It Was A Very Good Year
Nigel Farage: Vindicated by the Brexit vote (Gage Skidmore CC BY-SA 2.0)
I’m writing this instead of attending a special BBC post-US election breakfast briefing. Just before setting off it suddenly occurred to me: why should I listen to a panel of journalists and pundits who had up to this point got things so consistently wrong now pontificating on America under Trump? What could they possibly tell me that I would want to hear? Their wail of incomprehension, coming before work had even started, would set the tone for the day, and it would be one of seething frustration. As somebody once said, rather than bang your head against a brick wall, it’s best to just walk around it.
It’s about self-preservation, too. I’ve spent a solid year campaigning, and when it comes to the media, you learn to pick and choose. During the referendum, the BBC more or less played ball, although once the result came in, the dogs of war were well and truly unleashed. Being UKIP, you are asked questions of the “when did you stop beating your wife?” variety, each carrying the unspoken prefix “Are you seriously suggesting . . .” Doubtless presenters think they are on the side of the viewer or listener, although there’s some subtle virtue-signalling going on there too. And it’s certainly not just the BBC; Sky’s US coverage occasionally made the corporation’s look like a cool blast of sanity but the truth is that unlike the press, the whole broadcast media is run on a kind of group-think. I spent 14 years working there and it is generally assumed you are onside with the approved orthodoxies of the day.
Forget the side issue of the polling industry: if the media has any self-awareness, it must realise that it is the sector facing a major crisis.
This couldn’t have been clearer than the morning after the vote for Brexit. Having spent the night watching with Nigel Farage and the UKIP team, first at a house in Pimlico and then at Arron Banks’s party round the corner at the top of the Millbank Tower, we made our way just after 7am to the media encampment opposite Parliament. Sleepless and still not quite believing it ourselves, we were surrounded by an atmosphere of such sombreness it was as if a beloved national figure had died and we were intruding on the mourning. The only noise came from the endless stream of passing taxis, vans and cars blowing their horns and giving us the thumbs-up. At times like these, you are thrilled by the feeling of being on the right side of history.