John Harris

Journalist & Author

Ukip’s success is no false dawn it’s time to stop sneering | John Harris

The local election results show that Nigel Farage’s party is a force to be reckoned with, and the two-party system in crisis

Over the past week or so in the wake of Nigel Farage’s supposedly disastrous LBC interview and as politicians and pundits queued up to accuse his party of being racist something interesting began to emerge. It was almost as unpleasant as some of the views of the Ukip leader and the out-there candidates who were crash-landing in the news a collective outbreak of sneering, which started to transcend the party itself and blur into a generalised mockery of anyone minded to support it. You could see it most clearly in the rash of satirical(ish) #WhyImVotingUkip tweets that are piling up even now (eg "Because our true British maypoles are set to be completely replaced by foreign gay Poles within 5 years" or "Because I’m uneducated,uncultured, white and old") and it’s not pretty: an apparent belief that to vote UKIP is to be an idiot of some description, either bigoted or duped, and worthy of little more than contempt.

If you remain of that opinion, you should stop reading and go somewhere else. As the local election results come in and Ukip’s numbers continue to look remarkable, the rest of us should maybe pause for thought and realise that something rather sobering is afoot, as happened in the 2012 county council elections, only more so. If a party is averaging 47% of the vote in a Labour stronghold such as Rotherham, toppling Tories from their perches in crucial Conservative territory and apparently heading towards first place in the European contest, something important is obviously afoot. Moreover, if people are supporting Ukip in such large numbers even after the media’s massed guns have been rattling at it for weeks it is probably time to drop all the sneering and think about why.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, May 24th, 2014 at 4:07 am and is filed under Guardian RSS. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. « On the election trail in Plymouth: ‘Farage is a character, isn’t he?’ | If this was the rejection election, where does mainstream politics go? »
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