Education is an investment for the future, but the question is, what do we hope the future will be like? What are children of today being educated for – what issues will they grow up to confront, and with what kind of skills do they need? In their newly published book, Educating for Democracy in England and Finland (Routledge 2016) Andrea Raiker and Matti Rautiainen question the trend for increased assessment and competition in education. The authors call for education and learning of something more difficult to measure, yet with arguably great returns: democracy.

For what kind of a world is education currently preparing pupils? The recent years have witnessed a rise of extremist and populist politics and anti-democratic movements in several EU member states and globally. As a consequence of the deep and prolonged economic recession in Europe, the attitudes and values of people in Europe have hardened and populist politics have gained growing support. These developments have also been fuelled by the growing amount of immigration set forth by the humanitarian crises in Syria and the Middle-East. It seems that at least in Europe, both representative democracy and the views of individuals are leaning further and further away from the principles on social equality. Austerity politics are hurting the least well off, and people are more willing to blame individuals for their hardships.

Yet at the same time, as Raiker and Rautiainen (2016) point out, great progress has been made in global issues such as global warming, sustainability and human rights. This development would not have happened without educated  and critically reflective governance and the participation of citizens and societies globally.

According to Raiker and Rautiainen, the skills and qualities that have brought on the progress in these global issues are fundamental prerequisites needed for us living together both within and across national borders, as democratic societies. Therefore, these are the skills our school systems should be teaching children.


Learning skills for constructive coexistence

Education for democracy is essentially education for learning to live together. The skills ultimately needed for this are those which allow pupils to voice critical opinions to guide their citizenship: to be involved in society and to come together as equals to solve common issues. (Raiker & Rautiainen 2016.)

Students should be equipped with skills that allow for critical perception of common, global issues and solving these issues together through reflective, knowledgeable deliberation. This, more than the act of voting at the ballot box on election day, is what the authors understand by democratic citizenship. The book, Educating for Democracy, is a statement on not only the underlying political ideologies and conceptions concerning education, but can be seen as part of the wider discussions on the nature of democracy and democratic citizenship.


The Power to Change Society

The opposite of a democratic school would be a passive, or a passivating school. Such a school lacks participation, community, empathy and critical thinking. It’s a place where the teacher limits the conceptions of democracy by defining what is the good and correct way to act democratically, not giving room for the critical scrutiny of such conceptions. In such a school there are no possibilities for pupils to take part in decisions that affect themselves, and no time and space for working together with each other. (Raiker & Rautiainen 2016, Rautiainen & Räihä 2012.)

A passive school can be seen as a breeding ground for a generation that not only does not take an interest to vote in elections, but that does not even realise the opportunities it might have to affect decisions concerning themselves.

On the other hand, a passive school raises easy followers for populist politics and anti-democratic movements. In other words, a passive school raises students who don’t have the ability to assess information aimed at them critically or encounter their fellow citizens with empathy and understanding.

Raiker and Rautiainen (2016) see the fundamental task of schools to develop democratic living by cultivating communality and empathy – emphasis on the word develop, since democratic life is not something fixed and stagnant. The aims of education are twofold: raise pupils to be a part of society and to change that society. School should be, according to the authors, a platform where pupils could experiment with democracy from their own viewpoints.


What the Classroom Needs: Empathy and Communality

The idea enforced in the book is that educating for democracy should not be perceived rigidly as teaching a subject, or be limited to the contents of one class such as civic education. Rather, learning democracy happens through the everyday practices and principles of schools.

Echoing John Dewey (1966), Raiker and Rautiainen (2016) write that democracy should be experienced in the daily life of schools, not only taught in preparation for a “real life” that awaits pupils once they grow up. In fact, schools should be “miniature societies”, in which knowledge is transformed into lived, everyday action.

The thought of schools as “miniature societies” implies that just as society at large, schools too need to be organised in such a way that democratic life is possible. Democracy in nation states cannot exist without structures of government, elections, representative politics, media, and all other institutions that have been created to foster particular democratic practices. Neither can democracy exist in schools if there are no spaces, places, and structures that allow democratic life to happen.

For this purpose, two prerequisites of democratic life are especially noteworthy. The first is empathetic environments – something that seems to have been lacking in a lot of places lately. Democratic life needs empathetic environments; environments for being heard and being understood (Raiker & Rautiainen 2016).

The other prerequisite, greatly related to the first, is communality. Communality unites individuals and invites individuals to participate – it is “the stuff of democratic living”:

“The fundamental work of school is not just to impart and instill the knowledge and understanding required by society for economic growth and profit, it is also develop communality and communal life, the stuff of democratic living.” (Raiker & Rautiainen 2016, 154)

Communality refers to having common aims or values and shared responsibilities. The democratic community that the authors of Educating for Democracy in England and Finland hope schools would foster would recognise that the value of a person cannot be measured only in terms of economic growth and profit. The political climate in the times of economic crisis has increased the tendency to view people in terms of the expenses they create. Much less attention has been paid, both in the UK and Finland, on what these individuals can contribute to society. Raiker and Rautiainen write that democracy is a social and moral bind keeping together the individuals of society:

”Democracy is essentially about how a society relates to an individual, and how that individual relates to society.” (Raiker & Rautiainen 2016, 6)




Vilja Kamppila, M.Soc.Sc., is an intern at the Society Programme of The Finnish Institute in London. During her internship she is writing a discussion paper on practical means of education for democracy.








The Ambassador of Finland hosted a seminar based on the book Educating for Democracy in England and Finland on Wednesday 12th October 2016. In the spirit of open democracy, a live video from the event is viewable on our Facebook page

Speakers in the seminar included editors of the book Dr Andrea Raiker and Dr Matti Rautiainen, as well as Dr Neil Hopkins and Dr Mirja Tarnanen. The event was hosted by the Finnish Embassy, The University of Jyväskylä, The University of Bedfordshire and The Finnish Institute in London.



Dewey, J. (1966) Democracy and Education. New York: The Free Press.

Raiker, A. & Rautiainen, M. (eds.) (2016) Educating for Democracy in England and Finland. Principles and Cultures. 

Rautiainen, M. & Räihä, P. (2012) Education for Democracy: A Paper Promise? The Democratic Deficit in Finnish Educational Culture. Journal of Social Science Education, 11 (2), 7-23.


Life stories in the Jungle

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By: Aura Lounasmaa

Jungle houses dangerous animals, creepy crawlies and predators. In the Jungle there is no law, no order, no humanity. In the Jungle you learn to live like an animal. Jungle is dangerous, and yet intriguing. The media wants to get a look inside. Many want to go and help; visit; see; witness. Misguided, or perhaps deliberately misleading political campaigns were using the Jungle as a rationale for Brexit. For those on the outside, the idea of the camp as Jungle helps dehumanise the animals inside; only animals can live like this. This has been perpetuated by some of the media coverage from the Jungle, as shown in a recent report by Sumuvuori et al[i].

