The Day of the Outsider

Is the dominance of the big guy numbered? Alan Clawley hopes so.

A year ago Leicester City were an outsider in the world of football. Bookmakers offered odds of 5,000 to 1 that they would be Premier League champions. Their team was made up of home-grown players. The club wasn’t in the same spending league as Manchester United or Chelsea or the now dispirited and relegated giant, Aston Villa.

A year ago Jeremy Corbyn was an outsider. He was a back-bench left-wing Labour MP with a record of opposing his leader on issues of principle, such as nuclear weapons. Some of his colleagues thought it would liven things up if he took part in the election for a newlLeader to replace Ed Milliband. He won the election by a huge margin and is now Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition in Parliament.

Bernie Sanders is an outsider, an American politician who was unheard of in the UK before he joined the race to become the Democratic candidate for US Presidency. Sanders surprised everyone by giving the most famous candidate and bookies favourite Hilary Clinton, a run for her money. He is not rich by US Presidential standards and is unusually left-wing for an American. The American people are showing the world how willing they are to elect an outsider to be their President.

Donald Trump was a well-known flamboyant businessman a year ago when the political establishment didn’t take him seriously as a politician. In 2016 he is the Republican presidential candidate with a good chance of becoming president. Clinton may be a safe pair of hands but her enthusiasm is entirely focussed on the mundane process of winning.

It’s only a few years since the retailing outsider Lidl was a little supermarket brand whose stripped-down style looked like an import from Eastern Europe. By the time Tesco woke up to the threat from the upstart they were losing customers and in serious financial trouble from which they are only now starting to recover.

Coincidence perhaps, but maybe we have got bored with mainstream sport, politics and business with its domination by big money and global corporations. It has become predictable, dull and complacent. We are looking for a change that will stir it up and bring a breath of fresh air to our daily lives. It’s a kick up the back side to the establishment.

What drives outsiders is excitement, enthusiasm and obvious integrity. Lidl invites us to try something new that we can’t even pronounce or buy a chain saw that will only be on sale for a few weeks in Spring. And while Villa players are paid astronomical salaries they don’t have the bursting enthusiasm of an outsider.

Perhaps it’s a passing phase and we will soon reach the limit of how much change and excitement we can handle. But we could be moving into a new era. We have seen ‘bigness’ and ‘sameness’ and haven’t always liked it. Giving the outsider a chance is gambling with the unknown. The paradox is that outsiders won’t be outsiders for long before they too become part of the status quo. But that, it seems, is what makes the world go round.