"Smoke me a kipper – I'll be back for breakfast!"So said 'Ace' Rimmer in the comedy sci-fi programme Red Dwarf, just before setting off on a dangerous mission.
In the British political world, our own 'Kippers (a colloquial term for UKIP members and activists) have just been on their most dangerous mission yet: being featured in a television documentary. After last week's drama that purported to show how UKIP's first hundred days of running the country would go (itself a delusion, as it is extremely unlikely that they'll ever do so) and that just about everyone said was nonsense, this effort did at least hold out the prospect of being authentic, if a little dated as it was recorded a good two months ago.
Okay, the editing was bound to emphasize the programme-makers' intended image of the party, and cut out a lot of material that didn't do so, and must therefore not be taken simply at face value. If one watches such production with unblinkered awareness, then one shouldn't be too easily manipulated.
However, the material itself is of course genuine enough, and it should be easy to deduce whether any of it was presented out of context or edited in a way that tells a story that wasn't the one on the day it was recorded. I didn't watch either of these two programmes myself, preferring to follow Twitter comments from various (and very varied) sources. I might catch them later, though not necessarily.
The drama received just about universal panning, whereas this evening's documentary wasn't quite so broad, and concentrated primarily on the apparent streak of racism that was evident in at least a few party members and seemed to go completely unopposed by any of those members who heard those remarks. The Twitter reporting of all this was mostly from Lefties, but also from a few on the right. Mind you, I didn't get the feeling that many right-wingers were watching this, or if they were then they weren't tweeting about it this time.
This in The Guardian gives a fuller picture, and is interesting to read from the other side, so to speak.
The general conclusion seems to have been that UKIP did themselves no favours by allowing this programme to be made and broadcast, especially as they didn't exercise their right of reply, which I know was offered. One commenter put it as UKIP having done 'a hatchet job on themselves' – which, though technically inaccurate, probably conveys the flavour as well as anything. Whether or not it will significantly impact their electoral results this coming May is a different matter, though.
Meanwhile, I consider that UKIP has done the Conservative Party an actual favour, by (in effect) siphoning-off the more 'dodgy' members who have jumped ship to UKIP. Some of these were no doubt obvious cases, but even around my way there have been a few that I didn't know held views they have since expressed, or their raw attitude that has now come to light. At least two have turned out to be really nasty – very much like typical Labour folk in that respect.
They have now gone from the Conservative Party and their true natures revealed. This I consider to be a good outcome, and potential time bombs – which could have caused difficulties for the party in due course – can no longer do any more than superficial harm. Here, their voting public is mixed in opinion, but I notice a slow but definite trend away from the defectors, and this is likely to be a one-way street.
Thus their time in public office or (for those not currently elected) in even vaguely serious contention is probably severely time-limited, which is as it should be. We should, as a nation and especially in places like Medway, soon be back on track.