What would happen if Britain left the EU later this year? According to Channel 4, the country would descend into riots and anarchy. Last night’s one-off drama Ukip: The First 100 Days offered a dystopian vision (complete with Beethoven's 7th symphony) of the implausible situation where Ukip is victorious in May’s election. A landslide victory makes Nigel Farage the new Prime Minister and Neil Hamilton deputy, never mind the fact that Hamilton hasn't even been selected as a Ukip candidate yet.
The programme was labelled a satire on Ukip and the rise of right-wing populist politics. Priyanga Burford plays Deepa Kaur, a rising star and the party's only Asian MP who struggles with the government's hardline immigration stance. Aside from her excellent turn as Kaur, it was hard to take the programme seriously. The main action sequences — riots and protests, backed by Unite and the Socialist Worker — jarred with the idea that Ukip had just been elected in a landslide. Why would swathes of the nation take to the streets after putting the people’s army in No.10?
Possibly as intended, the programme has suitably annoyed some quarters. Ukip sources told the Mail on Sunday that The First 100 Days is ‘typical of the poppycock peddled by the public-school educated lefties who run Channel 4 and large chunks of the media.’ Ukip love nothing better than a pop at the media and this drama was a perfect excuse for one. ‘The idea that this is what would happen is simply preposterous, but it shows that we have got the liberal establishment quaking. Bring it on, we say, because this sort of thing simply serves to boost our ratings,’ said the Ukip source.
So, business as usual. One moment that did seem off was the appearance of an Israel flag to symbolise a right wing group. A BBC producer pointed out it was stock footage but the connotations were still odd:
According to @Channel4, this is what "a far right protest" looks like. #100daysofukip. Slow clap. pic.twitter.com/xv7R2b1pPQ
— Harry Cole (@MrHarryCole) February 16, 2015
Although the campaign has yet to properly kick off, the media and political bubbles are already operating on an election footing. Every speech and quote is being seen through the lens of 7 May, so there is some sympathy to be had with those who see this as a metropolitan hit job on Ukip. Ofcom have already received 1,000 complaints about it.
But the programme will most likely act as confirmation bias. Those who dislike Channel 4 and the establishment’s finger pointing have probably decided to vote Ukip. The First 100 days shows that instead of trying to understand where the party's support is coming from, Ukip's critics find it easier to ridicule it.