I’ve waited and pondered before posting this piece, because the UKIP Election Broadcast gave me mixed feelings – and I needed to work these out. I’m not endorsing Nigel Farage, because I don’t trust the bloke any more than I would any other politician; and because I rather suspect he’s a bit of a berk. But the PPB of earlier this week was by far the best one from any Party in this election so far.
First of all, the set was cheap and the props minimal. Farage sat before a video monitor, talking in a relaxed and seemingly genuine manner. It felt very ‘no shit’ in style. This was a good idea, and reflects the Party’s strapline (‘Straight talking’) perfectly.
Second, there was no weaselly, yes-and-no-perhaps-in-the-event-of drivel. From the outset, all was clear: no more of this, a lot more of that, in this, out of that, this is what we’d do. None of it sounded bonkers. None of it felt like the ‘trying too hard’ stuff the Establishment puts out.
Of course, Parties with no chance of winning can do this kind of thing. But as a former adman, I’d put my shirt on the likelihood that this spot – despite its low-ratings time-slot – got Nigel and his merry men at least another quarter of a million votes. I bet Labour PPBs aren’t getting anything near that: and I persist in predicting that the UKIP vote will be one of the major shocks of this General Election.
UKIP supporters are what David Cameron (who calls them ‘BNP Lite’) and Gordon (‘bigoted woman’) Brown see as the enemy. Why is this? For myself I tend to find the Party’s top wallies just as puffed-up and unpleasant as the so-called mainstream shower. But a lot of their fellow-travellers and grassroots supporters are nothing of the kind: they merely want some justice for those who are quietly prepared to be good citizens.
One such is the Muffled Vociferation blogger Mark Wadsworth. Mark is standing for UKIP in the Uxbridge & South Ruislip constituency. He’s 44 and thus a mere stripling – but what he’s advocating lacks even a scintilla of bigotry. I’d call it hard-headed love for the little guys.
This week Wadsworth was featuring the work of former standup Pat Condell – also a good citizen, although hardly quiet. I first started watching Condell’s YouTube chats years ago when everything online was young. He struck me then (and still does now) as a cut above the norm of foul-mouthed yelling Guido admirers. He presents well, his stuff is rehearsed but natural – and it’s hard to fault anything he says. Is he a former bovver boy racist? I’ve no idea – I just know he makes a lot more sense than Nick Clegg ever will. Generally, he strikes me as a founder-member of the We Can Tell Shit from Putty tendency.
On balance, I’d say the difference between Farage and me is that I’m violently anti-Brussels but enthusiastically pro-Europe. I’m not sure he’d sign up for the second bit of that credo – and that’s what has always worried me about UKIP: the Little Englander syndrome. But blinding oneself to the appeal of the Party is what got them to where they are right now. I salute a professional job well done – and continue to feel that the worst bigots in this election are those who call decent and generally harmless electors bigots.