“Trump, UKIP and the rise of Right Wing Populism” – Ryan Geraghty

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By Ryan Geraghty 

Last week, many people in the US and around the world woke up horrified. They awoke to the news that Donald Trump will become the President of the United States of America, a position many would agree makes him the most powerful man on the planet. Of course, many others awoke feeling validated, their voices finally heard, a big middle finger to the establishment that had taken its power for granted for far too long. Here lies the cause of the rebirth of right wing populism.

Back in 1997, it was the Centre Left that was taking the world by storm. Bill Clinton was in the White House, Tony Blair in Number Ten, both with big grins and bigger promises. Fast forward to present day and you see a world angry at the broken promises they left behind, angry at the banking crisis we were made to pay for, and angry at an establishment which had forced politics to the Centre for far too long.

In Britain, UKIP took advantage of the situation by winning over voters that by every right should have been Labour voters. By taking advantage of the anti-establishment anger left in the wake of Blairism and the coalition government they managed to make the working class turn to the Right. In a very short space of time UKIP went from being a party with very little influence or power, to being the party that drove an entire country towards its own agenda. Make no mistake, a vote for Brexit was born of anti-establishment anger just as much as Donald Trump’s victory was.

Of course, the Right aren’t the only ones who’ve benefited from this, the Far Left has seen a resurgence too with the rise of Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders. Who would ever have thought that a socialist could come so close to the presidency? He was never likely to actually win, but Sander’s huge support suggests that maybe the U.S. is finally over its ‘reds under beds’ mindset and left wing ideas will be welcome in the States once again. As for Corbyn, he has made the Labour party the biggest party in Europe. The problem is that the Left is only appealing to a very select portion of the population and seems incapable of winning people over, unlike the Right.

The Right has always been able to mobilise better than the Left but by fuelling people’s hatred and pretending to be the friend of the working class they have taken the U.S. presidency and forced our own government further to the Right than it was even under Thatcher. Meanwhile Labour party members continue to fight among themselves, inspiring confidence in no-one that the party can form an effective government, whilst Hillary Clinton’s failure marks a rejection of the same old status quo establishment people have been fed up with for so long.

The Left has to take some responsibility for Trump. With the Centre slowly eroding away, it’s their job to provide an alternative to the Far Right and inspire people to get behind it. Is it really so hard to unite people behind hope and unity the way the right has done with fear and hatred? In the UK Labour need to get their act together and prove to people there is another way.

As for America, they have a tough four years ahead of them. As do we all.

Ryan is a freelance journalist and political writer based in Manchester. He is currently studying MA Multimedia Journalism. In his spare time he enjoys reading and playing live music. Follow him on Twitter @RP_Geraghty.

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