An interview with Antara Haldar by Antara Haldar

This week in Say More, PS
speak with Antara HaldarAssociate Professor of Empirical Legal Studies at the University of Cambridge, Visiting Professor at Harvard University, former Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and Principal Investigator of a Council Fellowship European research center on law and cognition.

Project union: In February, you suggested that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s attendance at parties at 10 Downing Street during pandemic lockdowns could seal his political fate. While Johnson survived a recent vote of no confidence, around 40% of Conservative lawmakers voted against him, with many citing the loss of public confidence in his leadership. Is this loss of confidence limited to Johnson or does it have wider institutional implications? Is this scandal good or bad for the rule of law in the UK (whose weaknesses you highlighted in 2019)?

Antara Haldar: I have just read a book called Friends, by FinancialTimes journalist Simon Kuper, on the Bullingdon Club, an exclusive Oxford drinks company that has brought us Brexit and other national and international delights. Kuper does an excellent job of chronicling the sense of impunity – and associated disdain for the “ordinary” person – that is all too common among England’s elite.

But, while these elites may get away with bending the rules in normal times, there are bound to be consequences when the majority sacrifice as much as they did during the COVID-19 shutdowns, and the disparity with the behavior of the elites is so striking. It has been gratifying to see Johnson’s popularity wane as people have come to realize the extent of this divergence.

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