Zimako Jones, a refugee, an activist and founder of Ecole Laïque de Chemin des Dunes in the Calais unofficial refugee camp talks about the Jungle as a Forum, a new city, the true Calais. Choosing to call it by another name does not change the effect the Jungle has on forming public consciousness about the ‘refugee crisis’, the ‘swarm of migrants’ or the ‘benefit surfers’.

The camp in Calais is currently home to an estimated 5,000 people, including some 568 children, of whom 74% unaccompanied[ii]. During the winter these numbers were nearly twice as high. Fires, partly started as part of violent clashes between groups of residents, as was reported by the French police, but mostly due to the stun grenades used by the police themselves, are frequent. There is a shortage of food, shelters, clothes, blankets and clean water. Sanitation and waste control are intermittent. The camp sits on an old landfill with toxic waste. France is accepting asylum claims from the camp, but processing times are currently long and even after claiming, although accommodation should be provided, it is not currently available to all.

Most camp residents want to make their way to the UK across the channel on ferries, lorries or the Eurostar. Some want to come to the UK because they have family and friends here, others because they speak English and feel there is a better chance of building a life here, yet others because British involvement in the internal politics of their home countries has made them uninhabitable. People from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq are fleeing either Al Qaeda, ISIS, or both. Their question to us is: “Where should I go? If I stay in my country, the ISIS/Al Qaeda will kill me. If I join them to stay alive and keep my family safe, the British will bomb me. Yet, you don’t want me here.”

The recent Dubs amendment to the immigration bill means that unaccompanied minors from the camp can apply for asylum in the UK, although none have so far received one. A test case is also being heard regarding those who have served the British forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and are thus persecuted in their countries. Others will have to make it across the channel to make a claim, as the UK fears that accepting asylum applications from the Jungle would create a precedent and attract more people to make the perilous journey across the Aegean Sea and through Europe to reach Northern France. At least this is the official story by the Home Office. For the residents of the camp the Jungle remains untamed, unclean and unsafe. It is a sore reminder of the empty words of Western democratisation and human rights discourses. Residents express disbelief to have arrived at these conditions in the middle of Europe, where they thought they would be safe.

Beyond the misery and squalor, the Jungle is also a place where more than 20 nationalities and different religions, most coming from areas of war and conflict, live together, build lives, cafes, libraries and schools, volunteer at distribution centres, work as translators, write, take photos, paint and draw, form friendships, miss their families – and dream of a future. Although the conditions are inhumane, humanity survives and thrives.

Stable governance is difficult due to continuous changes in people and structures; evacuations and demolitions of existing structures by French authorities and continuous harassment and violence by the police, the human traffickers controlling the routes to the UK along with local mobs. Clashes between groups of residents are not uncommon. Yet, forms of deliberative government have emerged, with representatives, open meetings and a body of residents who actively negotiate with volunteer organisations and state actors on behalf of the residents. A large number of volunteers, together with the residents, run educational programmes, children’s centres, art therapy sessions, photography and drama courses, provide equipment and training for a radio station, library, schools, distribute food, clothing, sanitary products, build shelters and service and cultural centres, provide legal aid and medical services. The Jungle is full of humans, refusing to be brought to their knees.

I am teaching a university course on Life Stories in the Jungle in Calais, initiated by Professor Corinne Squire and run as a short course through the Social Sciences in UEL. The course consists of reading philosophical, political and biographical texts, including writings by Mandela, Plato, Malcom X and Selvon. Life stories are understood in this context as multimodal, incorporating visual and oral forms of telling, and politically and socially situated. As part of the course we have organised photography workshops, led by photographers Gideon Mendel and Crispin Hughes, a poetry workshop and discussion by a UK based refugee poet JJ Bola and finally in June a discussion about access to refugees and asylum-seekers to higher education in UK and elsewhere in Europe. 19 students were enrolled on term 2 in 2016 and 11 of those completed coursework using photos, recordings and written text as their medium for storytelling. The submissions were done through handwriting, recordings and other medium as computer and online access in the camp is scarce. The course has given some students the tools and the drive to pursue further formal education, either through programmes opening up in different European universities for asylum-seekers or through initiatives such as Kiron University[iii].

UK universities have also offered opportunities to refugees in light of the refugee crisis, including some direct access education in UK institutions and various scholarship schemes falling under the Article 26 principle of education as human right[iv]. The scholarships are all offered in different terms and actual availability and take-up of offers is currently unclear. The UK is committed to admitting 20,000 Syrian refugees in the next five years, selected on the eligibility criteria of most vulnerable people[v], and are unlikely to be in a position to begin or continue higher education directly upon their arrival in the UK. The UK universities, beyond our short course, are out of reach to most of the residents in the Jungle, yet there is a will to open up and welcome refugees in our HE community.

The short course has inspired some students to pursue further education, but as their chances of arriving and getting asylum in the UK are small, one might ask, why should this be of concern to UK institutions. We come back to what the Jungle means. The Jungle is out there, in a different country, across a sea. Perhaps, some of us tell ourselves, if we are no longer part of Europe, the Jungle will move even further, across another border. In reality however, the Jungle is one hour away from London. I step out of the Jungle, get on a train and I am in St Pancras, on the tube. I am transformed by the ease of that journey into a human, whereas my students, whom I left behind, become the animals we made them into,  just because they stay behind.

So what am I doing? What is my contribution? What separates me from the dehumanising gaze of the press and other onlookers? The division is not easy. Volunteer organisations and individuals go to great lengths to fundraise, to build, donate and help make life in the Jungle a little more bearable every day. A great deal of development literature is dedicated to showing the problems of poverty tourism which, although may be inspired by good intentions, has the result of further victimising the recipients of such voluntary efforts and constructing the recipients as objects of Western gaze[vi].

The Jungle has brought poverty tourism within our easy reach and we can now enter, bravely, the squalor, the dirt and the smell, take our souvenirs, our photos and stories and show them at home. However good the intentions behind such charitable trips are, the effects are always conflictual. On one hand, meeting people, looking at another human in the eye and saying hello, is an act of humanity. Taking that act and making it part of the greater discourse about the Jungle will, on the other hand, always contribute to the discursive construction of the place as othering. The Dublin agreement can also bring legal consequences to those whose images, names or stories have been taken and shared with or without their permission.

There is no easy way to make change. There are stories that need telling, but telling them right is a difficult task. Life Stories in the Jungle aims to equip students to access higher education, but also to think about, and to tell that story themselves. One of the outcomes of the course will be a book, co-authored by our students and due to be published by Pluto Press next year, Voices from the Jungle. In addition, through the course we continue to meet students and tell them their thoughts, ideas and futures matter.  



Dr Aura Lounasmaa is a lecturer in the University of East London School of Social Sciences, a research fellow at the Centre for Narrative Research and part of a team of academics teaching an accredited university short course ‘Life Stories in the Jungle’ in the Calais refugee camp in France. The course will continue this year in Calais as well as in the UK with refugee organisations. Aura completed her PhD in the Global Women’s Studies Centre at the National University of Ireland, Galway, in 2014, funded by the IRCHSS. Her research focuses on women’s political activism in Morocco.  


