Spectator: British Establishment Shaken by Breitbart London


From The Spectator:

What’s happened to poor Ukip? Not so long ago, they seemed unstoppable. They were revolting on the right, terrifying the left and shaking up Westminster. The established parties tried sneering at them, smearing them, even copying them. Nothing worked. Then came the general election, the centre held, and Ukip seemed to fall apart. Farage failed to win his target seat in South Thanet, the focus of his whole campaign. He resigned, then farcically unresigned, three days later.

The ‘Ukip wars’ followed: after an unseemly row over ‘Short money’ — the funding provided by the state for opposition parties in Parliament — Ukip started attacking itself through the media. Further leading figures have resigned and unresigned, or been sacked and unsacked.

Here’s the strange thing, though: the election was not a disaster for Ukip. It was a triumph. They won 3.9 million votes — 3 million more than in 2010, and 1.5 million more than the Liberal Democrats. If that rate of growth, or anything like it, were to continue, by 2020 Nigel Farage could well be prime minister. So why has the party sabotaged itself?

To begin to understand, it helps to cross the Atlantic and meet Stephen Bannon, executive chairman of a mysteriously rich right-wing website called Breitbart. Bannon is a tough cookie: a former ‘surface warfare’ officer in the US Navy and Goldman Sachs banker who in the 2000s turned his talents towards documentary-making and the crazy, querulous and lucrative world of the American radical right. In the early 2010s, as Ukip ascended, he saw a brilliant business opportunity.

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