BBC Green with envy over UKIP's rise?
UKIP's rise is about more than the EU. Farage Fever is taking hold ahead of schedule and it'd be nice for the mainstream media to report this for once
Perhaps I'm just a troubled, paranoid young man. But if the Green Party were outpolling the Liberal Democrats nationally, I think that the BBC would be absolutely all over the story. What do you think?
UKIP's steady rise in the polls has now seen it hitting 9 percent and 10 percent nationally in polls. In one such YouGov poll the figure was 17 percent of over 60s – the group most likely to vote. Let’s not be silly and say this is down to "Europe". Of course, UKIP's well-known anti-EU stance has a bearing on its support. But we are not in a European Election cycle. Nor has there been a huge EU-related story lately.
Yet Farage Fever, which I predicted was going to sweep UKIP into Westminster in 2015 on this very site, has already started to kick-in mid-way through 2012. Britain's on course for an epidemic of straight talking, small state patriotism by 2015.
The BBC haven't shown much interest in the polls, aside from a few mentions on Newsnight which consisted of Tory MPs talking of how they could bring new UKIP supporters back into the fold. There was also a Labour MP who said that people didn't care about the EU but rather about 'real issues' such as immigration and jobs. In the week that it was announced that the number of foreigners in work in Britain rose by 166,000 last year whilst the number of British-born workers in jobs fell by exactly 166,000. Yeah, exactly.
I can't help feel that the BBC are slightly Green with envy that it isn't Caroline Lucas' high-tax, socialist rabble who are rising. I mean the story of 'others' rising due to discontent with the old three parties hasn't even got legs: The Greens and BNP still can't get above 3 percent in any national poll.
Then there's the interesting subplot of the London Mayoral and Assembly race. LBC radio, the London Evening Standard and the BBC have all looked to set the narrative: the race to win is between Boris and Livingstone, with the LibDems and Greens as a bit of fringe fun. Yet every single London poll carried out has had UKIP leading the Greens in the London race, indeed the Greens are on course to lose both of their Assembly seats and UKIP are on course to gain one or two. In a pretty shocking scene, Andrew Neil on the Daily Politics show noted that UKIP are outpolling the Green Party's Mayoral candidate Jenny Jones in London - before saying that he was looking forward to seeing her in Sunday's debate which, yup, excludes UKIP.
Even the argument that the Greens are represented because they have representation on the GLA already doesn't work, because in that case, where are the BNP who snuck in and got a seat in 2008?
Just what the hell is going on? I see no other explanation outside of pure bias and rigid incompetence.
The BBC, and the media establishment more generally, need to stop treating UKIP as some sort of 'Tories in exile' group which is temporarily having its day in the sun. This is a Party, despite Daniel Knowles's ill-informed jibe in The Telegraph, that has growing branches nationwide and an increasing set of Councillors. As The Commentator has covered before, many young right-wing activists are now bypassing the Conservatives and finding their natural ideological home with UKIP. Five years ago this just wouldn't have happened.
I don't doubt that come May 4th, when UKIP hasn't swept the board with the election of thousands of Councillors, lots of people will jump on their keyboards looking to choke the Party out. Look, that UKIP isn't really gaining popularity.
The truth is it’s not the number of UKIP Councillors elected, but the average vote share that really counts. A 10 percent vote boost in lots of wards won't see a UKIP Councillor get in, but the same again the year after and the year after that will be enough to ensure genuine local breakthroughs nationwide coincide with the Euro and General Elections – which the Party is set to do very well in.
Polling currently at a level that could see UKIP pick up 3 million-plus votes at the next General Election, it really is time for the BBC and others to look more deeply into this rise of the Right.
I believe the anti-establishment, anti-politics feeling is ready to be unleashed on ballot boxes, not temporarily, but over the longer term – such is the disgust of many who hate the likes of Labour and see little reason to change when Ed Miliband and Ken Livingstone are the new (old?) faces of its damaged legacy.
Cameron and Theresa May as right-wing inspiration ain't really gonna cut it either. UKIP's rise is not, I predict, a matter of 'a little local difficulty' on the issue of Europe for the Tories, but the representation of millions giving up on the three biggest parties forever.
It'd be nice for this possibility to be reported for once.
Michael Heaver is a UKIP activist and blogger. He tweets at @Michael_Heaver
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