[i] Sumuvuori, Vähäsöyrinki, Eerolainen, Lindvall, Pasternak, Syrjälä and Talvela (2016) Refugees and asylum seekers in press coverage, London and Luxemburg: Finnish Institute,

[ii] UK based Help Refugees and a French organisation l’Auberge des Migrants, both working closely with residents in the camp providing services, conduct quarterly census of the camp to keep track of official numbers. The last one took place in May. For more information see

[iii] Kiron is an NGO based in Germany allowing refugees to begin university courses online before their resettlement in any European country

[iv] 30 UK universities are currently offering scholarships for refugees and asylum seekers under the Article 26 network, coordinated by the Helena Kennedy Foundation

[v] Gower and Politowski (2016) Syrian Refugees and the UK response, Briefing Paper 06805, London: House of Commons Library

[vi] See for example


Navigating the space between cultures

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By Ndéla Faye

You only are free when you realize you belong no place – you belong every place – no place at all.”Maya Angelou

In a world where moving abroad is becoming commonplace, the phenomenon of ‘Third Culture Kids’ (TCKs) – children who spend a significant portion of their developmental years in a culture outside their parents’ cultures – is increasing rapidly. The term, coined by American sociologist Ruth Hill Useem in the 1950s, refers to the tendency of TCKs to mix their ‘birth culture’ with their ‘adopted culture’, creating a culture of their own: a third culture. TCKs can be seen as an elitist form of transnational migrants, although the reasons for children becoming TCKs in the first place vary. Nevertheless, as the number of TCKs is growing, so are the cultural complexities of their identities and experiences.

Like many Adult Third Culture Kids (ATCKs), I struggle to answer the question “Where are you from?” Fearing coming across as standoffish or facetious, I often catch myself diluting parts of my story in order to make myself more palatable to others who find it difficult to place me. Depending on the situation, I have a short and a long answer to the question. To save time (and any further questions), I’ll sometimes respond “Finland and Senegal.” But the whole story, the story that makes me me, is that I was born in Helsinki, moved to Luxembourg, then to Brussels and finally to London.

Culture is often described as being a combination of the way we speak, how we act, what we eat and how we dress; it’s an amalgamation of patterns of behaviours, beliefs and values. It’s something that is learned, rather than instinctive; passed on through generations and shaped by the surrounding environment. But if those lines are blurred, and you feel as though you can’t claim a single country or culture as your own? What happens when you feel like you are from nowhere, yet everywhere at the same time?

Although I was born in Finland. I’m aware that I don’t look typically Finnish – but seeing as I’ve never lived in Senegal, I don’t feel very Senegalese either. Or Luxembourgish, nor Belgian for that matter, and even though I still hold a Finnish passport, I’ve lived ‘abroad’ for too long to call it my home country. I see the countries as places I’ve spent time in and made friends in, places I have family in, places I visit every few years – places I think of with nostalgia. But when I’m actually there, I feel very much like an outsider.

Sometimes I catch myself wondering how different my life would be if I would have lived in just one place: would I be different if I’d have lived in the same house my whole life, or gone to the same school and kept the same friends I made in nursery all the way to adulthood…? I feel I would not be me had I not been a TCK.

Aside from having had the opportunity to be surrounded by multiple languages from a very early age, I love being able to choose whomever I want to be wherever I go, like a chameleon. Because I don’t feel as though I belong to any specific place, my identity and sense of self is fluid, and I’m constantly reinventing myself. There’s a strange sense of freedom, and a comforting knowledge of being able to pack my bags and move anywhere, without having to think about it too much.

At times, I joke with my TCK peers about having ‘itchy feet’ – the feeling that we’re unable to settle down in one country for long periods of time. In an almost-too-idealistic way, the possibilities for the future seem endless. We are global nomads, revelling in our rootlessness, able to go anywhere, and make it a (however temporary) home.

In light of the recent EU referendum result, the thought of ‘home’ has been on my mind even more than usual. “Do you think you’ll ever go back?” I’ve been asked a few times. “Back where?” I ask, puzzled, anxious, concerned. Should I have a place to go back to? Should I feel like I can always return somewhere and feel at home? Of course, I have played with the thought of settling down in Finland or Senegal, but always in the safe confines of my imagination – in a similar spirit of toying with the idea of doing something drastic with my looks – but knowing very well that I will probably never actually do it.

With trepidation, like thousands of others in the same predicament, I can only hope that I will still be allowed to keep finding my place and building a little corner to call home on this island – freely, as I have been able to do until now. I also hope that future generations will be able to explore the world and be presented with a breadth of opportunities just like I was.

So where is home? For now, I’ll swirl all the different answers in my mouth – and after ten years in the UK I’m finally starting to feel like home could be here – but I’m not quite ready to utter the words out loud just yet.


image1-4Ndéla Faye is a freelance writer and journalist based in London. Her work has appeared in the Guardian and Image magazine in Finland, among others. Follow her on Twitter @NdelaFaye

Who scares, wins? The unintended political consequences of the British EU referendum debate


by Mikko Kuisma

David Cameron has created a monster. The British EU referendum on 23 June might be used in the future as a warning example of unintended consequences. It is ostensibly about Europe and British membership in the EU but, in fact, it is much more about internal UK power battles and especially those within the Prime Minister’s party. Also, the short term economic gains or losses might be less dramatic than the disaster scenarios and sensationalist mudslinging would let us believe. Regardless of which side wins, what could be more significant is that the referendum and the months of the rather childish tug-of-war debate leading to it might have a potentially long-lasting impact on British politics and society. Certainly, if I was the instigator of this whole process, I would not be very proud of this prospect.

As has been observed by many commentators, both sides have run an incredibly negative campaign. Both sides have been engaged in scaremongering and presenting doomsday scenarios, convincing the voters that the world will all but end on the 24 June should the enemy win. Indeed, even the Remain side has been running a campaign against Brexit rather than for Europe. The campaigns have often been based on “objective economic analysis”. However, crystal ball gazing is a notoriously difficult exercise and, following Dick Cheney’s now infamous philosophy, the real impact of the referendum is one of the known unknowns. Even in the most sophisticated analyses, the expressions that dominate are “we believe”, “I trust”, “this report claims”, “our research institute estimates” or “the experts forecast” a certain future rather than a certain other. What else could they do? Obviously, some of the scenarios might be more probable than some others but there is really no way of knowing which ones those are.

Another aspect where the campaigns have been particularly disappointing is the smoke and mirrors that both sides have played on this being about Europe and the EU. Instead, this is a political battle of a very peculiar British nature. It is based on the politics of identity and particular readings and understandings of British history and British political tradition. The two sides would do everyone a favour if they actually admitted this. Also, the consequences of the referendum might be of more relevance to the institutions of British politics. Indeed, there is a good chance that the referendum will lead, not to a short term implosion of the British economy, but a political crisis within the cabinet and the Tory party. It could also trigger a second Scottish independence referendum, represent significant gains to the UK Independence Party and potentially generate a lot of social and political instability. We might be perfectly ready to take that risk and also approach some of these issues with a degree of indifference but it would be good to acknowledge them rather than sleepwalk into them.

