The Aged P

…just toasting and ruminating….

28 July
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The Telegraph’s UKIP Problem – Chapter 376….

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…..

 

 

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18 July
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Tories Go For PR, UKIP Prefer Principles

We hear from James Kirkup, a resident hack at David Cameron’s fan club newsletter (aka the Telegraph) that the Tory Party machine is now big into “Data Electioneering”. Apparently this is the equivalent of the supermarket loyalty card where you use information gathered at the checkout to decide how you will stock your shelves

 

 It would amass information about voters and seats, information that could be used to ensure that the party knows where the electorate is, what it thinks, what it wants.The result is an extraordinarily extensive – and expensive – programme of opinion polls and focus groups generating huge volumes of data about voters’ views and preferences

 

 In other words the quaintly old fashioned idea of a political party being the coming together of a group of individuals with a common view of political principles and ideas which then seeks to persuade the voters to elect them into government is now so yesterday. Instead you fashion your policies around consumer research, social media reaction and, eventually, product testing. Presumably, after all that, you come up with a to do list which will aim to please mumsnet, greenpeace and the Daily Mail…

Good luck with that.

Of course, it’s all very expensive for the Tories – but when you have the bosses of the big global corporations who do well out of the EU trough and cheap labour via uncontrolled immigration in your pocket then why worry? OK your party membership at local level is collapsing but, like the banks, who needs branches when you can centralise?

Hence the reshuffle, aimed, we are told at

 

women, especially those with young families. Such women, alongside Ukip supporters who used to vote Tory, were a key audience for the reshuffle, both precisely identified by that polling operation for a data-driven reshuffle that is without precedent in British politics.

 

Odd, though, that “UKIP supporters” should be furrowing brows amidst all those data drivers at Tory HQ…..UKIP, a party led by political outsiders, permanently cash strapped with only the bare bones of a professional cadre and with no support from any national media outlet yet which consistently  polls well ahead of the Liberal Democrats. Enough, if it continues, to possibly win a seat or two, certainly enough to undermine the chances of the Tories getting a working majority in 2015.

 

There is little evidence yet of a fall in Ukip support now the European Parliament elections have passed, confounding the expectations of pundits who believed the European election victory was the “peak Ukip moment”. Our estimates have Farage’s party at 14.8 per cent, down just 0.1 per cent on last month. The Liberal Democrats, however, continue to slide to new record lows. This month they register just 8.8 per cent, down 0.5 per cent on last month, and an all-time low under our new methodology.

 

Much ink has been spilt, of course, over a lack of clarity over UKIP’s policies on tax, the NHS etc and, to be fair, some of this criticism has been justified. But then to what extent can people be clear about the policies of the three establishment parties on these issues. However most voters are aware that UKIP wants to withdraw from the EU (not negotiate) and impose stricter controls on immigration – and they say you cannot have one without the other. The three establishment parties claim to be concerned about uncontrolled immigration but don’t really want to leave the EU. They also have hang ups about upsetting the high priests of political correctness in the media. UKIP couldn’t care less about the media, focus groups or pontificating pundits – what you see is what you get and that message has resonated, pitching through all the spin and PR noise of modern politics.

One comment on the Kirkup piece (from Telegraf) encapsulated the vacuity and shallowness of the Tory data obsession “It’s good to know that politics is now simply a marketing campaign involving a brand on an empty box that once used to contain principles.”  But then what can you really expect from a party led by “a onetime PR man for ruthlessly profitable trash TV”

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09 July
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Bad News For Cameron’s Groupies At The Telegraph – UKIP Not Dipping In Polls…

Well that is a surprise. Just a few days after the Telegraph’s student intern Stephen Best scribbled a piece headed “Where’s Nigel” on the back of his copy of the latest Tory Party HQ press release….(Sample: “Then the wheels fell off in Newark”)

Unfortunately for young Stephen we found out today exactly where Nigel and UKIP can be found….still doing as well in the polls as they did during the May elections. Dashing some ice cold water on those over hyped claims of a “Juncker Bounce” for Cameron the highly respected Polling Report still sees little sign of the Tories overtaking Labour or, alternatively, a massive endorsement of Miliband’s Labour Party. What does seem clear, however, is that UKIP is no flash in the pan…

There is little evidence yet of a fall in Ukip support now the European Parliament elections have passed, confounding the expectations of pundits who believed the European election victory was the “peak Ukip moment”. Our estimates have Farage’s party at 14.8 per cent, down just 0.1 per cent on last month.

Not such good news for Nick Clegg and his party, however..

The Liberal Democrats, however, continue to slide to new record lows. This month they register just 8.8 per cent, down 0.5 per cent on last month, and an all-time low under our new methodology.

Never mind, Stephen…..just keep listening to Grant Shapps and cutting and pasting those Tory HQ memos and you too can end up like Benedict Brogan…….

 

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24 June
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The Telegraph Hates UKIP So Much They Decided To Recruit Stephen Bush As Dan Hodges Mk 2….

You don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to work out where the zombified Daily Telegraph might well be heading as it lurches towards the horizon ….just look at Stephen Bush,  “Editor-in-Chief” Jason Seiken’s replacement for Benedict Brogan, one of the most highly respected political journalists in the game today and the brains behind the Telegraph’s widely read weekday political e mail

During the weekend Labour’s so called rising star Chuka Umunna, a privately educated lawyer and grandson of a High Court judge, made a rather bizarre claim about UKIP voters

On the Marr Show this morning Chuka Umunna claimed voters feel disconnected from mainstream politics because they don’t know how to send emails or browse the internet and that “a lot of those voting for Ukip” in the European elections were not computer literate and can’t do things like use email or browse the internet.

UKIP’s Donna Rachel Edmunds demolished this nonsense

Umunna’s suggestion has provoked mirth because it is, quite literally, laughable. Kippers have been well known for their keyboard activism for years now. Visit almost any page on the MSM news sites and political blogs and there will be comment after comment, often thoroughly evidenced, culminating in the two words “Vote Ukip”.

But Stephen Bush  supported Umunna 100%

Why are the Cyberkippers so angry with Chuka Umunna? Because he’s right

Mr B then proceeds to scribble a piece so weird and so dismissive and ill researched that one might initially suspect it could be a parody of Dan Hodges

Such a party might yet emerge, but it won’t be Ukip, because Mr Farage’s alliance of convenience with the enraged elderly has left an unpleasant taint around the party that will not be easily expunged. To make matters worse for Ukip, it appears that Labour may, at last, be beginning to work out how to win its share of the angry octogenerian vote back.

It’s not a parody, unfortunately – Mr B, in a previous incarnation,has form

No – it’s clickbait. The new DT regime is betting the family silver on Cameron. Over the last few months the resident pundits of the supposedly conservative organ (with the honourable exception of Janet Daley and Peter Oborne) have been religiously pimping Dave and sneering at UKIP. But that was not enough so they decided to recruit Dan Hodges Mk 2

So, who is Stephen Bush?

Stephen Bush is an assistant comment editor at the Telegraph, who mainly works on Morning Briefing, the Telegraph’s must-read morning e-mail.

He , appeared out of the blue a few weeks ago “helping” Brogan – always a portent of assassination at the DT.

Where did he come from?

Guardian Bush

Guardian Bush

Telegraph Bush

Telegraph Bush

The Guardian……

Stephen Bush writes a weekly blog for Progress and works in a bookshop

And left wing websites Progress Online and LabourList…….

Stephen Bush is a writer from London. He studied history at the University of Oxford, and has written on everything from party funding to underwater hockey. He writes a weekly column, the Tuesday Review, for ProgressOnline on politics and current events, and for LabourList on European affairs.

If Mr Bush is a sign of things to come then it looks like the DT zombie might be lurching towards the metropolitan chattering class hilltop currently occupied by the Guardian and BBC where, of course, UKIP is simply not acceptable. Trouble is if you check on the majority of the responses to his Chuka Umunna/UKIP post you get the feeling that the zombie might not be taking a substantial chunk of its  readership with it.

What’s that sound?  Bill Deedes turning in his grave…..

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19 June
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Ashcroft Poll Numbers Suggest UKIP MPs In Parliament After 2015 Is A Distinct Possibility

Lord Ashcroft’s recent poll of Tory/Labour “Battleground Marginals” has actually thrown up some interesting figures for UKIP. If you look at Page 4 (Voting Intentions) there are four seats where UKIP are within eight percentage points of the leading party

  Currently held by CON LAB LIB DEM UKIP OTHER Change for UKIP since 2010
GREAT YARMOUTH CON 32 34 5 28 1 +13%
THANET SOUTH CON 32 31 7 27 3 +21%
THURROCK CON 27 37 4 29 3 +22%
WALSALL NORTH LAB 21 37 8 30 3 +25%

The figures show that UKIP has certainly got everything to play for in these constituencies – and they give the lie to the current message of “piling up the protest votes and coming second”

Moreover, looking at the rest of the marginals in most of them an increase in support for UKIP will lose those currently held by the Tories to Labour and also deny them the chance of gaining Labour held marginals. So the possibility of UKIP MPs in the next parliament can no longer be derided as a “swivel-eyed” fantasy by the political class and their symbiotic partners in the media.

