Saturday 6 December 2014

Tanks and an outside broadcast unit on the lawn

Nick Servini, BBC Wales' political correspondent, doesn't get out of Cardiff much. When Stephen Kinnock was parachuted into Aberafon, the Danish press made more of an effort to tell us what was going on there, but last night Nick could be found in a hotel in Port Talbot reporting on Ukip's first ever Welsh conference.

A handful of people could be seen mooching around in the background, including several very overweight men of a certain age and a woman or two. Unsurprisingly, Nathan Gill MEP was on hand for an interview.

Ukip owes a large part of its success to the wall-to-wall coverage it has received from the BBC over the last couple of years. Nigel Farage has appeared on Question Time more than any other politician by some margin, and if there is ever a report on something to do with the EU, you can be sure the BBC will ask Nigel for his take on the latest developments, even though the party had no MPs until recently and only 147 councillors across the UK. To put that into perspective, Plaid Cymru has more than 200, and the SNP has around 420.

The BBC, ITV, Sky News and Channel 4 have also invited Nigel Farage to take part in the third of three planned leaders debates in the general election next year. The SNP, Plaid, the Greens, Sinn Fein, SDLP and the DUP who will return many more MPs than Ukip come what may, have not been invited even though they may well end up holding the balance of power.

The main theme of Servini's report was that Ukip would be parking its tanks on Labour lawns in Wales, but which constituencies in particular would they be targeting, he wondered.

His question went unanswered, but a more pertinent question which could easily have been answered by Nick himself is how many candidates does Ukip have in place to contest the 40 Welsh constituencies?

The answer is just 10 out of 40.

A handful of seats are due to select candidates in January, including Llanelli where previous attempts have failed and ended in rows and recriminations.

By the time Ukip gets round to it, most of its candidates in Wales will have three short months or less in which to establish themselves and kick off a campaign.

According to reports in The Times earlier this week (no link because who wants to put more money into Murdoch's coffers) and the London Evening Standard (here), there is considerable friction between the rank and file and the party's headquarters (aka Nigel Farage) over what is considered to be meddling and high-handed interference from the centre which wants to parachute in favoured candidates - a bit like the Labour Party, in fact.

That was the really interesting story behind Ukip's Port Talbot conference, and Nick Servini funked it, leaving it to two of the creepiest politicians in Wales - Nathan Gill and Owen Smith for Labour - to deliver their soundbites.

The sad truth is that with media coverage like this, Ukip doesn't need to worry about getting its act together.


Anonymous said...

We are talking about UKIP aren't we - the political party that won the European elections convincingly nationwide. the same party that out polled Plaid in Wales ?

I doubt if Plaid will even hang on to any seats at the next election. I predict that Calum will be elected but the balance of power will be held by UKIP.

There is so little appetite for Welsh nationalism after the Scottish vote that Plaid will be a busted flush.

Nick Servini is right to report on the UKIP conference as it is of interest to the people of Wales unlike the insertion of Kinnock into an area which will only be of interest to the people of that constituency.

Cneifiwr said...

Let's see...Ukip has one MEP, no MPs and about half a dozen councillors in Wales, most or all of whom defected from other parties.

The only reason Nathan Gill was elected was because the mainstream media didn't look into his past.

Cneifiwr said...

Oh, and I should have added that the party has zero Assembly Members. The same number as the Monster Raving Loony Party.

Anonymous said...

The Labour vote practically collapsed in Carmarthenshire during the European Elections with UKIP beating them comfortably. The only party which can beat UKIP in Carmarthenshire is Plaid Cymru.

I've heard that UKIP are strong in the Llanelli town part of that constituency, taking Labour votes from all over the place. I guess the pending council by-election will tell us all how strong the parties are there.

Who is Calum?

Alun Lenny said...

UKIP is a media creation. It did well in the Euro elections because it was given the oxygen of free and massive press and media publicity, which enabled it to play on people's fears by blaming others - foreigners, people who depend on benefits, etc. The irony is that Farage is a wealthy man, the son of a stockbroker and himself a city trader. He belongs to the class and profession of people who caused the great global economic crisis in the first place. The last time Plaid Cymru was allowed a level playing field by the press and media was during the Anglesey by-election last year. Plaid won the seat with an astonishing 58% of the toal vote. Rhun ap Iorwerth, with over 12,000 votes, had a majority of 9,000. Yet the Anglo-centric press seemed more interested in the fact that UKIP came third. Meanwhile, in Scotland, the backlash against the No result in the referendum has been staggering. SNP membership has rocketed from 25,000 to almost 100,000. Opinion polls suggest that the SNP could take as many as 53 out of 59 seats in Westminster. But are we told about this? No. The press and media are obsessed with UKIP, a monster of their own making.

Anonymous said...

Time will tell, all the parties we have had in the past forget people in Wales need jobs , houses etc it does not matter what lanuage the people speak to fill the houses its not all about language all the time get in the world speak to the young people all the money the Welsh Govermnt has thrown at the Language and CCC and it has not worked

Jac o' the North, said...

For a while now a suspicion has been growing with me that Ukip is more than just a creation of the media, it is a tool of the establishment. It has been built up in order to say those things, advocate those policies, that 'mainstream' politicians would not, and done in order to gauge public responses.

The responses have been surprisingly positive, which has then forced those 'mainstream' politicians, and their parties, to begin copying Ukip. It's no exaggeration to say that when it comes to immigration and a few other subjects Ukip has moved the goalposts.

If I'm right, and if Farage and his cronies are being used as cats-paws by others clever than them, do they know? If so, then they must also realise that once Ukip has fulfilled its purpose it can be destroyed as easily as it was created.

Anonymous said...

Looking at the latest figures it seems the lawns that UKIP will park their tanks on will be Plaid's.