Regardless of the evident bias in last night’s BBC documentary on Farage, the reporter’s assessment of the UKip leader was entirely justified by the evidence.
The gap between human expectation and eventual outcome produces one of two things: humour or tragedy. Personally, I find the hopes people have for Nigel Farage and UKip hysterically funny – at times, even difficult to understand. But there are growing signs (they’ve been growing for the best part of five years now) that those expecting any sort of functional radicalism are tragically wide of the mark. Last night’s 30-minute BBC Panorama demolition of Mr Farage summed up his real being with painful accuracy.
The programme produced nothing those of us who are on Farage’s case didn’t know already; and for all its clinical study of UKip’s bizarre history, that it had an agenda towards the Left the came out pretty much in every observation and conclusion. For these reasons alone, it will be rejected out of hand by the UKippers as an unpleasant mélange of Establishment vengeance and sour grapes. But ultimately, any programme throwing a cap at some villain’s head will only succeed if the cap fits. And I’m afraid Nigel Farage’s head zoomed towards the cap with every attempt to interview him.
The main trouble with the UKip leader is that he is barrage balloon of a target for anyone who’s even half awake. For when it comes to the acid Slog test – listen not to what they say, but watch instead how they behave – our Nige falls at every fence. The dimensions of evidence for the case against St Nigel the Redeemer could be summed up as his crude bluster, controlling nature, devious personality, doubted honesty, and tendency to use the means in order to disguise the ends. But ultimately, the programme established one thing beyond reasonable doubt: he is a man hiding in a cloak full of daggers.
The best filmic part of the Panorama episode was without question the juxtaposition of early speeches praising his appointees, followed by later remarks of gutter nastiness. It’s not especially dignified to refer to former colleagues as “the dregs of the rejects”, but given he both chose and then heaped plaudits upon them at first, it isn’t very smart either. I’ve spoken with people over the years who are anything but the dregs of anything, but they all say the same thing: become a threat to Farage’s leadership, and you’re dead meat in very short order.
In this and other areas, various historical events demonstrated the essentially devious nature of the man’s character. He clearly promised the Beeb an interview, and then hid away until they got bored….and made this programme. Again, not very smart. Having started off wading about in Devon floodwaters, he became evasive the minute people began asking which way he had voted, as an MEP, on the issue. The fact is, he didn’t turn up to vote; and his ‘principled’ assertion that UKip doesn’t vote because it doesn’t accept the Parliament’s legality is cant. The Party votes on several issues there – but to get oneself elected with the sole intention of doing nothing is a complete abrogation of the democratic foundation of representation.
As Ukip’s support grows and the General Election gets closer, the man at the top of the UKip heap is already toning down his anti-Camerlot rhetoric, saying he be prepared “to prop up David Cameron” after May 2015, but the price would be an EU in/out referendum by July. So we hold the referendum, and vote ourselves out: what then? He has no intention of propping up Dave: he is vitriolic about the PM in private, and his sole intention the minute it becomes possible is to have him replaced. It’s not hard to see what sort of approach we’re going to get after that.
In the middle of the half-hour slot, however, doubts were raised about Nigel Farage’s financial honesty. In that context, interviewing his former colleagues was entirely justified, as they presented compelling Treasury evidence that the Leader was taking the lion’s share of UKip funds for his own political ends. Another assailant who pointed out that some £120,000 had been collected – but only £18,000 had finally appeared – left not just a bad taste in the mouth: it suggested that said assassin knew he could provide evidence to show this. He had no fear of being sued….and neither did the BBC.
To that, one has to add how Nige has been gaily tweeting over recent weeks about all these fat donations he’s getting from obscure rich people of whom one has never heard. He is a keen supporter of the existing, utterly corrupt, system of raising Party funds, as a result of which Ed Miliband must listen to dreary Trade Union syntax ad nauseam, and the Conservatives continue to preside over a “justice” system that has let Newscorp off almost entirely, absolved bankers from even trial let alone prison, and covered yet more of our growing land in houses thanks to a bribe from the construction industry….after which, the Chancellor offered up a blatant bonus for the same sector – Help to Buy – at almost entirely the taxpayers’ risk.
This inevitably takes one back to Nigel Farage’s profession, and what he thinks about the City and its regulation. The short answer is, he loves the City and he doesn’t want any regulation: “The banking collapse was caused, more than anything, by bad government policy and the total failure of bad regulation, rather than by greed,” he told an interviewer a few years ago. Tell that to the shareholders in the Midlothian, the SME victims of RBS…once you’ve picked yourself up off the floor. For Farage, it’s as if Libor, gold manipulation, Diamond’s dubious deals and Freddie Goodwin’s rapacious mishandling of the ABN Amro takeover had never happened. If Mr Farage doesn’t call taking a £340,000 bonus while losing taxpayers’ money, it’s hard to know what he would attach the definition to.
Even when talking (accurately) about what a disaster the euro has been, UKip’s führer is careful to keep his keepers away from the limelight. Talking about Greece in 2012, he remarked, “Greece isn’t a democracy now, it’s run through a troika – three foreign officials that fly into Athens airport and tell the Greeks what they can and can’t do.”
“Three foreign officials” is a gross and deliberate distortion of of the Troika’s identity. They were the IMF (a thinly-veiled agent of the State Department and Wall Street), the bondholders (carpetbaggers working for the same Mafia) and the European Central Bank – which wound up with most of the haircuts, stumped up by EU taxpayers. What Greece wound up with was a debt it can never repay: thanks to the irresponsible lending policies (aka greed) of the members of a community of which Nigel Farage is a proud and unapologetic member. His suggestion that Greece’s ignominy is down to three obscure bureaucrats is nothing more than obtuse bollocks.
What we have to remember about Farage is that he is radical along one narrow dimension: the European Union, and its potential to nobble the City of London’s power base. It is the single belief we share. But in all other dimensions of radicalism at this blog, he is as reactionary and dismissive of ordinary people as a Michael Fallon or a Jeremy Hunt.
Nigel Farage is not opposed at all to the dominance of Bourses in the raising of capital. It’s his own heartland, why would he be? He doesn’t want financial regulation, and shares the same arch insouciance as Dan Hannan on the subject: “The regulators we have are hopeless, so let’s have no regulation at all”. He is an avowed globalist and – as we’ve seen on two occasions recently – quick to morph into Fido Farage whenever the gargoyle Murdoch snaps his grubby fingers. Last Sunday, he declared “…there is a role for the business people in the NHS”. He approves of private health cover. He is not a mutualist.
If the Surge for Nige continues, then the UKip boss will indeed change the face of Britain: he will make it an even uglier stream of neoliberal vomit than it is now. I urge all of you who veer in his direction, or merely that of the nonentities with whom his ragbag army is replete: think again. This man will, if given half a chance, make things much worse.
In short, he will be revealed as the effluent in the room.