Peas In A Pod: Alex Salmond’s Nigel Farage Problem
ARE respective SNP and UKIP leaders Alex Salmond and Nigel Farage two peas in the same pod?
In his book Civilisation and Its Discontents, Freud wrote: “It is clearly not easy for man to give up the satisfaction of this inclination to aggression. They do not feel comfortable without it . . . I once discussed the phenomenon that it is precisely communities with adjoining territories, and related to each other in other ways as well, who are engaged in constant feuds and in ridiculing each other — like the Spaniards and the Portuguese, for instance, the north Germans and the south Germans, the English and the Scots. I gave this phenomenon the name of ‘the narcissism of minor differences’.”
What Freud meant is that we often hate most intensely those who most resemble us..
So, for example, the “English” political movement that the Scottish nationalists most affect to hate is Ukip: its leader, Nigel Farage, was at severe risk of being beaten to a pulp by demonstrators when he ventured to Edinburgh last year, eventually seeking sanctuary in a pub (not for the first time). Yet Salmond and Farage use exactly the same arguments about “an out-of-touch Westminster elite” — and the rising tide of support for both men rests on that common method of rhetorical appeal.
Far from being polar opposites, they are two political peas in a pod. The most noticeable difference, perhaps, is only that the thuggish element of Scottish nationalism more closely resembles the English Defence League than it does the beery bourgeois burghers of Ukip.
They are great foes, these men, and it’s not difficult to see why. While Farage seeks to reduce immigration, thwart the EU and claw back powers for the United Kingdom, Salmond wants Scotland to leave the UK and join the EU as an independent country. Farage is superficially every bit the SNP caricature: a southern Englander with a background in London’s financial sector. He is seemingly the opposite of everything the SNP likes to think of itself as: progressive, tolerant, open-minded, and with a profound concern for the welfare state.
Yet the more you hear them, the more you realise that they are part of the same phenomenon, the same populist wave that has swept Europe this year: the revolt of the dispossessed against the elites.
Two charismatic, street-fighters shunned by the London establishment – astute, populist campaigners who have grasped and exploited the growing disillusionment with the political system, and old-style ways associated with the centuries-old House of Commons.
Vote now and vote often…