Nigel Farage reckons a Donald Trump defeat will create an American UKIP - but is he right?

Will an American version of UKIP be born if Donald Trump loses?

Trump supporters - could they form America's answer to UKIP?

Monday, November 7, 2016

Donald Trump and UKIP. Two subjects united in controversy, manna from heaven for journalists and the stuff of nightmares for those on the political left.

These two forces of political nature have moved ever closer during the referendum campaign, with UKIP figurehead Nigel Farage speaking on Trump's behalf and the UKIP-friendly website Breitbart throwing its weight behind the Republican billionaire.

Now Farage has claimed in the Telegraph that, if Trump loses the US election tonight, it will herald the birth of an American UKIP - an enterprise in which he would, presumably, be heavily involved.

But is he right? Is UKIP ready to jump across the pond?

Well there's no denying that Trump has the support of millions behind him, harnessing a political energy which can neither be created nor destroyed. If the Donald comes up short tonight, the suppport he has channelled during this campaign will have to go somewhere - the anger and resentment he has engendered won't simply evaporate.

There are obvious parallels between the messages parlayed by Trump and those of the UKIP high command - rebelling against the establishment, growing a new movement from the grassroots, viewing your southern border with a mixture of fear and contempt. And if, as seems likely, Trump turns the notoriety accrued during his election campaign into PR capital for a new TV station, an American UKIP would surely be granted plenty of airtime - Farage might even get his own show.

But then one has to ask whether UKIP would ever really get off the ground in America. After all, many of its core policies are already catered for by the mainstream political parties.

Trump may rail against what he perceives as the political establishment, but this ignores the fact that he's standing for the Republican Party. He's not an outsider like, say, Green candidate Dr Jill Stein. One of America's big two parties has looked at him and judged him worthy. The Tea Party, the right-wing faction of the Republican movement, continues to exert huge influence, as his candidacy demonstrates.

More moderate Republicans like to pretend Trump is an abominable aberration but they forget that the last Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, also wanted to construct a barrier along the border with Mexico. The Republicans' last two candidates have come up with near-identical solutions to what they perceive to be the Mexican question - solutions which would leave an American UKIP with little wriggle room.

Look at UKIP's other policies and you are see they are equally well covered by the US political establishment. Immigration control has been a key issue for years, while Barack Obama, a president who portrayed himself as a breath of fresh air when he succeeded Bush in 2008, has made tax cuts and budget deficit reduction key pillars of his presidency. 

The fact is that UKIP's core policy blueprint is old news to millions upon millions of Americans. They already hold what Farage and his colleagues say to be self-evident truths, and so do the politicians, both Democrat and Republican, who purport to represent them. Donald Trump may present his ideas in a slightly coarser, more eye-catching package than his predecessors, but the core content of his speeches is nothing new.

Oh yeah, and America has no overarching body to secede from, so UKIP's no.1 policy would be essentially redundant in the States. There's always Nato, of course, but UKIP seem to quite like that particular supranational body.

So it's doubtful whether UKIP could really park its tanks on the lawn of the political establishment in the US as it has done in the UK. They've already filled the grass with tanks of their own, political shibboleths that are already part of the mainstream parlance of American political life. Trump may have enlivened this election with his boorish buffoonery, but people shouldn't confuse the passion he evokes with a genuine desire for a new political movement among the American people.