Nigel Farage: Portrait of a leader
They said it could never happen. But Farage made it. The earthquake that was the Brexit Referendum was something smug, liberal metropolitan elite believed was utterly impossible. By pertinacity, unconquerable fidelity and an incandescent zeal Nigel Farage accomplished what the pundits said could not be done.
Nigel Farage is surely the most remarkable British politician of his generation. Unlike most he is a conviction politician. He is also marked out by his genuineness, his passion, his eschewing university and his bloody mindedness. Some say he is the finest Prime Minister that the United Kingdom never had.
The sometime leader of UKIP and the Brexit Party is no cardboard cut-out. He is his own man. Unlike to many robot politicians he is genuine. He is straight talking. What you see is what you get. He is one of the few politicians to tell the plain truth about massive scale immigration. Unchecked immigration is not entirely positive. He was calumniated by so many mainstream politicians for warning that net immigration of 350 000 has some repercussions. He said what any economist will tell you: massive immigration leads to wage compression. The immigrants are not bad people in most cases. Yes, there is a positive side to immigration. But it is mendacious to pretend that there is no concomitant downside.
Not everything about N Farage is so praiseworthy. He has engaged in incendiary language. Expressions such as ‘’Romanian crimewave’’ have a deleterious effect on race relations even if what he was saying were true.
In 1964 Kent was blessed with the birth of Nigel Farage. The son of a financier, he was schooled at Dulwich College. At 18 he eschewed university and became a metals trader in the City of London.
In his 20s he suffered testicular cancer and survived. Perhaps this gave him his lust for life. Being injured in the stones did not reduce his libidinousness. He married a woman from Southern Ireland. His marriage ended in divorce. Nigel later wed a German. He is often false accused of teutonophobia. Yet ignoramuses have often accused him of criminal conversation with others. He has told me he is enamoured of Danish females. His connubial unions have been blessed with progeny.
Mr Farage is certainly keen on a good time. He is partial to a pint of 10. He also smokes Rothman’s.
There is a Toad of Toad Hall aspect to Nigel’s persona. He certainly dresses like Toad. He is gleeful, effervescent, mischievous and perhaps flighty.
In 1992, Farage was a founder member of the UK Independence Party. Its goal was simple: to withdraw Britain from the European Union. It adopted the Pound Sterling symbol as its emblem. It was the only party unwaveringly committed the retention of the Sterling as the UK’s currency. Even the Conservative Party flirted with the idea of scrapping the Pound.
The aim of UKIP seemed to be more than a trifle quixotic. The idea of withdrawing from the EU appeared to be a forlorn hope. A high majority of Britons were Europhiles. There was a crushing elite consensus in favour of the EU. Even those who had opposed the Treaty of Maastricht that formed the EU said that once it was ratified that was that. It simply had to be accepted. You cannot unscramble an omlette. The Eurosceptic segment of the UK populace often found the EU issues tedious. It was well down their list of priorities. The issue lacked saliency. That was because the EU operated by stealth. Much UK legislation was simply the transposition of EU laws. If the United Kingdom did not pass them then they were applicable anyway. But Joe Public had not been told that.
In 1997 I first saw references to the United Kingdom Independence Party in coverage of the Westminster Election. UKIP had been founded in 1992 in opposition to the signing of the Treaty of Maastricht. At that time Europhilia was at its high point. The front benches of all parties were leagued together to bring the United Kingdom into the European Economic Community. No party argued for a referendum to be held. Academia, the chattering classes, the civil service, business and the trades unions were all on board with the European Project. Night was black for those who believed in British independence.
Naysayers were scorned and shunned. Nigel and his stalwart, earnest band defied the insults.
Sir James Goldsmith launched the Referendum Party in 1996. Sir James believed that if European Monetary Union (EMU) was to be brought about then the United Kingdom should only participate with the express consent of the British public via a referendum. All three major parties agreed that they would only abolish the Pound Sterling and adopt the Euro if this move were approved in a referendum.
The Referendum Party hogged the limelight. It had celebrity candidates and a billionaire sugar daddy in the shape of Sir James. Therefore, UKIP was overlooked. Nigel Farage recognised the need to join forces with the Referendum Party. The leader of UKIP at the time was Dr Alan Sked. Dr Sked was adamant that UKIP must maintain its distinct identity and not even cooperate with the Referendum Party.
In the end the Referendum Party notched up a very creditable 2% of the vote. UKIP scored well under 1%.
It was in 1999 when I read that a certain Farage had been elected to the European Parliament for UKIP. He represented the south-east England constituency. UKIP had two other Members of the European Parliament elected that year.
The founder of UKIP – Alan Sked – had turned against the party. He gave his imprimatur to the Conservatives. He then rounded on UKIP and branded its member fascists.
UKIP represented a growing threat to the Europhile elite. Therefore they were blackguarded. They were branded the BNP in blazers. They were said to be swivel eyed reactionary loons who harked back to the empire. This was despite Nigel Farage having liberal views on issues such as homosexuality.
UKIP began to make noise in the European Parliament. Nigel Farage caught the eye of the media. His blistering attacks on self-satisfied EU apparatchiki and eurofanatic politicians were very memorable. Despite being in Brussels and Strasbourg most of the time, Nigel regularly returned to the UK.
Back in the United Kingdom, Nigel campaigned indefatigably. He went the length and breadth of the UK. He would speak to tiny audiences in drafty church halls.
In 2004 ten new member states joined the EU. Most of these were former communist countries in Eastern Europe. UKIP was alone in the UK in warning that this would lead to huge scale immigration and disharmonious relations.
Immigration is often a good thing. It needs to be at the right level and the immigrants can be judiciously chosen.
The Labour Government enormously underestimated the number of immigrants who would come from the 10 new EU nations. There were pros and cons to this influx. The liberal media was determined to pretend that there was no downside. They acted as cheerleaders for massive immigration. Anyone who was gallant enough to comment that there were some disadvantages to so much immigration was denounced as a detestable racialist.
The UK did not have to allowed unfettered access to citizens of the 10 new EU countries. Extant EU member states had the right to phase in access over the next five years. The UK along with the Republic of Ireland and Sweden threw caution to the winds.
Farage was brave enough to say that undesirables would come as well as good people. He noted that wage compression would certainly result from large scale immigration. He told the plain truth that such unchecked immigration inevitable increases the strain on housing, transport, schools, the health service, the police, the courts and prisons. But the establishment put its fingers in its ears.
When the Treaty of Nice was proposed we in the Republic of Ireland were obliged to hold a referendum by our constitution. Farage came to Eire to advise a No vote. Some Europhile politicians said he had no right to do so. This was an odd position to take for those who espoused the free movement of people. Moreover, the EU allowed a citizen of one member state to be elected to the European Parliament to represent another European member state. The EU had created European Citizenship.
When it came to the Treaty of Lisbon, Farage returned to the Irish Republic. Again, he urged us to vote against the treaty. This was not on its own enough to have a dissuasive effect. We voted No but there were other more important factors than a visit by N Farage.
The EU being what it is, we were forced to vote on Lisbon a second time. Dark threats and plenty of propaganda did the trick. Farage’s bravest efforts were unavailing.
In 2007 Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU. Once again, the UK had the right to delay granting unrestricted access to citizens of these new EU member states. Once again, the British Government refused to exercise this right. Hundreds of thousands of people moved to the UK. Some of them are splendid but a few are quite the opposite. The negative consequences of huge scale immigration followed yet again.
Farage has been almost unique in arguing for the United Kingdom to beef up its armed forces. The British Army was 150 000 strong at the close of the Cold War. It is now 80 000 strong. Farage believed in a strong defence capability that is very sparingly used indeed. Britain should only fight when it is absolutely necessary. He noted that with mainstream politicians it is the other way around. They want the UK to have cash strapped tiny armed forces who fight all the time in totally avoidable conflicts. He excoriated those who voted for the liberation of Iraq.
When it came to Syria, Farage was one of those arguing for Britain to stay out of a bloodbath in the sand that is of no concern to the British people. Happily, he has largely had his way.
Nigel is one of the few British politicians who has had something complimentary to say about President Putin. However, the two have never met. Farage has been castigated as a Kremlin stooge for this.
In 2016 David Cameron did something he had never done before. He kept a promise. The previous year he had gone into the General Election vowing to hold and in-out referendum on EU membership. Cameron had gone into the 2009 elections with an explicit promise to hold a referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon if he became Prime Minister. When he became PM he shamefully reneged on that electoral pledge. His perfidy was vile.
Cameron reckoned he would win a referendum on EU membership. The question of the EU had been a divisive one for his party for decades. He believed he would answer that question for ever. The wounds would be healed. He would shoot UKIP’s fox. Cameron would be to the toast of Brussels!
In 2014 David Cameron had allowed a risky referendum on Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom. Though it had been close, the Unionists had prevailed. He had saved the Union. In fact, most of the credit must go to his predecessor as PM: Gordon Brown.
The 2016 European Referendum kicked off in fine style. The Europhiles had every conceivable advantage. They had almost the whole of Fleet Street on their side. The Daily Telegraph was the only pro-Leave newspaper. The broadcast media was supposed to be neutral but they could not conceal their strong Europhile bias. Academia, big business, trades unions, the Bank of England, the public sector: you know it – they were all on the side of Remain. The supposedly impartial civil service was patently for Remain. There is a myth that the civil service is the envy of the world and that it maintains the strictest neutrality. The civil service has corporate interests. Like all of the public service it is honeycombed with left wingers. Since the 1980s it had become increasingly politicised. Its politicisation reached its height under Blair. Cameron was an openly avowed admirer of Blair’s. One of the issues he agreed with Blair on was the EU.
