If the trio of topics advisable to avoid in polite conversation are religion, football and politics, I haven’t got it as easy as I imagined. Most people I know are agnostic at best and atheist at worst (too secure in their convictions to convince), so faith is a bit of a conversational dead-end. Few of my acquaintances follow the beautiful game, so I tend to watch ‘Match of the Day’ alone and enact the time-honoured tradition of shouting obscenities at a referee who cannot hear me – which, in the absence of company, somehow seems even sadder. When it comes to politics, however, failing to fall in line with whichever consensus one’s peer group advocates can be tricky; and nothing galvanises opinion quite like a General Election, even if the spirit of Brenda from Bristol hovers over events like the Ghost of Christmas Past – the Christmas Past in question being 1923.

It’s probably best not to use 1923 as an optimistic example of how the festive hustings can result in a positive outcome. That December’s General Election ended in a Hung Parliament. Conservative Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin had succeeded the ill Andrew Bonar Law in the summer, and though the Tories had won the General Election held just the previous year, Baldwin sought his own mandate and sent the country to the polls prematurely. What is it about Tory PMs and snap elections? Baldwin found, like Ted Heath and Theresa May long after him, the confidence that comes from a comfortable majority can be fatal at the ballot-box.

The 1923 General Election was notable for being the last occasion in which a third party gained over 100 seats. That party was Asquith’s Liberals, who ended with a tally of 158; in second place was Ramsay MacDonald’s Labour Party, with 191; the Tories managed 258 – a long way from the 308 then needed for a majority. When Parliament resumed after the Christmas break, Baldwin intended to stay in power with anticipated Liberal support; however, the Liberals conspired with Labour to reject that January’s King’s Speech and helped put Ramsay MacDonald in No.10 as the first Labour Prime Minister. If Boris is as great a scholar of British political history as he makes out, he must surely be aware of 1923’s ominous precedent. If so, though, he will also know there was another General Election less than a year later; that time round, Baldwin regained the Tories’ lost majority and was re-elected on two further occasions.

What any of this tells us about what awaits us not much more than a month from now is open to question. But the campaign is already well underway on social media, with all kinds of doom ‘n’ gloom predictions being aired if voters opt for the ‘wrong’ party. The most excited-looking of all the party leaders right now is undoubtedly Jeremy Corbyn; despite the reservations of many of his MPs – who were enjoying toying with a weak and depleted Government (and would have been content to carry on doing so) – Jezza will relish being back in his element, preaching to the converted and punching his fist in the air. He has always been a politician of protest, and never appears entirely at ease at the dispatch-box when he’d much rather be on a stage stating what he’s against. And Corbynistas seem to be doing likewise via Facebook, Twitter and the rest – making the most of their favourite sport. When they’d spent what felt like forever calling for Cameron to quit, their muted deflation when he suddenly walked in 2016 was telling. The fun is in the protesting.

Naturally, divisions within the electorate are more prevalent now than they have perhaps been in more recent General Elections; lest we forget, last time round the two main parties enjoyed their biggest share of the vote since 1970, seemingly marking a return to the duopoly of power that Labour and the Tories traditionally enjoyed. In the last couple of years, however, divisions have transcended the old left/right-red/blue divide for obvious reasons; but this schism in the voting population is maybe a mirror on the way Westminster itself is split, for the political class was never truly divided by party, certainly not in the way Brexit has drawn up battle-lines. Any MP bemoaning the disintegration of parliamentary harmony is giving away the fact that the Commons was relatively harmonious even when daggers were supposedly drawn between government and opposition of whatever colour – and that contradicts the narrative pedalled to the electorate for as far back as anyone can remember. They’re not too keen on actual disharmony in the Palace of Westminster, but disharmony ‘out there’ is good for business.

The old ‘divide and rule’ principle works well for the political class. To concoct a hypothetical – and perhaps obvious – example, take a mixed, low-income neighbourhood; should those living there realise poverty is colour blind and their common ground could be utilised as a weapon, this realisation poses a threat to the powers-that-be. So, better to fracture potential unity and separate them – either literally or through media channels; therefore, the poor white residents can blame the ‘immigrants’ for their predicament and the other side can claim to be victims of a white privilege conspiracy to oppress them. All energies go into hating the false enemy and the upholders of the system that keeps them in their place and prevents them from rising up as one are secure.

