Since returning to the UK three years ago, I have been astounded by the media coverage given to the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). UKIP’s leadership, when pressed (a rare occurrence), convey a ramshackle and rather incoherent libertarian philosophy juxtaposed with 1950s-style little Englandism.
The Greens, meanwhile, get barely a mention, despite actually having a lot to say about the big topics of climate change, resource depletion, low growth and inequality. I don’t agree with much of the Green’s world view, but at least they get stuck into those issues which truly impact on our long-term welfare.
Leo Barasi at the Noise of the Crowd blog puts some numbers on this phenomenon. Monthly media mentions for the Greens are minimal despite their respectable polling numbers.
This is even more evident when we look at mentions per percentage point of votes:
In a perfect world, it would be wonderful if journalists spent time reading UKIP’s policies and asked some probing questions about them. UKIP’s barking mad energy policy, for example, rests on the assumption that CO2 emissions are benign and manmade climate change a hoax. Instead, we get another Nigel Farage pint-in-a-pub picture and 1,000 words on the “people’s army”.
I am told by media friends that the UKIP political narrative plays well to the general public; conversely, the narrative of dangerous climate change doesn’t. But, ultimately, climate change is a narrative with no spectators—only participants.