Thursday 19 February 2015

100 days. UKIP's Waterloo

On my bookshelf sits a thick, old paperback. Its somehow managed to escape the house moving purges or the Amazon shelf clearances.
This rumpled and paperback has been unread by myself, and probably anyone else too for that matter,  for at least 25 and maybe closer to 35 years. Nick's post below reminded me of it.

General Sir John Hackett's Third World War.

Written at the height of the Red Menace, when the USSR had a war machine equal in size, if not ability to all of Europe and USA, the book is about what would happen if the soviets unleashed their forces and made the grab for Western Europe.

Apart from being, IIRC, a great read, nicely paced, it was also considered a pretty likely scenario of what might actually occur. Warsaw Pact doctrine and Nato responses and counterattacks all pulled from the manuals of the day. Sir John spent a while researching what Nato would do would in the event of a shooting war. What the Russkies would do in response to Nato moves. And some other events after that.
Would the children be evacuated? The panic food buying and the refugees from Germany and France blocking the roads.
It was well received by the public. Though thought alarmist by the politicians and joint chiefs. Hackett wasn't a neutral. He was arguing for a much larger amount of GDP to be spent on conventional forces. That the nuclear defence was either a fig leaf or an end of world defence..but could not be both. I expect politicians were quite frightened, as I was, to read of a nuclear bomb detonating on Birmingham. And then Minsk.
Tom Clancy was in his heyday too. Red Storm Rising, a more dramatic fiction, but no less readable account of the same thing. USSR invasion. Red Storm and Red October sold millions of copies.

But events moved on. So Sir John, a genuine WW2 hero, and his book, were left behind by world events. The USSR collapsed, only able to have its centrally planned economy make guns or butter, not both. And the soviets and communism went into the history dumpster.

100 days: The UKIP story.
That annoyed me. Annoyed me as an avid historical reader and consumer of all manner of historical and political works.
100 days is the Waterloo campaign. Something we shall all be hearing about in this anniversary year of that battle. Don't mess about with Waterloo.

As for the actual C4 program.. UKIP is of only mild interest to me, so I watched about 15 minutes.
And to see how the writers tackled the issue of making a future historical program seem realistic and plausible.

Sadly, they managed that aspect by ignoring it. There was no attempt to tackle the program in a way that something like 'a very British coup, or even House of Cards, did.
In both of those dramas the public mood was a part of the setting. Francis Urquhart ruled as an evil Tory, against a feeble opposition, because, as the series made quite clear, he appealed to two thirds of the voters and so was able to ignore completely, the other third.
When the ultra-left wing trades union workers party, led by a deliberately Lech Walesa look alike, Harry Perkins, take control in A Very British Coup, their cabinet battle the establishment at all levels. Not the populace,who support them.

Because, as UKIP the TV show, utterly failed to comprehend, if the people had not voted for those ideas, then those leaders have no part in the story. If the majority of the public had not voted Tory, Francis Urquhart is just the chief whip of the opposition.

The makers of the UKIP program had a UKIP parliament, enacting legislation from their manifesto, that had the voters rioting in the streets.

Now why would they do that?

They started the program saying "in these unprecedented scenes, we see the new Prime Minister, Nigel Farage, who has come from nowhere, to sweep seat after seat, and now leads a government with a small majority."

So the makers were aware how much of a popular swing that would have to be, to make that possible. UKIP would have to have 50% of the popular vote to make those kinds of inroads into the first past the post British politics.

So why would the voters be angry with them? Its utter nonsense.

Only in Ken Livingstone's bedroom is the idea that vast swathes of the electorate were against council house sell offs. It was the most popular piece of legislation of the 1980s.
Only in Michael Howard's shed does the idea that millions of people voted in Tony Blair  in error have any traction. Tony Blair won landslides.

Channel 4 took the 'current' UKIP minority protest party, and made a program that assumed UKIP would still be a minority protest party. Counterfactual history at its most idiotic.
Airbus leaves the UK, almost immediately. I didn't realise international organisations had such spare capacity that they could switch manufacturing, and replace all their skilled workers overnight,without any impact on current or future orders or contracts.

Others complained the program was, absurd, biased, sneering, made by bedwetting liberals out of touch with public opinion..etc.

My complaint was that it was just bad. Really bad. Made with a fixed idea that fell foul of its central premise within minutes.

Next time, do some research. Have a quiet think before leaping in hoping your viewers are shallow X-factor fools.

