Wow….it didn’t take long. That Ashcroft poll marking Thurrock and Thanet South a possible UKIP gain (and Great Yarmouth almost as close) obviously made the folks at Cameron’s PR HQ (aka The Telegraph) nervous because it undermined their carefully cultivated narrative. Ever since the Euro/local elections last May the message has been clearly defined. May was “peak UKIP”, Cameron was “relaxed”, Labour was imploding Miliband, Clegg was drowning, the economy was now in upturn. Throw in “tough” talk about Juncker, glam up the cabinet with a few skirts and – hey presto!!! – the polls would turn around. Only they didn’t….the Tory “bounce” failed to appear, even under the disastrous Ed Labour stayed ahead and, above all, UKIP did not melt away.
Then Nigel Farage announced UKIP’s “cabinet”, a collective which would act as the public face of the party. Shockingly the new team confounded those racist, misogynistic stereotyped images so lovingly projected by a largely hostile media.
Klaxons were now blaring at Telegraph House. Team Cameron wanted something done and done pretty damned quickly so an editorial conference was obviously convened to implement some damage control.
The results, unfortunately, merely helped to demonstrate the general perception of a once great newspaper unable to escape from a cycle of decline.
First James Kirkup was tasked to write something “witty and amusing”….he could only come up with some meaningless survey which appeared to show that UKIP supporting men were shorter than anyone else……even Kirkup probably realised it wasn’t his finest hour.
Then Iain Martin penned a thousand words saying how Farage’s “reshuffle” wasn’t worth writing about (never mind, Iain, you survived the purge so you obviously got paid for that pointless exercise)
But the crowning glory came from Political Correspondent Georgia Graham who was obviously told to write a hit piece on Diane James and the other women in the UKIP team. It was a shallow, poorly researched collection of sneers. Ms Graham, in common with every other Telegraph hack, made no effort to find out more about them. She just cut and pasted stuff via Google and filled the column to order
Many of us had hoped that after May the new regime at the Telegraph would actually have started to use some serious journalism in their approach to UKIP rather than recycling Tory Party agitprop. It is clear, however, that we were naive in the extreme. They have no intention of exhibiting anything but blatant bias which is why Dan Hannan’s peculiar little salvo against UKIP quite enlightening.
I have great deal of respect for Dan. His euroscepticism springs, like mine, from a feeling that our long established mistrust of rulers who are unelected and see themselves as above our laws makes us a poor fit for a bureaucratic one size fits all regime like the EU. Yet he remains a loyal Tory and puts all his trust in David Cameron.
For that reason he gets some negative comments on his Telegraph blog and on Twitter from UKIP supporters or those who claim to be UKIP supporters. He claims these are hurtful (lol…join the club, Dan) and then comes up with an astonishing suggestion
A fair number of online haters are happy to identify themselves as Ukip members. That party would do itself a huge favour by expelling, with much fanfare, the next cyberkipper whose words bring it into disrepute.
Several other Telegraph “pundits” have made the same complaint. They write something critical about UKIP and then are shocked by the “venomous” response…..UKIP people are so ….aggressive…..
In actual fact, Dan and all you other Telegraph pundits, it’s not the criticism of UKIP that is the issue……it’s the sneering, dismissive and contemptuous manner in which you do it. None of you has made any serious attempt to use up some real journalistic shoeleather and talk with party members at branch meetings or conferences. Instead, like Georgia Graham, you rehash old stories (sluts, anyone?) to pad out your googling.
It’s clear that the upper echelons at the Telegraph (owners? editors?) have no interest any serious analysis of what makes UKIP tick. Perhaps, as a party of political outsiders, its members, unlike LIBLabCon (sorry…couldn’t resist it) simply do not inhabit the upper middle class North London milieu of our media elite. The idea that the concerns of Thurrock and Great Yarmouth should be treated with as much respect as those of Islington and Notting Hill is probably simply incomprehensible to the likes of Kirkup, Graham and Hannan.
Or perhaps it is simpler than that
“The most insignificant people are the most apt to sneer at others. They are safe from reprisals. And have no hope of rising in their own self esteem but by lowering their neighbors.”
Yes, William Hazlitt often did hit the nail on the head…..