It gives us no pleasure to see Nigel Farage courting the kind of controversy this blog has long warned was just waiting to be dropped into the public domain. The media have been waiting for the opportunity to inflict the most damage possible on the Eurosceptic movement, and see the leader of UKIP as being a fulcrum in the movement. It’s not rocket science.
The issue this blog has had has never been about UKIP or its supporters. There are many decent people in that party with the wisdom to understand the interests of the British people and the United Kingdom will be best served with our nation outside of the EU. The problem has always been Farage. As we have noted for a long time, Farage doesn’t do serious and he doesn’t do detail. This undermines UKIP and weakens the Eurosceptic campaign as a whole.
Witness the complete absence of a formal UKIP response to the political class’ efforts to hijack the narrative on trade to push the EUphile agenda during the G8 conference at Loch Erne. With the need to throw off the constraints of political union within the EU, the sight of Barroso and Van Rompuy pitching up at the G8 and addressing the media should have had Farage on the air, providing the media with balancing comments and rebuttal. In fact he should have been briefing the media in advance of the meeting, but that’s a discussion for some other time.
Instead he was playing out a humiliating and self inflicted tragi-comedy, running from venue to venue around Aberdeen under police protection trying to dodge left wing protesters. If potential UKIP supporters were watching and weighing up whether to throw their support behind the party, this episode – so close on the heels of another abortive Scottish visit – may have put many off.
If Farage did detail and listened to people who know things, he would have learned from the experience of the other parties how to conduct business north of the border. There the parties are Scottish with their own leaders, not run out of Westminster. The party leaders down in London do not cross Hadrian’s Wall unless they have an invite from the Scottish party leader and Scottish party supporters lined up to attend speeches and events. Rightly or wrongly, the Scots do not like the Sassenachs mincing north from the capital and delivering what is seen as an English vision in their country. It is seen as imperialist and an exhibition of bad manners.
Compounding this strategy of doing things his way to appear like a plucky outsider thumbing his nose at the very political elite he aspires to be part of, is Farage’s questionable character.
Sure, you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs. But Farage doesn’t just break eggs, he burns down the chicken shed, kills the chickens, flattens the surrounding farm and hurls insults at the onlookers. This is why there are so many ex-senior UKIP members.
Away from the camera – although we’ve seen glimpses of his true nature at times – Farage is a psychological bully who believes he is the party. But it’s not just his lack of interpersonal or leadership skills that is the problem. It is his behaviour in other areas of his life, both professional and personal, that have left a trail of scandals and incidents with unsavoury outcomes which have largely gone barely reported due to UKIP’s previous lower profile. But you can be assured the media has been digging into these and adding more detail, ready to drop damaging stories into the public domain at moments that best serve the interests of those who are trying to keep the UK firmly under EU control.
UKIP will be tainted by the assault on Farage and exposure of incidents and issues that he thought had been airbrushed out of public discourse. UKIP doesn’t deserve to suffer this and neither does the wider Eurosceptic movement.
While it’s Farage’s prospects that are being dragged to the edge of the cliff ahead of rapid acceleration followed by deceleration trauma, the real issue is the collateral damage to those near him. This was always the concern of those who have not supported Farage yet want to see UKIP do well. It now appears to be coming to pass.