I recently described Nigel Farage as a national hero. By bringing the social and political matters that other politicians neglect to the table, he has brought peace and harmony to British society. I added that Farage has brought balance to the Force, is the Messiah and the physical reincarnation of Christ; the best possible way we could honour such a champion, I concluded, is to bestow upon him the highest peerage in the land.
You may be relieved to know that I was speaking at a recent Spirited Discussion, a place where it is not uncommon for people to advocate views with which they fundamentally disagree. That night, I further argued that Marx and Engels had written an enthusiastic defence against the privatisation of the BBC in the Communist Manifesto and we also heard an anarcho-communist praise the Conservative Party as the only political party that is serious about getting rid of the fiscal deficit.
Nigel Farage has the uncanny ability to cheat political death. When he failed to become the MP for South Thanet, he resigned as leader of his party; a week later, he was back in the top spot. This year, the year that Britain voted to escape the European Union, he ended his tenure as leader, only to be made leader again when his successor resigned less than three weeks after being elected.
Supposedly out of the spotlight once again, Farage reappeared on stage with the man who would go on to be elected as the next President of the United States. Farage, someone who is meant to have bowed out of politics a number of times, is the first UK politician to have met Donald Trump since the presidential contest. The rumours are going around that the ex-UKIP politician is going to become the UK ambassador to Trump’s administration. Though Downing Street has scoffed at the idea, the Prime Minister did not overtly deny the possibility that Farage would be elevated to the House of Lords.
Nigel Farage will no doubt announce his withdrawal from public life once again, only to return in frustratingly high-profile fashion, then leave, then return ad infinitum, ad nauseuam. Like a child with an unlimited stash of coins at the seaside arcade, there’s no such thing as ‘game over’ for him.
My words at the Spirited Discussion were intentional lies, but here I have a confession to make: I was once a fan of Farage. In comparison to other politicians, to me he was a breath of fresh air, even if it were heavily stained with tobacco and booze. His many television interviews prior to the 2015 election showed him to be someone different to the MPs from ‘the establishment’ and proud of it. He disposed with the typical soundbites and stock phrases and could actually answer a question, a rudimentary skill that many Members of Parliament continue to struggle to master.
Farage was not without scandal, nor was his party. On a number of occasions he would be hauled in front of the cameras to explain why a rank-and-file activist or someone with a UKIP badge was caught saying something about blaming floods on the parliamentary acceptance of same-sex marriage. But for that time, I was a sort of Farage apologist. It wasn’t his fault if UKIP attracted unpleasant followers from political fringes.
Then came the referendum. UKIP is a party with the referendum indirectly built into its name: Nigel Farage should have been on top form throughout the campaigning. Unfortunately, it was here he revealed enough of his dark side for me to doubt my support. The laughable call for “our independence day,” the use of tragic events like the Cologne attacks and the death of an MP as ammunition, and that poster…
Could Farage be forgiven? In October, he flew to America to endorse Donald Trump – the same Donald Trump who had insulted Mexicans, Muslims, a disabled journalist, refugees… Bye-bye, credibility.
Farage has thrown away the pint-swilling ‘man of the people’ image that separated him from the political establishment he regularly harassed, preferring now to linger beside golden doors in golden hotels, nibble expensive chocolates at the Ritz and share drinks with top businessmen. The man who accused so many other politicians of being sell-outs is a sell-out himself.