit poll - Fran Amery, Charlie Lees and David Cutts (7 May)

What does the next government hold for higher education - Roger King (6 May)

Want to form a coalition? Follow this simple step-by-step guide - Charlie Lees (6 May)

The next government will need to heed housing, if we’re to avoid another financial crisis - Bruce Morley (30 April)

Hate the players, love the game: why young people aren’t voting - Ben Bowman (30 April)

Manifesto Check: UKIP risks it all on a Brexit - Sue Milner (24 April)

A political party is threatening the union – and it’s not the SNP - David Moon (20 April)

Manifesto Check: Plaid Cymru’s top policies - Chris Martin (18 April)

Manifesto Check: UKIP’s top policies - Sue Milner (17 April)

Manifesto Check: the Conservatives take a combative approach to the EU - Sue Milner (16 April)

Manifesto Check: Tory defence policy talks tough but cuts deep - Simon Smith (16 April)

State of the Nation: welfare shifts towards the working poor - Paul Gregg (16 April)

Manifesto Check: the Conservatives' top policies - Sue Milner (14 April)

Manifesto Check: Labour leaves the door open to downscale Trident - Simon Smith (13 April)

Manifesto Check: Plaid Cymru rejects austerity, but their policies could cost taxpayers - Chris Martin (2 April)

Fact Check: will renewing Trident cost £100 billion? - Simon Smith (19 March)

Flat whites and fixies won’t save the economy, but there is some value in the creative pivot - John Hudson (17 March)

Cover story: Lib Dem manifesto tries to offer something for everyone - Steve Wharton (16 February)