Otherwise known as policy on the hoof. The media covered a policy reversal by UKIP yesterday in which Nigel Farage was quoted in a press release stating that the party would no longer oppose gay marriage.
While some of the UKIP faithful claimed in comment threads this was a sign of ditching the party’s ‘drivel’, many hit out in anger at a u-turn in policy they vehemently disagreed with. A number of the Faragista even said the party could not claim to be different from the rest when it followed the same line as the others.
Just over an hour ago, more than 17 hours after the widespread coverage of the reversal were published, UKIP released a retraction on its website.
It is inconceivable that had this been a mistake of the type Farage claims a national party, with Daily Express veteran Patrick O’Flynn running its media operation, would have waited so long to correct the story. If it was an unplanned release Farage would have been tracked down to a lady’s boudoir somewhere and asked about it. His press team would have seen it and challenged it as not being on the message calendar. Phones would have been ringing to journalists to correct it, and the party’s website would have carried a correction very swiftly indeed to ensure there was no confusion for supporters.
But that could not have happened because many hours passed with no change to the new narrative and the Daily Mail piece is still live even now. There are checks and sign offs to go through before any piece gets close to being released. It is unimagineable that Farage would have not been asked to clear the quotes being attributed to him – at which point he would have killed the piece stone dead if it was not true.
The only conclusion that anyone in the communications profession would draw from this is that the reaction of party supporters to the announcement has forced Farage to back down and claim this was all a big cock up.
Back room boys and girls don’t go writing policy reversal announcements without express instruction to do so, and then only following discussions within the party leadership about such a serious change. But what passes for leadership in UKIP is generally a word from Nigel. The lack of democracy within the party becomes more evident by the day. UKIP is Farage and Farage is UKIP. It is personality politics writ large.