One unintended consequence might already have progressed so far that it cannot be reversed. Namely, regardless of the formal outcome of the referendum, the debate itself has already changed the nature of UK society and particularly how it is portrayed by others. The UK has been my home for the past 19 years and this is the first time that I have properly started to feel that I am not welcome here. And this sentiment is shared by many of the immigrants I know. It has always been a welcoming, tolerant, open-minded country but now large groups of people who have worked hard and have made a contribution to both the economy (by paying taxes, for instance) and society (by, for example, educating the next British generations) are being made to feel like intruders. It might be unnecessary but many European migrants are now wondering what will happen to them if the leave campaign wins. Anyone who has lived in the country permanently for a long time could simply solve the issue by applying for citizenship but wouldn’t they be doing it for all the wrong reasons? In any case, the debate has already made many of us feel like outsiders in the country that we have learned to call home. And, even if remain wins, this will not change overnight.

In terms of sovereignty, the referendum will make no difference whatsoever. Britain is a major player in global politics and global economy. It has always played an active role in advancing global capitalism and liberalism, which, some could argue, is by definition all about reducing sovereignty of nation-states in the favour of free market forces. Leaving the EU would not restore British national sovereignty because supranational aspects of 21st century politics and economy do not stop at the borders of Europe. Even total isolationism or closing of national borders would not result in perfect sovereignty. Likewise, British continued membership in the EU will not transfer all of national sovereignty to the cryptic corridors of power in Brussels. After all, the EU is not a monolith that exists outside of the British sphere of politics. Britain does not have a relationship with the EU – it is (still) a member of it.

In the end, this is essentially a political debate rather than a contest of who can most accurately predict the future of British economy in or out of the EU. It is high time we acknowledge this. It should not be so much about the final outcome of the referendum and its consequences but more about the reasons why people vote for either Remain or Leave. Those who have the right to vote on 23 June should definitely do so but they should avoid making their choices based on the “economic truths” that we have been force-fed from both sides of the debate. These “objective truths” can be politically motivated and are, in any case, contingent on multiple internal and external factors, which no one can possibly predict or forecast in advance. The electorate should liberate themselves from the counterproductive scaremongering and contradicting economic forecasts and feel able to make their choices based on what they believe is right, where they believe Britain belongs, and let the politicians and other experts face the known unknowns head on once the votes have been counted. And, of course, it is worth thinking about some of the potential political consequences and deciding if those are the risks they are prepared to take. 


Photograph by Paul Medley

Photograph by Paul Medley

Dr Mikko Kuisma is Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Oxford Brookes University. Mikko received his PhD from the University of Birmingham where he also held an ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. Before joining Oxford Brookes he worked as Lecturer in European Politics at the University of Wales Aberystwyth and as Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence. Mikko lectures on European politics, comparative welfare states, citizenship and global governance. His current research focuses on the comparative political economy of European welfare states, with a special interest in the constitution of citizenship in national models of capitalism, European populist radical right parties, and Nordic politics. 


Democracy and the Problem of Short-Termism

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by Jaakko Kuosmanen

Successful governance requires taking not only the short-term but also the long-term into consideration. Mitigation of climate change, for example, requires action now, but the benefits from policies adopted today will appear only in future. Similarly, investments in pensions, public infrastructure, or an educational system require long-term planning. Evidence, however, shows that politicians are not always very good at taking long-term into consideration in the design of policies and laws. This constitutes a major problem of governance, which is sometimes described as the ‘problem of short-termism’.

The problem of short-termism cuts across policy fields, and there are various reasons for its emergence. The psychological setup of humans, for example, is such that it can tilt our focus from future towards the present. Various cognitive biases make it harder for us to take long-term into consideration. Humans have, among other things, a tendency to be overly optimistic of the time it takes to complete tasks, and to overestimate their ability to influence outcomes.

In addition to psychological factors, the problem of short-termism can arise due to institutional factors. In democratic systems there is an important institutionalised incentive, which makes governance of the future even more complicated: elections. Short electoral cycles provide a motivation for politicians to engage in projects that will bring benefits in near-term rather than the long-term. Focusing on the needs of those living in the present over the needs of future generations can be an easy choice, as future generations do not cast votes.

This raises foundational questions about democracy: ’Are democratic societies inherently unfit for governing the future?’ Astrophysicist Lord Martin Rees recently declared that ‘only an enlightened despot could push through the measures needed to navigate the 21st century safely’.

Reconciling the tension between democratic governance and governance of the long-term is definitely challenging, and it is not immediately clear to what extent it can be successfully done. But it is also of crucial importance to do our best and attempt to solve the problem of short-termism without abandoning democratic principles. The power to elect and re-elect leaders is an essential part of legitimate governance.

We can be hopeful for two reasons. Firstly, democratic governments around the world are starting to increasingly recognise the problem of short-termism. Secondly, we are still at early stages of capacity building. Many initiatives to support long-term governance in democratic societies are actively being developed.

Both UK and Finland have been at the forefront of this work. Finland has developed various mechanisms that try to steer democratic governance away from short-termist approach. It has introduced a parliamentary committee for future, a report on the future done by each incoming government, and a new foresight unit.

In the UK, Wales recently adopted Well-Being of Future Generations (Wales) Act, which aims to bring long-term goals at the heart of public governance. The Act, which was celebrated around the world, makes Wales a pioneer in long-term governance. At Whitehall there have also been active efforts to strengthen the government’s long-term governance capacities. In recent years we’ve seen, for example, a concerted effort to build effective foresight capacities, which aim to ensure that politicians are prepared for challenges of the future.

These much needed projects undertaken by the UK and Finnish government constitute a promising start. Overall, however, there is no room for complacency. The rise of systemic risks and our increasing capacity to harm the interest of future generations means that we need to act urgently. We need to revamp democracies for the 21st Century.


Jaakko Kuosmanen

Dr Jaakko Kuosmanen is the Co-ordinator of the Oxford Martin Programme on Human Rights for Future Generations and a Research Fellow at the Law Faculty at the University of Oxford. Jaakko received his PhD at the University of Edinburgh, and he has previously worked at the Council of Europe. Jaakko has lectured at various universities on public international law, public policy, and global justice. He is currently teaching at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford. Jaakko’s research focuses on the design of long-term oriented governing institutions, and he also provides consultancy for various governments



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Comparing Finnish universities: A new tool for students



by Marianna Koli

Very occasionally, hidden government bureaucracy makes new and interesting information accessible to service users. It’s not widely known, but this is now the case for Finnish universities.

In the United Kingdom, a large and public industry exists for comparing and ranking universities. Overall rankings and subject-specific ranking lists – like the Sunday Times Good University Guide or the Guardian University Guide – are standard tools for British universities, and they are now joined by a large number of other measures, from the WhatUni? Student Choice Awards[1](where rankings are determined by asking students to score the university) to the University Free Speech Rankings[2](where universities are scored based on their attitudes to controversial speakers or unpopular newspapers). These lists are usually intended to help students choose universities, and help universities differentiate themselves on their particular priority areas.

