Whilst having huge sympathy with the thousands who have complained about the huge publicity given by the BBC to Ukip, especially with the frequent appearances of Farage on Question Time and the Marr Show, I am beginning to perceive some possible benefits. With every appearance, more details emerge of Ukip policies, and the announcements of tax cuts for the rich and the widespread return of grammar schools not only reveal yet more right-wing tendencies of Ukip, but offer massive opportunities for Labour to deal with its "Ukip defectors" problem.
By stressing that "Ukip wants to progress social mobility" with selective education, which apparently gives "bright kids from poor backgrounds a real opportunity", Farage has provided Labour with the excuse, for it seems it needs one, to defend the wonderful work being done in our comprehensive schools. These schools provide all pupils opportunities to show their abilities throughout their school lives, not just in a written test at the age of eleven, and do not write off eighty per cent of children by giving them different curricula, and little or no academic education. Selina Todd, in her excellent Guardian article last week, wrote about her ex-comprehensive students at St Hilda`s, Oxford, who, having "received excellent teaching", revealed "moral character" in abundance. This, of course, is contrary to what the shadow secretary for education believes, and therein lies a problem. How can Ukip`s education policies, and for that matter, those of Gove too, be refuted by Labour when its spokesperson on the subject was privately-educated, thinks state-school pupils lack "character and resilience", and who, when asked about the school destination of his own children, refuses to commit to the state sector, preferring,"never rule out what takes place"! Farage may provide the opportunities for Labour to regain the trust of disillusioned voters, but, sadly, that does not mean they will be taken.