This principle could be equally applied to any source of perceived division within society – black/white, male/female, Jewish/Muslim, Catholic/Protestant, Leave/Remain – and most of these divisions are largely illusory. The only factor that divides any of us is class; same as it ever was. If there is an Us and there is a Them, the Them are the political class, not our neighbours; they’ve got the same shit to deal with as we have; and that’s what should unite us. Yes, nothing new about this theory, I agree; but it’s always worth remembering, especially at times like these, when division puts politician’s bums on seats.

Having said that, we have to vote for somebody, and the pressure on the voter is fairly intense in 2019 – does he or she stick with traditional party loyalties or throw caution to the wind by choosing whichever party advocates their own stance on Brexit? With so many different permutations in the offing once polls close, this is not an easy decision; going either way in the polling booth could result in the least desired outcome. Boris has been using that one as a response to Farage’s threat to field candidates in every constituency – whereas Jezza appears curiously oblivious to the serious encroachment of both Brexit Party and Lib Dems into Labour territory. And another factor that cannot be ignored where the voter is concerned is the absolute paucity of inspiring leadership. It’s utterly appalling. Never before have the stakes been so high and the options so bloody pitiful. It’s going to be quite a month.

© The Editor


It’s a toss-up as to which is the most undignified gesture, really – gate-crashing Europe’s leading gentleman’s club with a choreographed stunt during the playing of ‘Ode to Joy’, or wearing T-shirts bearing the legend ‘Bollocks to Brexit’. It’d be comforting to think the former was a protest at Ludwig Van’s masterpiece being purloined for political purposes, but alas, no, for these are our representatives on the European stage in 2019; it’s enough to make one hanker for Brotherhood of Man and Buck’s Fizz. Then again, representatives for both sides of the divide advertised their intentions in advance, or at least the respective stances they would take once in a) The Lion’s Den or b) The Garden of Eden (tick where applicable).

The Brexit Party certainly made it clear they planned to descend upon the European Parliament determined to disrupt proceedings in the manner of Paisleyite Unionists striding into 1970s Westminster; similarly, the servile sucking-up to the same institution by their Lib Dem opponents whilst wearing their contempt for democracy as a literal T-shirt (just in case anybody missed it) shouldn’t have come as a surprise either. Of course, three years ago 17 million members of the Great British electorate decided we wouldn’t be sending any MEPs to Brussels in 2019; but the fact we are means it was almost inevitable the conflicting responses of the British intake would be akin to children being let loose in an adventure playground without parental supervision. That’s where we are now.

Whether ‘Carry On Up The EU’, milkshakes as missiles, baby blimps hovering over London, or every Grauniad reader’s favourite ‘Urban’ person Stormzy leading a white woke audience in a chant of ‘Fuck Boris’ at the rock & pop Glyndebourne known as Glastonbury, it would appear the nation is experiencing its second childhood. The default panic room when faced with the intractable series of crises confronting the country seems to be the nursery. People are worried about the future, impoverished by Austerity, browbeaten by Brexit and powerless in the face of Parliament discarding its democratic duty, so they retreat to the sole surviving safe-space available to them – sticking their tongues out at the powers-that-be en route, and shouting ‘Fascist’, ‘Nazi’ or ‘Racist’ for good measure.

Reduced to hurling an aforementioned dairy-based beverage at a pantomime villain when the ability to articulate frustration any other way appears a lost art – that’s 2019; the argument has exhausted the nation, even though most of us ironically do now know a great deal more about the EU than when presented with a choice in 2016. Unfortunately, those of a Second Referendum bent have failed to realise that possession of this knowledge doesn’t necessarily serve as the ideal recruitment weapon for the Remainer narrative; if anything, the more we learn the more likely we are to be drawn to the Leave cause. They really should’ve retained the beguiling mystique of the EU and not exposed the grotesque bureaucratic behemoth to the light.

At least we all had a say in 2016 (even if it appears to have counted for nothing in the end) – unlike the race to No.10, the latest offshoot from Cameron’s can of worms. Yet, if eras are given leaders most pertinent to those eras, perhaps it shouldn’t come as a great surprise that Boris Johnson is still the odds-on favourite to be the next Prime Minister. He is the ideal candidate for our times – immature, immoral, avaricious, frivolous, reckless, devious, dishonest – and so say all of us. Maybe the most significant example to date of Boris’s inability to cope in a crisis came via his infamously sloppy response to the detainment and imprisonment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe; the potential damage the then-Foreign Secretary’s casual comments did to the British-Iranian citizen held on dubious spying charges in Tehran contrast sharply with Jim Callaghan’s response to the threatened execution of Ugandan-based British author and lecturer Denis Hills in 1975. Hills was sentenced to death by firing squad on charges of espionage and sedition; but Callaghan as Foreign Secretary made a personal approach to Idi Amin, flying out to Kampala and bringing Hills home. That’s the kind of thing grownups do – or used to.

