How the media forced me to vote UKIP

This article is neither an endorsement of UKIP – a party with obvious challenges which we’ve discussed before – nor is it an ode the amazing power of the media to control my mind. It has no such power, it is laughably incompetent to wield the power it does have. However, I am now fully persuaded to vote UKIP at every opportunity tomorrow.

Initially this decision seemed like an easy matter: I want a small state and the institutions of the EU increase the size of the state, so I must vote against the EU. The EU is a political union, after all, it is not a free trade area like EFTA. The Tory Party talk about a referendum but in practice a vote for them endorses continued involvement in political union, only UKIP represents a vote against participation in political union. If there was a party with fewer challenges and a greater reputation that also offered a policy of opposition to the EU then I would vote for that party, but there is not.

Of course, some have told me that UKIP cannot deliver a referendum because that is a Westminster matter. Well all the better, for once the system helps me separate two decisions – usually it forces every issue onto one ballot paper. If I wanted to, I can signal my dislike of the EU tomorrow and vote Tory next May if that looks persuasive.

There is another upside to voting UKIP – it will piss off the political elite and scare them stupid. They will be forced, at a minimum, into seeking to justify their policies to the public rather than holding the public in contempt. Good.

The down side, which is new to me is racism. I’ve met several members of UKIP, including senior activists. One of them, over some drinks, spoke at such length to my wife that he bored her senseless. Aside from that though he was entirely civil and friendly to me and my wife, which is important. Why so important? Because my wife is brown in colour. Prima facie then, UKIP was not, for me, a party of racists. The media however, having dredged up every last possible example of racism have done an amazing job on UKIP. I am still not persuaded that UKIP is full of racists, but the media have done enough to make a vote for UKIP look like a vote in favour of racism as a political policy. UKIP will loose votes tomorrow because voters will not want to associate themselves with the bad smell of racism. This is a fine sentiment as far as it goes, and I was teetering on the edge of voting that way myself, but it does not go far enough to overcome one additional factor that weighs in favour of a UKIP vote: pissing off the media.

JamesOBrienThe media have treated UKIP and Nigel Farage in particular in an abysmal manner. For example, far from being a “car-crash” for Nigel the LBC interview was an example of how out of touch and desperate the media class have allowed themselves to become in trying to get at him. Little things stood out in this affair, like the point Nigel made about an audit of fixed sum allowances being a little odd, and in need of careful consideration. James O’Brien treated that point with disdain. O’Brien also tried to make a big deal out of Nigel’s role as company secretary of a failed company. It used to be the case that every company needed a separate person to act as secretary and it was fairly normal to use a relative – I used my mum’s name on the paper work for a few years – and it is noteworthy that the authorities recently dropped this requirement. Did my mum keep much of an eye on things? No, not really. Making this out to be a personal failing for Nigel is ridiculous. O’Brien’s sneering remarks about being a “normal person” and not understanding financial matters made him seem hateful and disrespectful of business in general. Failing to understand the difference between a petition to wind-up and an actual winding up show that James O’Brien has never had to use, or defend himself from, these procedures himself. That means he has never properly considered the options for dealing with an unpaid debt and he must be either very lucky or very green, and either way is unqualified to be so snide. Finally, there were the word games:

You cannot reasonably ask someone their opinion about a compound concept: dirty water, white sheets, good wine, foul smells, and try to break apart that person’s response after the fact. If I asked you whether you prefer to drink “dirty water” or “red wine” you would say “red wine”. If I said you have some kind of problem with the moral character of “water” based on that answer, that would be utterly ridiculous. In the same way, asking someone about a group of male Romanians and a family with German children, then criticising Nigel’s opinion of the group of men is just a foolish game of playing with words. Seriously, who would not find it odd that more than a normal houseful of men are living together worthy of note? It directly speaks of the group’s economic circumstances. Such verbal tactics do not allow the truth to be uncovered and the public are sensible enough to see immediately that they are not even an attempt at getting the truth. It is all an attempt to trick Nigel into loosing a word-game.

If it were just James O’Brien acting this way, it would not be such an issue. Regrettably though the media picked this up on TV and on the radio and repeated the same trick over and over. This was not the only trick, nor am I the only person to notice. Brendan O’Neill has more.

