Where does one go once a lifetime’s ambition has been achieved? A singer who finally scores a No.1 single after years of trying, an Olympian who finally grabs gold following endless failures, a footballer who finally gets his hands on a cup winner’s medal, an actor who finally earns an Oscar – well, a career as a TV talking head might await, forever reliving that one former glory on nostalgia shows, eternally associated with a solitary victory in the public consciousness. It’s a living.
Alas, poor Nigel. Mr Farage saw his long-held dream realised when the UK voted to exit the European Union a couple of months ago, a dream few ever really imagined would come true when he embarked upon his career as an alternative politician with one fixed aim in mind several years ago. It took a good decade or so before the majority of the country came round to his way of thinking, but he managed a remarkable moment of synchronisation with public opinion in June, aided and abetted by an anti-EU tabloid press and a disgruntled mass who took a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to deliver a devastating bloody nose to the smug cosmopolitan countenance of a globalised elite that had shit on them from a great height for the best part of two decades.
So, now what? Resigning as UKIP leader for the second time in twelve months after Brexit, Farage took a month off and returned with an unbecoming moustache that provoked such ridicule on social media that it was hastily erased from the profile in record time. His party was left to stagger on without its sole selling point, desperately searching for available replacement leaders by delving in the booby-prize bag for the kind of people you’d studiously avoid at a social gathering, the kind of people in possession of prickly five o’clock shadows and slobbering lips you wouldn’t want within half-a-mile of your genitals.
Nige could continue to be the contentious rent-a-gob panellist on ‘Question Time’ if he so wished, but he has decided to take time out from his media career by giving a leg-up to Donald Trump, seemingly sighting kinship with the blustering billionaire’s efforts to claim temporary ownership of the White House. Addressing probably a far larger (and far more fanatical) audience than he has ever addressed before, Farage extolling the virtues of playing the political outsider to the converted – a converted with no real idea as to who he was – remains one of the most dispiriting sights to have ‘gone viral’ this week, and at the height of a very silly Silly Season to boot.
Whatever limited respect was afforded Farage in the wake of Brexit – and I mean limited – has been totally blown out of the water by his endorsement of Trump. Sharing a stage with a man whose cynical exploitation of disaffected voters makes Farage’s ill-advised ‘immigrants’ billboard resemble an 80s recruitment ad for the GLC is a bad move in anyone’s book. His error in allying himself with someone he mistakenly imagines is somehow representing the great political outsider that the western world has turned to after rejecting the ruling class of the last couple of decades raises fresh questions about his own personal judgement and makes him look like a character in search of a plot now that everything he set out to achieve has been achieved.
There’s no doubting the fact that there is a vast pool of previously-untapped frustration with our elected representatives out there; but how that is utilised by the renegade politician all-too often steers the electorate down unsavoury avenues of both ideological extremes – the neo-Trotskyite throwback of the Corbynistas over here or the gun-crazy, armchair redneck rhetoric over there. So-called outsiders are as adept at manipulating dissatisfaction with the old order as the old order itself, telling the dissatisfied what they want to hear without offering them a genuine alternative that challenges their prejudices. It’s an echo chamber of self-destructive dead-ends that will only ultimately benefit the promoted prophet, yet the fact that the prophet in question is portrayed as the Antichrist to the opposition is deemed sufficient to ensure the vote of the man or woman left behind by the perceived enemy who let them down before. It’s the political equivalent of a Daily Mail editorial, confirming every belief held by the reader and never once suggesting that vehement hatred of one political system is not necessarily enough in itself to bring about change that can improve the lives of all. There has to be more to it than that, but none of these rebel figureheads have a dream; they simply sell the electorate’s nightmares back to them.
Nigel Farage was a gift to satirists, cartoonists and impressionists after years of being subjected to interchangeable identikit Westminster androids straight off the Spad production line, a unique personality of a kind that catches the public imagination by virtue of his contrast with the mainstream produce, a Marmite man loved and loathed in equal measure. There have been past precedents, from Enoch Powell and Jeremy Thorpe to Sir Gerald Nabarro and Dennis Skinner, but the gradual eradication of these political ‘broken biscuits’ by the major parties helped to emphasise Farage’s uniqueness in an arena increasingly devoid of personality.
Now that Farage’s mission has been completed, however – and without him even having claimed a constituency, lest we forget (which perhaps makes his achievement even more astonishing) – what next for the man with a pint and a fag for every honest Englishman? Chat show, reality show, panel show – take your pick; but Donald Trump? I think not. In many respects, the Brexit vote was perhaps the worst thing that could ever have happened to Nige; it’s left him without his designated role in British public life. Had it gone the other way, he could have carried on forever stating the case for rejecting Brussels; yet seeing him reduced to acting as plucky little cheerleader for Trump was his own version of the Bush/Blair poodle parade. Time to hire a new PR firm, Nigel.
© The Editor