Meet the Ukippers was an amusing and even insightful look into the shamelessly unattractive world of Britain’s rapidly rising right-wing party. But how well would the other parties fare?
The UK Independence Party (UKIP) has captured the attention of the media and is likely to poll well because of it. Some believe the media’s incessant coverage of this small and disorganised party is due to some ghastly right-wing plot to subvert democracy. But critics fail to appreciate just how it is that UKIP gets so much attention. The party’s success is primarily due to the efforts of its much-loved and hated leader, Nigel Farage.
The reason why Farage is so regularly in the news is because he almost always agrees to be interviewed. He also answers questions directly which makes him quotable and wants to talk about topics which most politicians duck, particularly on Europe and immigration. Furthermore, on quite a few of these issues his opinions starkly contrast with those presented by the other parties, which frankly makes him more interesting.
But constantly answering questions from journalists is actually hard work and sometimes politicians crack under the pressure as Green Party leader Natalie Bennet did recently.
Journalists instinctively look for weak spots, suggest Catch 22 scenarios and lay all sorts of verbal elephant traps for hapless politicos to walk into. Farage is rather adept at avoiding these, but even he succumbs sometimes. Nick Ferrari’s suggestion that women might breast feed in the toilet caused Farage to rapidly respond that they could “perhaps sit in the corner”. Cue media storm and twitter frenzy.
But no elephant traps or clever interview tricks were required to make South Thanet’s Ukippers look bad. The programme makers just let the camera roll and the action unfolded infront of it. One party organiser with a National Front past defended himself by listing all the nazi organisations he hadn’t been a member of. There was an overwhelmed press officer who collected clowns as a hobby – the joke doesn’t require explanation. But then to top it all off was an already elected Ukip councillor who “had a problem with negroes”.
Many watching might well conclude that UKIP was a party they would want nothing to do with and I could hardly blame them. But before you merrily cast your vote for another party it’s worth noting that misanthropy, weirdness, dodgy pasts, grim fashion sense and bad teeth are not monopolised by the Kippers.
If you spend very long with the members of any political party it won’t be long before you meet oddballs, scumbags, bigots and other characters you wouldn’t want babysitting your kids. Labour party members often display appalling class prejudice including against those they claim to argue for. Tories have aimed spite at a long list of disadvantaged and minority groups. Lib Dems can often be hopeless and equivocating apologists for vile and reprehensible characters. Even the fluffy greens have a dark side – quite literally known as dark greens, people who don’t much like human beings.
No party is immune to the intrusion of the nutters but the more established parties have worked hard over the decades to reduce their influence, stop them getting elected and as such make their parties far less open and democratic. However the parties have become much better at “media management” and don’t agree to the requests of fly-on-the-wall documentary makers. Its representatives are also a rather more educated and upper middle class bunch then they have been in the past – but that’s what you want isn’t it?