Finnish universities and polytechnics are less experienced at differentiating themselves. Traditionally, a Finnish university has attracted applicants mainly by its location, or perhaps by offering a degree in an unusual subject. However, it now seems that a comparison tool is on the horizon for those prospective students who want to know if the university cares about the student experience. Finnish universities and polytechnics are beginning to use sophisticated methods of Quality Assurance[3], and clever students will use the public quality audit reports to examine their options.

Of course, the demand for information has been a response to the “consumerisation” of higher education. Tuition fees were introduced in England in 1998, and increased in 2006 and 2012, to their current level of £9,000 pounds (€11,500) per academic year. Now, 18 years after the introduction of tuition fees, and 4 years after the last major increase in the fee level, it is clear that students are demanding value for money.

British students, when choosing which universities to apply to, are intimately aware of the university’s academic ranking and its prestige in the eyes of employers, but also increasingly the quality of the student experience. Crucially, the attention of students does not focus only on simple pleasures, such as sports facilities and local nightlife, but also on serious things, such as the quality of careers advice, or whether the university in fact listens to the student voice and makes changes in response.

Finnish applicants are now starting to have similar information at their disposal[4]. All Finnish universities and polytechnics underwent a quality assurance audit between 2005 and 2012. The current, second, round of audits is underway, to conclude by 2018. An institution, on passing the audit, is given a quality label that is valid for 6 years, and a detailed report is issued about its efforts.

In Finland, like it did in the UK, quality concerns coincide with the introduction of tuition fees. From 2016, overseas students at Finnish universities will be required to pay a minimum of €1,500 (£1,173) per academic year. Both universities and polytechnics are increasingly aware that they are in competition for both good students and good staff. Priorities are being quietly set as we speak, through extremely dull and bureaucratic, but rather powerful, quality assurance processes.

Current Quality Assurance in Finnish higher education largely resembles that of the British Quality Assurance Agency (QAA): continuous, systematic, and evidence-based periodic reviews, done by independent experts who work in the higher education sector.

However, there is one major difference between the two systems. In the UK, Quality Assurance is almost exclusively focused on the quality of the student experience. Staff recruitment or career progression are not part of the process. Neither is the potential for the institution to export its good practice to other countries, or indeed its contributions to wider society.

In Finland, Quality Assurance processes cover a far wider range of topics. Each audit must address how well the university or polytechnic carries out all the statutory duties of a Finnish higher education institution:

  • University-level degree education;
  • Research, development and innovation activities (RDI), as well as artistic activities;
  • Societal impact and regional development work.

In addition, each Finnish university or polytechnic may choose an optional target, which gives interesting information about the institution’s priorities. The self-selected targets – which are set for six years at a time, an eternity in the fast-changing world of education – speak volumes about each university’s long-run priorities.

To date, 8 Finnish universities and 10 polytechnics have declared their chosen targets for 2014-2021. Polytechnics (ammattikorkeakoulut) are clearly prioritising student professional development and entrepreneurial skills. Universities (yliopistot) split their priorities evenly between staff recruitment and career development on the one hand, and the student experience on the other. Of the Finnish universities that have already declared their priority area, only one – Jyväskylä – has chosen to focus on the employability of its students.

On the contrary, in the UK, the Quality Assurance Agency sets the themes nationally. For example, in 2015, every UK Higher Education institution was required to give a detailed report of its efforts on either Student Employability or Digital Literacy. In other words, it is impossible to study in a British university in 2016 without receiving some training in either professional or digital skills.

Today’s students, in Finland and elsewhere, are competing with a global labour force. Graduates from other countries will not only be trained in academic theories and technical problem-solving, but also in professional skills and highly employable behaviours. Finnish universities have not traditionally marketed themselves as preparing students for the real world. It is right that students have access to comparative information about the commitment of universities and polytechnics to student success.

The new procedures of Quality Assurance are, I hope, only the first step in Finnish universities’ strategic transparency. The existence of open, committed, and honest long-term priorities is a direct improvement in the student experience. The first step has been taken. I would welcome more.



Dr Marianna Koli is Senior Lecturer and Head of the Faculty of Economics at New College of the Humanities, London. She has previously taught at the University of Manchester and the University of Birmingham. 









Troubling ‘Gender’




by Jemima Repo

Feminism and ‘gender’ politics

Today in many countries and international organisations the language of ‘gender’ has replaced ‘women’ in policy-making. Rather than representing a more comprehensive attempt to tackle sexism, however, feminists have lamented that ‘gender’, understood as a social construction, has become a mere synonym for biological sex. Moreover, when gender equality policies are not being diluted through the implementation of austerity measures in Europe, they are targeted mainly at mobilising women to carry on with the reproductive and care duties while pursuing paid employment in the labour market.

Gender, it is argued, has been hijacked to advance the neoliberal economic agenda. While this claim is valid, it is also a problematic one. Because of its close association with feminism, we easily forget that gender is neither a very new idea nor is it originally a feminist one. Instead, it has its much more troubling origins in 1950s US psychiatry.

Gender is not a “good” idea that is now being made to serve “bad” neoliberal interests. Rather, as I show in my book The Biopolitics of Gender (2015), the idea of ‘gender’ has been from the start a battleground of the management of the life and labour of populations, not only for psychiatrists and feminists, but also for sociologists, demographers, economists and policymakers.

Intersex and clinical violence

The idea of gender as we know it today was first introduced in 1955 by Dr John Money, a psychiatrist from New Zealand working at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. He published a series of articles with his colleagues Joan and John Hampson on intersex people; in other words, people whose biological sex characteristics do not correspond to the physiological expectations of the male or female sex.

Money and the Hampson’s argument was a radical one. They claimed, for the first time, that their studies of their biologically diverse patients demonstrated that none of the biological sex variables could be used to reliably predict the sex role that a person would acquire in adulthood. Most patients would, however, take on the social role of the sex that they were assigned at birth. Thus, Money and his colleagues argued that a person’s psychological sex was learned through socialisation, rather than being rooted in biology. They renamed this socially learned sex gender.

Money’s new idea of gender, despite acknowledging that not all people easily fitted biologically into a strict male-female dichotomy, nonetheless led to infants born with ambiguous genitals undergoing surgery – often more than once – in order to ensure the upbringing of coherently sexed, heterosexual individuals. Money’s work therefore had a normative dimension that was firmly grounded in the Western post-war ideals of White American nuclear family life, where the nuclear family was assumed to the foundation of social order.

To support this project, it was relatively easy for doctors to get parents to consent to the surgical procedures by arguing that they were doing what was best for the child. When surgery was carried out on children old enough to speak, their resistance to this violence was often dismissed as childish paranoia.

These intersex case management protocols became standardised around the world, also in Finland and the UK, and are largely still in use today.

Feminist dues, potential solidarities

This history often comes as a surprise to feminists like me who undertook gender studies in the 1990s and 2000s. Gender, I had always assumed and was repeatedly taught, was a term introduced by second-wave feminism to challenge crude notions of biological determinism. But it was actually first created to justify surgical intervention on infants in order to maintain the illusion of the truth of biological binary sex and to prevent children from growing up into homosexuals.

