The Fraudulent Anti-Elitism Of The Right

Nigel Farage and UKIP have, for the past 10 years or more, cast themselves as anti-elite and anti-establishment. The mass media, for the most part, has accepted this without question and have even referred to UKIP and the politics they represent as “anti-politics”. This is a curious formulation that has been coined by the mass media to describe a form of political expression that supposedly opposes mainstream politics. Yet it overlooks the fact that politics is more than stuffed shirts speaking in soundbites and platitudes in the Daily Politics studio. It takes place in everyday life and can be encapsulated in the maxim “The personal is political”.

Guy Debord (1957) observed that the mass media refuses to allow any space to contradictory or marginalized ideas. This almost always means that left-wing ideas are effectively excluded or are otherwise ridiculed. The mass media has thus constructed a simulation of anti-establishment politics in place of genuine anti-establishment politics. The anti-EU ranting of Farage, Evans, Nuttall, et al is seen somehow as having greater legitimacy than the Nordic-style social democracy that is proposed by the Corbynite faction of the Labour Party, which is characterized by the media, The Tories, UKIP and the Labour Right as “dangerous”. The only danger posed by Corbyn’s Labour is to the establishment that has shoved neoliberalism down our throats for the last 35 years.

As I pointed out in this blog from 2014, UKIP’s anti-elite and anti-establishment credentials are entirely bogus. This is a party that is led by former Tories, billionaires, City traders and other bourgeois types.

UKIP and parties like it provide a receptacle for voters’ grievances against the establishment. They divert their energies to the dead-ends of xenophobia, bigotry and hatred of the Other, rather than towards the structural problems that have been created by the establishment that keep people in their place or otherwise divide them. At the risk of contravening Godwin’s Law, even Hitler and his Nazi Party cast themselves as anti-establishment and anti-elite by appearing to oppose moneyed interests. We know how that ended.


Debord, G. (1957). Report on the Construction of Situations. Available at: accessed 7 March 2010


Filed under Government & politics, Ideologies, Media, Society & culture, UKIP

2 responses to “The Fraudulent Anti-Elitism Of The Right

  1. Well had the pro eu BBC been in the slightest even handed then both UKIP, and the leave campaign would have had more people on the panels, and it isn’t a right left part of politics it is a nationalist against euro federalist argument with all colours of the political rainbow being on both sides. The anti elite claims arise because the the professional politicians, those who have done nothing but politics since leaving schoo, live in a political bubble and do not understand the realities that face the majority of the people they purport to represent.l

    • The Leave campaign won or have you forgotten? Stop whining. If it’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a whiny right-wing prima donna.

      However the claim that UKIP is anti-elitist isn’t supported by empirical evidence. UKIP’s top table is dominated by elitists. One of your donors, Robin Birley (who is a former Tory like most of UKIP), is well-connected to the establishment; a true elitist (Google him). In fact, his great great great grandfather led the fatal charge at Peteloo. Plus ca change. Plus la meme chose.

      At the risk of violating Godwin’s Law (Google it), the Nazis also claimed to be ‘anti-elitist’.

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