Sir John's ancient WW3 novel sits on my shelf still.
Labour MP, Chris Mullin's , A very British Coup, is also on that dusty shelf. In a kind of gone, but not forgotten graveyard of old books. Michael Dobbs' House of cards is there too.

If UKIP, the first 100 days was a book, it would have been in the bin already.
With the rest of the trash.


Anonymous said...

BQ - you make a bit of error conflating the voice of the voters with the voice of the people...

Not seen the show yet, will be watching later, but not expecting much beyond the usual Channel 4 attempt at shock tactics. They're a lot like old punks at a Sex Pistols reunion gig, it's more vaudeville than venom, but they try to pretend before heading back to the office job the next day. Sad really.

As for a UKIP minority government, if "Swiss Tony" Blair managed to attract large protests over the war in Iraq, I have zero doubt there'd be worse under UKIP if they succeeded in removing migrants from the UK - not in the first 100 days, but when people started discovering just how entrenched those migrants were without any sodding plan to replace them.

Cue the "British unemployed..."

Yeah. That's only going happen in the next world across from the Magic Money Tree one. We're about 20 years of educational reforms away from managing that without the national productivity plummeting down to the level of a week-dead heroin addict.

BE said...

"So why would the voters be angry with them? Its utter nonsense."

This is an excellent point. Usually our electoral system has provided a newly-elected government with a proper mandate. So you are right that if UKIP won the election and then immediately invoked the leaving the EU article of the treaty, then nobody could sensibly question it.

What worries me is that the next government won't be one which has genuine popular support, because it will be cobbled together by two parties which have an utterly non-inclusive voter base. I am, of course, thinking of a Lab/SNP alliance. Where you have a government determined by geographic allegiance rather than policy allegiance, there can only be a disaster ahead. Especially if the Tories win a majority in England, as they often have done in the recent past.

I have not been following the recent lefty-media attempts to smear UKIP. But I don't think the left-media needs to smear UKIP, because I do not think that UKIP will get much more than a tiny percentage of the vote nationally. In the end, I think most voters will grudgingly realise that the choice isn't between different idealised visions of the country, but a grubby compromise between what we as individuals want and what is possible under the current circs.

Off topic: it amuses me greatly how often you see people on the internet saying that they think that UKIP will win the election outright. They make your Ken Livingstone/Michael Howard cartoon look sensible :-)

CityUnslicker said...

UKIP will win the election BE!

Bill Quango MP said...

Its TV , so we shouldn't expect too much.

But the rioting occurred over the removal of illegal immigrants.
That I do not buy for a second.

Sending back illegals might be troubling for the tolerant British. But the message -"They are using your schools..taking your healthcare..paying nothing..came illegally..not our problem..Its an EU border issue..Committing crime ..taking up housing..We are only sending them back to France,Not Sudan..Etc, would win out.

I agree, that if UKIP went suddenly Nazi and decided on mass deportations of everyone's 2nd-3rd generation asian, Afro-caribean, Eastern European neighbours, there would be much more of a protest. Probably bloody protest.

That's why the makers were careful to say 'illegal immigrants" sent away. Whioh is, or has been, UKIP policy.
But the imagery, as you shall see, implies ALL immigrants being packed up.

Nick Drew said...

it will be interesting to see if the predicted-by-some all-out meeja war against the Tories comes to pass

well, not the printed press, obviously

(and a certain Famous Political Blogger seems to have gone 99% MSM just recently ...)

meeja like a 'close-run thing' and will generally operate (consciously or subconsciously) to make that more likely, e.g. the scotty referendum

but this one is close-run anyway and I wouldn't be surprsed if, nearer the day, they don't feel obliged to hedge their bets comprehensively, against a surprising clear-cut win by a party who will remember who their friends were

Umbongo said...

If you're going to make a piece of blatant propaganda then, as you imply, it's always best to stick as near to the "truth" as possible. This highlights the basic incompetence of Channel 4 as well as its contempt for its audience. Manifestly Channel 4 assumed that its audience were morons 1. for being potential - or actual - UKIP voters and 2. since it would accept plot lines which had the logic failures you point out. OTOH Sir John was neither taking his target audience for mugs nor using ludicrous scenarios to make a point which, thereby, could be easily debunked.
In common with much of the rest of the media, Channel 4 has signed up to the effort to discredit UKIP. In the same struggle the front page of the Times this morning features a photo of Farage having a drink with one of the Chelsea fans accused of very naughty behaviour indeed (including RACISM)! Why would the Times seek out and publish such a picture? There's no suggestion by anyone that Farage, had he been there, would have chucked a black Frenchman off the Paris Metro nor been singing offensive chants nor that UKIP policy is to eliminate black players from the Premier League.
No, the target here is actual or potential UKIP support in respect of issues closer to home. It strikes me that if the propaganda firepower of the political class - through its broadcasting and paper mouthpieces - is now aimed squarely at UKIP then maybe UKIP is on to something and, moreover, that the political class is getting nervous that it's been rumbled.

