Saturday, May 16, 2009

Closing ranks

I spoke to an engaging researcher for BBC Wales yesterday, about a day-long extravaganza on the European Union the station is planning for Monday, in a forlorn attempt to drum up interest in the euro-elections.

What was interesting, she told me, was that reporters had already been out on the streets canvassing opinion on the EU, only to find almost complete indifference. The consensus was that the EU was so "boring" that people could not be bothered with it.

So it is throughout the evil empire, with even The Economist lamenting that "it is hard to find anyone prepared to pretend that this massive democratic exercise is (a) about Europe, or (b) terribly democratic."

It must have been that complete indifference to the project that inspired David Cameron yesterday to devote the Conservative Party political broadcast on the euros to an address on the measures he was taking to bring his MPs into line on their expenses.

Of course, the claque loved it, but what an extraordinary commentary on the EU it was when the leader of a major party devotes the time to dealing with domestic party matters rather than the issues on which people are soon to be asked to vote.

Meanwhile, more concern is being expressed about the steady march of the BNP, with Iain Martin on his clog remarking:

The BNP has worked out that by using the internet and attempting to re-brand itself – mainly by avoiding talking about race and its core motivations – it can bypass the mainstream media and reach a large audience. In the current climate, with many voters looking for a vehicle for their protests, the danger is that the party will make gains in the forthcoming elections.
One cannot, incidentally, avoid noticing how these "hot shot" commentators suddenly wake up to something and present is as if it was somehow their own discovery, when we have been reporting this for many months, and especially last month when we drew attention to the BNP internet traffic ranking.

Anyhow, while the "right wing" seems to be waking up, The Guardian, it seems, is less worried now. Citing a recent YouGov poll, it is telling us that UKIP, not the BNP, is set to benefit from anti-politics mood at the euros, with the poll putting UKIP on 15 percent, compared with 3 percent for the British National Party. However, it does concede that the BNP polling figures may be an underestimate, since voters can be reluctant to declare their support for that party.

It would be hugely ironic if UKIP did benefit from the expenses scandal, having been somewhat cavalier with its own accounting, but since the party is assuming the mantle of the tame "establishment-approved" protest party, even the BBC seems to be giving it the occasional plug, all in the hope that votes will be diverted from the BNP.

It is joined by The Daily Mail today, with a long article on the BNP, reporting, "this vile bunch of racists, oddballs and thugs make today's MPs look like paragons."

That is almost certainly true but the way the anti-BNP campaign is being played, it looks more like the establishment closing ranks.