You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. And in an update of that political truism you can apply a sharp suit, silk tie, expensive brogues and artful haircut to Mr Nigel Farage and he’s still the mendacious mobile ego he always was. To prove irony still lives, he berated Andrew Marr on morning telly at the weekend on the grounds that the BBC was not giving adequate coverage to his “wildly successful” appearances at his own rallies.
Heavens to Betsy, Nige, why would they need to when you pop up what seems like nightly on the box anyway? Not content with the Question Time producers having you on speed dial, and getting a prime slot on the Beeb’s flagship Sunday politics show, you’re outraged that your fantasy politics are not leading the news bulletins.
The other reason for his carefully calibrated outrage was apparently Andrew having the temerity to be asking inappropriate questions like whether or not he still wanted more gun ownership and if he was ashamed of his appalling Breaking Point poster inviting the nation to hate migrants. That was all yesterday’s news it seems. The big big issue was democracy, how it was broken just like the two major UK parties. And how only he could fix it.
Nigel, love, where to start, where to start? Perhaps with the fact that the British electorate’s appreciation of democracy has been sufficiently astute to shoot down your attempts to join its parliament no fewer than seven times. Perhaps with the career you’ve made out of going to Brussels at no little expense to the taxpayer, hoovering up a fat salary and expenses, doing sod all in the way of policy formation, but popping up when you feel in need of delivering another televised soundbite to savage the hand that’s been feeding you. I’m with Guy Verhofstadt on this one. He opined last week that we should chucked you in the Thames and kept the fish. #metoo.
Or maybe with the fact that you so can’t bear anonymity that you made more comebacks than Streisand as UKIP leader and then, when that gig died on you, invented a new party so that you could be its…..leader! But credit it where it’s due, love. You do have an amazing facility to access shedloads of money to underwrite these ventures from sources about which you are endlessly coy. Your election literature has clearly been in train for some time and is cleverly designed and worded. That does not come cheap. Somebody somewhere has a very useful way with a slogan: “Changing politics for good”, manages to incorporate two bits of political catnip in the same sentence.
But it’s your personal message to the voter in the communique popping through our doors which really takes possession of the biscuit. I quote: “Let’s put the principles of Trust, Honesty and Integrity at the heart of our democracy.” Anyone who has studied your track record – and it’s difficult to miss you hard as we may try – might wonder if that's the most credible pitch.
We should not be surprised that you have long buddied up with that other mainspring of truthfulness, Donald J Trump, introduced at his rallies, grinning with him in the gold plated lift in Trump tower and, more chillingly, with Mr Aaron Banks whose financial dealings with those peddling far right philosophies have attracted much interest from the investigative branch of my trade. You can tell a man by the company he keeps, they say.
You and The Donald have much in common methinks Mr F. You both have a slender grasp on political reality, both sell yourselves selves as economically literate despite all evidence to the contrary, and both have constructed a persona which is veneer all through. You major on simple, repetitive slogans because you DO understand messaging. You know that repetition is the name of the game, even if what you are repeating is a policy free zone.
Make America Great Again? Changing Politics for Good? Simple slogans requiring no mental interrogation. Simple slogans which propelled Trump to his white house on a sea of orchestrated faux patriotism married to thinly veiled racism. Remind you a bit of the Brexiteers does it not? Still fighting them on the beaches, still conjuring up the alleged spirit of 70 years ago. Ever anchored to yesteryear whilst the rest of the world sails on to the future addressing the imperatives of today.
You can discern the intellectual heft of both these men by their attitude to climate change, the greatest challenge of our age. Trump thought it was all a great fiction got up by those fiendish Chinese. Farage couldn’t see on Marr why the UK should risk manufacturing jobs when it wasn’t the biggest polluter. Both blissfully unaware that climate catastrophe is a world without borders. Pity King Canute is no longer with us. He’d have got along just fine with those boys.