With the rise of Donald Trump in the US presidential election & the UK voting to leave the European union. It seems that right wing politics is on the rise. But what has caused such a large shift to the right in western politics.
The Brexit (Britain’s vote on its continued membership of the European union) campaign in the UK at times became a very symbolic battle between the left and right. With shocking imagery used by the leave campaign, that left even a lot of its own supporters to be surprised, and leading to the figurehead of the campaign Nigel Farage to distance himself from the pictures. This level of whipping up the public came to a boiling point, with the murder of member of Parliament Jo Cox in broad daylight after finishing her constituency surgery. The whole campaign was a tinder box waiting to go off. The anti immigration sentiment created, led to attacks in the street on immigrants, their businesses and their possessions and even to the murder of a Polish national.
According to the new scientist the rise of right wing politics following an economic crash is a well known cycle. It normally lasts for around ten years after a financial crisis (as in 2008). The rise in anxiety caused by financial crises, coupled with anxiety from global terrorism leaves the public open to their nations becoming more insular.
So where does Donald Trump fit in? The well known businessman and TV personality made a terrifyingly rapid rise to prominence in the republican party whilst also dividing opinion within the party. To the point that even after winning the nomination, many senior republicans haven’t supported his bid to become president. His inflammatory remarks regarding migrants are reminiscent of the UK’s Brexit campaign, and are playing into the palpable fear of migrants caused by global terrorism and the violent unrest in Mexico.
I fear that Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump are inextricably linked, the use of fear and potential massive change in politics is of great interest to many people who are fed up with politicians, whilst also playing to the ultra right. The fear created by a mass influx of immigrants and global terrorism are putting western countries back in to nationalist mindsets. This isn’t just in the UK. In France, the Front national is having its highest ever opinion poll ratings. Whilst still a little way off of winning, Marine Le Pen does have an opportunity in another western country that has high levels of immigration and a large Muslim population. This is in direct correlation with recent terrorist attacks in the country. Germany are also finding that the right wing is gaining traction, this has intensified since Chancellor Merkel opened the doors to a large influx of middle eastern refugees, and the ill feeling has certainly been increased by reports of sexual assaults by migrants.
The upcoming elections in the US and France will certainly show some shifts in national mindsets. Hopefully in the US Hillary Clinton will win if she can hold on to Barack Obama’s large majority. Donald Trump has ultimately become a faltering candidate, with ongoing revelations about his conduct coming out. But France is less certain, and with the conservatives in the UK pushing for a rapid exit from the EU, other nations including France may also look for the exits in order to more tightly control their borders, and to potentially mitigate the risk of damage from a dwindling European union. This could set off a chain reaction in Europe, as countries see the potential security benefits of not being in the schengen area, coupled with some of Europe’s biggest players potentially leaving the trading bloc.
Unfortunately this means that to an extent ISIS is winning its hearts and minds war, by turning the west against immigration, and particularly immigration from Muslim countries. The main point to remember in all of this, is that the migrants also want to get away from ISIS. The imagery from Aleppo shows what these people are running from, they are to be welcomed and protected, not shut out in the cold. The world has a responsibility not to turn their backs on these people. A responsibility that currently we are not dealing with.
Joseph Thornton is a 33 year old writer from London. Specializing in article and blog writing. He enjoys politics and sports, he also runs his own blog from his website, whilst also working in the private sector. He enjoys spending his spare time with his wife and 2 year old son.