The first aspect that strikes one when looking at the European political scene is that no country has been spared the ascendance of the populist. Poor or rich country alike, austere or profligate budgets, the political elites have experienced a serious onslaught from those who claim to be standing outside the establishment. In Germany, it is the rise of the Anti-Euro party AfD and PEGIDA (the 'Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of Europe'), in Greece it is Syriza and the neo-facist Golden Dawn, whilst in the UK it is UKIP and populist comedians of various convictions.
|Experts in shadow boxing - Russell Brand and Nigel Farage|
Photo: JOHN DONEGAN/AAP/Press Association Images/Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Fascinatingly, this is all 'old hats' when looked at from the perspective of the US. There the main challenge to the political establishment happened earlier and has already waned again, the tea party movement. And it is this movement that may tell us something about why things are happening here in Europe and where things are likely to end up.
Initially, the tea party had all the signs of an extra-parlimantarian social movement, advocating empowerment of the citizens vis-a-vis the political classes. As such, it encountered all the challenges of social movements in a time of technological change, where allegiance is paid by 'likes' and collective action is frowned upon as 'old school'. This weakened the effectiveness of the movement significantly, and before long, the tea party morphed into an appendage of the Republican Party. Most observers thought this to be its natural home, its political credo echoing the messages of citizen empowerment over government, yet that is a simplification of the complex mesh of anger and frustration of tea party members who often articulated little more than a virulent anti-politics motive.
The core of this anti-political motivation is a clue as to the kinship between the tea party and their European populist equivalents. For members of the tea party, just like for UKIPers and members of the AfD, it was a keenly felt loss of control that lies at the heart of the problem. Populists differ about what it is over which control is lost, immigration, sovereignty ('I want my country back!') or the national budget (enter Syriza: the German 'occupation'), but they are united in the desire to re-gain control over something that is close to their heart.
This leads to an analysis of the nature of their populism. A brief survey of political realities reveals that none of their promises can be fulfilled. In an increasingly interdependent world, the re-instatement of national sovereignty over 'international forces', be they bankers, multi-national conglomerates or 'the Germans' is wishful thinking. None of the issues that they would like to re-gain control over is 'manageable' in the old, nation-centred way. Immigration into the UK is not simply a problem of the European right of mobility, solved easily by leaving the EU as UKIP proclaims, but is a long term trend fuelled by rising wealth in developing countries that provides just enough means to ever more people to escape stagnant economies or corrupt regimes to get to Europe (or the UK). It is a product of a world becoming ever smaller in economic and geographical terms, with consequences for travel, mobility and economic interdependence.
As for the rest of the populist messages (so-called 'Islamisation' of Europe, or German 'occupation' of Greece) there is little hope for this to change any time soon, simply because they are the results of a wrong take on reality. In essence, populism will fail because it offers the wrong analysis and hence draws the wrong conclusions.
Having said this, all this does not mean that the anti-political mood is going to vanish any time soon. The traditional political elites in Europe and the US have proved reliably insensitive to infuse populists like Farage, the organisers of PEGIDA and Tsipras with new life at every turn. Only honesty about the impotence of political decision making can change that, but that is a counter-intuitive message for everything politician. The bread and butter of political life is the promise of a new Jerusalem, of a solution to all problems. Yet, the space for sovereign political decisions is shrinking and shrinking fast, something you wont catch a politician admit, of populist hue or not. So the political class is caught in the bandwagon of promises, and the populists are clinging on for the ride.
Procedure By Which conservatives Could Control Parliament
If UKIP is Lucky, UKIP could get, perhaps, get five to ten seats
in Parliament. Do not forget, the public still regards UKIP as a
one issue party. To gain control of Parliament UKIP and (and frie-
nds) should form a new conservative party with a platform that is
close to that of the existing Conservative party, omitting, of course,
policies that are objectionable to conservatives. The purpose would
be to make a bed that would be easy for conservatives to slide into,
including the eighty percent of the Conservatives who left Conser-
vative associations. UKIP and the conservatives should then form
a political association in each parliamentary district. UKIP could
merge with the new party, thus getting rid of the one issue problem.
Every one who would have worked to form the new, conservative,
party should be prevented from joining the new party for
a period of time to prevent the impression that UKIP controls it.
The two or three conservative parties should hold a primary election
to determine who runs as the Parliamentary candidate, with the losers
to help the winner. The cost of forming new associations can be raised
by local contributors. It is suggested that the new conservative asso-
ciations and the political party be controlled by the lowest level of con-
servatives, such as teachers, small businessmen, solicitors, professionals
etc. If the above procedure can not be completed in time to get
candidates elected to Parliament, the new party must wait until
after the election and hold a petition demanding that the elected
MP resign. Note: an MP represents every person in his district, not
just members and supporters of his party. When the petition reaches
fifty percent of those who voted in the prior election, the conservatives
will be morally justified in demanding their MP"s resignation. Then the
new party could run their candidates in the following by elections.
To select a candidate, a local association should advertise for applicants
or the position of candidate for Parliament, then select the best app-
licant by using rigorous tests, including, most importantly, psychological
evaluation. psychological evaluation is an absolute necessity as the psych-
ological evaluation is the only way to tell who is honest and who is a con-
artist; members of the public cannot. Testing could be required of the
association officers, committee members and delegates, etc.
The platform, selected by new party associations, should be some what
vague in order to facilitate integration the platforms of the new assoc-
iations into one platform. It is suggested that self forming cliques of those
who are honest and trust worthy be formed; then form self forming
cliques of those who have political skills and capabilities, within the
first described clique.
The corruption in Ukip is a cause for concern. Information about the corr-
uption may bee seen on the following websites:
Hi John, thanks for your comment! That's a pretty elaborate strategy but I think politics is always a bit messier, not least because it's full of unpredictable other factors.. I agree however with your comment that UKIP is still a one issue party and that they are hamstrung by that so far. Let's see where it goes!Delete