Nick Clegg will be breathing a sigh of relief this morning. Give Nigel Farage a grenade to play with and you can be assured that after a few drinks to get into character, he will manage to blow himself up.
But in doing so, Farage also injures the anti-EU side because of UKIP’s prominent position in the effort to get the UK out of the EU.
Alistair Campbell gave Farage a grenade to play with by interviewing him for GQ magazine. He then pulled out the pin by asking Farage which world leader he most admired. Farage’s response, however vigorously it is defended by his cult following and however many howls of rage they emanate saying their man is being misrepresented, was the equivalent of releasing the lever to allow detonation. He has given the Europhiles and his political opponents an entire magazine of ammunition.
Farage could have dodged the obvious trap by saying that if he was being asked who is the most effective world leader in terms of pursuing their agenda then he would say Vladimir Putin. Then it’s a non story.
But no. He did not refute the idea of him admiring Putin, a politicised thug who has waged war in Chechnya and Georgia and whose government is widely considered responsible for a wave of assassinations of political rivals and journalists, and abuses the legal system to throw into remote prisons those who might be a threat to his position.
In fact, as reported by the Telegraph, he even went so far as to say that he thought Putin’s handling of Syria – where Russian weapons and ‘advisers’ have propped up Bashar Assad – was ‘brilliant’.
In so doing, Farage has completely shattered the wholly appropriate case against the EU for its expansionist actions in eastern Europe – which stirred up violence in Ukraine, followed by a coup and a fragmentation of the civil society on ethnic lines, prompting UDI by Crimea and its vote to join the Russian Federation – all for the sake of Brussels extending its power.
Nigel Farage is a disaster. He is a liability for the anti-EU side. He is incompetent. He revels in his ignorance of EU governance. He has a reliance on alcohol and women to function. He lacks depth. And as shown by this latest gaffe, he has absolutely no sense of judgement – an essential quality for any leader of any entity.
Nick Clegg is going to spit roast Farage with this. No matter what Farage and his cult argue, many people are going to turn against Farage and the anti-EU side as a result, and the EU’s provocation of Russia across eastern Europe will be swept off the agenda to be replaced with a narrative that Farage is an ultra nationalist who admires warmongering heads of thugocracies.
UPDATE: Richard is all over this issue too at EU Referendum