The first feminist of the 1970s to popularise the idea of ‘gender’ and its social construction was Kate Millett in her 1970 milestone book Sexual Politics. Millett was followed by other prominent feminists, Germaine Greer, Ann Oakley, and Gayle Rubin. They each took the term ‘gender’ directly from the work of John Money, as well as Robert Stoller, a psychoanalyst whose work focused on transgender patients and was heavily influenced by Money.

By using the concept of gender, it became possible to challenge the idea that women and men were naturally destined to act and exist differently. Money’s gender theory seemed to provide hard scientific evidence that gender roles were actually learned and that women’s liberation was possible through the overthrow of the social and cultural structures, norms, and practices that reproduced women’s subordination.

It’s now time however for contemporary feminists to acknowledge the violent past of one of its most important concepts. When Anglo-American feminists of the 1970s took the term from this psychiatric context, they ignored its abuses of infant genital surgery and the psychiatrisation of transgender people. Despite the huge gains the concept of gender brought to the feminist struggle, it was also a lost opportunity to expose the complicity of the medical profession in the maintenance the illusion of binary sex.

Feminist engagement with this past is, I believe, an opportunity to strengthen and build new solidarities and alliances across the feminist, intersex and trans rights movements.



Jemima Repo is Lecturer in the Politics of Gender at Newcastle University. She received her PhD at the University of Helsinki in 2012 and is a member of the Academy of Finland research project on Biopolitics and Democracy. Her blogpost is based on her recently published book The Biopolitics of Gender (Oxford University Press, 2015).

Hats off to multilingual families! – Teachers, schools and multilingual pupils

by Leena Helavaara Robertson

(blog available in Finnish here)

My blog will start with five important considerations.

I’ve been thinking about schools and teachers, here in London and in Finland, in 2016, and particularly of that Finnish teacher who said in an official Finnish report* that it would have been great it they could have been properly prepared for this change. Meaning this change of having ‘new’ children in their schools – ‘new’ children with migrant backgrounds and with different home languages. And this teacher continued and said, ‘so that we wouldn’t be in this pickle now’.

That’s my translation. To be ‘in a soup’ (‘olla liemessä’ in Finnish) translates roughly in my view to ‘being in a pickle’. And I am thinking of all these children, their families and their teachers in Finland and in the UK and decide to focus on five key points:

  1. Nothing new under the sun
  2. Language matters
  3. ‘Multilingualism’ rather than ‘multiculturalism’
  4. Evidence of speeding up the processes of learning school language
  5. Communities

My writing draws on my professional training and work in the UK. It is informed by my own research and by my students’ research in universities and schools.  It is fuelled by my own life experiences as a migrant (from Finland to England) and by my sons’ experiences of growing up bilingually in London, and learning English and Finnish, and by my grandsons’ bilingual experiences in Helsinki where they are learning Finnish and English.

I’m enjoying this writing process because today we can benefit from research around the world. From various studies we know that migrant families want the best for their own children. This best includes a wish for their children to do well in school and reach the highest levels of school language. We also know that too often home languages fade away during the school years as the school language begins to dominate. We also know that is does not need to be like this; the two languages, when nurtured, encouraged and maintained, can work together to raise the overall school achievement.

Nothing new under the sun

Migration is not new. The idea that Western countries or places were once homogenous – everyone spoke the same language, for example – does not stand to scrutiny. English language, and its vocabulary alone, reveals the comings and goings of different rulers and migrants during the last two thousand years, from Romans, to Vikings, Saxons, Normans, Roma, and so on. The pace of migration, the numbers of migrating people and the routes of migration, have, however, increased and diversified since the 1950s. For example there are now more Finns living in the UK than ever before.

The case of Finland may feel different because the overall numbers are smaller. Yet, other languages – other than the official Finnish and Swedish – have also always been used on a daily basis in school children’s homes; these have included the nine Sami languages and, of course, for centuries Romany. Sadly these languages can now be found in the UNESCO’s list of endangered languages. Tatars have lived in the Helsinki area for the past one hundred years, and when I was growing up in Espoo, near Helsinki, I remember two Jewish girls in my primary school showing off their Yiddish language skills in the playground. In the 1970s the Vietnamese ‘boat people’ arrived, and later Iranians, Ingrians, Somalis, Russians, Estonians.

I find myself asking what exactly is ‘new’ and when did it become ‘new’?

If in the past teachers did not recognise their pupils’ home languages, and expected them to assimilate quickly, or struggle quietly on their own, because the overall numbers were smaller, that does not justify their practice. This is as true to the UK as it is to Finland. If the current wave of migration nudges all teachers to re-evaluate and improve their practice which will lead to better outcomes later, that’s great. A positive outcome. A good thing.

It seems to me that current ‘new’ issues about minorities, such as new linguistic minorities, are not really about minorities.  They are about us. We are all connected and what hurts one part, hurts all.

Language matters

Language matters and the terms we use to describe people, practice and pedagogy, also matters. It is not easy to find labels for migrants, minority ethnic groups, linguistic minorities or how one might describe the support provided in schools. In Finland ‘maahanmuuttaja’ has gained acceptance. Or ‘maahanmuuttajataustainen’. Loosely translated this means ‘in-mover’ – someone who moves into a country – or whose background consists of ‘in-movers’. Yet, many American or other European children (French, British, German…) are not identified as ‘in-movers’ in Finland. On the other hand children who were born in Finland but whose parents were not, are identified as ‘in-movers’. In fact one parent born elsewhere is sufficient for a child to be identified as having an ‘in-mover background’.  How many generations will this last? At what point are these children going to be accepted as ‘Finnish’?

Multilingualism rather than multiculturalism

Culture varies within every named group and subgroup. All of us are unique and where some love sauna and sausages, others make very different choices in their lives. To identify every Finnish person as loving sauna and sausages is rather silly. There are sound reasons to avoid cultural reductionism, i.e. to think that Finnish culture is about saunas and sausages, and nothing much beyond that. Similarly there is a need to avoid cultural determinism, i.e. that all Finns will have saunas and eat loads of sausages every week. When meeting new families or linguistic groups, it is helpful to recognise that culture plays a part in their lives but this is complicated and that schools’ approaches to multiculturalism may be in danger of becoming tokenistic. Not all people from India like samosas. Not everyone from Caribbean likes steel drums. Not all Muslim women wear headscarves. It is often easier to approach people’s lives by asking what languages they use and with whom and for what purpose.

Evidence of speeding up the processes of learning school language

There is now a wealth of evidence from different places around the world that shows that bilingualism has a positive impact on children’s cognitive development, on their problem solving – and perhaps even delaying Alzheimer’s in old age. ‘Bilingualism’ here does not mean equal fluency in two languages. Rather it means using two or more languages in their daily lives. Moreover, research evidence shows that a child who has a chance to make connections between his/her home languages and the school language, learns the school language faster. If teachers are truly committed to speeding up the process of learning the school language, they will provide maximum opportunities to use home languages at school.


