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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

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Trump and the Attraction of the Extremist Political Hard Man

Donald Trump’s sending of his followers to Congress (Wednesday 6th) to protest the certifying of Joe Biden’s election victory ended the way it inevitably would: in violence. That Trump sent his followers as he did was bizarre. A single protest by a few thousand people was never going to stop Congress doing its job. The protest, of course, turned into a riot and the storming of Congress. That it got so far was equally bizarre. The followers becoming violent was so predictable it was nothing less than astonishing that the Capitol Police, who knew well in advance about the protest, weren’t much, much better prepared. The photo below shows how well the nearby Lincoln Memorial was protected during the Black Lives Matter protest in June last year. That Congress wasn’t equally well-protected beggars belief. The astonishing ineptitude of the police operation – especially when compared to the Lincoln Memorial guard -has prompted accusations of racial bias. (No doubt fuelled by video footage of some officers opening barriers for protestors and protestors’ selfies with compliant officers inside the Capitol building) In the immediate aftermath the media pundits around much of the world are puzzling about what the storming of Congress means for… Read More

Race and Demographics: Biden’s Challenge

So, thankfully, Joe Biden got enough Electoral College votes to claim victory in the 2020 US presidential election. However, it is far from the landslide that the more wishful-thinking Democrats had hoped for and which might have obliged Donald Trump to concede defeat. As it is, Trump is threatening a barrage of lawsuits to challenge the results in several states, alleging electoral fraud. Given that a Michigan judge has already rejected the Trump campaign’s allegations as lacking any substance, as reported by CNN’s Jessica Schneider & Laura Jarrett, Trump may find he simply doesn’t have the backing of his sponsors and donors to pursue his case throughout so many courts. According to Sky News’ James Matthews, some of Trump’s closest advisers are against his continuing Tweets about electoral fraud and senior Republicans such as Maryland governor Larry Hogan and Congressman Adam Kinzinger are calling for Trump to cease these allegations. However, given Trump’s history of erratic behaviour, it is entirely possible that he may refuse to accept Biden’s victory and resist his own dismissal, using every tactic available to him, from the courts to white supremacist militias like the infamous Proud Boys. So unpredictable is Trump seen to be that there are… Read More

Could the Political Centre be making a Comeback?

    Could it just be that, with Bernie Sanders’ 13 April endorsement of Joe Biden as Democratic candidate in November’s presidential election – see the ABC News clip above – and the 4 April ascension of Keir Starmer to leadership of the Labour Party, the ‘centre’ is making a comeback in American and British politics? A new poll reported by The London Economic’s Jack Peat puts the centrist Starmer’s net favourability 50 points ahead of Jeremy Corbyn, the ‘hardcore leftie’ he succeeded. (Of course, Corbyn was not really the Marxist the right-wing media slandered him as, though his views  were well to the left of Labour under Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and even Ed Miliband) Meanwhile Sanders’ concession to Biden effectively signals the end of what might be termed the Democrats’ ‘hard left’ campaign to win the nomination for presidential candidate. (By ‘hard left’ here, we mean the leftie side of social democracy; again Sanders is nothing like the Marxist some on the hard right claim he is!) Biden is decidedly centrist in his politics – some might even argue right of centre – but that enables him potentially to pick up leftie Republican votes, especially those who are totally… Read More

Boris and Trump: How do They get away with it?

Boris Johnson has learned very well from his hero, Donald Trump. If the populist right-wing leader of a ‘democratic’ country contradicts himself repeatedly, breaks his promises, has a scurrilous personal life, makes deeply offensive and totally insensitive remarks about anything and anybody, and even tells bare-faced lies, he can get away with it. That’s provided he’s got the right-wing press totally on his side; they attack and smear his opponents with unsubstantiated half-truths and even outright lies, and its journalists avoid taxing the leader and his close political allies with probing questions. Even when the leader’s opponents are succeeding in exposing the corruption of the leader and his cronies. It also helps a great deal, if you have organisations like Cambridge Analytica and lots of Russian bots manipulating social media on your behalf. Daniel Dale at CNN is just one analyst who has delved into what he terms Trump’s “bombardment of lies — Trump’s unceasing campaign to convince people of things that aren’t true.” He goes on to write:- “Trump made more than 2,700 false claims this year [2019]. (We’re still calculating the final total.) Some of them were innocent slips, some of them little exaggerations. But a large number of… Read More

Johnson’s Victory does not create Certainty

So sad to say…but this disaster for our kingdom was pretty predictable.  In Remainers need Simple Messages and Charismatic Leaders, I bemoaned Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Swinson, both as ‘personalities’ and for the messages they delivered. Neither looked or behaved much like a statesman or a stateswoman. To give him credit, Corbyn, when given the chance, can come across as having gravitas; but it’s difficult to envision him going head to head with Vladimir Putin or Emmanuel Macron. Swinson’s message was so easily caricatured as ‘undemocratic’ and ‘disrespectful’ of the 2016 referendum. Corbyn’s message was actually, in its detail, quite reasonable…but not translatable into a simplistic soundbite like ‘Get Brexit done!’ It’s debatable as to whether the electorate actually wanted Boris Johnson or they simply didn’t want Corbyn (or Swinson). With a simple message and a charismatic leader, Labour should have walked this election. At the very worst, today we should be looking at a minority Labour government, supported by the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party. The Tories were so vulnerable on so many issues and Johnson is clearly non-empathetic and insensitive and has either gaffed, broken his word or outrightly lied so many times, it’s incredible that anyone… Read More

