This talk goes behind the headlines to examine the deeper psychological drivers for the UK’s ongoing and increasingly polarized Brexit debate. It examines the social psychological underpinnings of the Leave campaign, showing how such a collective mindset emerges from deep-rooted thoughts and feelings associated with threats to the identity of the large group. The talk will show how this still not well understood but very powerful field of large group psychology has implications that go beyond the economic considerations behind Brexit, to include wider demographic, political, security and geopolitical concerns as well, and how it is part of wider disruption of thinking and political developments across the globe. The talk will finally suggest some possible ways to mitigate the negative effects of an existentially threatened large group identity, as exemplified in current events such as the Brexit affair.
About the Speaker
Professor, the Lord Alderdice, MB BCh BAO FRCPsych
As Leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (1987-1998), Lord Alderdice played a significant role in the negotiation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. He was the first Speaker of the new Northern Ireland Assembly (1998-2004) and then appointed by the British and Irish Governments to the Independent Monitoring Commission tasked with closing down terrorist operations and overseeing normalization of security activity in Northern Ireland (2004-2011). He has just completed a strategy report on the disbanding of the remaining paramilitary groups requested by the First and Deputy First Ministers of Northern Ireland.
He was Deputy President and then President of Liberal International (the world-wide network of more than 100 liberal political parties) from 2000-2009, and during the UK Conservative/Liberal Coalition Government was Chairman of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party in the House of Lords (2010-2014). PM David Cameron also appointed him to the UK Committee on Standards in Public Life (2010-2016). Formerly a Consultant Psychiatrist and Senior Lecturer in Psychotherapy, Queen’s University, Belfast and Visiting Professor at the University of Virginia (USA), Lord Alderdice is currently Director of the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict at the University of Oxford, a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Maryland (USA), Chairman of the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building and since the 2015 Westminster Election, Liberal Democrat Spokesman on Northern Ireland.