Another example of Nigel Farage’s poor judgement

Many people who still hold faith in the political process, but are disillusioned by the three main parties, are looking for a home. A number of them may be looking at UKIP as a party they might support and want to know a bit more about its autocratic leader, Nigel Farage.

But if their search is for a political figure who offers reassuring gravitas and comes across as steady, measured and in possession of good judgement then a spotlight piece about Farage published in the Daily Wail last night is likely to have left them feeling disappointed and frustrated in equal measure.

Britain needs a serious politician for serious times and the dross offered up by the political party nursery production line of grabbers and troughers isn’t providing it. So Farage had clear run to conduct a clinical public relations campaign that confounds the ‘ordinary bloke, cheeky chappie’ image which prevents him being taken seriously and instead positions him and his party as leadership material.

However Farage’s ego has seen him walk straight into a hatchet job by the broadly pro-EU media which continues to present him as something of a lightweight prat. It won’t put off those people who are already sold on Farage, but it will do nothing to attract serious floating voters who take issues seriously and want to see a credible alternative they can lend their support to.

The Wail is expert in this kind of thing and played its hand well. It sent along a not unattractive female journalist, Jane Fryer, to smile and bat her eyelids at Farage in the knowledge that with his lothario-like reputation he would be disarmed and play up to her – resulting in him saying daft things and giggling away like a hormone-filled teenager. The resulting output could then be assembled into a harmful piece and that is what has subsequently hit the printing press. He may try to laugh it off and bluster past it, but this Mail piece has landed a blow.

Farage has been in politics long enough to have known better. His public relations advisers should have insisted he do a different kind of interview in which he could still display an easy charm while showing the public he is the kind of serious man for serious times alternative they are craving.

Whether his PR did advise this but Farage’s famously ‘my way or the highway’ approach took over, we will probably never know. But we can be sure he won’t be attracting the kind of supporter he and his party desperately needs. UKIP will continue to be viewed as the party that draws the slightly off-the-wall kind of person to it. Farage is more likely to get the nose-pinching desperate voter than the kind of voter who will only go out to vote positively and enthusiastically for a party’s candidate.

As with so many cock ups Farage has been at the heart of, it was completely avoidable. Another golden opportunity presented at an ideal time, utterly wasted. I often wish I could support Farage and the party he has moulded in his image, but this is another reminder of why I don’t.

Update: Richard has seen the Wail piece and has drawn the same conclusion, only with additional context and background. Well worth reading in full here

24 Responses to “Another example of Nigel Farage’s poor judgement”

  1. 1 WitteringsfromWitney 29/12/2012 at 11:05 am

    Seconded AM, You highlight what I have been saying for yonks, ie the lack of a clear strategy by Ukip and more importantly, Farage.

    Understandably he has a following for his plain speaking, but what worries me is the actual content of what comes out of his mouth!

  2. 2 V 29/12/2012 at 11:24 am

    Difficult to disagree with what you write here, I don’t dislike the bloke but he really does not come out of this well (IMO) It’s all me, me, me, me.
    Bit rich for him to accuse Miliband of being boring and geeky when he’s made a career out of spouting made up ‘facts’ about the EU, generally being rude about people and claiming to work 18hrs a day (very unlikely).
    If only he would take his job seriously and stop jumping on any passing populist bandwagon he may get somewhere but he won’t so he’ll get nowhere.

  3. 3 Insp. Nailer 29/12/2012 at 11:29 am

    A vote for UKIP is a wasted vote. A lot of highly talented and skilled people have been driven from the party in the last 7 years or so, all because of Mr. Farage, either directly or indirectly. UKIP is exactly where it is meant to be, and no further. Your analysis, AM is spot on, but then he’s not there for his political skills. He was re-elected as leader by supporters who think he is a “good speaker, great on the telly; there’s no-one to match him”. The UKIP membership wanted a performing monkey, so that’s what they’ve got.

    Hence the Daily Wail article, and your timely analysis.

    In 2014, they’ll be asking for your votes again for the spectacularly pointless European Parliament Elections. There are 78 MEP slots for the UK, which is less than 10% of the EU parliament. UKIP currently have 13 (or is it 12?), and I gather there is much internal jockeying for position among the semi-literate, politically illiterate and plain useless, for Nigel’s attentions to go on the Regional Lists.

    It’s nothing but a gravy train, don’t vote for ANY of them – can you name a single momentous achievement of any UK MEP?