This whole witch-hunt has showed me that the media as a class is dysfunctional to its very core. Truth does not matter to them, nor even does entertainment (the LBC interview is not at all entertaining as a listen). I am not in favour of stuff like Leveson, which reverses the proper relationship between politics and the media, but nor am I comfortable with a media class that attempts to determine the winner of an election by a tournament of competitive word games and muck-raking. Politics, if we have to have it, should serve the interests of voters and the political media must be allowed to represent the voters by scrutinising politics (this is a division of labour in the politics industry and is quite valid), but the media must also have respect for its audience and it clearly does not. Allowing this prolonged mistreatment of UKIP to sway your vote tomorrow would grant a victory to a dysfunctional political media -  I propose to give that group a bloody noise instead.

I will be going ahead with my UKIP vote some time after 7 tomorrow. So if you want to talk me out of it, leave a comment.

Simon Gibbs

Simon is a London based IT contractor and the proprietor of Libertarian Home. Working with logic and cause-and-effect each day he was naturally attracted to nerdy libertarianism and later to harshly logical Objectivism. Find him on Google+ 

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  11 comments for “How the media forced me to vote UKIP

  1. Paul Marks
    May 21, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    The media campaign against UKIP has indeed been vicious. I am a member of a different political “tribe” – but I can see the media campaign has been disinformation and agitprop (quotes out of context and so on). There was even an episode of the BBC show “Spooks” (some years ago) which showed a campaign to smear an anti EU politician as a racist.

    The question is will the voters see this campaign for what it is – or is it just a few “paranoid” old people like me who recognise these tricks? Very old tricks.

    Well this is a empirical question – we will find out in a few days.

  2. May 21, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    You don’t need another reason to vote UKIP. As far as I’m aware, UKIP are the only libertarian party in the UK. I wish the other subjects of the UK could understand what that means before they vote. I don’t mind that they/we protest. In that, I share their/our pain with both the established political parties and traditional media. But, to them, don’t choose UKIP unless you understand this. Maybe, UKIP are not as libertarian as you hope. They haven’t explained the concept to their own candidates. Best wishes.

    • May 22, 2014 at 10:28 am

      I’m not convinced the argument applies to a vote against the existence of a specific state institution.

  3. May 22, 2014 at 11:29 am

    By voting in the European elections you are basically agreeing that it has a right to exist. That’s why not voting, or spoiling your ballot might be the better thing to do.

    • May 22, 2014 at 12:40 pm

      James. A UKIP vote is – uniquely – saying that it doesn’t have that right, at least not while I am a part of it. If you think my vote would be interpretted differently to previous UK Independence Party votes then you need to explain why.

      • May 22, 2014 at 1:18 pm

        It’s turnout. You’re giving legitimacy to an institution you don’t like. By adding to the turnout figure, you’re bolstering the cause off the EU parliament, regardless of how you vote. The biggest enemy of the EU project is people’s apathy.

        • May 25, 2014 at 7:00 pm

          How is the Pro Liberty Party developing James? ;-)

  4. pavel
    May 22, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    I am not sure as a libertarian i wish more bigotry. as an immigrant I find UKIP absolutely disgusting and i can talk for hours about it. but your mileage may vary, i have no voting rights anyway.

  5. May 22, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    I was probably going to vote UKIP anyway but the sheer unity, beside anything else, of the media and politicians has convinced me that I’m doing something positively good… We’re experiencing a direct attack on our liberty to form our own opinions. Political correctness is mind control.

  6. Zach Cope
    May 22, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    I think this is another example of policies vs rhetoric and morals vs outcomes. For some the written policies are most important. Yet the rhetoric and tone of a political party is just as important as it has the potential to amplify division and hatred of others. I’m not going to offer a judgement as to how these tensions coalesce in UKIP, except to say that Nigel Farage is no fool in the way he interacts with the media and I believe he has some influence in how his message his conveyed.
    As to morals vs outcomes this seems to be a recurring theme here. I would aspire to a democratic market for politics that led to the best outcomes by taking everyone’s preferences into account regardless of their moral basis for this, in the same way that economic markets produce the best outcomes regardless of what the actors in the market intend to do with their wealth.
    I suspect the bundling of political policies and views into a few parties is the problem, so that 20% of the parties policies account for 80% of why people vote for them, to use a distorted derivative of Pareto.

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