When my sons were born in London, I became very active in establishing a Finnish Saturday school for them. I wanted them to make personal relationships with other Finnish children, play in Finnish, read and write in Finnish, and connect with the Finnish community in England. Today there are 160 Finnish Schools around the world.  And guess what? Other linguistic minorities do exactly the same.  The whole world over. Particularly in urban areas. There are networks of Portuguese, Greek and Turkish schools around the world supported by their embassies. There are many, many others including Mandarin Chinese schools where they do much more than celebrate Chinese New Year and eat noodles.

If teachers are interested in cultures, and in multiculturalism, these are the best places to visit to see what kinds of cultural practices are transported. Best places to form connections, friendships even. The other fascinating aspect is to see how much these communities value education, including learning the school language, whilst aiming to keep their own languages alive.

Every time I visit these schools it takes my breath away to see their commitment. Hats off to them all.


*Tuula Pirinen (toim.) ’Maahanmuuttajataustaiset oppijat suomalaisessa koulutusjärjestelmässä’. 2015. Kansallinen Koulutuksen Arviointikeskus.


Leena Helavaara Robb2874-leenaphotoertson – Short biography

Leena  grew up in Finland, and in the 1970s, between school and university, she decided to come to London for a year or so. Fate intervened and she has lived in England ever since.  She has worked in a range of professional roles and contexts in and around London: a teaching assistant, playgroup leader, Finnish community school teacher and a primary school teacher. Her PhD in 2004 was ground-breaking in that is explored young children’s early and simultaneous literacy development in three languages. As a teacher educator Leena has worked in two universities, and currently she is an associate professor at Middlesex University, London, where she coordinates research degrees and leads the professional doctorate pathway in the education department.

Leena’s long term interests, expertise and publications include culture, multilingual learning and social justice in schools. She leads an Erasmus+ funded project   focusing on Gypsy, Roma, Traveller children and their home languages. This project includes teachers’ professional development in Romania, Finland, France and the UK. 

As much as possible Leena likes to read, swim and spend time with family and friends both in Finland and England

More Political Scandals, Please!

by Anne Moilanen

His extraordinary suggestion is that the future PM inserted a private part of his anatomy into the animal’s mouth. (The Daily Mail, 20 September 2015)

When I first read that sentence from one of UK’s tabloids, I thought I had come to the right place.

The future PM in the story was Mr Cameron, the animal was a dead pig and a private part of his anatomy is a perfectly British expression.

UK definitely is a place to be, if you are interested in political scandals. Which I am, both related to my work as a journalist and to my current research at the University of Oxford.

Political scandals have also surprisingly occurred in my professional life. After having worked for two decades in Finnish broadcast and print media, I was invited in 2012 to work as a special adviser to the Minister of Culture. My responsibilities included the Minister’s press relations and culture issues. I had no party membership, but during my post I witnessed some scandals and near-scandals from inside the political system.

For me, the experience was in many ways pivotal. After the Ministry post, I returned to journalism and to the busy newsroom work at the Finnish broadcasting company YLE. But something had changed. I felt that I should further deepen my vastly grown political knowledge.

In Finland, we have the notable Helsingin Sanomat Foundation, which is related to our biggest newspaper. The Foundation allows study grants for prominent Finnish journalists to the top universities in the world – typically for one year, to study and to live abroad.

I applied to the Oxford University’s Reuters Institute – and got lucky.

The book that The Daily Mail pig news was referring to is Call Me Dave, a sensation book by Lord Ashcroft and journalist Isabel Oakeshott. When published in September 2015, the book caused a small political ”Piggate” scandal that went on for a few weeks before it died as quickly as it had started.

Piggate was not a scandal strong enough to dethrone the Prime Minister. Until this day, it has not been proved whether there was any truth in the allegations or not. However, Piggate was great political entertainment, and probably caused a substantial boost to the tabloid’s sales.

The Daily Mail, most faithfully of all media, kept the scandal alive for the time that it lived. The raw materials of the scandal were delicious: a powerful politician, sex, a mysterious secret society, claimed desecration of an animal’s corpse… actually, very much the same kind of stuff that The Daily Mail has published throughout it’s vivid scandal-filled history.

If you look at the history of the British press, it is very much a history of tabloids. Differing from many other European countries, like Italy or France, UK had lots of working class people that were literate in quite an early stage of history. Newspapers were not luxurious artifacts of elite, but soon became every man’s, or woman’s, daily necessity.

That has had an impact on why the press in UK is as it is. When The Daily Mail was established in 1896, it was directly targeted to lower-middle class and women. Scandals – wars, murders and other crimes, sexual behavior in almost any form – were important news topics for The Daily Mailright from the start.

The strategy has been successful. Already in the beginning of the 20th century, The Daily Mail sold one and a half million copies a day. For a few decades, it became the leading newspaper.

In the second half of the 1900’s, The Daily Mail’s circulation revolved around 2,000 000 copies a day.

Last May 2015, The Daily Mail’s average circulation was still over 1,600,000. That made The Daily Mail the second-best selling newspaper after today’s leading tabloid, The Sun.

On top of all, my dear Piggate scandal was claimed to have happened at the University of Oxford – the most mythical university in the world.

University of Oxford, more specifically Green Templeton College, is also the base of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. The Institute, located near the large green University Park meadows, produces research and serves as a center for further education for journalists from all over the world.

Journalists like me. Planning to complete my studies next summer, I am comparing political scandals in UK and in Finland in my research.

In Finland, as you might guess, we do not get as many political scandals as in UK. After the Second World War, Finland has been a strong consensus society. During that era, journalists have also kept quiet about some potential political scandals.

For example, during the President Urho Kekkonen’s prolonged era (1956–1981), the press did not criticize the President.

There were several public secrets related to Kekkonen, for example that he allegedly had several mistresses. Also his dementia, that he started to suffer while he still was in power, was not reported at the time even though journalists knew about it.

The Finnish press started to liberate only during the next President Mauno Koivisto’s and Martti Ahtisaari’s era. President Ahtisaari had to face much crueler publicity than any of his predecessors. In 1994, he appeared with a plaster on his forehead, the grapevine telling that he had been drinking too much and fallen during his trip abroad.

Mr Ahtisaari was asked in a live talk show broadcast: ”Did you wet yourself during your flight?”

In it’s utter disrespectfulness, that moment has left a mark in the national memory. The Finnish media had once and for all broken free from its shackles.

According to a previous research, there were only four political scandals in Finland in the 1970’s. In the 2000’s, the amount was 37. This indicates that there will be even more scandals in the future.

Depending on the country, different things seem to lead to political scandals. In Finland, the most typical reason for a political scandal has been financial misconduct, for example corruption. Only after that becomes inappropriate personal behavior, typically drinking, but not drugs. Historically sex-related scandals have been quite rare in Finland.

So far, I have greatly enjoyed my stay in Oxford. The place feels like home and professionally there are, as well as in London, many opportunities.

Of course, I now only have a one year’s scholarship for studies. What happens after that is still open. And that is wonderfully exciting!

I have got mixed up with political scandals so much that I know, that in life and in politics, anything is possible.

Looking forward to the next Piggate!


