Reading some of the US blogs you occasionally come across British supporters of Sarah Palin. Their comments usually run along the lines of 'if you guys don't want her, we'll take her off your hands'.
I wondered why in Britain we don't have an equivalent of a Palin or a Tea Party movement. Here are a few reasons that come to mind:
1. There's not the same suspicion of the state in the UK as in the US.
2. The US has a revolutionary tradition and we don't (cf. Tea Party).
3. We have some Tea Party equivalents. One is UKIP. However, the state it opposes - the EU - doesn't fuel the same popular feeling. Another is the LibDems: a third party with mainstream representation that continually opposes business as usual and so provides a lesson in the potential and limits of this approach. Finally, the nationalist parties in Wales and Scotland are intrinsically anti-establishment (or at least anti-Westminster establishment). Perhaps an English nationalist party would be our Tea Party equivalent?
4. There's much more cynicism (or a lot less idealism) about the possibilities of politics over here. It's difficult to see people getting excited about any politician or any political cause at the moment. It's more a case of disengagement and 'a curse on all your houses'.
5. The importance of the individual. We don't have a Sarah Palin - a charismatic populist capable of tapping into people's anti-government and anti-élite feeling.
6. The class system has got the British used to being screwed over by an élite - the perpetrators of economic and financial disaster produce a shrug of the shoulders rather than anything more concrete.
7. There's no room in the British political system for a radical movement to get any traction, at least at the centre: first past the post, power focused on Westminster, the inconsequentiality of local councils.
8. There's no TV channel to fuel and support a Tea Party movement, unlike Fox in the US (though there are a lot of newspapers that I'm sure would sponsor something like it).
9. The US is a bigger, more diverse country - there's simply more space between federal government and the people and between the coasts and the interior for such particularism to thrive. Conversely, the British élite has much more of a grip on the country than any US grouping could possibly hope to possess.
10. Perhaps the biggest difference: the Tea Party movement seems to get a lot of its energy from the religious right. We don't do religion in the same way.
And finally, you couldn't use the term 'Tea Party' over here as it brings to mind chimps drinking PG Tips.
Any more? Will anything change to produce one? Should we wish for one?