Growing up in Northern England’s coal-mining community, Fiona Hill knew that she was in a forgotten place. The last of the mines had closed, shops were boarded up, and despair was etched on the faces of people around her. Her father urged her to get out of northern England: ‘There is nothing for you here, pet,’ he said.
The coal-miner’s daughter went far. She studied in Moscow and at Harvard, became an American citizen and served three U.S. Presidents. But in the heartlands of both Russia and the United States, she saw the same problems she had witnessed in her hometown and similar populist impulses. By the time she offered testimony in the first impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump in 2019, Hill knew that the desperation of forgotten communities was driving American politics to the brink.
In January 2022 Hill came to Intelligence Squared with senior journalist at The Sunday Times, Josh Glancy, to argue that the decline of opportunity and dignified working class jobs is leading nations like Britain and America down the path of populist authoritarianism. And she outlined how from Middlesbrough to Michigan, ambitious programmes to expand opportunity are the only long-term hope for our democracy.