Over in the United Kingdom, there is an analogous political movement to the populism of the Tea Parties — formed in 1993, the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) formed in opposition to the British entry into the European Union. Like the Tea Parties, UKIP reflexively draws the ire of the major parties (Conservative [known as Tories], and Labour.) Like the tea Party, the members of the UKIP are called “racist”, “fruitcakes”, “loonies”, and “cupcakes.”
It’s a typical political two-step: the Conservative party is indistinguishable from Labour or the Lib-Labs save for which special interests get largess from the thieves sitting in office. And nothing is more frightening to the thieving middlemen in a system than populist movements that represent (however clumsily, in the case of Tea Party groups) the pissed-off victims of cronyism. This is why the derision heaped on the Tea Party, on UKIP, and other “right wing”, “extremist”, or “crazy” political movements — they threaten the people preying on the People.
The main parties have reason to worry. 53% of Britons think the UK should retire from the European Union. The endless steam of taxation and regulation from bureaucrats in Brussels has crushed business across Europe (with the exception of Germany) and the constant bailouts of the PIIGS — the countries with economies collapsed by their massive welfare and entitlement states — led to massive financial disruption across the continent. Rule by technocrat, as in the United States, has proven to be expensive, intrusive, and ineffective at anything but siphoning money from the workers to well-connected companies and the dregs of European society.
“The sense of frustration the Tea Party feels about the remoteness about the bureaucratic class of the Washington beltway is similar to our frustration with being dealt with by Brussels,” says Nigel Farage, an European MP from Britain and head of UKIP. Farage is frequently derided as a blowhard, a lunatic, and all the usual insults the establishment heap on those who won’t tow the line, but I’ve found him to have the same “poking the establishment bear” rhetoric that one sees in Ted Cruz, or Chris Christie.
“We want to take back our country, we want to take back our government, and we want to take back our birthright,” Farage told FoxNews this week ‘in forthright language rarely seen in British politics.’
UKIP’s surprise showing in this past year’s elections — 23% of the vote, up from the 3.1% they won in the 2010. And it’s had a similar effect that the Tea Party wins in 2010 had — scaring the big two into a sudden turn toward fiscal responsibility (in rhetoric, at least), tighter immigration, and a “promise” by Cameron to have a referndum in 2017 if he is still Prime Minister over leaving the EU. I expect that, as in the United States, this new-found pandering will blow itself out by the next set of elections, as the “elites” try to wrest the political scene from the plebes and restore the crony status quo. Cameron’s 2017 promise is, for this reason, just hokum designed to shut up the opposition.
Watch for the same kind of dirty tricks used by the Obama administration in 2012 from the British establishment’s attempt to sideline the UKIP. At least they don’t have to worry about “their” party stabbing them in the back, as the Republican hierarchy did with their constant cooking of primary returns and last minute rule changes in an attempt to close out the Tea Party and Ron Paul followers. The UKIP is a separate party and not interested in changing or working with the Tories. The Tea Parties might be wise to start looking to one of the existing “third parties” like the Libertarians for a new home, and taking a much more antagonistic line with the GOP.