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Matteo Renzi: EU leaders are turning a blind eye to crime

Renzi pointed today to a decline in spending power. Credit: Tony Blair Institute/Youtube

July 9, 2024 - 8:00pm

Former prime minister of Italy Matteo Renzi claimed today that a failure to address crime will risk opening the door to the far-Right.

The politician, who is head of the liberal Italia Viva party and served as PM between 2014-16, was speaking on a panel today at the Future of Britain conference organised by the Tony Blair Institute (TBI). Addressing his fellow panellists, former Finnish prime minister Sanna Marin and Italian MEP Sandro Gozi, Renzi attributed some blame for the rise of Right-wing populism to Europe’s current leadership.

“If we don’t accept the idea, to fight against the criminality, and the sentiment of fear of the poor people, of the middle class,” he stated, “I think we don’t win, and we open the doors to the far-Right populists.” Renzi referenced a Saturday article by former British PM Tony Blair, which urged Keir Starmer to take on a “​​tough new approach to law and order” and made particular mention of a “challenge in part of the Muslim community”.

The former Italian PM also pointed to a decline in spending power among the poor and middle class, as well as a lack of hope for the future, contributing to Right-wing populism’s ascent. “We have a problem with spending power,” he claimed. “The working class is in crisis, and the middle class is out of the game in day-by-day life. That is the first problem.” He argued that the lack of a vision for the future in Italy, driven in part by European red tape, has contributed to low optimism and mass emigration of intelligent young Italians who see few opportunities in their home country.

Marin, who like Renzi is employed by the TBI in a strategic role, was more reluctant to place responsibility at the feet of her own party for the rise of European populism. Her Social Democratic Party had managed major crises such as Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine while enjoying strong popularity, she argued. Instead, she suggested: “If we look at Europe’s history for the past 100 years […] there have been extreme Right parties — movements even — much, much worse than what we are witnessing right now.” Finland’s former prime minister added: “It actually grows from the same roots — fear of people, fear of change, resentment of government, resentment of power or the so-called ‘elite’.”

Populism, according to Renzi, is also a longstanding phenomenon in Italy. “If you consider populism as a startup,” he said, “Italy is Silicon Valley”. But the distinction he made today is that other political groups can prevent its rise by directly addressing the issues about which voters are most concerned.

“I think we have a cultural problem around the world,” Renzi said. “Without discovering again the meaning of the words ‘culture’ and ‘identity’,” he suggested, leaders will “continue to lose a part of the population”.


is UnHerd’s US correspondent.

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Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
11 days ago

“If we don’t accept the idea, to fight against the criminality, and the sentiment of fear of the poor people, of the middle class,” he stated, “I think we don’t win, and we open the doors to the far-Right populists.”
Crime should not be fought against for its own sake, but to defeat far-Right populism, which is the real crime.

Claire D
Claire D
11 days ago

‘Open the door to populists’

To me that sounds like:

‘Open the door to a true expression of the electorates wishes’

It doesn’t sound scary to me..
It sounds democratic.

Dylan Blackhurst
Dylan Blackhurst
11 days ago

“Crime should not be fought against for it its own sake
.”

Errrrrr, yeah it should be fought against for its own sake. Its crime. Illegal. Or am I wrong?

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
11 days ago

It’s called irony.

Dylan Blackhurst
Dylan Blackhurst
11 days ago

My bad!

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
11 days ago

These people are hopelessly deluded. Crime is an issue no doubt, one of the many negative outcomes of open borders. I think there is a glimmer of hope for Britain. Europe is a basket case.

Norfolk Sceptic
Norfolk Sceptic
10 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

If the crime isn’t an issue, why have that law?

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
11 days ago

It’s almost as if Tony Blair isn’t responsible for mot of these things.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
11 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

But he’s tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime.

Michael Clarke
Michael Clarke
10 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Tony Blair suggesting that the Government get tough on crime is more than a bit rich given that Blair has questions to answer before the International Criminal Court.

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
11 days ago

For God’s sake the EU ARE the criminals. No accounts signed off, corruption on an indusrial scale.

Dave Canuck
Dave Canuck
11 days ago

The problem with populists is they have no solutions to anything, only venting and anger. Simplistic nonsense in a complex world that amounts to nothing.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
11 days ago
Reply to  Dave Canuck

So if mainstream parties refuse to address existential issues like net zero and open borders, what’s the best approach for voters? Sometimes you need to break things before you can move forward and build things.

Dylan Blackhurst
Dylan Blackhurst
11 days ago
Reply to  Dave Canuck

Do you not think that the “complex blanket” is thrown just a little too easily?

Apparently what makes a woman is complex. Only it isn’t.

I wonder whether what we call complex is in fact painful and rather obvious. But no one wants to admit it.

