Nigel Farage has missed the boat

Keith Hudson

Nigel Farage, the arch opponent of the UK being in the European Union and the founder of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), is now becoming desperate, even though the EU is running into severe . . . problems and anti-EU sentiment appears to be growing.  He is now campaigning alongside several other organisations who are also calling for a No vote in the Referendum, due for 2017, but which might be brought forward to next year.

The other No organisations have stemmed from those in the Labour Party and in the Tory Party and elsewhere which have their own particular ways of describing their opposition to the EU — or the extent to which the UK membership should be trimmed down.  The proposition they’ll be voting on, however, will also enable them to share platforms on many occasions and, I imagine, the sharing of advertising campaigns.  The latter will be highly necessary because the Yes voting camp, with large business backers and, probably, surreptitious funding from the EU Commissioners, will have massive financial backing.

So far, none of the No organisations have offered a slot to UKIP.  Nigel Farage and his UKIP are still disparaged by most politicians of both the left and the right. Why?  Pure pique, because Farage is a natural populariser.  He speaks straight from the cuff and he enoys his pint of beer, often being seen in a pub, laughing and joking with ordinary people there.  In short, he is quite different from the average politician and is able to make connections with many in the electorate, both working class and middle class.  This brought UKIP a huge vote of more than 4 million in the European Parliamentary Election in May last year — more than either the Labour or Tory Parties.

But Nigel Farage, who ought to be the acclaimed overall leader of the No camp is being side-lined by the other No organisations.  He and UKIP are going to have to fund and fight in the Referendum campaign all by themselves. So he’s very sore and, today, was loudly complaining that he ought to be on board and that an overall leader must be chosen.  There was more than a hint of desperation in his voice.

Nigel Farage is an intelligent man — quite as intelligent as those politicians who’ve been flinging mud at him for the past few years — but he hasn’t thought through the real role of UKIP deeply enough.  Most importantly, he hasn’t realised that in calling for the independence of the UK from Europe he should also have supported the Scottish National Party (SNP) in their claim for separation from the UK.  He’s been against that.  He’s really showing himself to be only another version of the Tory Party, which is generally virulently opposed to Scottish independence.  It still hasn’t got over the period a hundred years ago when Great Britain was the head of the British Empire.

Paradoxically, however, as an outcome of SNP MPs’ anti-Tory strategies in the House of Commons, what has also emerged is the idea of an English Parliament.  Even some Tory MPs are partial to this view, albeit as part of a Federal United Kingdom.  But quite separately from the rise of the SNP, the idea of an English Parliament has also been rising in the past few years as a protest against the domination of London, both business-wise and politically, in the life of the UK.  London is gradually become a city-state all of its own, so these new English nationalists say and the provinces are badly neglected.  And, of course, they’re sympathetic to the Scottish people because their anti-London feeling the same reason they’re heading towards independence.

Nigel Farage and the UKIP will be left to flap in the wind during the Referendum campaign and, whichever way the vote goes, they’ll have little reason for existence afterwards.  English nationalism will continue growing, however, whatever the vote, but won’t be Nigel Farage leading it because he’d already missed the boat when he set up UKIP.  He’s totally disqualified.  But the time is ripe and it will only take the emergence of a charismatic leader with more strategic nous than Farage for an English National Party to grow.

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