  4. 4 James Murphy 29/12/2012 at 12:34 pm

    Yes, indeed, AM, spot on: one tries desperately hard NOT to find Farage slimy and spiv-ish, but he steadfastly resists all one’s attempts to ennoble him! It surely speaks volumes when one dearly wants to be prejudiced in someone’s favour, yet simply cannot! Of course, the UKIP rank-and-file troglodytes cannot see that Farage is an invisible albatross round the party’s neck because they’re all purblind members of the (Daily Mail-reading) petty bourgeoisie themselves! – However, I, and millions like me(!) could never vote for him. Not that I vote anymore anyway, given my firm conviction that there simply is no polity at the moment, and won’t be until and unless we reform the currency. – Certainly, a charismatic leader will eventually emerge to espouse honest politics again, and thus lead us out of the mire in the next decade or so – but Farage it ain’t!

  5. 5 adams 29/12/2012 at 1:03 pm

    This article was of course a demolition job on NIgel and he really should behave like the leader of a decent Party and not present the Jack the Lad image he is so pleased with . However if you read the DM comments they are 90% behind him and UKIP . His Party is offering a choice something the LIbLabCon have stopped doing decades ago . I see J Murphy above does not vote . A non vote is a vote for the slimy outrageous status quo ( which is OK I suppose as they are such a load of Ladies and gents )/ I am of course a purblind member of the petty ( petite) bourgeoisie . UKIP are in the lists.
    Aut Mind is just one of the linesman .

  6. 6 V 29/12/2012 at 1:43 pm

    I get the impression Nigel does not care how he comes across, indeed he seems rather proud of the fact he chain smokes and drinks too much.
    Some people find these thing endearing, many more do not.
    He seems the sort would would dread being sat next to on a train or bus.
    I’ve often heard Nigel speak of career politicians, carefully overlooking the fact he is one himself.
    If only he would look beyond his own nose his party may get somewhere but come 2015 they will still have no MPs but plenty more MEPs with their snouts in the trough, so that’s ok then.

  7. 7 tallbloke 29/12/2012 at 1:50 pm

    I don’t think the article is a “demolition job”.
    In the age of ‘personality politics’ the other party leaders seem to think the best approach is not to have one. Nigel Farage is content to be himself, and it shows. That probably earns him more respect from the ordinary Joe than it does from the chattering classes, but Nigel correctly estimates who is in the majority.

  8. 9 Autonomous Mind 29/12/2012 at 2:46 pm

    You’re right, TBF, it is very similar. Perhaps we’ll see another Wail hack going down the pub with Farage for yet another almost identical piece in a month’s time…

  9. 10 James P 29/12/2012 at 4:12 pm

    Why would anyone take the Mail seriously anyway? Daycare (the editor) is practically unhinged.

  10. 11 tux1952 29/12/2012 at 6:56 pm

    Nigel Farrago…what better description would anyone need…

  11. 12 Dave_G 29/12/2012 at 10:07 pm

    What does Farage spout that Cameron, Clegg or Miliband don’t? ALL of our ‘esteemed’ leading representatives talk utter bollocks and present the same erroneous picture of EU policies that Farage does. What Farage does that the others don’t however is highlight the EU in a way that captures the public imagination and ire. He tells it like it is – now like how it’s wished to be perceived.
    Farage may not ever get UKIP recognised as an electable party but then he doesn’t have to. All he has to do is stir it up enough to make the OTHER parties change direction – and that is something he IS achieving.

  12. 13 calum 30/12/2012 at 12:13 am

    The people will decide what happens… sooner or later…..
    no matter what the “clever people” here or elsewhere think should happen

  13. 14 DaveyCor 30/12/2012 at 8:22 am

    Yeah Calum very profound. The people are clever too and they’ll know he’s a waste of space like the rest of the career pols. They won’t vote for an idiot and thats what Farage is acting like.

  14. 15 james higham 30/12/2012 at 12:48 pm

    The problem is, AM, as I pointed out last evening, there well might be no other choice come the next GE. We are both disillusioned, we are both ex-Tory, we both see Nigel’s shortcomings.

    What else is there, come that day we mark our box on that paper? And it will come earlier than the great revolution we hope for in political matters.

  15. 16 TomO 30/12/2012 at 9:49 pm

    Not that it’s remotely similar situation – but didn’t Bill Clinton’s stock rise with the Lewinski business?

  16. 17 Bruce Robbins 31/12/2012 at 10:48 am

    I love your website, think along very similar lines to yourself but, honest to God, I wish you’d get off Farage’s back! If not Farage and UKIP, then who else? We need someone, quite frankly ANYONE, at this stage of the game to derail the progressive Liberal crap that’s swamping our country. Farage isn’t perfect, UKIP isn’t perfect. So what? We didn’t complain about Stalin when he was stopping the Nazis in their tracks, did we?

