IQUW Live Welcomes Rory Stewart, Electoral Fallout: Crisis on a Global Scale

Our regular IQUW Live events offer brokers an alternative view on the intelligent use of data, automation and the importance of human expertise across a range of topics. This month, we welcomed the Rt Hon Rory Stewart, politician, diplomat and academic, to discuss 2024, the year of elections, where more than 49% of the world’s population will head to the polls.

Rory, a former Conservative MP, professor at Yale and co-host of the number 1 podcast "The Rest Is Politics," with Alistair Campbell highlighted the significant impact political change can have on businesses, especially for those with Cyber and Crisis Management policies. Although predicting election outcomes is nearly impossible, he believes staying informed and adaptable is key to navigating these uncertain times.

Looking back at key moments in recent history

Rory divided recent history into three main time periods. The first, from 1989 to 2004, which he described as the era of Western Liberalism hegemony. During this time, the USA and its allies dominated the world stage. It was a prosperous period for the UK economy and global productivity, with the number of democracies increasing and optimism about free markets at a record high. Remarkably, the UK economy was larger than China’s during this period.

The next decade, from 2004 to 2014, was marked by the politically problematic Iraq war, the 2008 global financial crisis, and the Arab Spring which was a series of anti-government protests, uprisings and armed rebellions that spread across much of the Arab world in early 2010’s. From 2014 onwards, we saw the ‘Age of Populism,’ with leaders like Narendra Modi in India, the rise of Donald Trump in the USA, and the Brexit vote in the UK. Extreme views gained traction, challenging the idea that democracy guarantees prosperity. Inequalities, especially in home ownership, grew, while tech and media shifts, like the rise of Twitter and Facebook, began revolutionising the relationship the public has with politics and politicians themselves.

Despite his somewhat bleak analysis, including his critique of the post-truth world exemplified by leaders like Boris Johnson and Donald Trump, Rory offered hope, suggesting that restoring morality and ethics in politics is possible.

Considering the future

For insurance and risk professionals, Rory Stewart’s speech was a call to tackle complacency. The unpredictability of recent global changes serves as a stark reminder that even the most seasoned political experts fail to anticipate how things are evolving.

However, what we can focus on is resilience and proactive planning. Key areas to watch for the future include:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI is set to revolutionise various sectors, including insurance. Understanding and mitigating the risks associated with AI will be crucial.
  • Global conflict: With the return of unexpected global conflicts, staying informed and prepared for geopolitical shifts is essential for risk management.
  • Uncertainty: The only certainty is uncertainty. Being adaptable and prepared for unforeseen changes will be vital to success.
  • Dramatic change: The pace and scale of change are increasing. Staying ahead of these changes requires continuous learning and flexibility.

Rory’s insights underline the importance of vigilance and adaptability in navigating the complex unpredictable landscape of the future.

The session concluded with a number of questions from the floor including one final, poignant question:

Given that a functioning democracy relies on an informed public, how can we rebuild trust in academic institutions and news sources that strive for objective truth? Rory addressed the blurring lines between satire and fake news, stressing the urgent need for a renewed sense of right and wrong. Using the example of electoral choices, he underscored the necessity of distinguishing between reality and fiction. For democracies to thrive, he argued, we must restore a shared understanding of facts and truth. For the future to be healthy for democracies we need to rebuild a sense of facts and shared facts, ultimately the truth.

This exchange of ideas highlighted the importance of continued dialogue and engagement. For those interested in exploring these critical conversations further, more insights and more information on past and upcoming IQUW Live events can be found here or why not sign-up to our newsletter.