Academic journal article The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs

"They Finished Second in 120 Seats:" UKIP and the Ongoing Revolt on the Right in the UK?

Academic journal article The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs

"They Finished Second in 120 Seats:" UKIP and the Ongoing Revolt on the Right in the UK?

Article excerpt

An interview with Robert Ford, co-author of Revolt on the Right: Explaining Support for the Radical Right in Britain

Kacper Rekawek, managing editor of The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs: Thanks for agreeing to this and congratulations on the book. I actually wanted to kick off by talking about your newest publication, so we could also use this opportunity to advertise Sex, Lies and the Ballot Box?

Robert Ford: Absolutely. I'm glad that you've been looking at it. A couple of years ago I got together with Philip Cowley, and we both felt there was a gap in the market. A lot of the discussions on politics involved things that political scientists have things to say about, evidence they can bring to the table. But a lot of academic writing is very obscure and much of the work is published in scientific journals, which don't reach the general public. So we thought that if we can just condense a lot of these things down in short essays, telling the key stories, then maybe we can contribute to the conversation more. We always wanted to do it in the year before the election because that's when the conversation moves to politics most anyway.

Exactly.

It's been a great success, the reaction has been very, very positive, so I guess we were right. Maybe there is a market for research outside the ivory tower!

So what kind of stories do you tell in the book?

We have essays about why immigrants and ethnic minorities vote so consistently differently to the majority, there are chapters about why people lie in opinion polls, about how politics colours people's views about cats, about why good looking politicians do better and why men lie more to opinion pollsters than women so. I can go on and on because there are 50 of them. And of course the one that gives us the title. There are two chapters looking at the sexual fantasies of partisans and voters in general, to see kind of things different party's supporters like to get up to in the bedroom.

Worth reading, and I hope that one day there will be a Polish edition. Now let's talk about your Revolt on the Right. It's an important thing, especially in an election year in the United Kingdom, which as you can imagine will be closely scrutinised in Poland because so much of UKIP's rise has actually quite a lot to do with Poles in the United Kingdom. There is, as you know, a kind of clichéd understanding of UKIP, portrayed as anti-immigrant lunatics, I want to talk to you about some other issues as well, about the party's historical profile and its roots, but do you think that the world actually gets UKIP a bit wrong? Aren't we just slightly too comfortable with this image of Nigel Farage and his anti-immigrant troops? Is there more to it? And if there is, what is it? It might sound like a trivial question, but an answer from an expert such as yourself would actually serve a great purpose, helping our readers to get their minds around who UKIP really are.

It's not a trivial question at all actually. I think there is a very common and sort of self-serving tendency amongst a certain kind of middle class liberal in particular, high political interest people, to say "Okay this is a kind of crazy reactionary party. It's basically irrational, its policies don't make any sense, it is just being supported by bigoted people," rather than explaining the emergence of this party, or trying to explain why it is winning support. Basically, they are saying "there is no need to engage with them because it's nonsense," and I think this is very mistaken indeed. I think actually, when you look at it in more depth, what UKIP has done is to identify a major division in British society and mobilise it back into politics. The voters they are winning over are deeply disaffected older, poorer voters who don't think that the democratic process is working for them or representing them. And this is not just a case of banging on about the immigrants, though immigration is the issue that tends to exercise UKIP voters most. …

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