Throw a veil over a shark, and it still won’t look like a turbot. Put the odd bit of conservative phraseology into The Times, and it’ll still sound like The Daily Mirror minus the intellectual subtlety.
Today, the paper has decided to join the battle on the side of our faux Tories taking a last stand against UKIP before the Thursday council elections. One detects genuine desperation in the invective unleashed by Ken Clarke, for UKIP threatens the political survival of the so-called Tories possibly and their left wing, championed by Clarke, definitely.
The desperation evinced by The Times is less obvious but more profound. As far as the paper is concerned, UKIP threatens more than just the electoral prospects of this or that party. It imperils our toxic modernity, the ethos that encourages formerly respectable papers to turn into illiterate, irresponsible rags.
“It is hard to avoid the impression,” laments The Times, “that UKIP has taken one look at the open, modern world and said ‘no thank you very much.’”
And specifically? That dastardly party would “consign to the dustbin” such “new-fangled ideas as ‘multiculturalism’, ‘inclusion’ and ‘climate change’”, to say nothing of ‘social engineering’.
I’m scared, aren’t you? Just thinking that such monsters could possibly win a few votes is guaranteed to give any sensible individual sleepless nights. Pursued by nightmares of a world with no multiculturalism and social engineering, he’d wake up every half an hour hoarse from his own screams.
And even more specifically? “Nigel Farage is an adept populist, skilled at touching the issues that concern large parts of the electorate.” Crikey. A politician who’s a populist. Whatever next. And touching the issues that people care about – what does he think he is, a statesman?
Of course, Ken ‘Kenneth’ Clarke, the paper’s darling, is the very opposite of all that. He hasn’t had an ounce of populism since last night, probably spent pressing lager-reeking flesh in a pub, dripping foam off his pint glass onto his hushpuppies and doing a bit of karaoke for good measure. Some may say that a septuagenarian referring to himself officially by a three-letter abbreviation of his Christian (well, agnostic) name is the populist teapot calling the kettle black.
Lest you might think I’m being unfair to the paper, it also includes some substantive criticism of UKIP, most of it consonant with Ken’s and Dave’s diatribes anchored by words like ‘fruitcakes’. For example, the party is accused of not vetting all its candidates, which laxity leaves an opening through which a few BNP creepy-crawlies can sneak in.
Fair cop. UKIP still lacks an extensive national organisation capable of keeping the odd extremist out, and it would be surprising if it didn’t, considering its size, experience and funding. The two main parties, by contrast, have been around for yonks, and they’ve honed their vetting techniques to the sharpness of a cutthroat razor.
As a result, it’s only by subterfuge that any real conservative can get through the fine filter of his grassroots organisation. Conservatives being congenitally bad liars, most get found out and blackballed in the first round.
At the same time Labour’s selectors are so vigilant that the party’s parliamentary fraction is bulging with ‘former’ communists and members of transparent KGB fronts, such as the CND. I readily agree that even a former BNP member isn’t fit to be a politician in a civilised country. Would the Milibandits agree the same thing about a CND functionary? Fat chance.
Another criticism levelled at UKIP is that it’s “very easy to be against things in politics. It is against immigration, the European Union, the notion of Britain going to the dogs and the existing British political class. It is much harder to be in favour of anything while maintaining credibility and coherence.”
Again I agree – and doff my hat to the ruling coalition and its twin the Labour party. Contextually, they’ve maintained credibility and coherence by being in favour of all those wonderful things that UKIP is against, along with ‘multiculturalism’, ‘inclusion’ and ‘climate change’, to say nothing of ‘social engineering’. How much more sound it is to make the country go to the dogs than to protest against it.
Better the devil you don’t know then, and both The Times and Ken ‘Kenneth’ are right that UKIP is a protest party – we do have an awful lot to protest against. True enough, the party’s positive proposals, though far from nonexistent, could be thought through more deeply, their numbers added up more accurately.
However, would The Times suggest that the mainstream parties are in any position to cast the first, indeed any, stone? If so, the paper ought to take a quick look around – even to the point of reading its own factual reports on the economy, education, justice, healthcare and so forth.
Attacking UKIP members and voters as some sort of insane village idiots only succeeds in making the teapot take another look at the kettle – and find it considerably blacker. In any case, such claims are also a lie.
I for one have several UKIP supporters among my friends. Every one of them has more intelligence, not to mention integrity, in his little finger than Ken ‘Kenneth’ has in his whole beer-bloated body – with enough room left over for the combined wits of The Times leader writers.