UKIP: The First 100 Days – Muddled Messages

The C4 docudrama UKIP: The First 100 Days, which aired this evening and dealt with the imagined first hundred days of a Ukip government was bizarre and muddled.

It would be easy to point out that production of the programme was funded by the EU or to make reference to the appearance of its creator, Chris Atkins, in Crown Court this week on tax fraud charges, but that would be cheap and, well, a bit ad hominemy, so we won’t dwell on these details.

Besides, rather oddly it didn’t particularly demonise Ukip to the extent I had expected – I was half expecting the simpleton’s view of Ukip. You know… political arrests by day 10, concentration camps by day 50 and full-on apartheid by day 100… The usual stuff.

It didn’t go that far, but rather chose to focus on following the progress of a high-flying Ukip MP of Indian descent through her first hundred days in office, who, following her witnessing of a raid on an establishment supposedly housing illegal immigrants, and corruption and violence in the treatment of a suspect, subsequently mellowed her rhetoric on how such raids should be handled.

Well, frankly, I would hope that an MP of any party would report any brutality at the hands of our authorities, regardless of political persuasion. That’s just basic humanity.

As Ukip PPC, Richard Hilton put it…

So what point was programme trying to make? That clamping down on illegal immigration is bad? OK, well who exactly with a rational mind thinks that illegal immigration is good (with the possible exception of idealistic internationalists with no grasp of simple economics)?

Only those who choose to exploit illegal immigrants benefit from illegal immigration.

Illegal immigrants don’t get paid the minimum wage, live in hideous conditions, work long hours, the state does not benefit from taxes paid by them or their exploitative ’employers’, they don’t enjoy the benefits to which a legal immigrant would be entitled, and they make life much harder for legitimate immigrants.

While the slightly hard-of-thinking may have a problem distinguishing between legal and illegal immigration, who exactly among the more rational-thinking public actually really does favour illegal immigration? All the main political parties (with the possible exception of the Greens – see MG200-MG208 of their policies) oppose illegal immigration on the grounds of basic economics.

Essentially, the crux of the programme seemed to focus on flaws in how the border force dealt with raiding establishments supposedly harbouring illegal immigrants. Well, that goes on now and has done for years… Not relevant to the party in power at all, regardless of its politics.

On the wider point raised of job losses in the event of Brexit, I had to chuckle. Precisely these same arguments were used about the UK not joining the Euro… and the proponents of the UK joining the Euro are very quiet about that now, but some of us remember their scare tactics.

Naturally, the programme didn’t reference the thousands of jobs (Peugeot, Ford, etc.) which have in reality relocated to other areas of the EU where labour costs are significantly lower than in the UK. And some people still fail to make the connection as to why many big businesses favour EU membership. EU proponents… an unholy alliance of rampant capitalists and internationalist idealists.

But nobody sensible who favours Brexit proposes ceasing trade with EU countries. We could remain in the EEA and retain influence or take the Swiss approach, join the EFTA, and conclude bilateral agreements with our EU neighbours, and importantly non-EU nations, which we can’t currently do.

We should always ensure we retain good, friendly, and close relations with our neighbours. Most sensible people who favour Brexit do so for reasons of democratic accountability and increased localism. Mainstream opposition to the EU is faced squarely at the institutions of the supranational organisation that is the EU (notably, the Commission) – not some general xenophobic, imperialist attitude towards our continental friends and neighbours.

The programme did try to give the impression of less than all-out hostility towards Ukip. The fact that its creators chose to base the drama around a Ukip MP from an ethnic minority background was part of this. Then, there was a moment where the lead character was confronted by a member of the Women’s Institute. The latter asked enthusiastically when the government was going to revoke the laws on same-sex marriage, to which the main character responded that the government was following a social liberal policy and that an underlying principle of this policy was for the state to stay out of such personal matters. Whether these concessions were made simply to deflect accusations of an all-out hatchet job is for the viewer to decide.

The overriding subject of the programme, however, dealt with issues around the deportation of illegal immigrants, the lead character’s reaction to the sharp end of how these deportations were handled, and the public reaction on the streets from the ‘extreme left’ and ‘extreme right’.

Ultimately, nobody sensible proposes stopping immigration. We need managed immigration. What we and legal immigrants alike don’t need, however, is illegal immigration.

So, again, what, if any point was the programme trying to make?