The tea party-inspired renaissance of conservatism isn’t confined to America’s borders. It’s spread to the United Kingdom, where it appears to be flourishing.
Britain’s own version of the tea party — the UK Independence Party, known as the UKIP — actually got its start in 1993, long before America’s tea party. It was formed on a single-issue platform — to oppose the UK’s entry into the European Union, according to Fox News.
The Independence Party lost that battle. Britain is still a member of the EU, and nothing much had been heard from UKIP since then — until recently.
The Independence Party only took 3.1 percent of the vote in the 2010 national election, but it snatched 23 percent in the 2013 local elections — what we call the midterms in the United States. National party leader and European Parliament Member Nigel Farage is understandably ecstatic.
“We want to take back our country, we want to take back our government, and we want to take back our birthright,” Farage told FoxNews.com, sounding an awful lot like a tea party leader in America.
Just as the tea party’s popularity is due partly to the GOP’s slow move to the left, the UKIP’s sudden growth is attributed to voters’ discontent with the Conservative Party’s similar leftward bent, especially under current Prime Minister David Cameron.
In the three-and-a-half years Cameron has been prime minister, he has fought for gay marriage and openly supported Britain’s nationalized health care system. He even changed the Tory party logo from the flame of liberty to a touchy-feely tree.
Just as conservative Republicans see fewer differences between the GOP and the Democratic Party, Tories have watched their party become more like the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats.
Like the tea party, the UKIP preaches limited government, lower taxes and moving nationalized industries back to the private sector. It also pushes for that single issue that led to the party’s start — to get Great Britain out of the European Union.
The public is with them on the latter issue. A full 53 percent of respondents to an August Opinium.co.uk poll said they wanted out of the EU, with a mere 32 percent expressing a desire to remain.
“The sense of frustration the tea party feels about the remoteness about the bureaucratic class of the Washington Beltway is similar to our frustration with being dealt with by Brussels,” Farage said of Britain’s EU membership, according to Fox, which also reported:
Many experts agree. Andrew Russell, Head of Politics at the University of Manchester, told FoxNews.com that the comparison between the Tea Party and UKIP is an accurate one, and that he believes that UKIP could take the 2014 elections by storm.
“UKIP will do well in the 2014 European elections,” Russell told Fox. “They may even win them in terms of the popular vote. This will increase the pressure on the Conservatives.”
And just as the establishment GOP dismisses tea party Republicans as “dangerous” and “wacko-birds,” Cameron referred to UKIP members as “fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists.”
Some things never change.