Media outlets are once again eating up the hype of UKIP. Their success has been proportional to the amount of media coverage they have been receiving. That’s not to say broadcasters are the sole reason for UKIP’s success, they have just added to it.
The foundations for xenophobia were set long ago. During the 2010 elections, one main theme of the leaders’ debates was immigration. By the 2014 European Elections, UKIP had jumped on that immigration bandwagon, marrying what they describe as out of control immigration with the European Union.
The amount of airtime a party receives is dependent on it being able to demonstrate electoral success. UKIP is a strange anomaly, in that, as a party, they can pull it out of the bag in Europe, but can’t seem to replicate that at Westminster.
In a recent BBC news article, they point to the success of UKIP in gaining a Westminster seat in their justification for UKIP’s invitation. Have they forgotten again about the Greens at Brighton Pavilion, or the Respect Party at Bradford West, or perhaps the six other non-mainstream parties that have demonstrated electoral success all over the UK, or the millions who have abandoned voting altogether or who vote for smaller parties?
Broadcasters say inviting a UKIP representative is due to changes in the political landscape. What about when the Greens beat the Lib Dems in the most recent European Election? That would seem to be a change in the political landscape to me, based on what broadcasters are proposing for UKIP.
You can see from the above graph that European elections are completely different to Westminster. Multi-seat constituencies make it more likely for smaller parties to win seats. The winner of the election doesn’t go off to govern the country either, so voters can be safe in the knowledge that they’re sending someone off to rant at the EU bureaucracy, and not sending someone to rule over us all. It’s similar to a by-election where voters often give a protest vote.
Voting turnout is generally abysmal at European elections, in the UK it’s usually somewhere around the mid thirties in terms of percentage. Come Westminster, you can usually add around 30 percentage points to this, with around two thirds usually turning out to vote there.
Broadcasters should be consistent with their policies. Look again at that graph. Who will be at the leaders’ debates to represent those millions of people on the grey line?