A brief trip down memory lane (courtesy of News-watch's mighty Today archive, and a big thanks to David Keighley for this)...
|Nigel Farage in 2009
Some of you may recall this from 2009, but seeing a transcript of it in full after all these years has only rekindled my feeling that this was one of the most biased pieces of BBC reporting ever broadcast...
...and it came from Mark Mardell on Today, 30th May 2009 (preceding an interview with Nigel Farage at 7.32am).
Read it and weep:
A small sea, more like a pond perhaps, of Union flags drop in front of a diminished group of men in the European Parliament. They thought their election heralded a revolution, but what have they achieved? Not, obviously, their main ambition of getting the UK out of the EU.
Most members of the European Parliament regard UKIP as profoundly unserious pranksters with a weird obsession.
‘Criminal betrayal’ – so said UKIP’s rising star Robert Kilroy-Silk MEP, the former Labour MP and daytime TV host, he’s the man with the orange complexion, you’ll remember, before he quite the party. ‘An incompetent joke’ – that’s the verdict of another leadership contender.
The pronouncements of sore losers, perhaps, but there’s something of a theme here which real opponents have been quick to pick up on: ‘fruitcakes, loonies, closet racists’ was what David Cameron said about them, and it’s the last bit that annoys the current leadership.
Nigel Farage has dismissed the idea that they’re the BNP in blazers, but their main plank in this election is perhaps their opposition to unlimited immigration, and Mr Farage admits he’s spent a lot of time and energy fighting off a take-over by the far right. That must say something about the sympathies of some members.
And what about the MEPs? Of the dozen elected, Robert Kilroy-Silk has disappeared from the political scene and two others have been expelled, one jailed for fraud, the other awaiting trial on similar charges. UKIP condemns the EU gravy train, but a good proportion seem to have prominent gravy stains all down their blazers.
The European Parliament, for all its bad reputation, is a place where the politicians have a serious job modifying, tweaking, even kicking out proposed new laws. UKIP don’t boast of any achievements on this front, and their opponents say they’ve voted against Britain’s interests in a host of areas from fishing to trade talks. A UKIP news release ruefully admits that occasionally UKIP do miss pieces of legislation.
If not the BNP in blazers, then there is something of the golf club militant about UKIP – so old-school they’re in constant danger of being expelled, the boys who didn’t make prefects because they were too ready to cock a snook and put two fingers up at the establishment.
But there’s no doubt there is a market for this at the moment, but in a parliament that’s about quiet conciliation not gestures, they make a lot of noise, no one is unaware of their cause. For them the risk is that they become part of an institution they despise, the licensed court jester, who can poke fun at the EU’s po-faced pretensions, as long as they make withdrawal look like a lost cause for mavericks.
Well, the joke is now on Mark Mardell. As Nigel himself might put it, "You laughed at us then, Mark - well, I have to say, you’re not laughing now, are you?"...
...and for anyone who's heard Mark's recent, heavily sour and biased Brexit-related broadcasting, had Nigel said them to Mark Mardell (and hopefully one day he will!) then no truer words would have been spoken.