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2014 Election Richard Falknor on 23 May 2014 05:51 pm

What Could The GOP Establishment Learn From The UKIP Victory?

“The three main political parties of British politics faced a disappointing night at the local elections after the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) made gains right across the board. As results from 161 of the local authorities in Britain continue to come in, it is clear that 2014 belongs to Nigel Farage. With one year to go until the General Election, Conservatives, Labour, and the Liberal Democrats had all hoped to consolidate their positions – but these elections have proved bad news for them all. UKIP, often compared to the U.S. Tea Party, had been a fringe party of local government until these elections, relying on defections from other parties to boost their base.” — here Breitbart’s

With last night’s unprecedented gains in local elections across the UK — the conservative United Kingdom Independence Party’s (UKIP’s) successful appeal to working class voters should grab the attention of grass-roots conservatives here at home. 

So what special course did UKIP take to reach out to this neglected constituency? 

Andre Walker reports here in his “UKIP’s Plan To Target Disaffected Working Class Voters Pays Dividends”.

“UKIP were ‘stunned’ by the success of their strategy to target traditionally working class seats, and ‘can’t believe Labour didn’t see it coming.’ A senior UKIP source has told Breitbart London that 18 months ago the party changed the focus of their campaign to appeal to disaffected Labour voters.”

Political correspondent Walker continues

“Breitbart London understands that UKIP accepted 18 months ago that they had run out of Conservative defectors and believed their message would resonate with working class voters who had been let down by a very liberal Labour Party.”

The Even Larger Picture: “Farage’s Revolution Is Thatcher’s Revolution”

Breitbart’s points to the guiding spirit of UKIP here

“Nigel Farage has often cast himself as the ‘Heir to Thatcher.’ Today he and his party demonstrated it, not so much in the votes they have attracted from disgruntled Tories as in the ones they got from working class voters in northern constituencies like Rotherham and Sunderland, and also in the epicentre of the Thatcher revolution, Essex.”

Delingpole reminds us

“It’s not just the liberal-left chatterati who don’t get UKIP. Equally blind are the Cameron-loyalist Conservatives. Cameron himself has long fought shy of the notion that he belongs to the Thatcherite tradition (indeed he has described himself as the ‘Heir to Blair’) and on this issue at least he is being commendably honest. The party he leads embodies the spirit of the Tory Wets whom Thatcher more or less managed to marginalise – but who later would destroy her. It is the party of big government and ‘managed decline.'”

Even pragmatic (that is, unburdened by core principles), problem-solving (that is, viewing deal-making as the highest public service) Republicans can grasp the strong parallels between Tory leader and Prime Minister David Cameron — and our own Beltway GOP.

What Immediate Lessons for Republicans?

Senior Republican senator Jeff Sessions has been calling for a “humble and honest populism” as the best path for the GOP — a remarkably similar course to the successful UKIP path.

And as we noted earlier: John Fonte spelled out last December here (NRO) how the Republican establishment is missing the boat by not courting Blue Collar America and by flirting with Big Immigration in his “Re-Branding the GOP: From the party of big business to the party of the little guy”–

“Let us begin the re-branding, as Jeff Sessions suggests, with conservatives and the GOP vigorously and unapologetically opposing all legislation that increases low-skilled immigration and denouncing ‘comprehensive immigration reform’ for what it is: class warfare waged by an unholy alliance of Obama, progressive elites, and big business against the well-being and way of life of the American middle and working classes.” (Highlighting Forum’s.)

Longtime Thatcher adviser John O’Sullivan earlier pounded on this theme in his NRO post here last July –“What about the Workers?”

“The Reagan Democrats drifted away from the GOP in the 1990s in response to the different appeals of Bill Clinton and Ross Perot. Neither George Bush, nor John McCain, nor Mitt Romney made serious attempts to win them back. Mitt Romney was anyway the Republican candidate least likely to appeal to working class (or even lower-middle-class) voters. Once the Obama campaign had cleverly demonized him as Mr. Vulture Capitalist, it felt able to ignore this (still numerous) section of the electorate — until at the last minute it panicked and sent in Bill Clinton to prevent any slippage to Romney. The result is an American blue-collar vote that the Democrats have alienated but that the Republicans have not bothered to woo.
The Democrats are uneasily aware of the danger this poses to them. It is one factor in their passionate but guarded support for the Gang of Eight immigration bill and explains their insistence in three Congresses that Republicans give them “cover” on the issue. The bill is a direct attack on the living standards and job opportunities of low-income Americans of all ethnicities. If the Republicans support it, that would be another signal to blue-collar workers that the GOP is at best indifferent to their interests. Yesterday’s letter from Republican donors would be Exhibit One in any election campaign. But all over the world conservative parties are winning more votes from working-class voters as leftist parties make gains in an increasingly public-sector middle class. By fighting the Gang of Eight bill on the explicit grounds that it penalizes hard-working and lower-paid Americans, the GOP could make even larger gains than Reagan made in the 1980s among these voters. And this electoral bloc dwarfs any other in numerical terms.”

The question remains: is the GOP Establishment capable of serious course correction?

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