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Labour needs a lesson – from Mr Trump

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Whenever I watch Donald Trump flagrantly insulting 11 million illegal immigrants, one of the largest religions and the whole of Mexico, I am utterly bewildered as to why anyone could support such an imperious, irritating and insufferable man.

Then it occurs to me. Across the Western world, anti-establishment politicians are growing in popularity.

In France and Germany the far-right are gaining power through the Front National and the Alternative für Deutschland respectively. Furthermore, the Syriza government in Greece, Bernie Sanders in America and Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Leader show that a more hard-line socialist position is also taking hold.

Why is this?

The main theory is that in an economic crisis, politics becomes polarised. This is because if people are experiencing extreme hardship they believe that a more extreme solution is needed to solve their problems.

Historically, such a theory has been used to explain why the darkest depths of the Wall Street Crash in 1929 created the culture which allowed Hitler and the Nazis to rise to power.

But the latest economic crisis occurred almost ten years ago. Surely that can’t still have such a large impact?

That leaves us looking for another reason.

Perhaps, it is because people are rejecting the establishment politician. They do not want a polished, privately educated, politically correct leader telling them what they can and cannot do.

This would certainly explain the rise of Trump, Corbyn and Sanders. None of these politicians accepts the status quo and all have been seen as outsiders. For Trump this is because of his business background, but for Corbyn and Sanders due to views that are seen as too extreme for the party establishment.

So how can Donald Trump help Labour?

People’s expectations of a politician have clearly changed. Although David Cameron told Corbyn to “put on a proper suit, do up your tie and sing the national anthem,” the fact that Corbyn hasn’t done so could actually be his biggest asset.

Despite his outlandish views, Trump has managed one thing: he has increased voter turnout. Often people who support anti-establishment candidates are those who have not voted before because they did not feel anybody represented their views or will actually change things.

Given that 34% of the British electorate did not vote in the last general election, this gives incredible scope for someone to enfranchise this section of society. In the UK that could be Corbyn.

Despite the significant challenges the party faces through constituency boundary changes, appearing to be economically credible and the inevitable struggle with the Labour establishment, there are factors that encourage Corbynites.

Opinion polls suggest that Labour candidate Sadiq Khan has a seven point lead over Conservative rival Zach Goldsmith in the London Mayoral Election. Labour is also expected to maintain control of the Welsh Assembly. Also, an ICM poll last week put both the Tories and Labour on 36%.

If Corbyn develops his outsider status by learning from Donald Trump, there could be a clear fight for power in Britain for the next four years. Not before time.

-- Dan Wood is a student at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds