Saturday, 24 May 2014

The Great UKIP Victory…according to the BBC.


Last Thursday elections were held in some local authorities in the UK. Labour won an additional 339 seats, meaning they now hold more seats than all other parties and independents combined. The Conservatives lost 172 seats, the Libdems 254, so whilst some councils went to No Overall Control, Labour gained control of an additional 8 councils including Cambridge, in a landslide. 

UKIP, whose chances had been bolstered by a multi-million pound advertising campaign and media ubiquity of its Leader Nigel Farage, lost incumbents all over the country, being virtually wiped out in every major city including London, where all UKIP councillors were shown the door. Nevertheless they gained 128 seats, which represents a drop in their share of the vote of 6% when compared to the same time last year. 


But this isn’t the story being reported by some of the newspapers – some who have declared political affiliations and also probably went to print before all the results were in. But the BBC, supposed to be free from political bias and having the advantage of 24 hour rolling news gathering and production, ran the story that this displayed an enormous victory for UKIP, a ‘political earthquake’, ‘real four party politics’ – even going so far as asking the Chancellor of the Exchequer, live on air in the Today Programme on Radio 4, whether the Tories would now be approaching UKIP for a coalition deal in next year’s general election. 

Whether Farage could be Deputy PM. As a serious question.

This is a party with no MPs, who lost almost every seat they stood for, declining in vote share, winning just over 4% of seats. 

The day before the BBC were pushing their particular version of reality, in statements like this one –
The Tories lose 12 councils while Labour added just 5, but UKIP won an additional 128 seats.

The BBC switched the metric half way through – that is not balanced reporting. The same statement should read:
The Tories lose 12 councils while Labour added just 5, but UKIP gained none.
Or:
The Tories lost 172 seats, Libdems 254, mostly to Labour who gained 334 seats nationwide. UKIP also gained 128, indicative of a Tory protest vote in the regions.

The ‘landslide’ and ‘revolution’ stories continue – yet with 4.4% of seats, UKIP hasn’t won as many as the BNP did in 2009 – 6.2%. Yet I don’t recall John Humphrys asking whether Nick Griffin should be deputy PM.

It is difficult to see what the BBC editorial agenda is with this. Recently it seems that they have been regarding politics more as Light Entertainment than Current Affairs. The Marr Show is some kind of cross between the BBC News breakfast programme and the old Pebble Mill at One. Question Time invites more cheeky chappies, personalities, comedians and polemicists than academics or politicians, Farage appearing on that programme more than most, going almost back-to-back with appearances on Have I Got News for You. Andrew Neill’s programmes are peppered with cartoon graphics, clever quips and 5 min talking head shorts by celebs.

Perhaps in this media world where ideology has given way to populism; policy to personality; fear over facts – ratings have become the most important factor for a BBC desperately in danger of losing both its credibility and its charter.
 

(Thanks to @SimonGosden and @fleetstreetfox  - other refs. see Guardian and BBC websites)

14 comments:

  1. The 6.2% figure is the percentage of the POPULAR VOTE the BNP got in the EURO elections.

    The BNP won THREE council seats in 2009 out of 2300+. That is not 6.2% as you have claimed.

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  2. Ho hum we have a first past the post system and numbers of seats reflects just that not the percentage of the people who voted for a particular party. The BBC reporting of UKIP is based 14% of the national vote they gained - which sounds small but then Labour and Conservative are both only on 30% (give or take). If UKIP could (and it is a very big if) turn themselves into a well oiled party machine that like Labour and Conservative concentrated less on vote share but more on winning seats then their 14% could be turned into seats at Westminster. Either way it would be foolish for left or right to ignore the discontent that is leading to people voting UKIP based on an assumption that all voting UKIP are closet NAZIs.

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  3. Labour won most seats in this round of elections, but the Conservative hold the largest number of council seats in Great Britain. 2,257 LD, 7,127 Labour, 8,296 Con.

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  4. Labor, Tory, Lib-Dem or UKIP, it makes no difference who decides the arrangement of the deck chairs on HMS Great Bri-tanic. The hull is rotten, the rivets are popped and the band plays on.

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  5. so basically you do not like the reporting because you do not like ukip , tough ....this is democracy at work ....a new political party surfaces and changes the landscape for better or worse ...its democracy. UKIP received more coverage due mainly to all the negative press surrounding various members of ukip making derogatory comments that were subsequantly sacked from the party... ukip is not racist though some members may be , just like some members of labour and conservatives parties are thieves and in prison for tax dodging does not make both parties tax dodging parties

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    1. Just wait. UKIP will be just as tainted. Everyone is complaining about nefarious MP activities, but it's nothing compared to countries like Sudan. We have a good system with a few bad eggs. Time for the electorate to grow up and stop whingeing. Ukip will prove to be just as bent as the rest. Why? Because they are human. Well, mostly.

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    2. Whaddya mean 'UKIP WILL be tainted'? Every one of the UKIP MEPs, from Farage down, effectively steals money from the EU (qua, partly, UK taxpayers) by taking salaries and expenses for explicitly doing nothing but try to undermine the EU ('bite the hand that feeds them'). If the EU were a business, they'd have been sacked long ago. As it is, they grossly abuse the democratic system that has enabled their participation, while claiming the organisation that supports them is UNdemocratic. Not only I say that, but (more simply and eloquently), UKIP's disillusioned founder, Professor Alan Sked, in the Guardian G2, 27.5.2014.

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  6. The UKIP won 128 seats - that is 128 more than they had before. So how many DID they have before, and how many in toto do they have now. Leaving out facts is bad journalism and this is what distorts the truth and gives the wrong impression to the reader

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    1. BUT Nigel Farage, at least, has been involved with UKIP for over a decade. From 0 to 128 is quite a leap (but then, so is a baby's first words; make no comparison with Shakespeare, though); it's taken a long time a-coming, nevertheless.

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  7. All fair points numerically, but by doggedly comparing the performance of a nascent political movement/flash-in-the-pan protest vote with that of established machine parties you are spectacularly missing the point that the news organisations and indeed the electorate are making. Now ask yourself, would you be queefing so bitterly about the reporting if the Greens had performed and had it reported like UKIP?

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    1. Not if (a) the Greens had been abusing the political system so systematically for so long and (b) had been gifted so much free, suspect, and unwarranted publicity by the media.

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  8. "regarding politics more as Light Entertainment than Current Affairs" is the default behaviour for UK journalism. There are very few journalists around who have the historical and political awareness, and the capacity for independent thought, to challenge either political candidates in debate, or their own institution's reporting. There simply is no demand for those skills any more, presumably because there is no demand among the punters for critical and engaged journalism. Bah humbug.

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  9. What about the Green Party? You, like the BBC, have forgotten about them and haven't notice that they have made progress and, here in the South West, some of are really proud that we now have a Green MP.

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    1. He is a green party supporter

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