UKIP are proudly claiming that their victories in a couple of by-elections are because they're plucky outsiders, ordinary ex-public-school, ex-City-worker, ex-Tory MPs like the rest of us. It's a wonder they get away with it. But then an equal wonder to me is the number of people who think they can deal with UKIP simply through scorn and simple labelling. Calling UKIP "Nazis" or "fascists", for example. Fascism is about top-down, totalitarian control and the worship of power. It's not a bunch of chinless wonder libertarians. Or calling their supporters "stupid". Is that how we persuade people these days, just by calling them "stupid". You can imagine the discussion on the doorstep:
"You're going to vote UKIP? You must be really stupid."
"I have seen the light of my ways. I shall immediately become a LibDem supporter. I shall trade my white van for a Prius. Oh wow. Suddenly my IQ has doubled. I must buy some flowers for my pet mouse, Algernon."
The apotheosis of which attitude was the sneer-fest that is Radio 4'a News Quiz. Although, when I hear that programme, I always feel so sorry for Jeremy Hardy. It's no wonder he's so bitter and cynical. It must be a hard job, being the straight man on a comedy quiz. At least Sandi Toksvig gets a script.
But what the Twitter sneers and News Quiz ridicule do is reinforce the impression that UKIP are creating. The image of today's Labour Party as a pasty North London face, knocking back a skinny latte, looking down its nose at a man with a Union Jack tattoo, forever. A party sat on its IKEA throne, giving unchallenged instructions.
The constant idea that somebody else has the right to decide what is good for us. The idea that we're to stupid to have real views, and need to be pandered to through simple images. If the British Left wants to get a proper mandate, let it talk properly about fairness and solidarity, about the whole of society. If your idea of better policies is trying to prevent your leader looking a prat when he's eating breakfast, then don't be surprised when one idiotic photograph and comment loses one of your Shadow Cabinet her job. In the words of St Jarvis Cocker, and this goes for Tories as well - the future that you've got mapped out is nothing much to shout about. The only parties showing any vision these days are the Greens and the SNP. Yet it's the Tories and Labour who are assuming the right to rule us.
The self-enthroning assumption made by other people that they've got a right to rule. The Right on the basis that they've got more money and are from the right background - the Left on the bizarre premise, never backed up in fact, that they're somehow more moral - better people - than the rest of us. And then, in other times and/or other places, the idea that somebody or other has God's ear, or speaks God's words. And then they set out to prove it with swords, knives, guns and fire.
On a cross outside a city hangs a naked Jewish man. He claims to have God's ear, and to speak God's words. He has chosen to prove this by not raising an army, by not looking down on the poor, by speaking on an equal level with the oppressed. And he has asserted what are the rights of God's only Son by laying them down, going quietly - like a lamb to slaughter. And in dying because he was seen as a threat to those in power - the ones claiming kingship, the one acting with Imperial authority - he's shown up human power for the lie and abuse it is. He's thrown down a challenge to the rule of the Prince and princelings of this world. Their power is useless - scared of one unarmed bloke? Their time will pass.
He's given up a throne in heaven for another kind of throne. One which doesn't stand for judgement but forgiveness and freedom. It stands the right to rule on its head, and rejects every entitlement - even the one that comes from breathing life into every human soul. Another kind of power. Another kind of ruler. Another kind of world. Another kind of throne.