Bill Quango MP said...

A certain maverick political blogger going mainstream.

{Not BE - surely?}^^

Sebastian Weetabix said...

Judging by the chit-chat in our local pub, many of the voters hold opinions about stopping muslim immigration (yes, they are that specific) which would gladden the heart of Nick Griffin, but they all continue to vote Labour/LibDem or whatever. If you point out that given their views on the matter they should vote BNP, since they're the only party that makes that specific pledge, and they get quite upset, saying they're not racist. Indeed not, since Islam is a rather nasty religion and not a race. This makes me think the capacity of the voters to indulge in magical thinking is underestimated.

Interestingly one of the most vehement opponents of continued muslim immigration in our local is a deracinated Sikh who says we shouldn't let them in because, and I quote verbatim, "the bastards will never assimilate and they will never give up, and as their numbers increase the trouble they make is only going to get worse." He votes Labour.

As I say, magical thinking.

Sandalista said...

"it will be cobbled together by two parties which have an utterly non-inclusive voter base"


"the bastards will never assimilate"

and Duverger's Law

In a FPTP system UKIP will either have to allow themselves to be assimilated or they will be cast aside as meaningless. If the difference between the parties is who can come up with the most right-wing/ xenophobic rhetoric, it won't be long before we see this emerge pre May 7th.

Or is all previous political history to be re-written for the sake of reassuring those that have an belief that UKIP is "mainstream"

Some of the comments here sounds like something out of a Berlin bunker.

BE said...

I am not famous. Nor am I mainstream. When I last checked I was a metro-lib lefty.


Anonymous said...

@ a deracinated Sikh who says we shouldn't let them in because

the Indians in my local corner-shop have very clear views on this too, and they cite centuries of experience! (They have some solutions in mind but this is obviously a family blog so we draw a veil over the proceedings).

Budgie said...

"Airbus leaves the UK, almost immediately. I didn't realise international organisations had such spare capacity that they could switch manufacturing, and replace all their skilled workers overnight ..." Just so. This really is a giveaway that the piece was written by metropolitan luvvies. Working class stalwarts from the old Labour Party would not have made such a stupid mistake.

CityUnslicker said...


Your complacency serves you well. The Third largest party after the election is nailed on to be the SNP, followed by the Lib Dems and then UKIP with a handful..

2 party politics eh?

Demetrius said...

Sir John Hackett? I was once on his personal staff and often shared a command truck with him. He was a good and wise man of remarkable intelligence. His book was well founded on what we knew at the time.

Anonymous said...

Okay, got round to watching it, and... Well, meh.

The core tale of a politician eventually doing the right thing could've been applied to anything, and wasn't that well written.

It does come across as a smear, although I doubt it was intended that way - more sneer than smear in origin I suspect.

It did beg some questions - UKIP *does* attract a lot of the racists, simply because they are a smaller subset of the group of people worried about immigration, so would they feel a licence to be more open under a UKIP government? How would the mandarins of Whitehall deal with them? Can't see the Sir Humphrey's being overly helpful, so the first 100 days would likely consist of UKIP ideals being firmly rubbed up again the cheesegrater of Whitehall inertia. Sort of a Yes, Minister only with Vinnie Jones instead of Paul Eddington.

So really a complete waste of an interesting concept in order to point and laugh at UKIP.

And really, if they're going to rag on UKIP, they really ought to balance it with a Labour/SNP victory equivalent.

Or maybe not, because they'd likely make that shit too.

Nick Drew said...

yes Hackett a fine fellow, I met him too & his book still also sits on my shelves

he had an interesting theory that UK defence policy was to be manifestly weak in conventional weapons, so that Russia would realise it had to be nukes if they were to come over the border - maybe that thought still operates amongst europeans today??

he also reckoned that in WW3 Russia would run out of a couple of the critical strategic factors it had previously always enjoyed, viz time and manpower (he also said 'and space', because they'd be fighting in the funnel of Europe instead of on the great plains of the USSR - but I'm not so sure about that)

he was defo wrong about German reunification, though: "it was not a genuine long-term aim, except to very few" - see history corner

Jer said...

