Since the results of last week’s elections were announced, I’ve seen numerous examples of Labour MPs and supporters complaining about the coverage they’ve received. The claim seems to be that despite performing well in the elections, Labour’s results have been painted as bad news, while UKIP have got favourable coverage of their results. Do they have a point though? I don’t see how.
UKIP have come from nowhere over the last 18 months to win hundreds of councillors and actually winning the popular vote in the EU elections. While Nigel Farage has rarely been off our screens lately, the coverage I’ve seen of UKIP has been overwhelmingly negative. The print media in particular have been out to get UKIP, with almost daily revelations about some idiot candidate or another. Despite this, they managed a great result (relatively speaking), doing so by campaigning on two – linked – issues, immigration and Europe. They made some inroads into solid Labour areas, most notably in Rotherham, but also here in Bradford, where, while they only won one seat (off Labour), they came second in a number of others, often coming within a couple of hundred votes of victory.
So that’s UKIP then. But what about Labour? They won the local elections, picking up over 300 seats on a projected national share of 31%, and their vote was up 10% over 2009 in the EU poll. Pretty good? Despite this, the media have been asking why Labour aren’t doing better. Biased against Labour then?
Not really. They’re up against a wretched Coalition government who deserve to lose for numerous reasons (cutting public spending in a slump, disgraceful treatment of the unemployed and disabled, restricting access to justice, speeding up private sector involvement in the NHS and on and on), and yet they can only beat them by about 2 percentage points a year out from the general election. Of course people are going to ask what’s going on.
Labour party people need to stop whining about media bias and start thinking about why they’re not doing better, and why UKIP, who are supposed to be ex-Tory voters, are gaining so many votes in Labour areas.