Friday, 21 November 2014

BBC Bias Towards UKIP - Establishing A Controlled Opposition

Nigel Farage. Picture: Euro Realist Newsletter via Wikimedia Commons.

The BBC aren't known for their support of the UK Independence Party. A case could even be made for them being quite critical of UKIP. However, the volume of coverage given to UKIP and its leader, Nigel Farage, by the BBC has been excessive. Along with other mainstream media, they have ensured that everyone in the United Kingdom knows about UKIP, Farage, and their anti-immigration policy. Farage has become a celebrity, and the party has become a cultural phenomenon with daily mentions on BBC comedy shows. The question on everyone's lips should be: why? Did the Green Party or the Respect Party not warrant this coverage? Why was UKIP chosen as the new voice of opposition?

After the financial collapse in 2008, tensions began to rise against the establishment. Many people stopped trusting their political and financial institutions. Others simply followed the trend, making it fashionable to rebel against Labour, the Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats. Without swift action, the establishment parties would have been be turfed out, and the institutions they prop up would have been severely threatened. Something had to be done and, as is typical, the media became the tool of choice. In all likelihood, the BBC were asked to:
  1. Ensure that anti-establishment sentiment isn't channeled into movements that could actually threaten the establishment.
  2. Promote a new political party that shifts blame for the financial crisis away from the political and financial establishment.
The result was UKIP; a party that blames immigration for our troubles. This was no surprise. Any social scientist or historian could tell you that hard times lead to xenophobia and hatred of outsiders. Just look at how sentiment in Germany changed in the 1920's and 30's after the disastrous Treaty of Versailles. UKIP represents a contemporary harnessing of temporary xenophobia in order to set up an anti-establishment movement that actually does nothing to threaten the establishment.

In terms of political and financial reform, UKIP offer nothing. In fact, they may be more extreme than the Conservatives when it comes to deregulation and maintaining the status quo. All UKIP offer is withdrawal from the EU and stricter immigration laws: an essentially irrelevant issue, but one which is inflated in the minds of a temporarily xenophobic public. People are flocking to UKIP because they're looking for something different. However, their good intentions are being channeled into an establishment-sanctioned party that mobilizes their baser instincts.

UKIP is a controlled opposition. Parties that offer real change, such as the Greens, are being excluded from media coverage. This was no more evident than in the BBC's decision to invite UKIP, but not the Green Party, to the televised election debates. More than a quarter of a million people signed a petition to get the Greens included, but this was ignored by the mainstream broadcasters. When have TV companies ever turned down a quarter of a million potential viewers? Are the political and financial establishment compensating them for it?

Democracy is not served by a leaders' debate between four former public schoolboys of similar ages, from similar backgrounds, with largely similar views on political and financial reform (or lack thereof). Democratically, there is a much bigger argument to include Natalie Bennett (the Green Party) in the TV debates than there is to include Nigel Farage. UKIP is essentially the Conservative party with slightly more extreme views, and a temporarily popular xenophobic message. In fact, UKIP are careful not to talk about their other policies because, if they did, people would realize they're almost no different to the mainstream parties.

The Greens offer more of an alternative than UKIP. Image by Another Angry Voice.
The Green Party represent the `new left' in politics, fighting for political reform, financial regulation, social mobility, renewable energy, and public services. That is why they're a danger to the establishment. That is why democracy would be served by including them in the debates and giving them as much coverage as UKIP.  Even if you disagree with their policies, most would agree that left-wing views need to be represented if Britain is to have a healthy democracy. Many would agree that, since Tony Blair, Labour no longer represents the left.

The BBC have a public duty to be impartial, but they've repeatedly shown their bias towards establishment interests. Whether it's by marginalizing smaller parties, promoting British foreign policy regarding attitudes towards Russia, Syria, Iran, Argentina, and Zimbabwe, or by sycophantically supporting the British royal family, the BBC are a tool for private, not public, interests. These are the interests of big money corporations, banks, and wealthy individuals - interests that are promoted by politicians and packaged by the mainstream media.

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