i Editor's Letter: The surge in support for Ukip is not to be blamed on the media

 

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Are the media really to blame for the success of Ukip? Mark Budding of Tadley, Hampshire, makes the case for the prosecution. The media “are providing the ‘oxygen’ for the purple and gold balloon to gain altitude”, he writes, adding: “I do not know what has got into you all! Good heavens, Mr Farage is a political dilettante… Do us all a favour and choke Ukip before it is too late.”

Broadcasters and newspapers have certainly given Nigel Farage a platform disproportionate to Ukip’s presence in Westminster – the party has only just won its first seat in the House of Commons – but not, I would argue, disproportionate to Ukip’s appeal to some voters, to its news value and political relevancy. In May, protest voters joined Ukip supporters to propel the party to victory in the European elections. Ukip cannot be wished away, and the party’s broader agenda will receive greater scrutiny over the months to come. The media, I would argue, are already fairly swift to highlight Ukip’s more dubious aspects.

Following Friday’s news that Britain must pay an extra £1.7bn to the EU, our pollsters, ComRes, headed into the field over the weekend. The results, published in our cover story, are the first snapshot of public opinion since the demand from Brussels. One in five voters says they now support Ukip, a record high. We will test just how resolute this backing is every month until May. I expect the Green Party to also see increased coverage of their activities – including in this paper.

I apologise to Swindon reader Asaf Usmani for the heartburn suffered by our Saturday coverage of the EU bill. As for Jimmy Wright of Calne, Wiltshire, who writes, “Please stop putting pictures of the odious Farage in the paper, I am running out of black felt tip pen to scribble all over his face,” you can safely turn the pages of today’s i.

i@independent.co.uk

Twitter.com: @olyduff

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