    Every person I’ve spoken to from all walks of life – every single one of them – likes Farage, no matter whether they’re ex-Tories, life-long Labour voters or people with no fixed allegiance. I’ve managed to get my entire extended family (apart from my son’s fiancee – lost cause, I’m afraid) voting UKIP. Farage made it easier, not more difficult. Most people, particularly floating voters, find it easier to vote for someone they like.

    That may not sit well with some of the snobbish commenters who have responded to this post who seem more concerned about whether or not Farage is a spiv. Maybe if they weren’t so up themselves they would see that their viewpoint is a tiny and irrelevant one. The public at large like Farage and would far rather vote for someone like him (yes, an ordinary smoking/drinking guy down the pub) than a Boris or Michael Gove, both of whom are, frankly, a bit weird (OK, a lot weird in Boris’s case).

    So I repeat my question from the start of my mini-rant: if not Farage and UKIP then who else? You can’t draft your favourite politician, fit him up with your favourite policies and a big bag of sweets and ask him to get your own viewpoint elected. Ths isn’t pick and mix politics we’re playing here. The choice is either Left-wing Dave, Left-wing Ed, Left-wing Nick or Sensible Nige and his party stocked with common-sense policies. So who’s it going to be?

  17. 18 Autonomous Mind 31/12/2012 at 9:33 pm

    Bruce, it’s not a matter of if not Farage then who, rather what. I am sympathetic to UKIP but it is hamstrung by Farage – who controls it like an autocrat – which means it will never fulfil its potential or serve the needs of voters.

    Anyway, in answer to your question, I have explained my viewpoint on this subject before which you can read here.

    Being ‘likeable’ doesn’t mean people think you’re competent or suitable to be a leader and therefore earn someone’s vote. Some of the most likeable people I know are people I wouldn’t trust to run an ant farm. But getting away from that, the party political system is broken. All new parties start out with good intentions then become consumed with their own internal intrigues or trying to out-do their rivals, usually at the expense of voters. The party political system has failed the people, so why on earth set our hopes in another party that aspires to be part of the establishment?

    Taken to its logical conclusion the answer is to do something different. Something that secures grassroots support and that operates outside of the system so it cannot be corrupted and broken up by the system. That is why I believe something like this rather than scrapping in the party political system is the way forward.

  18. 19 Bruce Robbins 01/01/2013 at 3:05 am

    AM, with the greatest of respect, you need a reality check. Farage is doing a Bloody Good Job of making UKIP a force to be reckoned with. Give the guy and the party some credit for having come rather a long way in a relatively short time. I can’t think of anything harder in politics than trying to get a fourth party noticed in a well-established three party state. I have no interest in the factional in-fighting that may have gone on in UKIP and left those on the “losing side” bitter and vengeful. What matters is where this country is going – and it’s a very bad place for all freedom-loving libertarians. UKIP is the best hope we have to rouse us from this progressive nightmare and you would do your country a favour if you encouraged people to get behind Farage and UKIP.

    It’s too late in the day now to look to another solution to our problems. The Harrogate Agenda is great and if I didn’t live 300 miles away I’d be right there with you. But it’s not going to stop the train wreck we’re on and you’re deluding yourself if you think otherwise. In ten years time, when you’re still tinkering around the edges of the Harrogate Agenda, Britain will have ceased to exist in any recognisable or desirable form.

    And as for Farage’s lack of gravitas, that matters barely at all. Granted, a deep-thinking minority that includes yourself will not vote for him but you do not matter in the great scheme of things. The majority of people would vote for a friendly, ordinary bloke ahead of an intellectual any day of the week. We live in different times when someone like David Beckham is a role model and the X Factor is the height of culture. Your viewpoint is rooted in the 1950s and, I’m sorry to say, unelectable, even though I agree with you. We need someone like Farage – ordinary, cheery, approachable, likeable and a bit of a rabble-rouser – to appeal directly to the non-thinking voters who now decide who gets to run our country. Gravitas isn’t important but what is is critical mass. People like to belong to a club, the bigger the better. Many will have held back from voting for UKIP purely because the party was too “small”. Increasingly, though, it’s becoming OK for the man in the street to vote UKIP and when that happens, then the party will gain support exponentially.

    Please don’t get me wrong: the country would be a far better place if guys who thought like you had power but you don’t and I don’t think you ever will. The Tories and Labour have been so completely taken over by the banks and special interests that they are, in George Galloways’s words, two cheeks of the same arse so a vote for either just ensures more of the same. UKIP isn’t perfect. Farage may well have all the character faults you’re fond of highlighting and probably some more to boot. But he and the party are still the best chance we have. And that’s why I’m going to do something in the New Year I’ve never done before and join a political party.