80% of MPs were on the side of Remain. The only party in the House of Commons to favour Leave was the tiny Democratic Unionist Party.
Lies. Lie after lie after lie after lie. The Europhiles came out with the most outrageous, flagrant and ludicrous lies. Brexit would lead to mass unemployment. It would necessitate an emergency budget. There would be tax hikes. The Leave campaign was accused of racism. Leave was orchestrated by Russia. The most outlandish falsehoods were peddled every day by the Remain Lie Machine. Brussels made dark threats about what would happen to the United Kingdom. Were the British people really so callow as to capitulate to such contemptible bullying?
Just in case there was any chance of a fair referendum, Cameron spent tens of millions pounds of taxpayers’ on Europhile propaganda. This vitiated the fairness of the referendum. Europhiles had done the same thing in the UK in 1975 and in the Republic of Ireland in 1993.
At the last possible moment, Boris Johnson plumped for Leave. The one-time Brussels correspondent of the Telegraph had fed what he believed was Eurosceptic junk food to the Torygraph’s readership of acidulous retired army officers in the shires back in the 1990s. He had been privately Europhile at the time. He had even attended the British School in Brussels. He decided to go for Leave as he calculated it would give him the best chance of climbing the greasy poll. And how saponaceous is he? He would go for Leave. Win or lose it would make him the darling of the blue rinse.
Battle was joined. The opinion polls were tight. But every single datum showed Remain winning even though not by much.
Nigel Farage campaigned with his trademark exuberance. His zest for life energised the campaign. He electrified the public.
The unanimity of the opinion polls convinced me that Leave would lose by a little. But Farage did not give up hope. He gave his utmost to the cause.
In the end Leave won 52% of the vote. It was a staggering result. Oh to have seen the look on Lord Mandelson’s face!
It was the largest referendum ever held in the UK. It had a higher turnout than for any general election. 52% is a higher % than any party has won since 1935. Admittedly a referendum is not an election. But nonetheless, the sheer number of votes showed that it was the settled will of the British people to withdraw from the EU.
The Brexit result was to a large degree due to the indefatigability of Farage. His pertinacity and courage has won him the unwilling admiration of his foes. One cannot fail to respect his tenacity and the sincerity with which his views are held. He is also one of the most instantly recognisable figures in British politics.
As Nigel Farage predicted the liberal metropolitian elite wanted were still athwart Brexit. The anti-democratic nature of Europhilia was laid bare yet again. They gainstood Brexit since it presented a mortal threat to their attempt to undermine parliamentary sovereignty. The Big Staters were dismayed. They wanted ever increasing regulation to govern every facet of life.
The Europhiles tried every trick in the book. Project Fear had not ended. It was kicked into high gear. It took 5 years, two extensions, several Acts of Parliament and two elections to accomplished Brexit.
The 2017 upheld the Brexit result. 90% of people voted for pro-Brexit parties. Even the Liberal Democrats had campaigned for Brexit. They just said they wanted a confirmatory referendum on the exit deal.
In early 2019 UKIP was falling apart. Nigel had stood down as leader. He then set up the Brexit Party. The party was founded in record time. It fielded a slate of candidates in the European Election and romped home. It was an astonishingly excellent result for a brand-new party with a shoestring budget.
The arrogant eurofanatics would not accept the will of the people despite it being made crystal clear time and again. The eurofanatics demanded parliamentary approval for Brexit. Parliament consented again and again. Parliament voted the Notice of Withdrawal Act and the Withdrawal Act. Even the detestable Anna Soubry voted for these.
The Lib Dems extremist cancel Brexit platform in 2019 led to them being reduced to 11 seats and even have their leader lose her seat. It was a humiliation no party leader had suffered in a century.
Some Labour and Tory Europhile absolutists left their parties. They set up the Westminster Group for Change. As the name suggests they were Westminster Village insiders. They did not want change though. They want stasis in the EU. They then decamped to the Lib Dems. Happily, every single one of these defectors from the two main parties failed to win a parliamentary seat.
Fresh from the Brexit victory, Nigel flew to the United States. He befriended Donald Trump, Farage became the first Britisher to address an American campaign rally. He said he did not give his imprimatur to Trump. However, he tore into Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton. America teetered on the brink between calamity and salvation. He warned that liberty might not survive the cataclysm that would be another Clinton presidency. Few forget how Clinton disgraced the oral office. Sorry, the oval orifice. I mean – the Oval Office.
Farage enabling Trump put me off. Nigel later acknowledged that despite what he had said at the time he had given his backing to Trump.
Farage argued tirelessly for Brexit and a proper Brexit too. His exuberance for a No Deal Brexit was not to my taste.
After Brexit was accomplished, Farage renamed the Brexit Party as ‘Reform UK.’ The party may well be found up. Its raison d’etre no longer exists.
Farge is now a global media superstar. Love him or loathe him: you must recognise him for his zeal and courage.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.