It seems to me that UKIP has a bit of a mountain to climb to conquer popular confidence. Apart from Farage I’m not sure the party ever had it. For every prominent straightforward and stable party official there has been a huckster to point at, and the herding-cat metaphors are justified.
So, what’s to be done? JRE has proposed the unifying force of a crowd-sourced manifesto, an emergent document for which no one will take credit and to which no democrat can object. Certainly Wikipedia, the crowd-sourced encyclopedia, is a wonderful thing – but it’s a fragile thing, vulnerable to attack by egotists, trolls and factions. And furthermore, it has no human face or voice. A political party must have a human voice.
What UKIP needs to do is this: to establish public confidence that its higher-ups are on good terms with each other, it must have a common set of values and motivations. Thebosses must be seen [shock!] talking to each other.
Not all readers of this site may be aware of it, but humans are not natural readers. Reading is a new phenomenon. We are listeners to conversations. The great communications revolution going on right now is a listening revolution. It’s medium is the podcast, more than it is the video.
Now, relying on the mainstream media is, everyone knows, a mistake. Not only because of the framing of the debate, or exclusion of certain topics, but because of the soundbite, time-limited presentation. You can’t say a thing in five minutes, and in your next five minute interview you’re back to square one. Neither are hustings any better – too many people and too many bells.
The radical factor with the podcast, the extraordinary thing, is that it’s quite possible to secure a listener’s interest for an hour, or for three hours, at a go IF the speakers are interesting, topical and entertaining. If you haven’t heard Joe Rogan talk to Jordan Peterson, or Sam Harris to Douglas Murray, or Dave Rubin to Bret Weinstein, you won’t know about this yet. That’s most of your weekend taken care of.
So here’s the opportunity, the jeopardy, the necessity: UKIP must set up a video/podcast channel on which its top people talk, discuss differences, develop ideas, reflect on the culturally important moments, the cultural backstory, their own experiences. They must be seen to get along with each other, even while they disagree. They must, in fact, actually get along with each other, through their class / character / religious / professional differences. They must fold in conversations with non-UKIP figures to link the party with the wider cultural environment. Extended conversations, short commentaries, religion, cultural items, personal reflections, all of that. AMW is already involved here – she’s been a minor figure on the revolving circuit of liberal YouTube channels. Who wouldn’t like to hear AMW and Mr Bolton chewing the fat for an hour? It would be absolutely fascinating.
But where has Peter Whittle been with his cultural think-tank? Why has JRE, a really interesting speaker, kept himself aloof? This is a flaw in ALL political parties, which makes one suspect that no politician can stand another’s company. The only watchable political figures seem to be the marginal, the non-aligned and the unambitious. Mediated by mainstream journalists UKIPers are bound to come off poorly. We have to go over their heads.
If of course UKIPers are truly all at daggers drawn, then close up the shop and forget it. (It’s going to be fascinating to see how many of the leadership candidates take themselves off, or get locked out, when the result comes in.)
If I can compare this to JRE’s proposal (his proposal as I understand it), a consensus will emerge from these conversations which will be every bit as genuine as that which JRE is after. An organic party ‘brand’, a culture, a consensus, a common purpose [yikes], a philosophy. But it will have human faces.
A DIY channel isn’t a second-best or a last resort – it’s the future, the present, the natural way to communicate. If the party has anything to say, if it has any commitment to the truth, if it isn’t a bore, and if it isn’t stuffed with egotists and hucksters, this will gather an audience and this will work.
Thanks for your attention.
1. What would the set-up costs be? Start with audio: some adequate microphones. Move up to some quality webcams. Move up to a dedicated room in somebody’s London home with a green screen and adequate lights and cameras. In other words, minimal. This is an area where flashiness, above a certain baseline functionality, is actually a disadvantage. The cost is the time dedicated to it.
2. Some model example channels, from a crowded field: the Michael Knowles show, the Andrew Klavan show, the great Sargon of Akkad, the 3 Martini Lunch, James Delingpole.