Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

UKIP: Naive or something less savoury?

UKIP have been on the TV quite a bit recently specifically:

To be honest telling which one was fiction and which one was factual was difficult!

OK, both were hatchet jobs on a political party that I don’t particularly like – well to be honest a political party that I don’t like at all.


 

The first describes itself as:

A ground-breaking and provocative fictional documentary set in a fabricated future where UKIP have won the 2015 general election and Nigel Farage is Prime Minister
Channel 4: UKIP: The first 100 days

It centred on the impact on their female Asian MP of a UKIP victory leading to:

  • announcement of the UK exiting the EU
    • closure of a major employer in the MP’s constituency as Airbus pulls out of the UK
  • a clampdown on (illegal) immigrants
    • raids on businesses thought to be employing illegals (using a mix of previously shot footage from one of the endless “law and order” reality shows and drama footage)
    • the MP going on a raid (Boris style)
    • riots and protests following an “Incident” on the raid
  • the MP attempting to climb / being propelled up the greasy pole (all very conventional party political)
    • clashes within the MP’s family with her brother coming out publicly against her
    • disillusion leading to deciding family came first.

The Guardian stated:

that the drama “lacked nuance“, adding: “It won’t aid UKIP’s cause in the run up to the election, but it probably won’t make much of a dent in it either.”
BBC News Website 23 February 2015 : Ofcom to probe Channel 4’s UKIP drama

Farage, predictably and understandably said it was “a biased partisan depiction” of his party. For once I agree with him, but he has to accept that much of the “real footage” was gifted to the programme makers by UKIP members themselves.

UKIP do not seem to realise that a lot of what their activists (from the leader all the way down to the local activists) do and say represents hostages to fortune. This naivety is not, however, endearing.

It was, however, a very narrow exploration of the probable consequences of a UKIP victory.


 

The second programme was described by the BBC as:

An unprecedented insight into the heartland of UKIP that follows the party faithful as they ride high in the polls and try – but fail – to avoid the gaffes the media are looking for. Thanet on the Kent coast is where Nigel Farage has chosen to stand for parliament, but this timely film is about the local party activists who stand firmly behind him rather than the media-savvy leader himself. Filmed over six months, these true believers explain the UKIP phenomena, but there are also jaw-dropping views on race the national party would definitely prefer weren’t aired.
BBC2: Meet the Ukippers

What I cannot understand is how the BBC got UKIP’s agreement to this documentary. Most political parties know that they are pretty murky when you lift the lid, but as I watched this lid being lifted I began to wonder if I was watching a docudrama that “lacked nuance”.

We saw:

  • the chairman of the local party trying to explain away the fact that he was a member of the BNP for a year (see also BBC News Website 26 December 2014 : UKIP’s Thanet South chairman regrets National Front past)
    • A spokesman for UKIP said Mr Heale had been a party member for several years before the ban on former members of far right organisations was brought in.(ibid) So that’s OK then.
  • a UKIP weekend “training session” for local activists:
    • A chance for candidates to be photographed standing by the leader
    • A reminder from the (voluntary) constituency press officer reminding people to be careful about what they said
  • a councillor visiting the same press officer at home and, on camera (!), deciding to explain that she had a “problem” with one particular racial group. (see also BBC News Website 22 February 2015 : Ex-UKIP councillor Rozanne Duncan: ‘No regrets’ over comments) This lead to:
    • the press officer doubting why she (the press officer, rather than the councillor) was in the party
    • the councillor being expelled by what sounded like a secret court without her having a hearing
    • the press officer (and her councillor candidate partner) becoming disillusioned and deciding to stand down

I cannot imagine the Conservatives or Labour (or even most Lib Dem constituencies) allowing this situation to happen – they know their underbellies are not particularly pleasant and should be kept out of the public eye. Perhaps UKIP is so different that they do not realise this and they think that their reactionary intolerance is attractive to more than just their most die-hard supporters.

But this is the constituency where Nigel Farage (leader of the party etc.) wants to be the MP!

So UKIP: Naive or something less savoury? Probably both.

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