You know times are weird when the Daily Mail is the lone voice of reason in the political media on something. “Blow for Farage as polls reveal Ukip is poised to lose ALL its key marginal battles against the Tories” reads their headline for a story revealing that in four of UKIP’s targets, UKIP are not ahead in a single one as it stands.
Contrast this with the way the story played out in the left media. “New Ashcroft poll shows UKIP could win three more seats,” said the New Statesman. “Ashcroft poll puts Ukip ‘within striking distance’ in marginal seats”, the Indy told us. Now I realise that it’s election time and the left-wing media outlets want to make the Tories look as bad as possible, but to the point of making UKIP look good when the truth of the matter is entirely different?
Let’s first take a deep breath and look at the UKIP polling situation as objectively as possible. Ashcroft’s polls of the UKIP-Tory marginal’s weren’t bad for Farage’s crew; given Farage’s stated goal of holding the balance of power in a hung parliament, they were cataclysmically dire. At this stage, to have a hope of taking any of the seats Ashcroft polled – which to remind ourselves here, are in amongst UKIP’s very top targets – UKIP should be at least five points up, and I do mean at the very least. Nationwide, the Tory vote will go up from where it’s polling now, the UKIP numbers will fall a bit. So to be behind now in the only seats they have a reasonable chance in, to be three behind in Boston & Skegness for God’s sake, means UKIP are looking to have a very disappointing May 7th. Add to this the fact that Farage is behind in South Thanet as well – if the UKIP tsunami were headed our way, Farage should be about 20 points up in his prospective seat at least.
So the question I have to ask is this: why did left of centre news outlets configure the story so as to make UKIP look good out of it? It could be psephological ignorance – that is depressingly more widespread than you’d think amongst political writers. More likely, it’s this idea that while UKIP are bad, the Tories are the real enemy. I can see why they think this way – but they are wrong. There will always be Tories in the world; however, UKIP represents a massive existential threat to the Left as it is currently configured, because they have already been able to penetrate leftist thinking more than is readily acknowlegded.
Many of you out there often assert that the Labour Party is the only vehicle for progressive politics in Britain. I disagree, but let’s put that aside for now and assume you are correct. Look at some of the stuff we’ve seen from the opposition during this parliament: the rise of Blue Labour as a force; Simon Danczuk’s jibes against “the liberal intelligentsia” and people who are “sat around on benefits”; Chris Bryant’s UKIP-esque communiques on the Labour Party website; the flyer put on the Labour website at the end of January that essentially said that neither the Tories nor UKIP were tough enough on immigration. Farage and his gang have influenced Labour, whether you care to admit it or not.
So if you are a Labour member/voter and you want Labour to remain a party that is pro-European, cosmopolitan, progressive, outward looking, you’d better start fighting for that now. You could start with realising that UKIP are actually your biggest enemy.