Thursday evening saw another party leaders debate. This time it was a BBC production, hosted by David Dimbleby.
David Cameron, the Prime Minister, chose not to take part. One assumes that he and his strategists had good reasons for his decision. He has presided over many unpopular policies and would have been exposed to continual criticism. Perhaps he and his advisers felt that he could only lose.
But his absence felt odd. All the other participants were able to hammer the Coalition Government policies with impunity (Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister, was not there either). Ed Miliband was able to take up the Prime Ministerial mantle unopposed.
Of the five parties that did show up for the debate, four are clearly to the left of David Cameron’s Conservatives and one, UKIP, are very much to the right. Their closing statements were different and appealed to different demographics, but throughout all I could hear was the sound of the Comservatives hemorrhaging votes.
My hunch is that the nationalist parties will do very well on 7 May, and that UKIP will pick up votes that should otherwise have gone to the Tories. I think this will allow Labour to prevail in a few seats that they may not otherwise have won, and that Miliband’s offer will persuade enough other voters. Taken together, all these results will put Labour in a position to form their own minority or coalition government. Of course, the campaign still has a few weeks left to run… but right now, I think Ed Miliband will become Prime Minister in May.
I’ll start with the happy ending: Nigel Farage is a big fat hypocrite.. Now you know where I’m going with this, I can begin.
Last week’s political storm concerned Emily Thornberry, the MP for Islington and until recently the Shadow Attorney General. In the last hours of the Rochester & Strood by-election camapign, she tweeted a photo of a house bedecked with St George flags and a white van outside. Caption: “Image from #Rochester”.
Continue reading Political Correctness in Rochester & Strood
In a recent press release, Janice Atkinson, a UKIP candidate for the European Parliament, calls on the police to prosecute Hope Not Hate and Unite Against Fascism protesters under ‘hate crime’ legislation.
Ukip demands police action to arrest so-called ‘anti-racist’ protestors
Janice Atkinson, as Ukip SE chairman, and MEP candidate, jointly with colleagues Patricia Culligan and
Alan Stevens, MEP candidates, have raised concerns about the way the police will deal with the protestors
at the Hove Ukip public meeting, on Tuesday, 13th May to be held in the Jewish Hall.
They have formally asked the chief constable to arrest any protestors who call our supporters ‘fascists’, hurl other abuse or any physical assault, for ‘hate crime’ or under the public order act.
We therefore call on the police to confirm that they will prosecute under ‘hate crime’ any individual or group who seeks to intimidate our supporters and candidates or at least under the Public Order offence under
Section 4, 4A or 5 of the 1986 Public Order Act.
This shows a remarkable lack of understanding of the law and of the principles of free speech. Continue reading UKIP's muddled sense of free expression
Did anyone hear the BBC Today interview with UKIP leader Nigel Farage this morning? I was tearing my hair out at the inanity of it all.
Presenter John Humphrys repeatedly asked Farage whether he wanted to be Prime Minister and whether he thought UKIP would soon be in Government. This is a no-win question for the Interviewee: if he says ‘yes’ he will be accused of being delusional. If he says ‘no’ he is accused of lacking ambition and not worthy of a person’s vote. So, like all minority party leaders, he was forced to give an evasive non-answer.
This is ‘gotcha’ questioning from Humphrys, and reveals nothing about the matter at hand: why are UKIP doing better in the polls?
There may be instances where ‘gotcha’ questioning is appropriate – for example, to highlight a contradiction in a Government policy. However, the electoral paradox that Farage must confront is not of his making. Instead, it is a feature of the political system. There is no value in wasting broadcast time trying to get Farage to explain this. Voters are savvy enough to understand the conundrum. It is patronising to suggest that Farage is somehow pulling the wool over their eyes.
Single issue parties seeking protest votes is an entirely legitimate use of representative democracy. Any kind of electoral success brings influence and an audience, and so can be an aim in itself , not just as a route to power. When Humphrys and the BBC portray such political activism as fringe or Quixotic, they are being unhelpful to the voters and to the issues. And when this journalistic cynicism is practiced at the expense of actual scrutiny of UKIP’s policies, it is downright harmful and wrong.