Until relatively recently, the party’s escaped a proper forensic examination. The media’s attention split between Nigel Farage and the odd bit of racism from a party eccentric. Or two. Or three…Farage, despite what his supporters may claim, has had an easy ride. It’s all looked so simple: drag the media down to another boozer, get snapped sipping away at a pint, then throw them another juicy soundbite.
Finally, the media have woken up. It’s always been a given that Ukip would do well at the European elections. Now polls shows them leading, and comfortably so. In a few weeks we’ll have even more Ukip councillors.It’s at this point that the media have decided to do what they’re best at: hold the powerful (or those who seek power) to account.
And do Ukip not like it. It’s been easy batting away the casual racism/sexism/homophobia if it’s only coming from a handful of dinosaurs. A lot harder when that handful is in fact several dozen handfuls. The bad apples are no longer the exception but the rule.Predictably, Ukip have cried foul, claiming victim status. The establishment are after them. Asking questions that, shock horror, they’ve been asking of other parties for years.
Ukip hope to be the underdog that the British root for. Clean up on a tide of none of the above.Except, the increased media scrutiny has shown that whilst the British may fall for the underdog, they’re not too keen on it being of the racist variety.
An ITN/ComRes poll of over 2,000 people has found a third regard Ukip as a racist party. Not a party that’s asking legitimate questions about immigration, or one that’s sticking up for British workers, but one that’s racist. That is one that discriminates against people for no other reason than their background.Tellingly, almost a third weren’t sure. In other words, most people were unable to deny categorically that Ukip aren’t a racist party. Not much of a vindication for the UK’s premier ‘non-racist’ party, as they usually like to pride themselves.
The most common refrain to those who dare highlight the party’s racism is that we’re only helping to send more voters into their arms. It’s counter-productive to pick out the racist bits, they argue. Counter-productive to who?Instead should we cast aside years of hard fought equality for minority groups and protection from discriminatory practices?
It’s hard to understand how it can be counter-productive in 2014 (yes that’s right. It is 2014 just in case some of us had forgotten) to let people know that the group that keep promising to cause an earthquake in British politics is nothing better than a ramshackle party made up of closeted and uncloseted racists.General rule of thumb: it’s always good to expose racism when it rears its ugly head. History isn’t particularly kind to those who brush it off.
That, together with Ukip’s economic illiteracy and general absurdity, should be more than enough to ensure that next month’s elections see it peak.After which people will get on with the serious business of choosing who they want to see run the country. A clue: it won’t be the perennial jokers.
Whatever they may say, voters do want their politicians engaged in the general drudgery of constituency life. Come next May, the amateurs will get pushed aside.
This first appeared on Speaker's Chair on Thursday 1st May 2014