Populism: A low road to power or voracious beast that consumes its own objects?

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Sunder Katwala has spotted something useful in the aftermath of the Farage Clegg debate. It perhaps mirrors the paradox we see when populists rise to greater prominence their own objects face greater challenge and even a dip in popularity:

Here is the Nigel Farage paradox: the more that Ukip’s media profile, poll rating and party membership has grown over the last two years, the more that support for the party’s core mission – that Britain should leave the European Union – seems to have shrunk.

The YouGov tracker on an in/out referendum captures this Farage paradox clearly. Last year, there was an average lead for “out” over “in” of sixteen points: 48 per cent to 32 per cent.

Since then, Nigel Farage has rarely been off the television, but the trend is now neck and neck. After Farage won the first debate, the Sunday Times/YouGov poll had a six point lead for “in”, the biggest lead for the pro-EU case for two years.

The polls will continue to fluctuate, but the rise of Ukip has certainly put “in” back on level terms.

So what’s the antidote? Sunder quotes Douglas Carswell, one of a group of thoughtful Tory Eurosceptics:

….timely warning to his fellow Eurosceptics that “we must change our tune to sing something that chimes with the whole country”. The libertarian Conservative argues that the “better off out” camp must offer an optimistic vision of the future, not just a reverie for a lost Britain, or what he describes as an “angry nativism”.

I’m pretty sure that’s not where UKIP started. In fact the libertarian tendency was much more pronounced a few years ago when it was flirting with the idea of open borders. But the populist voter is a voracious beast that must be keep fed in the here and now, which seems to endanger their cherished own long term objects.

  • Greenflag

    When the Government of any country no longer represents the interests of most of the people in a country then parties like UKIP and the French Right Wing and assorted ultra right wing neo fascists from Austria to Italy and Eastern Europe gain the ‘angry vote ‘

    The so called ‘angry vote ‘ is directed at the powerlessness of so called democratic governments to stand up to and face down the international financial and corporate sector who rule the roost and determine /direct the neo con anti labour and anti worker and anti state /government policies of corporate billionaires .

    Our politicians from Tory to Labour from FG to DUP have become no more than lickspittles in the face of international financial interests .

    The election result in Hungary last week upset those interests and has the EU mandarins running for ‘excuses’ as to why can’t the Hungarians just vote for parties that serve exclusively corporate interests just like the rest of the EU ?

  • aquifer

    At Stormont we can watch how outsiders now do as insiders.

  • Greenflag

    Aquifer ,

    I’d say what you see is both former outsiders and insiders pretty much strapped into strait jackets – in some cases I’d admit those strait jackets are self chosen . Although restrictive they provide a level of security for the wearers particularly within the confines of the larger political cage they both now reside in . Both insiders and outsiders are equally restricted from doing unto the other as they would have done in the good old bad old days ?

    But from a wider global perspective the Stormont insiders and outsiders are lost on the road to Damascus and nobody has told them that theres no pot of gold at the end of any rainbow or UK or UI .