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…