Remainers need Simple Messages and Charismatic Leaders

It’s somewhat astonishing that, in the second week of the UK general election campaign, the Conservatives are polling at an average of 39%, according to the Press Association’s rolling average of voter intentions (highlighted by the Evening Standard’s Rebecca Speare-Coles) – see below. True, Labour are creeping up, now on 29%. But, in what has been a calamitous 10 days for the Tories – from Jacob Rees Mogg’s highly-insensitive comments implying a lack of common sense amongst those who perished in 2017’s Grenfell Tower disaster to Boris Johnson’s hostile reception from South Yorkshire flood victims – Labour should be doing much better. But what about the poor old Liberal Democrats? When the latest (9 November) NatCen Poll of Polls – see below – puts Remain on 53% to Leave’s 47%, how come the Lib Dems have slumped from 21% to just 16%? Given that they are unequivocally Remain and would like to revoke Article 50 without even the formality of a second EU referendum, it is also somewhat astonishing that their voter intentions have slipped so much. Potentially disastrously so! While there are multiple factors accounting for these poll results – and the polls, as has been shown in both the… Read More

Money, Islamophobia and the Surge in Right-Wing Extremism

The mosque shootings in New Zealand on 15 March may represent a significant step up in anti- Muslim right-wing terrorism. At the time of writing, while there has been no further incident of major large-scale violence against Muslims, there has been a significant increase in anti-Muslim rhetoric and minor assaults, both verbal and physical, In the UK alone, in the week following the massacre in Christchurch, The Guardian’s Vikram Dodd reports: “…95 incidents were reported… between 15 March, the day of the New Zealand atrocity, and midnight on 21 March. Of those, 85 incidents – 89% of the total – contained direct references to the New Zealand attacks and featured gestures such as mimicking firearms being fired at Muslims…. Verbal abuse directed at Muslims in London in separate incidents is alleged to have included shouts of ‘you need to be shot’, ‘you deserve it’ and ‘Muslims must die’. Incidents were reported in Scotland, where a mosque was attacked; in Stanwell, Surrey, where police declared the stabbing of a teenager to be a suspected far-right terror attack; and in Lancashire. Meanwhile in Birmingham, police continue to hunt for those behind sledgehammer attacks on five mosques.” After the Charlie Hedo shootings in 2015, Juan… Read More

The Case for a Second EU Referendum is now compelling

Even if, following the departures of David Davis and Boris Johnson (and a minor slew of lesser Tories), Theresa May can impose a workable degree of collective responsibility on her new-look Cabinet….even if, as reported by BBC News (2018b), the 1922 Committee has yet to receive the full 48 letters from MPs required to trigger a ‘no confidence’ vote in her as leader of the Conservatives…even if there are no more big name resignations…the chances of May’s compromise fudge, supposedly accepted by all Cabinet members at Chequers last Friday (6 August), forming a viable starting point for negotiating the UK’s future relationship with the European Union are minimal. As Kirsty Hughes of the Scottish Centre for European Relations explained to The National’s Emer O’Toole: “This is the cherry picking that the EU has made clear will not be allowed to proceed…[the EU] will not go for such cherry-picking of the single market and the four freedoms.” The UK leaving the EU with no trade deal will indeed hurt companies in a number of member states. However, as been widely and consistently reported – eg: Paul Withers (2018a) in the Daily Express – for Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, the integrity of the single market and… Read More

Enoch Powell: Racist or Prescient?

30 April 2018 In April 2018 there was quite a  fuss about the 50th anniversary (20 April) of Enoch Powell’s notorious ‘rivers of blood’ speech. For example, Powell was described as “quite dishonest” by The Independent’s Sean O’Grady. Sky News’ Lewis Goodall argued at length that Powell was a racist and a populist. As reported by the likes of The Guardian’s Mark Sweeney and the Evening Standard’s Fiona Simpson , the BBC’s Radio 4 came under intense criticism for having broadcast the speech transcript (with critical analysis). Several expert contributors publicly dissociated themselves from the broadcast while former transport minister Lord Andrew Adonis threatened he would raise the matter in Parliament. So, it seemed appropriate to look again at Powell’s speech from an Integrated SocioPsychology perspective, explore how racist it really was, how prescient it was and how the contemporary United Kingdom looks in terms of Powell’s predictions and their impact. How relevant it is to today’s political landscape  is illustrated by Matthew d’Ancona who writes in The Guardian: “Powell was wrong about so much. Yet Powellism found its purest expression in the 2016 EU referendum result, which enshrined the convergence of two of his greatest fixations: hostility to immigration and opposition to Britain’s… Read More

Just what is Nigel Farage up to?

Well, one glance at the papers over the past few days and it’s pretty clear that Nigel Farage is back in a big way. He’s rather grandly attempting to shape the Brexit debate, reinvigorate –  if not relaunch – the Leave campaign and position himself as the Great Saviour of the referendum result of 23 June 2016. Not that Farage has ever exactly gone away; but his credibility as an influential politician has been in steady but sure decline for over a year. He may have been the first foreign politician to visit Donald Trump following his election; but, as reported by commentators such as The Independent’s Joe Watts (2016) any hope Farage had that Theresa May might use him as go-between with Trump were swiftly dashed by Downing Street. Then there was the disastrous endorsement of far-right Republican Ray Moore in the Autumn 2017 campaign for one of Alabama’s Senate seats. Not only did Moore lose the election in large part due to serious allegations of sexual assault but Farage foolishly defended Moore against the allegations – as reported by The Independent’s Andrew Buncombe (2017a). Perhaps the nadir of Farage’s post-referendum political life was last Monday 8th’s meeting with EU chief… Read More