Mark Steyn profiles Nigel Farage, head of the United Kingdom Independence Party, which Steyn notes, “was born in 1993 and now, a mere two decades later, is on the brink of . . . well, okay, not forming its first government, but it did do eerily well in May’s local elections.” As to the reasons why, read the whole thing, but here’s a key excerpt:
On the Continent, on all the issues that matter, competitive politics decayed to a rotation of arrogant co-regents of a hermetically sealed elite, and with predictable consequences: If the political culture forbids respectable politicians from raising certain topics, then the electorate will turn to unrespectable ones. As noted, Farage is too funny to make a convincing fascist, but, with the great unwashed pounding on the fence of their gated community, the Westminster village have redoubled their efforts. To be sure, as with any fledgling party whose candidate-selection process lacks the ruthless filtering of the Big Three, UKIP’s members are somewhat variable: One recently expressed an antipathy toward women in trousers, another was glimpsed in a cell-phone photograph either doing a Nazi salute (albeit sitting down and with his left hand) or reaching out to seize the phone in mid-snap. Considering the oppo research launched against UKIP by all three major parties plus the media, these are thin pickings.
The Tories in particular might be better off thinking seriously about UKIP’s appeal: If you reckon things are grand just as they are, having a choice between three indistinguishable “social democrat” parties — as Farage calls Labour, Liberal, and Conservative — is fine. If you don’t think things are grand, then it seems increasingly strange and, indeed, unhealthy that not one of the three “mainstream” parties is prepared to support policies that command the support of half the electorate (EU withdrawal) and significantly more than half (serious border enforcement). Underneath the contempt for UKIP lies a careless assumption by the antiseptic metropolitan elite that their condescension is universally shared — that these beery coves with fag ash down their golf-club ties are demographic dinosaurs in a Britain ever more diverse, more Muslim, more lesbian, more transgendered. But the Britain to which UKIP speaks resonates beyond the 19th hole. It was not just that the party won an unprecedented number of seats in May’s elections, but that they achieved more second-place finishes than anybody else. Beyond the leafy suburbs and stockbroker counties, in parts of Britain where the traditional working class has been hung out to dry by Labour in pursuit of more fashionable demographics, UKIP has significant appeal.
Which dovetails nicely with Toby Young in the London Telegraph today: “Guardian robot baffled by Generation Y’s embrace of Thatcherism. Does not compute. Does not compute:”
There’s a great example in the Guardian this morning of what Americans call “gee whiz” journalism, as in, a piece of news greeted as if it’s jaw-droppingly sensational when, to the rest of us is, it’s bleedin’ obvious. I’m talking about John Harris’s belated discovery that “the yoof” don’t share the values of the liberal, Guardian-reading metropolitan elite. Incredible as it may seem, they’re not pro-immigration, pro-welfare or pro-redistributive taxation. According to Ipsos MORI, only 20 per cent of 18-34-year-olds agree with the statement ”the creation of the welfare state is one of Britain’s proudest achievements”. How dare they?!? Most amazingly of all – to Harris, anyway – is that Generation Y don’t blame the “Con-Dem cuts” for youth unemployment. Haven’t they been listening to Len McCluskey?
The most telling passage in the article comes at the end, when Harris meets a 27-year-old in Warrington who’s just got a job after a bout of unemployment thanks to the government’s Work Programme. Harris asks him whether he thinks his joblessness was his fault.
“Yeah,” he says. “I do. I think I should have applied for more. I should have picked myself up in the morning, got out, come to a place like this – tried more. When you’re feeling down, you start blaming the world for your mistakes – you feel the world owes you. And it doesn’t. You owe the world: you have to motivate yourself, and get out there, and try.”
Harris describes this reply as – wait for it – “heartbreaking”. Yes, it breaks the Guardianista’s heart that this young person doesn’t think the world owes him a living. Instead of becoming welfare dependent, trapped for the rest of his life in poverty and despair – as any self-respecting member of the proletariat should, doncha know – he’s actually gone out and found himself a job! Oh tempora! Oh mores! What’s become of the client state? It’s as if 13 years of New Labour never happened.
Really? Young people don’t universally wish to be trapped in a 1944-era socialist nanny state? Go figure.