05.07.2013 0

Establishment Beware: Lessons From the UK Elections

By Robert Romano

Another strong showing by the insurgent UK Independence Party (UKIP) is sending shockwaves across the British political landscape.

In local county council elections on May 2, the party led by Nigel Farage picked up major ground with as much as 23 percent of the popular vote across the country, winning more than 140 seats, according to BBC News.

Farage’s party barely trailed in the popular vote, placing just behind the conservative Tories that received 25 percent of the vote, and Labour at 29 percent — all the while surging past the Liberal Democrats, which received just 14 percent of the vote.

In the South Shields by-election for the British House of Commons, UKIP did even better, finishing second place with 24 percent of the vote behind the Labour candidate. Critically, UKIP finished almost 13 points ahead of the Tory candidate there.

Remarkably, in 2010, UKIP had not even competed for that seat.

This followed another strong second-place showing in the Feb. 28 special election for the Eastleigh of Hampshire seat, with the party beating the Tories 27 to 25 percent. That was after only winning 3 percent of the vote for the same seat in 2010.

This is a party on the rise, and with European parliamentary elections set for 2014, and UK national elections due by 2015, UKIP appears poised to make big gains.

“We’ve been abused by everybody, attacked by the entire establishment who did their best to stop ordinary decent people going out and voting UKIP, and they have done in big, big numbers,” UKIP’s Farage told Sky News.

“By the end of today we are going to have a fair tally — and it sends a shock wave, I think, through the establishment,” he added.

UKIP, a party calling for British withdrawal from the European Union, has surged under Farage’s leadership since 2010, when the European sovereign debt crisis began. To placate UKIP voters, Conservative party leader and Prime Minister David Cameron has promised a referendum on the question — but only if the Tories are reelected in 2015.

Mike Shedlock of Mish’s Global Economic Analysis fame called Cameron’s ploy an “impossible carrot,” writing, “he has promised a referendum only if he wins the next election for prime minister, and then only if he negotiates certain changes in the treaty that Europe is not going to go along with.”

Shedlock added, “Cameron has attempted to satisfy UKIP with the pledge of a carrot that cannot possibly be won.”

Former Conservative Party chairman and Margaret Thatcher cabinet minister Norman Tebbit has recently warned Cameron that “If you kick your core voters hard enough, Mr. Cameron, they might kick back.”

After 20 years of the trend in British politics moving towards greater integration with Europe — only to end in economic disaster across the continent — such a tepid response by Cameron plainly shows the state of disarray the Tories are in.

They have become a party with no identity, struggling to shore up its right flank in the face of sincere opposition, unable to deal with the major economic issues confronting the nation and a growing welfare state.

Sound familiar? One might write a similar epitaph for Republicans in the U.S. — which under the leadership of House Speaker John Boehner has all but consigned tea party and conservative supporters of Republicans, which helped them win in 2010, to the kook fringe of American politics.

In 2010, Republicans promised to cut spending by $100 billion in 2011. Instead spending increased by $146 billion that year. For 2013, while sequestration provided for $53 billion of real cuts to outlays, this was completely offset by spending increases for the unpaid-for hurricane disaster relief and unemployment benefits extensions.

The GOP also abandoned its historical place as the anti-tax party when it agreed in December to raise taxes on those making more than $400,000 a year, and couples making more than $450,000. That included many small businesses who were all but thrown under the bus to placate the White House.

Republicans have also promised to defund Obamacare, which with the House, they could accomplish — they do have the power of the purse. They could prevent the entire government from spending any money if they chose to cut off financing via the debt ceiling or continuing resolution.

They have failed. The new health care law will be implemented unimpeded by Republicans in just 9 months. At the state level, Republicans are acquiescing to Obamacare. In Ohio, Arizona, Florida, New Jersey, Virginia, and Michigan, Republican governors have set the stage for expanding Medicaid by more than 3 million enrollees.

Americans for Limited Government’s Bill Wilson recently noted that “That’s 3 million more government dependents in some of the most contentious presidential election states in the country, particularly in Florida, Virginia, and Ohio, without which Republicans will never reclaim the White House.”

He added, “The only hope now for those states is that legislatures have the courage to correct their governors’ mistakes.”

Wilson called the UKIP insurgency is a teachable moment for Republicans, concluding, “The UK Independents are poised to shove the Conservative Party to the side and assume the role of loyal opposition.  If the establishment continues with its attacks on the base of the GOP, if they continue their surrender moves and policy surrenders, if they attack real conservatives with their liberals in drag, the GOP could find itself in the same position as the Tories.”

Perhaps the only thing lacking for such an insurgency — so far — is a leader willing to buck the GOP.

Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government.

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