If Nigel Farage loses in Thanet South on Thursday, he says he will quit politics and I believe him. It will be a disaster for Ukip and a tragedy for the UK.
We will lose the most courageous, confident and clear-thinking politician since Margaret Thatcher.
That’s what I thought as I watched his sterling performance yesterday on Dermot Murnaghan’s Sunday politics show on Sky TV.
As he dealt with Mr Murnaghan’s snide but predictable insinuations that Ukip is a racist party, it struck me what a very impressive politician Mr Farage has become.
How many people would have predicted ten years ago his success in taking on the British political and media establishment from the outside and from no power base?
What guts he’s had! What an achievement to build up a populist (and a categorically non-racist) political party from the grassroots in face of marginalisation and mischaracterisation by the BBC – and against the non stop onslaught of abuse that has come from the so-called liberal left and mainstream political parties, including the Conservatives.
It’s taken since 1993 and some courage and fortitude, I’d say. Imagine the staying power and commitment.
I found myself admiring the way he invited Murnaghan to do his worst ( “..we’ve suffered fewer embarrassments with our candidates than the other parties have in this election so Ukip has moved on a long, long way”) and then bat Dermot’s insinuations of racism into the long grass:
DM: …….., you know what your critics say about you particularly on the Left. People say that underlying it all it’s got a racist tinge to it and …
NIGEL FARAGE: Well it doesn’t.
DM: Well of course you’d deny that but a lot of your candidates and former candidates, the people that you have disciplined, have been saying things which are pretty awful about, as I said, ethnicity and race.
NIGEL FARAGE: Some of our people have said awful things and some of the other parties have had people actually convicted in court of racial assault so I’m happy to answer this but please, when you interview the other leaders ask them the same question.
Despite Murnaghan’s barely veiled contempt and studied disbelief Farage responded throughout unswervingly politely – good humoured, gracious but firm. What’s more he turned the interview to his own agenda – to the policy issues so essential to discuss four days before the election:
Nigel Farage: …. our primary goal for that brilliant Ukip manifesto to be put in place, the precondition is that we have to get back control of our country, we have to get back control of our borders and that means getting a full, free and fair referendum. So Miliband, much to my surprise, has completely turned his back on the idea of giving people a say. Mr Cameron has made a referendum promise, albeit he broke one before, he vacillated, he’s been all over the show on this. If that referendum is going to happen and if it is going to be a full, free and fair referendum, it will need Ukip there to hold his feet to the fire to make sure it is conducted properly.
DM: And your ambition would be to make him have that referendum this year, but he says part of the referendum has to be after a renegotiation and he could hardly get that together and achieve what he would want to achieve in just a few months.
NIGEL FARAGE: There is no renegotiation. I was with Jean-Claude Juncker three days’ ago and there were two things that the British people would want renegotiated, one is the supremacy of law and they are not going to concede that. Our Supreme Court will still be beholden to two other courts, one in Luxemburg and one in Strasbourg. But secondly, and perhaps crucially, is this issue of the free movement of people and what Juncker has said and what Mr Tusk who runs the Council has said and what the real boss, Mrs Merkel, has said is that there is no negotiation on this so why waste a couple of years when those things are already off the agenda?
You can find the full transcript of the interview here to see for yourselves.
As it ended, I was left pondering: what a waste – to his party and to the nation – if he doesn’t win his seat; all because the public’s fear of the Conservatives losing outweighs their desire for Ukip to win.
Yet why should it be Mr Farage having to pay the price of Conservative Party failure when the Party is the author of its own downfall? That is what the so-called right wing press would have.
Isn’t it high time this increasingly non-conservative political party paid the price itself, and was left to implode? Who, after all, but the Conservatives themselves have been responsible for their profoundly misguided policy of appeasement, in which they moved further to the Left each time they lost an election or failed to get a majority (1997, 2001, 2005 and 2010)?
Isn’t it high time they learnt just where this has got them and the consequence of throwing good money after bad? Is this party worth propping up any longer? The press may think so. I don’t. The loss of Nigel Farage is greater.
He is an extraordinary man on an extraordinary mission. We don’t come across many in a lifetime. His has been a virtually one man challenge to the very unfree liberal left domination of politics; to liberal metropolitan hypocrisy; and to PC environmentalist, global justice, gender rights policy priorities, all signed and sealed in the halls of that ghastly undemocratic construct, the EU.
How ironic would it be if, after such a courageous battle, he was to be sacrificed on the altar of a politically bankrupt Conservative Party? How depressing if his revolt on the Right was then to wither on the vine?
How long would we have to wait for such political leadership to emerge again – for another ‘small man’ able to stand up for the small man?
Mr Farage may indeed be an unlikely hero, but he is one for all that. I hope he succeeds in not being put off one more time, this Thursday.