Say what you like about Ukip, they’re pretty savvy. To you and I, their new posters are xenophobic dog-whistle politics at its worst.
But they’re not meant to appeal to me. They’re targeting a C2DE working class northern demographic, who feel alienated by politics. Ukip prey on prejudices and insecurities, framing the EU as the problem and Brexit as the answer.
But surely Ukip’s smart Director of Comms Patrick O’Flynn – who I knew when we were both cub reporters in Hull back in the early 90s – should have noticed the howling blind spot to the “26 million Europeans-after-your-job” poster.
I tweeted it last night.
Now remind me which Ukip leader employs his German wife on up to £30k at British taxpayers’ expense? pic.twitter.com/JRH5xgvwEk
— David Prescott (@DavidPrescott) April 21, 2014
Over 400 RTs later and the mainstream media rightly called Farage out. Helen Fospero on Daybreak was the first to ask him about his relaxed attitudes to employing Germans.
But Nick Robinson really put Nigel to the sword at the poster launch in Sheffield. (See what I mean about targeting the North?)
So how did they mess up? Ukip’s major donor Paul Sykes had editorial control over the posters (he was stumping up £1.5m to pay for them after all.)
But that’s no excuse for not sense checking the ads. The 26m Europeans ad has not only exposed Farage’s hypocrisy it’s tied him to putting his foreign wife on expenses.
He revels in being ‘different’ to other politicians but defending your wife’s taxpayer funded employment because others won’t wash with voters.
Besting Clegg in a television debate is one thing.
Standing up to intense mainstream and social media scrutiny is another.
Today was a reminder to O’Flynn and his team how tough it’s about to get and that they need to raise their game – fast!
Farage says he’s aiming for an ‘Earthquake’ in British politics if his party wins the European Elections.
But will it be a breakthrough or a breakdown? Unless they anticipate preventable howlers like this, it’ll be the latter.
It’s going to be a long four weeks for the Kippers. And even longer for the hardworking Frau Farage.