Anne Moilanen is a Finnish freelance journalist and communications professional who has specialised in politics, culture and gender issues. For the Academic Year 2015–2016,  Anne is doing a research about political scandals at the University of Oxford, at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

Maahanmuutto horjuttaa hallituspuolueen EU-kantaa

Britannian kansanäänestys EU-jäsenyydestä lähestyy. Kampanjoinnin alettua räväkästi molemmissa leireissä EU-myönteisen pääministeri Cameronin luotsaama konservatiivipuolue horjuu kannassaan. Keskeiseksi tekijäksi kysymyksessä jäsenyyden jatkosta on nousemassa maahanmuutto.

Britannian konservatiivien puoluekokouksessa kuultiin viime viikolla kärkkäitä puheenvuoroja maahanmuuttopolitiikasta. Erityistä kohua herätti sisäministeri Theresa Mayn julistus maahanmuuton yhteiskunnallista vakautta ja koheesiota uhkaavasta vaikutuksesta.

Puheenjohtaja David Cameron lupasi ennen 2010 parlamenttivaaleja rajoittaa maahanmuuttoa 100 000:een muuttajaan vuodessa. Puolueen oltua hallituksessa viisi vuotta vuosittainen nettomaahanmuutto oli kuitenkin noussut ennätyksellisen suureksi, 330 000:een henkeen vuodessa.

Kysymys EU:n toiminnasta pakolaiskriisin ratkaisemiseksi on ollut konservatiivihallitukselle vaikea. Se on ajanut kovaa linjaa ja suostunut paineen alla vastaanottamaan ainoastaan 20 000 syyrialaispakolaista vuoteen 2020 mennessä. Oppositio on kritisoinut hallituksen haluttomuutta osallistua, etenkin kun useat muut EU-maat ja jopa Suomi ovat hyväksyneet suhteessa enemmän turvapaikkahakemuksia kuin Britannia.

Konservatiivien EU-kriittisyydellä on pitkät perinteet, mutta viime vuosina vain puolueen sisäisen opposition esittämä EU-kritiikki on nousemassa vahvemmin haastamaan sen EU-myönteistä valtavirtaa. Ennen huhtikuisia parlamenttivaaleja konservatiiveja uhkasi EU-vastainen populistipuolue UKIP, joka kuitenkin lopulta sai enemmistövaalitavasta johtuen parlamenttiin vain yhden parlamentaarikon. UKIP:in saama 12,6% osuus äänistä antoi kuitenkin myrskyvaroituksen, jota tukevat mielipidemittaukset kansalaisten asenteesta EU:hun ovat kääntäneet konservatiivipuolueen kurssia.

Pääministeri Cameron on ilmoittanut jättävänsä puolueen puheenjohtajuuden ennen seuraavia parlamenttivaaleja. Seuraajaehdokkaat ovat parhaansa mukaan pyrkineet miellyttämään puolueen syviä rivejä. Tällä hetkellä parhaissa asemissa ovat tiukan talouskurin valtiovarainministeri George Osborne ja Lontoon populistipormestari Boris Johnson, jotka sisäministeri Mayn ohella pyrkivät nostamaan profiiliaan.

Taloudelliset intressit kansanäänestyksen taustalla

Yksi konservatiivien vaalilupauksista ennen huhtikuun voitollisia parlamenttivaaleja oli järjestää kansanäänestys maan jatkamisesta EU:ssa vuoteen 2017 mennessä. Puoluejohto on aiemmin ollut vahvan EU-myönteinen. Se on julistanut pyrkivänsä neuvottelemaan jäsenyyden ehtoja uudelleen tehdäkseen unioniin jäämisestä houkuttelevamman vaihtoehdon kansalaisille. Kesän ja syksyn aikana Cameron onkin kiertänyt neuvottelemassa EU-maiden johtajien kanssa turvatakseen parhaat ehdot unionista eroamiseen.

Yleistä EU-kielteisyyttä ovat lietsoneet EU-lainsäädännön ensisijaisuus kansalliseen nähden sekä sisämarkkinoiden vaatimat yleiseurooppalaiset normit ja rajoitukset. Vaikka noin puolet maan tuonnista ja viennistä tapahtuu yhä sisämarkkinoilla, on EU:n hidas nousu talouskriisistä johtanut muun maailman merkittävyyden kasvuun ulkomaankaupassa.

Euroskeptisiä teollisuuspiirejä houkuttelee ajatus kansallisista vapaakauppasopimuksista, jolloin maan ei tarvitsisi ottaa huomioon muiden EU-maiden itselleen vastakkaisia etuja. EU-vastaiset tahot liike-elämässä katsovat, että eron myötä itsenäinen Britannia voisi menetellä samalla tapaa myös tynkä-EU:n kanssa. Toisaalta Britannian taloudelle ja viennille erittäin tärkeä finanssisektori ja muut palvelut todennäköisesti kärsisivät pahoin erosta. Liike-elämä onkin EU-kannassaan varsin jakautunut.

Keskiössä EU:n sisäinen maahanmuutto

Maahanmuutto ja EU-kriittisyys kietoutuvat toisiinsa kysymyksessä EU:n sisäisestä maahanmuutosta ja erityisesti Romaniasta ja Bulgariasta saapuvista muuttajista. EU:n sisäiset maahanmuuttajat nähdään potentiaalisina sosiaaliturvan ja ilmaisen terveydenhuollon hyväksikäyttäjinä, vaikka esimerkiksi Britannian maatalous on vahvasti riippuvainen ulkomaalaisista kausityöntekijöistä. Yksi Cameronin tavoitteista neuvotteluissa onkin poistaa EU-kansalaisilta oikeus brittiläiseen sosiaaliturvaan ensimmäisen neljän asuinvuoden ajaksi.

Konservatiivipuolueen viimeaikainen uho poliittisen keskustan valtaamisesta Labourin siirryttyä vasemmalle tuskin realisoituu aggressiivisella maahanmuuttopolitiikalla. Uskottavan ulkoisen vihollisen puuttuessa puolueen sisäiset ristiriidat nousevat vahvemmin esiin ja julkisuudessa onkin esitetty epäilyjä siitä, kuinka vahvasti hallitus todella onkaan sitoutunut EU-jäsenyyden taakse.

Aidosti monikulttuurisessa Britanniassa erityisen mielenkiintoista on, että mediassa esille tuleva maahanmuuttokriittisyys ilmenee erityisesti itäeurooppalaisiin EU-kansalaisiin kohdistuvana. Muuttajat nähdään vierastyöläisinä, jotka yhteiskuntaan kuulumisen sijasta käyttävät hyväkseen järjestelmää.

Vaarana on, että monimutkainen keskustelu Britannian asemasta EU:ssa puetaan kansanäänestystä edeltävässä kampanjoinnissa massoille ennen kaikkea kysymykseksi vierastyöläisyyden ja työperäisen maahanmuuton oikeutuksesta. Eroa puoltavaa kampanjaa rahoittavien tahojen intressit lienevät kuitenkin toisaalla.

Ville Salo on EU-Suomessa kasvanut yhteiskuntaohjelman harjoittelija, joka yrittää ymmärtää suurvaltamenneisyyden kompleksien vaikutusta nykypolitiikkaan.


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