There’s been a little bit of a media storm this last week or so – to everyone’s huge shock and horror, some UKIP local election candidates have turned out to have ‘interesting views’, from Holocaust denial to the idea that exercise can stop homosexuality onwards. Other suggestions include misogyny, links with racist groups such as the BNP and the EDL and so forth….
Those lefties in the media…
Of course those of us on the left are used to this kind of thing – indeed, it’s what many of us have known/suspected pretty much forever, and it’s been all over the ‘lefty’ bits of the media for ages. What’s different now is that the stories are now appearing in the right wing papers.
This is the Telegraph (link here):
“Racism is “just ethnic banter”, paedophiles should be killed by vigilantes and Londoners should wear face masks to protect themselves from eastern Europeans, some of the UK Independence Party’s local election candidates have suggested.”
This is the Mail (link here):
“However, the leader of the UK Independence Party is facing embarrassment today after it emerged the man, who is the party’s Leicester candidate, has supported groups with extreme racist views.
Chris Scotton, 24, has ‘liked’ a series of controversial organisations including the English Defence League (EDL), a site suggesting racism is ‘just ethnic banter’ and a group ‘joking’ about ‘losing a black friend in the dark’.”
So what’s happening here? What lies behind these stories? The timing is pretty direct – just before the local elections – and the main reason is almost certainly that the papers have finally woken up to the trouble that UKIP could be causing to the Tories, but I suspect there’s something more to it. The papers might be starting to realise that the UKIP monster might be getting out of control. And it’s a monster they themselves have played a key part in creating.
It’s quite a monster, if the reports and other anecdotal evidence is anything to go by. A patchwork monster of extremists, homophobes, misogynists, racists, ‘fruitcakes’ (if Ken Clarke is to believed, as well as the ‘nice’ Eurosceptics that are the official face of UKIP.
The problem with the outrage of the Mail et al. is that this hideous monster is a monster to a great extent of their own creation – both directly and indirectly. UKIP have been given far more and far more favourable coverage in the press than they’ve warranted, and until now faced far less scrutiny and criticism than they’ve deserved. Now that they are, their apparent monstrousness is being revealed – and the Mail is acting as though it’s a great shock.
The indirect contribution to the ‘rise’ of UKIP may well be much more important, however. UKIP seems to feed on people’s fear – a fear that is fostered and supported by the constant stream of misogyny, homophobia, anti-immigration, closet-racist stuff that emerges from the Mail and others. The monster that has grown should be of no surprise to them: they’ve created it, fed it and breathed life into it. It’s alive now – and may well be out of their control…..
A monstrous press creates monsters…
That’s the bottom line. The nature of our press is such that it will help create these kinds of monsters. We shouldn’t be surprised – and neither should they.