Farage counting cost of being all things to all men for too long

The digital wailing and gnashing of teeth is a sight to behold. It was always only a matter of time before it came to the fore.

Nigel Farage has a track record of masterful inaction and silence when he wants to be all things to all men.  Article 50 is a case in point.  With some in UKIP wisely recognising Article 50 as the only legal process available for commencing Brexit from the EU, and others loudly declaring it to be a vicious trap to be avoided at all costs, Farage stayed silent on the subject for years lest he alienate one of the divergent sections of UKIP supporters.  Eventually he came down on the side of Article 50 in a conference question and answer session, leaving UKIP ‘heavyweights’ like Rodney Atkinson, Torquil Erikson and Professor Tim Congdon on the wrong side of the party’s policy.

But that was an EU related matter and therefore an issue of steadily declining importance in UKIP, which has instead opportunisitically positioned itself to become a rallying point for the disaffected anti immigration/anti asylum constituency as part of Farage’s grand plan to eclipse the BNP by wooing their supporters.  As intended, many former BNP supporters who saw the Nick Griffin bandwagon coming off the tracks saw UKIP, with its own sizeable, vociferous and unchallenged ‘the UK is full, no more migrants or asylum seekers‘ anti immigration rump, as their new natural home.

Certainly, Farage wasn’t saying anything that would alienate them so it seemed the perfect fit .  But what they did not note was that Farage was also saying nothing on the subject to alienate the more rational and realistic members of his party, who recognise that controlled immigration is necessary for a country with an economy like ours and providing asylum to those in fear for their lives is a humane act.  But that has been Farage all over, letting everyone believe he is on their side and in tacit support of their worldview because he was able to stay quiet on anything contentious.  That is they way it remains until silence is no longer an option, or Farage decides there is capital to be made by coming down on one side of the fence.

Over the weekend, calculating a potential advantage that could wrongfoot David Cameron and make UKIP seem more cuddly to potential voters who are otherwise put off by that UKIP faction which wants all immigrants to leave and no more immigrants or asylum seekers – particularly not Muslims – to be admitted, Farage threw one of his legs over the fence and called for the UK to accept refugees from Syria.

Cue the digital equivalent of a collective howl from the small minded little Englanders who had, until that point, believed Farage was in lock-step with them and would pursue a policy of pulling up the drawbridge.  Moderate ‘kippers have been celebrating Farage’s call, as much for the manner in which he has exposed Cameron’s Conservatives as lacking ‘compassion’ as for it being the right thing to do.  However, for the true believers who abandoned the BNP cult for the UKIP cult, some of whom infest the comment threads of the Telegraph and the Mail, Twitter and UKIP’s Facebook page with their obsessive and often illogical rants, the sense of betrayal has been too much to bear as the selection of the comments below shows:

ukip_asylum_2ukip_asylum_3ukip_asylum_4ukip_asylum_7ukip_asylum_8ukip_asylum_9ukip_asylum_10ukip_asylum_11ukip_asylum_12ukip_asylum_13

Their reaction is akin to being courted, bedded then dumped just before a big date, after they have spent lots of time being told this is the real thing.  UKIP is going to lose members and gain vocal, bitter critics that were previously sworn brothers in arms.

For this schism Farage has only himself to blame.  He could have avoided getting into bed with these people by making clear what he believed in from the outset.  But his view is why bother alienating people who are in the tank, spreading the word, plastering ‘Vote UKIP’ in every comment thread on news websites and supporting the claim that UKIP is growing and winning new supporters.

Farage might have finally realised that UKIP has a ‘toxic brand’ far worse than the one that causes the Conservatives so much anxiety, but it is one that might now be too embedded for moderate people to ever give the party their support.  That is something for which Farage will have to count the cost.  Sadly for the EUsceptic cause, it is a cost borne there too which adversely affects the likelihood of securing the essential Brexit from the EU.

13 Responses to “Farage counting cost of being all things to all men for too long”


  1. 1 Chi The Cynic 30/12/2013 at 11:48 am

    That toxic “comment thread warrior” element within UKIP, coupled with their opportunism over issues like immigration and gay marriage, is essentially why I stopped supporting them. I originally thought they were a voice for people like me who want Britain out of the EU, but it seems that has become an increasingly marginal issue for UKIP. The anti-immigrant vitriol on their Facebook page from strident supporters is very hard to ignore.

  2. 2 Barrie Singleton 30/12/2013 at 11:51 am

    Why do people join parties? Parties play party-games. Loyalty to the party is a cop-out of PERSONAL accountability. Party politics yields party leaders who become PMs. Run your mind over the bizarre characters that have ‘come out’ in recent PMs, and be afraid. Then get wise. If we go on doing what we have done for too long (vote for party rosettes on ciphers) we shall just get more of the same – corruption. Another party cannot be the answer. The entire ETHOS of governance must be reconfigured. This one is a manifest failure.
    Westminster parties have protocols to protect devious MPs. Devious MPs protect the party by invoking the protocols. I know whereof I speak.

