Tuesday, May 20, 2014


“The UK Independence party does not represent the start of a revolt but the culmination of it. A spirit of anti-politics began permeating the country around the turn of the millennium when Tony Blair, the last politician the British allowed themselves to love, broke their hearts by turning out to be a prime minister and not a miracle worker. The disillusion intensified after the Iraq war, a work of naive over-ambition forever remembered as an act of heinous deceit. Then came the crash, the expenses scandal and much more immigration than voters were told to expect.

Cynicism verging on nihilism is the closest thing modern Britain has to a national ideology. It has become common sense to assume the worst of anyone in public authority. Nigel Farage, Ukip’s leader, profits from this foul zeitgeist, not because he is a manipulative genius but because he is the nearest populist to hand. If it were not him, it would be some other jobbing demagogue with the dumb luck to be here now.

Ukip relies on older voters, of whom there are more and more. Against all these trends there is not much mainstream politicians can do. They are as unlucky to be around in this phase of history as Mr Farage is fortunate. He will prosper at next month’s European elections but his test comes with the general election a year later, when voters will get serious.”

Populism is a dangerous game for the political class

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