Who cares about chinky-gate? A poll from YouGov today offers some evidence for the prediction I made earlier in the week that race rows like those of UKIP’s Kerry Smith will not have any effect on the party’s popularity.
One third of people polled said they believed words like “chinky” and “poofter” are normal language, 36 percent said “chinky” is not offensive and 27 percent said “poofter” is not offensive. You can’t help but think this is a calculation Nigel Farage will have made before he went on the radio and defended Smith’s comments.
Least likely to be offended were men, people over the age of 60 and people living in the North of England. Unsurprisingly UKIP do best among men and older people and have spent the last twelve months making significant inroads in the North. The people most likely to be offended? Young Scottish women who vote Liberal Democrat. Fair to say those voters are not exactly UKIP’s number one target group.
Looking at these numbers, you can start to see how UKIP’s seemingly cack-handed response to stories like this is actually cold, hard political calculation. If Farage had condemned Smith’s use of those words – which privately he may – he would have risked alienating that one third or so of the population that thinks they are fine.
After all, as they love to tell us, UKIP is the party which opposes ‘political correctness gone mad’ and stands up to the ‘PC brigade’. Young Scottish female Lib Dems ain’t ever going to vote UKIP, so for Farage it doesn’t matter what they think. What he can’t afford is older men thinking he has sold out and become just like the PC politicians of Westminster.