  19. 20 James Murphy 01/01/2013 at 3:18 pm

    Bruce, thanks for a compelling piece of realpolitik, the very credible cynicism of which leaves me thinking again on the Farage issue. My one question to you would be, however: where do UKIP stand on the banks and the reform of currency abuse?

    This has been my main objection to AM’s political stance up to now: he doesn’t pay sufficient respect to the reality that ANY political maneuvering, left or right, is ultimately irrelevant – the ‘tinkering at the margins’ you mention – if we fail we root out the cancer of the banksters’ greed. There can be no genuine polity (and political debate) unless and until the crucifying debts incurred by the banks and wickedly foisted on civil society are removed. If UKIP would make this a central plank of their policy I would vote for a pig wearing their rosette!

  20. 21 Bruce Robbins 01/01/2013 at 3:53 pm

    Couldn’t agree more with you re the banks, James. From UKIP’s website:

    “· Restore responsibility for overseeing the UK banking system to the Bank of England (BoE), which must remain independent. Banks will have to increase minimal capital ratios from the current 4% to at least 8% of total assets

    · Require the BoE to enforce a rigid division between retail banks and investment banks (where much instability has occurred) based on the US Glass-Steagall legislation. Retail banks will be allowed only to take deposits from private and commercial customers and advance loans to the same customers up to the limit of their deposits, guaranteed by the BoE. Investment banks will be free to raise money by bonds and shares, but will not be allowed to take deposits

    · Reinstate the banking ‘corset’. We will require banks and other authorised lenders to make non-interest bearing deposits at the BoE when lending beyond approved limits”

    That doesn’t go far enough for me but it’s better than any of the other parties as far as I’m aware. It’s an absolute scandal that the banksters have created all this debt and persuaded governments that it woud be a great idea for taxpayers to pick up the tab. Under a free market these banks woud have been allowed to fail and that’s what should have happened. Some sort of Glass Steagall legislation would therefore be good as a way of trying to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. It was Clinton’s capitulation to US banking interests, ably abetted by a few Republicans in the Senate, that saw the repeal of the act. A lot of commentators say that was responsible for much of the financial chaos that was to follow. I’d like to see something akin to the gold standard reintroduced or a rigid Bretton Woods type agreement but maybe fixed to a basket of currencies.

    It’s become increasingly obvious over the last ten years that Prime Ministers/Presidents are just puppets there to do the bidding of the money men. Until we hammer the financial interests and get them into line I don’t think anything will really change.

  21. 22 James Murphy 01/01/2013 at 4:01 pm

    Hear! Hear! to all you say, Bruce, and I am fascinated to learn that UKIP does include this vital element of policy. I must say I will now consider voting for them.

  22. 23 Autonomous Mind 01/01/2013 at 9:48 pm

    For many years I was deeply embedded in realpolitik, ran campaigns for others and fought and won elections as a candidate, so I consider myself well placed to comment on the reality of the political system, what works and what doesn’t.

    You have your opinions and I respect that, but I don’t agree with them. My stance has been shaped from inside experience. Farage has not mastered his brief as his incorrect statement about Article 50 demonstrated, and he surrounds himself with the sycophantic rather than people who will push him and stretch him so he can better serve his party and the constituency of people who strive for the UK to leave the EU.

    For a man who has been in frontline politics for so long, Farage is still making amateurish, damaging decisions that call his judgment into account. My post was to draw attention to that to make people think about it.

    Regretably UKIP will not amount to anything more than a protest vote vehicle at EU elections. It will not make a breakthrough in parliamentary politics in the UK. Even with wall to wall coverage in Rotherham, it failed to do anything other than hoover up the votes that had been shared with the BNP the last time the seat was fought. The leadership of Farage bears significant responsibility for this. He has set out to make UKIP appeal to a certain type of person, whereas he should have been broadening the party’s appeal to the wider electorate. But his approach is actually a limiting factor, as I outlined.

    UKIP’s credibility should have grown. After all the party is pushing against an open door. But the party is still not taken seriously and even when conditions for a breakthrough are optimal it fails to come anywhere close to an election win. Instead of being the trusted expert source of information about the EU, a pro-EU organisation, Open Europe, is considered to be more authoritative. If you believe in accountability then you will accept responsibility for this rests with Farage.

  23. 24 Steve 15/01/2013 at 12:58 pm

    Absolutely superb comment, AM. Astutely observed.

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