Telegraph Blogs is a project/site that I hugely admire. Unlike most other newspapers it actually invests time and money into its online operation and the results are there for all to see.
The inaccurate smears on the rise of UKIP however seem unbecoming of what is usually such a tremendous site. Damian Thompson, editor of the Blogs, has just done a piece that also appeared in today's print Telegraph.
The article starts off as it means to go on (badly) by quoting Alan Sked, co-founder of UKIP. A man who if you speak to many inside UKIP (which I doubt Thompson has) came across as a paranoid, crazed fruitcake who lost his mind and turned against UKIP once he lost full control of it.
Thompson then makes some incredible claims. UKIP has no grassroots, he says. Well the branches all over the country filled with ex-Conservative Association Chairman must be a figment of my imagination then. Then there is the inaccurate claim that UKIP is pretty much just a bastion for old failed Tories. Thompson should really attend a UKIP Conference - there are many ex-Labour, LibDem and altogether new political activists among the UKIP ranks who have never supported any other party. Like me.
Another key development that Thompson skips out on is the fact - and it is a fact - that young right-wingers are finding their ideological political homes in UKIP. It is a Party with young activist blood running through its veins.
There then is the slur that UKIP finds it hard to keep extremists at bay. No, Damian: UKIP just bans all current and ex-BNP, EDL, NF and so on from ever joining. It ain't that hard to do.
Finally, and incredibly, is the claim that Lord Tebbit and other Tory Eurosceptics are far better off staying inside the Conservative Party. The Party that turned its back on a cast iron guarantee of an EU referendum. That whips its MEPs to vote for things like the European External Action Service. That gives the IMF countless billions to prop up the failed Euro. This is old rigid thinking inside a right-wing media establishment that really needs to stop resisting the UKIP rise and come to terms with the reality. That this is no flash in the pan but a new realignment in British politics.
The absurdity of that last pro-Conservative claim rounded up what I felt was a pretty bad hatchet job on UKIP. I wonder if Telegraph Blogs will be allowed to publish anything vaguely more pro-UKIP, considering that the majority of the comments on Damian Thompson's piece lay into him? After all, if The Telegraph claims to speak to ordinary Conservative voters, it should remember that frequent polls show that 10%+ of them are now UKIPers anyway.