An elderly, ailing Churchill returning to power in 1951 was the perfect personification of the early 50s malaise, playing the nation’s grandfather in the manner of an aged stationmaster from the Rev. W. Awdry’s Railway Series; Harold Wilson was the right man for the job in 1964, surfing the wave of the nation’s dynamic go-getting attitude via his utilisation of both the pre-eminent pop culture and the white heat of the new technology; he performed his own late Churchill role ten years later, holding both party and country together as one last duty before collecting his carriage clock; in contrast, the big hair & big shoulder pad ensemble of Mrs Thatcher was the stylistic embodiment of mid-80s excess in all its ‘greed-is-good’ vulgarity as the free-market hounds were released for round one of casino capitalism’s ascendancy; the middle-management, superficial blandness of Blair and his heir, Cameron, equally made them men of their times. We’ve got Boris.

Yes, like Trump, he may piss-off the right-on chattering classes – which is undeniably entertaining; but that’s not a good enough reason on its own to hand him the keys to No.10. We should be able to do better. But take a look at the opposing frontbenches and nominate a great man or woman who would make a great leader. No, me neither. This is an age of unprecedented parliamentary mediocrities. Boris has always caught the eye because of the amusing comic character he plays in public; surrounded by such nonentities, he was bound to stand out. But the Enoch Powell-like ‘voice in the wilderness’ aura he has generated from the backbenches ever since his exit from government should have kept him as a perennial beacon for mischief-makers to congregate around, not propel him all the way to Downing Street.

Boris wants to be Prime Minister, whereas Nigel Farage claims he doesn’t want to be an MEP; his presence in Brussels inevitably provokes cries of hypocrisy from his enemies. ‘But you still collect your Brussels salary!’ Yes, just like all those SNP MPs whose avowed aim is to detach their country from the UK and its parliament, yet still receive their Westminster paycheque – or all the members of the Northern Ireland Executive who continue to be paid, despite the fact it hasn’t sat at Stormont for over two years. Nice work if you can get it, eh? All adult avenues are sealed-off now, so while you arm yourself with a milkshake, I shall continue to exercise my own puerile prodding with the occasional silly, satirical video as I proceed towards my destiny as Miss Havisham. Or maybe not…

© The Editor


‘Unprecedented’ is the ultimate hard-on word that overexcited political reporters are fond of using whenever they want to up the dramatic ante; but in this particular case it really is unavoidable. Yes, these are elections to the European Parliament and, let’s be honest: many don’t normally even bother to register their vote, and MEPs (bar Nigel Farage and Daniel Hannan) are usually the most anonymous politicians in the country. But it’s worth remembering this has been the first occasion since the 2017 General Election that the British electorate have had clear Leave and Remain choices on the ballot paper, and the electorate have responded accordingly. The Brexit Party won in all the English regions bar London and also won Wales, even finishing runners-up to the SNP north of the border. When one takes into account the fact that the Brexit Party is only six weeks old, the comprehensive victory it has achieved is genuinely…well…unprecedented. 38% of the vote, 29 MEPs – remarkable.

The rapid rise of the Brexit Party and the resurgence of the Lib Dems – the only political parties (in England, at least) whose intentions are blatantly honest – can be seen as both a rejection of doublethink spin and as further evidence of electoral dissatisfaction with Labour and the Tories. The 2016 ballot paper provided the visitor to the polling booth with a straightforward in/out choice, and the public mood is still one that sees the most divisive issue of our times in simple black & white terms; despite ongoing attempts by the two main parties to wrap it in endless complexities as an example of how they’re clever and we’re not, voters in the European Elections have kept it simple, and who they chose to vote for reflects this. They either want to leave or they want to remain – just like they did three years ago. The fact the majority opted for the former in 2016 and yet we still haven’t left means a degree in rocket science isn’t necessary when wondering why a party that didn’t even exist a couple of months ago has swept the Brussels board.

Political divisions in Britain for a hundred years or more have been between left and right or Labour and Conservative – ideological and party allegiances that have shaped the landscape. Yet we now appear to have returned to the factions and groupings of the 18th century, whereas instead of being a Whig or a Tory, you’re now a Brexiteer or a Remainer – and whether you happen to lean to the left or dress to the right has no bearing on that. Granted, old habits find dying harder come a General Election, but the outcome of this Euro vote we shouldn’t even have taken part in has demonstrated – far more than the recent local results – just how much tradition has gone for a Burton. Yes, protest votes have always been a way of venting a grievance with one’s preferred party in a local or by-election; but to have so many prominent mouthpieces for both Labour and the Conservatives openly declaring they would vote against their own parties has been a notable departure from the script, especially considering how both are in such dire need of a cuddle from old friends.