Peter B
Peter B
11 days ago
Reply to  Dave Canuck

Wrong.
The populists appear when the legacy party politicians demonstrate they have no solutions.
The populist “solutions” have not been tried yet, so it’s premature to judge them.
I think you’ll also find that Ronald Reagan managed to simplify quite a few apparently complex problems and with some success. Educated people do have a tendency to over-complicate things (I speak from some experience here !). I think we’re in for another demonstration of the perverse effects of more and “better” regulation here in the UK.

Dave Canuck
Dave Canuck
11 days ago
Reply to  Peter B

Reagan was elite as it comes, was previously governor of California, and a long time member of the republican establishment. It’s absurd to think he was a populist, he actually understood what he was doing

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
10 days ago
Reply to  Dave Canuck

Huh? Of course you can be an elite member of the establishment and still be a populist. Populism arises when the establishment fails to meet the needs of its people. Plenty of people in the establishment can share those sentiments and adopt the populist agenda. In fact, that is what populism strives to achieve – a reordering of the establishment to better reflect the will of the people.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
10 days ago
Reply to  Dave Canuck

No. He was a quintessential populist. He said what people wanted to hear, he pushed back against the educated “superior” caste. He was everyone’s grandpa.
He honestly felt that Thatcherism was the best thing for the people because he hated socialism. And the American people agreed.
Sometimes populism is just about charisma. That’s why the powers-that-be are (sometimes) so scared of it.

Ex Nihilo
Ex Nihilo
10 days ago
Reply to  Dave Canuck

“only venting and anger”

Sounds like anti-Israel protesters

Peter B
Peter B
11 days ago

“Finland’s former prime minister added: “It actually grows from the same roots — fear of people, fear of change, resentment of government, resentment of power or the so-called ‘elite’.””
When will these people stop lying to us and themselves about why people support “populist” parties ?
I don’t see any “fear” amongst most people’s motivations.
How about these actual reasons: dislike of needless and destuctive change, frustration with the incompetence of governments, distrust of elites who have no practical experience of life and no accountability and cannot be removed, … ?
These poor saps even think they aren’t real elites, living in their own bubble (let’s call it TBI World). No, we’re only imagining these things !

Vesselina Zaitzeva
Vesselina Zaitzeva
10 days ago
Reply to  Peter B

Indeed. I cringed when S. Marin’s name appeared in the article. That woman had to resign after her (mainstream) party performed poorly at the elections. One of the major contributing factors was that she broke numerous rules, including security rules, by hosting a wild party in her prime minister’s residence. She also had to divorce because her husband, understandably, was not particularly happy that he stayed at home with their 5yo daughter, while his wife was partying with other men. So, she is yet another politician who breaks the rules of office and cannot even behave decently and be respectful to her family.
However, the article breathlessly refers to her success at managing COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine (how exactly is not explained, but for some reason her oh-so-popular government lost the elections). Btw, she was also among the many politicians who broke the COVID rules that they introduced themselves – but the rules are for lesser people, of course.
And now she is preaching ex catedra in her capacity of someone who has found a shelter in Tony Blair’s Personal Institute after failing miserably on so many fronts…
Am not going to dwell on all other cringeworthy things in this article.
Frankly, I would expect UnHerd to publish something more intelligent than this piece.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
11 days ago

But the distinction he made today is that other political groups can prevent [populism’s] rise by directly addressing the issues about which voters are most concerned.”
No sh*t, Sherlock.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
11 days ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

But that would be populism?

Vesselina Zaitzeva
Vesselina Zaitzeva
10 days ago

That would be the good populism, y’know.

Point of Information
Point of Information
11 days ago

“British PM Tony Blair, which urged Keir Starmer to take on a “​​tough new approach to law and order” and made particular mention of a “challenge in part of the Muslim community””.

Blair, always quick to stoke Islamophobia. Then and now. There are Muslim criminal gangs and criminal gangs in every other demographic, often across more than one. But TB only sees one. His “legacy” no doubt.

John Harris
John Harris
10 days ago

They’re the very same elites who opened the floodgates to intolerante, non integrated , non educated 3rd world muslims. Irony is lost on these morons.

Ex Nihilo
Ex Nihilo
10 days ago

Populists are routinely derided and condescended to with descriptions like “downwardly mobile” and “rural poor”, dog whistles for “losers”. Perhaps they are not the folks that the upper and upper-middle classes would like to have to their dinner parties; but what many of their betters don’t realize is that the populists represent a glimpse of what an enormous section of our population is headed for. The standard of living in the west is artificially founded on debt and eventually, when the fraction of tax revenue required to service that debt grows large enough or when the markets’ appetite for government bonds declines, the bubble will burst. The downwardly-mobile will have lots of company then and–oh my–how the world will change.