Nigel Farage: Friend To The Mentally Ill Of Essex But Not Newark
NIGEL Farage has shown the elite that you can shake up politics.
Rafael Behr and Matthew Parris have written two thoughtful pieces on UKIP man.
… the Tories know that they can only begin to push that message once the smoke raised by the European election result clears. This is where the Newark by-election – and Farage’s decision to sit it out – becomes interesting. The seat has a solid Tory majority of 16,000. With different boundaries in the past, it has returned Labour MPs. The present vacancy exists because the incumbent, Patrick Mercer, resigned over egregious breaches of parliamentary rules regarding cash for lobbying. It is the kind of contest that delivers an earth-shaking upset ahead of a general election when there is a prevailing sense that the country is about to jettison the government of the day – as in the run-up to Tony Blair’s 1997 landslide and Gordon Brown’s despatch in 2010. No one in Westminster detects such a mood abroad today. Labour is playing down its chances. The Liberal Democrats will be happy just to finish ahead of the Bus Pass Elvis Party.
Farage looked at the odds and decided that he, too, couldn’t win…
In Newark, the party’s candidate is Roger Helmer, a 70-year-old former Tory MEP whose record of social commentary includes defending a policy to repatriate immigrants, claiming that some rape victims should “share part of the responsibility” for being attacked and sympathising with people who finding homosexuality “abnormal and undesirable”…
Nigel Farage’s jovial bluster is no longer sufficient to launder the more sinister views that swirl around him. He turns tetchy when challenged over his distaste for foreign languages spoken on trains. His casual conflations of Romanian nationality and criminal behaviour have prompted hostile comment from previously indulgent Tory-leaning newspapers. Farage seems unsure whether he should be defending the assertion or apologising for it.
…Collectively, an era is as vulnerable as an individual to bouts of mild mental illness. Nations are susceptible to paranoia because rumour spreads and people echo and amplify each other’s fears until the crowd has forgotten what was the original harm. Nobody who goes about the country as I do, knocks on doors, talks to political meetings and attends party grassroots social occasions as I do, can have failed to notice that fear and resentment of immigrants does not reduce as proximity to living, breathing immigrants reduces. Ukip’s big Essex successes yesterday — Castle Point, Basildon, Southend and Thurrock — are all more than 80 per cent “white British”.
If anything, indignation bears an inverse relationship to justification. In my own party it increases, too, with age, and especially among those who are no longer earning a living but imagine — usually from reading the newspapers — that they speak for those who are. Immigration has had a more profound impact on London than anywhere else, so is London awash with purple and yellow? On Thursday London said “no thanks” to Ukip. Few in the Derbyshire Peak District have ever knowingly seen a Bulgarian in the flesh. But you’ll find more indignation about Bulgarians in Buxton than in Battersea. Somebody needs to point out these truths.
Nigel Farage’s UKIP is the empty vessel into which people pour their hates.