Already one of the most complained-about television shows of the year, Channel 4’s UKIP: The First 100 Days has clearly ruffled
feathers. The pseudo-documentary reveals a fictional, 1984-esque
future in which Nigel Farage’s party wins a slim victory in the upcoming elections and begins to implement its controversial anti-immigration policies. Chaos ensues.
While the mockumentary is laced with the stereotypical image of UKIP’s supporters as only white working-class men, it is at core a piece of political satire that is both enter- taining and an eye-opening insight into the consequences of a protest vote gone wrong. Farage himself has called the show a ‘biased, partisan depiction’ of his party. UKIP MEP and parliamentary candidate Gerard Batten has also waded in to the debate to defend his party, calling the programme ‘a piece of bile and vitriol from our political opponents’. It would seem the daggers have been drawn early this year.
The bulk of the programme follows the day to day activities of the self-proclaimed ‘brown face’ of UKIP, Romford MP Deepa Kaur. Played excellently by Priyanga Burford, Kaur’s fresh-faced idealism is soon attacked by angry constituents, an immigration raid gone wrong, and tension within her own family. She is a multi-dimensional character who raises important questions about what it means to be British, how much personal identity comes into politics and how MPs who come from ethnic minorities are vulnerable to political exploitation.
The rest of the programme uses carefully crafted real and fic- tional footage to showcase the far-reaching social and economic consequences that many of UKIP’s policies would have. Britain leaving the EU, the so-called Brexit, leads to mass redundancies
in manufacturing firms owned by European companies, causing disillusionment and rising unemployment. Farage’s imaginary response is typical of his pint-swigging soundbites; ‘short term pain, long term gain’. Sweeping anti-immigration reforms garner initial widespread public support, but raids on those accused of being illegal immigrants are indiscriminate and violent. Opposition to UKIP rises, as does support, leading to riots on the streets and
a last-ditch attempt by the party to paper over the cracks with a bank holiday and a ‘Festival of Britain’ on their 100th day in office. A bit exaggerated maybe, but not as much as Farage may claim.
As unlikely as a UKIP majority is in the upcoming elections, the party remains poised to win seats up and down the country amidst a rise in support for the right wing across Europe. The public’s increasing disillusionment with mainstream politics has been a blessing to Nigel Farage, who has capitalised on this frustration and catapulted himself into the public eye, taking his party from buddies with the BNP to a tangible threat to both the Conserva- tives and Labour. This means that despite the majority of Britons recognising the blatant discrimination evident in many of UKIP’s policies, the party looks set to seriously shake up politics this May.
With under 100 days to go until the big day, the question must be asked; is Britain really going to let this fictional nightmare become reality?