There are local elections in Britain on Thursday, roughly equivalent to mid-term elections in the U.S., and the big story is the United Kingdom Independence Party [UKIP]'s continued emergence. The Leftist Guardian has put a slightly misleading headline on this report by Matthew Goodwin: Ukip will deliver a sting – but not this year, April 29—it means UKIP's real impact is still to come—but Goodwin's analysis is directly relevant to the U.S.:
...the roots of the Ukip ascendancy extend deeper than the immediate humdrum of party politics, to a more diffuse mood of pessimism and frustration that has the potential to inflict serious, long-term damage. This is not just about [Tory leader David] Cameron or Labor leader] Ed Miliband, but concerns a loss of trust in elites generally and voters' frustration with the dry, managerial nature of modern campaigns, which often leave them feeling lost and abandoned. This is also not about the details of austerity, but concerns a deeper sense among voters that Britain is fundamentally on the wrong track, and that the main parties are no longer able to deliver effective responses to the serious issues facing the country.
(I've added emphases throughout). Goodwin continues:
The most important of these, for Ukip, is immigration. Our research has shown that this is consistently the most important issue for Ukip voters. It is also the second most important issue for all voters, after the economy, and this will rise further as debates over migration from Bulgaria and Romania intensify. In fact, voters are more concerned today about immigration than unemployment, while the numbers who do not back any of the main parties on this issue continue to move upwards.
Emphasis added again. Goodwin concludes:
...the result could be a serious rightwing insurgency.
Minor parties in Britain have often remained true to historian Richard Hofstadter's description of third parties in America: they are like bees – once they have stung, they die. Ukip will deliver a sting this week..To assess whether Ukip is capable of turning its sting into a major breakthrough, we will have to wait for the 2014 European elections, and the 2015 general election. But one thing is clear – the ingredients that are needed for such a breakthrough are here.
Goodwin must be feeling vidicated: he predicted this over two years ago.
I've spent a fair amount of my professional life predicting the emergence of new parties: in Quebec; in English Canada; in the U.S.; in the U.K. It's never popular and it always take longer than you think. But it happens, inconveniencing conventional MSM courtiers more often than they like to like to admit.
And here in the U.S, as Reagan aide Lynn Nofziger predicted at the end of his life, immigration is the issue that could cause it.