Since the EU referendum, one of the few things to politically console Remainers has been the inevitable demise of UKIP. Except, this hasn’t really happened.
UKIP’s polling figures are consistently good. In terms of voting intention, the party boasts almost double the support of the Liberal Democrats.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. After accomplishing Brexit and waving farewell to Nigel Farage, the party’s patron-saint, UKIP was supposed to vanish – consumed by its own irrelevance.
So how did this happen? How has UKIP outlasted Farage?
Jeremy Corbyn insists that his Labour Party represents the downtrodden and overlooked – in particular those in the north who’ve been left behind by globalisation and punished by Tory cuts.
Yet Labour continues to flounder in its traditional heartlands. Corbyn’s liberal, pro-immigration values simply aren’t appealing to voters in the likes of Hartlepool and Doncaster – areas that voted overwhelmingly in favour of Brexit.
A High Court decision, giving Parliament the power to trigger Article 50, has fuelled an already widespread feeling that the establishment is trying to stop Brexit via the back door.
In this climate, UKIP (a party that is both pro-Brexit and anti-establishment) has been cast as the only group prepared to protect the will of the people. Even the Conservative Party (whose members are heavily pro-Brexit), is viewed sceptically, especially given that a large proportion of Tory MPs sat in the Remain camp during the referendum.
Trump has been mocked and derided by almost every major political figure in the UK. This language has escalated in recent months, as politicians compete to lambast the Republican presidential nominee in the most colourful way possible.
The only politician who has declared even slight sympathy for Trump is Nigel Farage, who was guest of honour at a Trump rally in Jackson, Mississippi.
Will UKIP benefit from an association with a politician almost as notorious as Kim Jong-un? The evidence is unconvincing.
However, it’s widely believed that Trump will not suffer an embarrassing defeat next week. And this will surely assure UKIP voters that nationalist (some might say patriotic), anti-immigration politics is on the rise across the western world – strengthening their faith in the cause.
Trump might not win over many new voters for UKIP, but his success will likely help to preserve the enthusiasm of existing supporters and voters.
Despite UKIP’s internal strife – epitomised by Steven Woolfe’s public punching-match with a European Parliament colleague – it the only party that can claim a major political victory in 2016. Chaos caused by a historic victory is less politically damaging than chaos caused by habitual defeat.
And, compared to the trench warfare experienced by the Labour Party over the past 14 months, UKIP’s power struggle seems more akin to a playground skirmish.