  3. 3 Sam Duncan 30/12/2013 at 1:27 pm

    To be fair to Farage, once he has decided to speak up he has at least said the right things, both on Article 50 and this. For all his ineptitude, I still get the impression that he understands what is right for Britain. But yes, he should have said something sooner. He’s simply not the right man to lead a party.

    Your final point is well made, but then on the other hand, those alienated anti-immigrationists, in their rage, might actually do the work of detoxifying UKIP for it, rather in the way Tony Blair’s staged fights with the unions created the image of NewLabour. The party’s reaction to the fallout will be telling. If it stands up to them, and reiterates the point it spent years trying to get through the thick heads of the mainstream media – that it’s not a racist, isolationist, organisation like the BNP, and anyone who thinks it is is unwelcome – then there may be some hope, and, as I say, this may actually end up doing it a bit of good in the long run. But if it panics and seeks to placate them, or Farage starts dithering again, forget it.

  4. 4 SOLO PLANER 30/12/2013 at 2:43 pm

    But immigration is not the only area where Farage is going to find that he loses support once the searchlight is shone in his direction.

    Those abandoned working class people who signed up to the BNP before jumping to UKIP are basically socialist in attitude regarding national protectionism.

    One of the questions asked at one of UKIP’s Farage evenings was “Would UKIP take water back under public control” A question that left Farage floundering.

    It’s not necessarily a bad thing to be a free marketeer – Thatcher did OK, she won over huge swathes of working class people – but she had a deep seated ethos; you don’t get that feeling with Farage.

    I have long been convinced that the next EU election is not going to be marked by a huge swing to UKIP but by a victory for the disaffected apathetic.

  5. 5 Barrie Singleton 30/12/2013 at 2:49 pm

    If apathy fends of zealotry, it might not be a bad thing. One thing seems sure, if we start from here we shall not achieve wise stewardship grounded in integrity; just more party games.

  6. 6 theboilledfrog 30/12/2013 at 3:21 pm

    I guess you’ve seen this AM – though with the obvious caveat that the pro-EU DM likes to occasionally stick one up UKIP.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2525968/Have-voters-fallen-love-Nigel-Farage-Collapse-ratings-UKIP-leader-seen-style-substance.html

  7. 7 Antisthenes 30/12/2013 at 3:40 pm

    Is that not what politics is all about jumping on bandwagons, wrong footing the other parties and and seeking power by any means fair or foul. Then once in power using it to further the ideological agenda that is believed in but never properly disclosed and more often than not opposite to that promised or wanted by the vast majority. To be honest and tell the truth would never do for politicians aided and abetted by journalists as they would never become elected. Is that not what your Harrogate agenda (if it ever sees the light of day) is about curbing this deceit and miss use of power and giving some of the power parliament took from monarchs to the people. Politicians cannot be trusted with power as we all know power corrupts UKIP has started to feel some of this power moving it’s way and it is evident that it is moving them in turn toward dishonest practices to gain more of it so will end up as corrupt as all the rest. In my Utopia I would not just take some power away from politicians and give it to the people but all of it.

  8. 8 Autonomous Mind 30/12/2013 at 5:49 pm

    TBF, no, I hadn’t seen it. It isn’t really a surprise. For a long time I have argued people want to see substance and that Farage offered little/none. I was berated and told I knew nothing, but now the polls show what I warned and the response from the cultists will be that it’s all a big conspiracy.

    As for the DM, I would say they consistently try to stick it to UKIP. They are no friend of Farage or the party and use UKIP as a stick to hit their beloved Tories.

  9. 9 james higham 30/12/2013 at 7:46 pm

    Somewhat of a difficult position really – it’s why there should be a free vote in parliament [wishful thinking].

  10. 10 Barrie Singleton 30/12/2013 at 10:15 pm

    I cannot see the rationale of any free vote. By far the majority of MPs are simply party ciphers. (When the party removes the whip and ‘rosettes’ a new cipher at the next election, the incumbent is dead in the water.) Hence the actual person voted-in has little or no standing with those who vote ‘for’ them. So what is the relevance of their decision under a free vote? MPs are not one iota beholden to constiuents, as dear Zac has made plain.

  11. 11 tux1952 31/12/2013 at 6:28 am

    “…leaving UKIP ‘heavyweights’ like Rodney Atkinson, Torquil Erikson and Professor Tim Congdon on the wrong side of the party’s policy.”

    I attended the Bruges Group Which Way Out Conference recently held in London.
    Tim Congdon should never be allowed near a microphone ever again, certainly not in public.
    In my view, his “speech” was nothing more than incoherent, shambolic drivel…dreadful!!!
    And you call him a heavyweight???

  12. 12 Edward Spalton 31/12/2013 at 7:45 am

    On a point of information, Rodney Atkinson has not been a member of UKIP since 2000


  1. 1 Is the UK Electorate falling out of love with British UKIP’s Nigel Farage? | English Passport Trackback on 31/12/2013 at 7:16 pm
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