The Twitter “debate”, to use the term loosely, between UKIP leader Nigel Farage and comedian Frankie Boyle has been scrutinised over and over from darkest corners of the internet to mainstream news programmes. In fact, their spat has transgressed through the mediums with both corners taking to print in order to have their further say on the matter. For those who have not seen their titanic battle it began from comments made on Twitter by comedian Andrew Lawrence about the BBC comedy programme Mock the Week complaining that it was to “liberalised”. Farage tweeted his support for Lawrence’s “honesty” and then Frankie Boyle offered his retort.

If you were to trawl through the fallout, you may discover this headline “The Nigel Farage vs Frankie Boyle row continues – thus far Boyle is in the lead”. Were this simply an argument, you would be inclined to agree more with the rationale in Frankie Boyle’s defence of comedy. The UKIP leader seemingly hurt has since tweeted out “It would help if comedians understood our immigration policy before commenting” clearly missing the point of the issue. Firstly, that comedy and more broadly the arts, tend to attract more liberal minded people, and secondly, that he himself pointed out that these people were “comedians” i.e. people whose occupation is partly to mock those in the public eye.

Therefore, the people who he is criticising are not influential political commentators. He also clearly misses the point by not then clarifying the UKIP immigration policy; thus leaving people in further apparent obliviousness to their true aims. However, as previously mentioned were this simply an argument, this would be a no brainer. This however, is not the full picture. The old adage “all publicity is good publicity” firstly springs to mind. To put things in perspective, UKIP are not a major party, they have one MP who as it turns out, was an MP before he joined the party. They are also a self-proclaimed one issue party, which means that they are never destined to truly affect government at all.

They did win the European election, however that is their one issue. To again add perspective on the importance of MEPs, the attendance to the European parliament is abysmal at best. There have been photos showing some MEPs asleep during assembly with a newspaper open at their desk. Yet despite this clear mediocrity, UKIP are being talked about as major threats to the big parties. They have been touted as potential king makers. The media have been essentially used by Farage as his personal puppet show to make his party cause “earthquakes” as he proclaimed.

He has the right and left wing media wrapped around his little finger creating headlines despite not really talking of more than one policy. Politically, this is not really news. More like playground name calling, yet Farage, inadvertently or not has turned this to his advantage.

Secondly, there is the more serious issue, that right wing Andrew Lawrence’s comments have been buried under all of this. He complained of ‘ethnics and women pretending to be comedians’ appearing on Mock the Week. The furore of Farage/Boyle has totally masked these outrageous remarks, especially considering that one should consider that Mock the Week is a television show. To complain about the effort to overturn prejudice in our society on television is as Dara O’Brian succinctly put “self-deluded and bitter”.

So sadly Frankie, your valiant defence of everyone’s sanity was in vain. The Farage – Lawrence side has wormed out of this one, gaining publicity and escaping criticism. But that does not mean we are not on your side Mr. Boyle. To make the accusation of bias in comedy is unfounded. Many comedians, Frankie Boyle included, have an outwards persona that is an act. To put it simply Mr. Farage, how can something be biased if it is not even true. Don’t complain about the double edged sword you wield sir. You wanted to be in the public eye. You put yourself at the mercy of the satirical mind that inhabit the annals of comedy.

Don’t complain about your mockery. Say what you want about Mrs. Thatcher but she took the Spitting Image mockery in jest. And lastly, if you don’t like the ‘ethnics’ and the ‘liberal bias’ Andrew, why not try Cash in the Attic? I’m sure that’s your cup of tea.

Daniel Stewart

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