The radical right in Britain: the UK Independence Party – a new force in politics or a political soufflé?
Independence Party, from its origins in 1993 to constituting the largest UK political party currently in the European Parliament and the recent election of its first member of parliament to the House of Commons in October of this year.
The paper will examine the rise of this party in the light of social trends in the UK over the last fifty years and, in particular, the emergence of a group termed the ―left behind‖ arising from the decline of Britain`s working class, the impact of changing social values and the increased marginalisation of this group whose distinguishing traits are: less skilled, economically insecure, less well educated and old. Its increased electoral support will also be examined in the context of its European neighbours which has seen increases in popular support for the National Front in France, the Northern League in Italy and the Freedom Party in Austria, as well as the Tea Party in the USA.
We will also briefly examine, as a case study, the course of the Social Democratic Party
(SDP) in the 1980s which saw hopes of a breakthrough by a third political 'force" in the wake of a number of stunning by election victories but which was ultimately subsumed into the Liberal Democrat Party, a partner in the present governing coalition. The failure for the SDP to make a breakthrough has important implications for the future of UKIP as it seeks to 'break the mould"of British politics today.
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