Looks like the “UKIP peaking and now on the way out” narrative being assiduously peddled by Tory HQ and their cheerleaders at the Telegraph needs to be filed under “False Rumours”…

 

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12 June
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Labour – The Party Of The Urban Middle Class…..

The chaps at The New Statesman, the parish magazine of the chattering class left, have clearly not been paying too much attention to Planet Telegraph and the musings of Benedict Brogan and Dan Hodges who have used the Newark by election result to prove, beyond doubt that UKIP has shot its bolt and is now in terminal decline

Yet Ukip’s results in the 2014 local and European elections demonstrate the importance of blue-collar voters for Labour. These are the voters it has been haemorrhaging for over a decade; those who once sat at home on election day and are now coming out to vote Ukip………….This is a logical consequence of abandoning blue-collar Britons and becoming a party of the urban middle class alone.

Wow…..you mean winning Hackney with a coalition of young white middle class professionals and ethnic minorities won’t make much of an impression on those working class people in Rotherham and Thurrock? You know, the ones who never appear in colour supplements?

As John Denham, MP for Southampton Itchen, has observed, we need to recognise the pressures immigration has put on some working-class communities

But…but…but…I thought uncontrolled immigration was A Good Thing….

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09 June
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In The Real World UKIP Is Still Doing Well

According to a whole range of media pundits (yes you, Benedict Brogan of the Telegraph) when I arrived at the South East England Regional Conference of UKIP  in Eastbourne last Saturday the hall should have been almost empty with just about thirty party members wandering around all sad and miserable – dumbstruck by the massive Tory victory in the Newark by election last week…you know, the election where the Tories doubled their 16,000 2010 majority and UKIP got even fewer than the 1,900 they got in 2010.

I had been told that the wheels had come off the UKIP juggernaut, the earthquake was now a squeak and purple was so…..yesterday. Clearly the People’s Army was, like Bonaparte’s in 1812, fleeing the battlefield in chaos and confusion.

Yet when I stepped into the hall I found it packed out with a thousand members and the whole place buzzing with excitement. Far from an air of despondency everyone was eager to prepare for next year’s General Election and listened intently as Nigel Farage outlined the leadership’s plan to target those 30/40 key constituencies where UKIP had done exceptionally well in the local and EU elections. They were also pleased to hear that between now and September the party would be putting the finishing touches to its 2015 election manifesto and that the responsibilities of presentation would be shared out between UKIP’s 24 MEPs with Farage himself more “primus inter pares” than the dominant voice he has been up to now.

We heard from new SE MEPs Diane James, Janice Atkinson and Ray Finch, people whose faces will become much more familiar as one part of this collegiate leadership cadre. Local councillors and party officials spoke about political issues, campaigning and branch organisation. UKIP’s national infrastructure is clearly becoming more professional, its message more consistent.

Diane James, in particular, got a lot of respect. She doesn’t do tub thumping but comes across cool, calm and measured especially under fire. She is a great asset for the party at a time when it needs to be taken more seriously.

This was not a congress of the defeated – and why should it be? Those figures in the opening paragraph were figments of my imagination – just as the media’s interpretation of Newark was an expression of their wishful thinking. In this “safe” Tory constituency the Conservative majority was less than half the 2010 figure. UKIP’s share went up from 3% to 25%. They replaced Labour as the main opposition party and the Lib Dems evaporated. True we didn’t win the seat but away from the Cameron cheerleaders at the Telegraph and Spectator there was recognition that it was still a good result for UKIP.

Ukip didn’t quite sustain their momentum from last month’s local and Euro-elections. But it was a good result, especially as Labour’s charge that the Tories threw the kitchen sink and more into the campaign is echoed by Nigel Farage, who will be studying young Jenrick’s election expenses carefully. The Tory money wall and Ukip’s inability to match it are two of the five shrewd reasons Sparrow cites on his blog for the likely outcome.

Just consider this. In 2010 the Tory majority in Newark was 16,000 yet they were unable to gain an overall majority in Parliament. If the Newark 2014 pattern was repeated throughout Britain in 2015 Cameron and his mates would not have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning power in their own.

That’s the real message of Newark – and this is why we departed Eastbourne in such high spirits…the Purple Revolution has only just begun……..

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04 June
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Those Newark By-Election Polls – Are They That Reliable When UKIP Is Involved?

That Ashcroft Newark by election poll has Tory HQ and their media drones at the Telegraph and Spectator ordering extra bottles of champagne.

Purple tide pushed back…..UKIP stuffed……earthquake fails to appear….Brogan & co are dancing with glee….

But are our pollsters  reliable predictors of UKIP by election performance?

UKIP, of course, have never managed to win a Westminster constituency either in a general or a by-election. Their best performance was the 27.8% at Eastleigh in February last year.

