Monday

21st Aug 2017

Analysis

Ukip's popularity undented by accusations of racism

  • It looks almost like a concerted media campaign against Ukip (Photo: HighVis UKIP)

It certainly feels as if it has been a fortnight of bad news for the UK Independence Party (Ukip). Each day has brought a new set of negative headlines.

Last week, for instance, there was the launch of Ukip's "biggest ever" election advertising campaign. One poster featured the slogan: "26 million people in Europe are looking for work. And whose jobs are they after?" While another showed a putative construction worker begging on the street with the message: "EU policy at work. British workers are hit hard by unlimited cheap labour."

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

A campaign launch is usually an opportunity for a political party to determine its own headlines. But not in Ukip's case. Within hours, the publicity generated by the campaign was almost entirely negative, with virtually all media outlets reporting that the campaign had been "branded 'racist'". Which indeed it had by the Labour Party.

More media-stoked embarrassment was to follow. Within a few days, the press got hold of the story that the construction worker featured in one of the election posters was actually Dave O'Rourke, an actor from Ireland – that is, from outside the UK.

The bad press did not stop there. The star of Ukip's election broadcast, a construction worker called Andre Lampitt, had his Twitter account paraded across the media, including statements such as "Inner peace will come when Aids does what it should and reduce African density" and "[Islam is an] evil organisation respecting a prophet who was a pedo [sic]".

Ukip promptly suspended Lampitt, but no sooner had he gone than another member emerged to take his place in the media spotlight. This time it was William Henwood, an MEP candidate in Enfield. In response to a recent speech by black comedian Lenny Henry, in which he suggested there was a poor representation of black and ethnic minorities on British television, Henwood tweeted: "He should emigrate to a black country. He does not have to live with whites."

Henwood himself has defended the tweet, but that did not stop the accusations of racism from once again being thrown at Ukip. For its part, Ukip has persistently stated that it is "non-racist, non-sectarian".

In fact, so relentless has been the bad publicity, it looks almost like a concerted media campaign against Ukip.

A story in the Commentator last year revealed that the Conservative Party was employing people to trawl through Ukip candidates' social media accounts looking for embarrassing information, before packaging it up into a briefing document to be sent out to the press.

There is every reason to suggest this is still going on, especially given the news earlier this year that Labour has, in the words of one senior minister, organised an "attack team" focused entirely on combating Ukip.

The fresh news, then, that a new cross-party campaign against Ukip, led by the former Labour immigration minister Barbara Roche, is to be launched, came as little surprise.

It merely made explicit the hitherto implicit cross-party targeting of Ukip as racist. "Ukip's campaign needs to be exposed for what it is, a racist campaign," Roche said. "The party is practising what is in effect a form of 'Euracism'." They are deploying the same language and tactics used by openly racist parties like the [British National Party], but instead of targeting migrants from Africa and Asia they are targeting migrants from within the EU."

Yet despite the constant 'racist' mud being flung in Ukip's direction, it does not seem to be sticking. Or if it is, it does not seem to be affecting voting intentions. The most recent YouGov poll this weekend put Ukip in the lead on 31 percent, Labour on 28 percent and the Conservatives in third on 19 percent.

Fresh UKIP controversy strikes EU parliament

An MEP from the eurosceptic UK Independence Party became embroiled in controversy on Wednesday after making disparaging remarks about EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, becoming the second MEP from the party to offend the chamber in recent weeks.

EUobserved

When two worlds collide

Two worlds collided at the end of last week. The shrill, uncompromising one of British politics and the technocratic, dry, world of the European Commission.

EUobserved

Schadenfreude and fire-walking in the EP

There was outright glee in the EP on Thursday. It was time to dust off everyone’s favourite German word for pleasure in the misfortune of others.

EU parliament approves Juncker commission

MEPs have approved Juncker's new EU commission, with a slightly smaller majority than in 2010, and following a number of concessions on portfolios.

News in Brief

  1. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  2. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  3. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  4. European Union returns to 2 percent growth
  5. Russian power most feared in Europe
  6. Ireland continues to refuse €13 billion in back taxes from Apple
  7. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  8. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference