This chapter focuses on the rise and fall of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and its impact on political competition and policy making, especially after the Great Recession. It starts with a short analysis of the causes of its growth and considers how its political platform changed over time. This is followed by a core section assessing mainstream parties’ reactions to the challenge posed by UKIP. Some evidence is provided in support of the argument that a process of ‘populist diffusion’ has occurred over the last decade. It is shown that the Conservative Party has responded to UKIP by co-opting its Eurosceptic and anti-immigration positions. These used to be popular at the margins of the party establishment but are now supported by its core. The Labour Party, despite being ideologically much more distant from UKIP, has not responded to the populist challenge by adopting a clearly clashing strategy but has also resorted to co-optation (although to a more limited extent than the Tories). Generally, a Brexit scenario would have been significantly less likely to occur without the emergence and strengthening of UKIP and this points to its significant influence, despite its recent electoral collapse. In some respects, UKIP might have been the victim of its own success.
|Title of host publication|| Populism and New Patterns of Political Competition in Western Europe|
|Editors||Daniele Albertazzi, Davide Vampa|
|Publication status||Published - 14 Jan 2021|
|Name||Extremism and Democracy|