It is important to recall that all the polls in that contest, as the chart shows, understated the purples by quite some margin. None of them had UKIP any higher than third place.

It was a similar pattern in Corby in November 2012 when the Tories were trying to hang on to the seat following Louise Mensch’s decision to quit politics. The final Ashcroft poll had UKIP on just 6% – they ended up on 14.3%.

Maybe the Tories should just hold back on those champagne orders until the votes are actually counted……

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01 June
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Tory Candidate In Newark By-Election Is Everything That UKIP Is Fighting Against….

The Tory candidate for the Newark by-election, Robert Jenrick,  appears to embody everything that is wrong with our current political class

 

Robert Jenrick denied being a ‘carpetbagger’ or a ‘career politician’ ,claiming he had ‘has never worked in politics’, despite having stood in Newcastle-Under-Lyme in 2010 and attempting to get selected to a safe Tory seat in Croydon before landing Newark. He stood by his claims that was an ‘entrepreneur’, but admitted to never having set up any business beyond the company he registered while renovating his £2.3 million SW1 property.

Jenrick made much of the fact that he had moved his family to the area, settling in Southwell – although our informants in the Midlands say that Jenrick needs to sharpen up his pronunciation: it’s ‘suthull’ to the local cognoscenti.

 

Do we really want to be continually ruled by people like this?

 

In fact, he and American wife Michal own not one, but two, £2 million homes in London and a £1 million country pile built by an 18th Century slave-trader.

Their Newark ‘home’ is a rented house obtained when he was picked as a candidate six months ago.

And his Party CV omits to say he went to a £13,000-a-year private secondary school.

Together with his director’s job at Christie’s auction house, it is just the type of posh Tory boy image Cameron and co can’t shrug off.

Mr Jenrick, who looks even younger than his 32 years, sticks rigidly to his Tory HQ autocue when asked about national issues.

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30 May
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The Media does evidence based analysis on UKIP? My A*se!!! It’s more like Political Astrology…..

“Let’s calm down, Ukip’s popularity won’t last” proclaims David Aaronovitch from the peaks of Mt Olympus in Islington

“Association with Ukip and the bigots in its core membership won’t help the Tories pick up those votes.” simpers bright young Tory thing Kate Maltby

“Nigel Forage’s earthquake seems remarkably short on aftershocks” sniggers The DT’s political guru Benedict Brogan (Remember Brogan’s insightful “UKIP slipping” prediction just before the recent elections?)

Only three of hundreds of articles about UKIP that have been scribbled by metropolitan hacks over the last few months. From the Telegraph alone you would set your chimney alight if you tried to burn them all at once. “Analysing” UKIP has proved a goldmine, especially for the mainly white middle class penpushers and keyboard tappers who infest the broadsheet “Comment” pages. Pontificating from their book lined studies in their million pound houses in Notting Hill and Islington they predict the future with the arrogant confidence of those Roman seers who would tell you your fortune after slitting open a live chicken and throwing it’s entrails across a glistening marble floor –for a few pieces of gold, of course.

The Roman seers can be given the benefit of doubt because they could claim to be operating at a time when a belief in magic and the powers of the supernatural was deeply embedded within the culture of the time.

We should not give our broadsheet hacks such an easy way out.

The fact is that not any one of them is able to make any prediction based on incontrovertible data. They know very little about UKIP. Since when did any of them make any effort to highlight anyone from the party other than Nigel Farage – apart from recycling any smear or innuendo dug up by unpaid interns from Tory HQ. How many times have they contacted local branches to get some sort of insight into who these UKIP members are and why they joined? Why is any interview driven by references to oddball quotes (both true and untrue) by a tiny minority of members?

It’s because they just cannot grasp the concept of a party that has managed to move from the outer edges of the political fringe to the centre of public debate within two years. It is a phenomenon that is as far from their view of the world as the ships and muskets of the Spanish must have been to the native tribes of America.

None of the leadership cadre has ever been a big player in the political arena. They are not regular attendees at North London dinner parties. They have never been part of the Westminster village. They do not mix or marry into the media elite.

Their voters are from deeply unfashionable places – Great Yarmouth, Lincolnshire, Rotherham, Dudley, Thurrock, and Portsmouth. Their roots are from both the Tories and Labour – and many have never had any interest in politics before.

It’s like an alien invasion. Who the hell are these people – and what do they want? Why are they here? It’s an intriguing moment when proper journalists should be eager to expend shoe leather in answering these questions.

Instead you get people like Aaronovitch blithely predicting the future course of UKIP without even cutting up a chicken.

Evidence based analysis? My arse!!! It’s more like Political Astrology…..

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