100 days?

A book has to have 120 days to be any good....

andrew said...

The left are so very anti ukip because farage has worked out that the labour vote is rather open to persuasion.

All ukip has to do is show a northen working class labour voter a picture of milliband and some of the better quotes on what the leadership - and the leaderships children are up to.
All of a sudden - a ukip voter.

THe difference between labour and tory is that once persuaded, labour converts stay converted.

There was a good article in the economist last week on this - basically dont look at where ukip wins (there will be some but not many), look where they come a good second - the north of england.

Back in the old pre 97 conservative heartlands.

Bill Quango MP said...

Demetrius : Were you indeed?
I recall that the politicians, Tory defence minister and such, all said that he exaggerated the threat. That our forces could hold indefinitely. That the USA would be ashore in force long before the Red Army overran the Atlantic ports.

No one was very convinced.

But ultimately, the politicians were correct. The Big Bang was a deterrent that kept the cold war in the fridge.

Bill Quango MP said...

ND: Reading that bit back I see I cut the line that explains why the book still sits on the shelf. Even though its out of date and unread.

Its there because it was a good book. A properly thought out example of how to write a prediction of the future that rings true. And In all the clearouts it hasn't been deemed surplus to requirements.

And as I said. He was biased, because he wanted to portray NATO as not coping. But if you didn't know that, you might not automatically guess it.

If he had written it in the UKIP 100 days vein, the red Army would have been in Whitehall before the Territorial Army had received their mobilisation rations.
The PM would have been hanging from a lamp post within 24 hours and Sir John would be writing ..

"See..This is what happens if you let lilly livered lefty social workers-turned union leaders, or parsimonious politicos have any say in the military, don'cha'know!"

Electro-Kevin said...

BQ - Problem is that on other blogs (and at work) It's "Did you see Ukip 100... IT'S TERRIFYING !"

Not people of the centre right, but people well left.

There will be riots if Ukip have even moderate success - because C4 have just helped incite it !

PS - Did they consider the irony of using real riot footage ? It's what the left do when democratic votes don't go their way.

Ukippers are the model of peace and probity.

The latest smearing by the press - the selfie of a Chelsea fan with Farage shows the desperation.

Let's hope Cameron doesn't get himself selfied with a paedo - otherwise the whole Tory Party can consider themselves paedos by this rationale !

Electro-Kevin said...

BE - The point about Ukip isn't about how many seats they can win but how many Tory seats they can take away.

That's why the whole establisment is worried.

This is a defence of the LibLabCon. If even one of that trio is displaced from the 'tri-party' set up then the whole sham is exposed for the lie that it is.

The Tories would sooner form coalition with Labour than do a pact (a mere pact) with Ukip to win an outright Eurosceptic majority.

The Tories have abondoned their core vote.

Unless you're a property owning landlord or industrialist they are going to make you poor.

Electro-Kevin said...

Er - I'm not sure what other sort of landlord there is but I'm sure you know what I mean.

Anonymous said...

Lol - Kev!!

Suffragent said...

I'm hoping for a really dirty campaign. In fact, the public should demand one. Any politician that states they want a clean campaign, concentrating on the positive issues, really must have some things to hide, they all do. The main parties have a gentlemen’s agreement of I’ll keep your secret if you keep mine because it’s not in the public interest. This from the people that, under the banner of national security, think it’s in the public interest to snoop into every private detail of their citizens. Using the “if you’re concerned about your privacy, you must have something to hide” proclamation.
UKIP (I know they are not whiter than white and have just as many issues as the rest) are not invited to this club (Mainly because they won’t do the EU masters bidding). As a none member, all their washing, down to the last sock (and probably some planted S&M gear) will be washed in public. They are going to ride an ever increasing sh1tstorm of abuse leading up to the election. UKIP need to get down and dirty (release all the dirt on the other parties because they sure as hell are going to show yours) and bring this election down to a street fight. A place where the main parties have isolated themselves from. Bring just one party out into the light and they will start on the others While the MSM won’t allow you air time, there are lots of other outlets to get your message across. I’ve lots of ideas but I tend to ramble on when everybody else has gone to bed :-)

Anybody any ideas about settings on iPhone. Any time I try to post under my name it just disappears and then defaults back to goggle ID