Is being anti-establishment becoming a little mainstream?
PUBLISHED: 10:55 11 January 2017 | UPDATED: 18:08 11 January 2017
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A press release from Dereham announcing Labour’s county council election candidates in the town raised a smile this week.
In the attached quote, Harry Clarke, the candidate for Dereham South, and Liz Hunton, the candidate for Dereham North, declared they would “be your voice and challenge the local establishment which sadly takes you for granted”.
The anti-establishment pitch has taken over local politics too.
It is almost a year since Donald Trump, the millionaire-by-birth, released a video called The Establishment.
He proclaimed that: “The establishment, the media, the special interests, the donors – they’re all against me.” Eleven months later he was elected president of the United States of America.
Dominic Cummings, the campaign director of Vote Leave, broke his silence this week with a very long blog post about the reasons behind the victory. Amid his multitude of thoughts under the heading “Anti-establishment” he suggested tapping into fury about executive pay and “corporate looting” helped them to win.
In his opinion, one of the most successful TV performances of the campaign was when Boris Johnson hit the theme of corporate looting in a market square.
And at Labour HQ in London, senior figures have emerged from their metaphorical smoke-filled darkened room after drawing the conclusion Jeremy Corbyn should try to ride the anti-politics mood in Brexit Britain.
They believe he is well-placed to draw on the wave of anti-establishment feeling sweeping through politics. His rallying cry will be that he leads a revolt against vested interests.
It is probably fair to say that his pitch is slightly more genuine than that of Donald Trump.
But maybe being anti-establishment is becoming a little too establishment?
Even Theresa May has been trying her hand at it.
In her speech this week she highlighted the divisions “between the wealth of London and the rest of the country; between the rich, the successful and the powerful, and their fellow citizens”.
Conservative MP Anna Soubry (I think with her tongue firmly in cheek) said this week she and fellow pro-freedom of movement Labour MP David Lammy were fighting against the “political establishment” after Jeremy Corbyn announced he was not “wedded” to freedom of movement.
Maybe it is time to have political differences without having to present them as some great fight against the establishment?
It might be a little less mainstream.
The heart-warming reaction to the death of UK Independence Party Norwich stalwart Steve Emmens is a timely reminder politics is not simply a depressing cycle of nastiness and abuse.
Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, local and national politicians alike spoke with real sadness about the death of a friendly and warm man who they described as an election circuit “fixture”.
During general and local council elections our politicians have robust debates and often widely contrasting policy ideas and views.
But the response to the death of Steve Emmens highlighted the camaraderie across the political spectrum which is there.
Candidates speak of the friends they make with political rivals as they traipse from village hall to school hall and compare similarly terrible diets and how much sleep they haven’t had.
In the early hours of the morning when they are waiting for the results to be counted you often see rivals deep in conversation.
Nationally, we have learnt of the mutual respect between former chancellor George Osborne and his despatch box sparring partner Ed Balls. Mr Osborne became one of his greatest cheerleaders during Strictly Come Dancing.
And even for us journalists, who are impartial creatures, there are always characters who we get to know.
Like his political rivals, I will miss talking to Steve Emmens – whether for an urgent quote with a deadline approaching, or at 3am in the morning at an election count.