It has to be said, the Lib Dems deserve credit for the way in which they have capitalised on the mixed messages coming from the big two and have essentially reinvented and rebranded themselves as the Remain Party. ‘Stop Brexit’ (if you live in a home-owning neighbourhood) and ‘Bollocks to Brexit’ (if you emanate from a council estate) have been their short, snappy slogans in a campaign they have managed with unexpectedly canny genius. They picked up on the fact that the public wanted straight-talking and, seeing how Leavers suddenly had a focus with the swift formation of Farage’s colourful coalition, they gave Remainers a party of their own too.

Even the anticipated splitting of the Remain vote via the conceited deserters formerly known as TIG failed to materialise; the spectacular failure of the vanity project that is Change UK (and is it mere coincidence that their name when abbreviated reads as ‘CHUK’?) has been the sole crumb of comfort for the Conservatives as this pitiful party, along with the obliterated UKIP, has at least given Tories someone to look down on from the depths of the relegation zone they now languish in. Were any of the Change UK MPs to give their constituents the chance to comment on their defection from the parties they stood for in 2017, I wonder how many would be returned to Parliament? The likelihood of any by-elections in those constituencies seems more remote than ever today.

Not that anyone was expecting unbiased reporting, but the BBC coverage of the election results not only saw amusing straw-clutching when desperately combining all non-Brexit Party votes as evidence that the country now favours Remain; there was also the persistent and irritating inference that all Brexit Party votes were gained via a simple transfusion from UKIP – as though the party was Milton Keynes Dons inheriting the history and club records of Wimbledon FC and it was all down to mere rebranding. Well, to use the language of the Lib Dems, bollocks. The Brexit Party isn’t simply UKIP under another name. It may well have sucked-up the share of the vote that went to Farage’s former vehicle five years ago, but by presenting itself as the only unambiguous option available to Leavers, the party has attracted thousands of disillusioned Labour and Tory voters who have simmered and seethed when watching the MPs they voted into office two years ago either dither or deliberately obstruct the implementation of something they swore they would honour.

With 11 of the UK’s 12 regions declared at the time of writing, the only areas in which the Brexit Party failed to win the most votes were Scotland and London – yet, even in the Labour-centric capital, it was the Lib Dems rather than Corbyn’s crew that topped the table, amusingly hitting No.1 in the Islington charts as well. It was a disastrous night for Labour – pushed into third place in Wales and falling behind the Greens in the East of England as well as the South East and the South West. The piss-poor showing by Labour will heap further pressure on beleaguered Jezza by the Watson/Starmer/Thornberry Remainer triumvirate to go all-out for a second referendum strategy, which should play out well in the party’s old northern strongholds. But maybe it’s already too late; Labour have spent so long sitting on that fence that the Lib Dems have steamed ahead as the party of Remain and look set to…erm…remain.

As for the Tories, well, was anyone really surprised? The Conservatives didn’t win a single area and cannot finish any higher than fifth place when all the nationwide votes are tallied; the party can now boast a paltry four MEPs following a record low of 9.1% share of the vote; it’s the worst result in the party’s history – ever; and the Tories have a longer history than any other political party. Whoever succeeds Theresa May not only has to contend with the ever-present albeit largely imaginary threat of Corbyn; he/she also has to contend with the far more realistic threat of Nigel Farage…again – and look what that threat did to the Tories three years ago.

© The Editor


I suppose a turd can only be polished so many times before it’s worn down into nothing, even if the turd that Theresa May has been polishing for what feels like a lifetime wasn’t exactly a prize-winning stool to begin with. You have to hand it to the Prime Minister, though; she keeps polishing away with her duster and can of Mr Sheen, determined the whole country will see its reflection in it sooner or later; trouble is, that turd has only ever shown her reflection, which is apt for a woman who is undoubtedly the shittest holder of her office in living memory. Well, if you can’t be blunt now, eh?

On Tuesday, just 48 hours away from another anticipated annihilation at the polling station, the chronically deluded Mrs May unveiled her revised strategy for finally getting her useless EU withdrawal deal through Parliament; and she’s surpassed herself yet again, alienating everybody she desperately tried to woo with another series of opportunistic promises that will never be delivered and everyone can see through. At times, her behaviour reminds me of a doomed gambler owing a fortune to a mobster that the debt collector knows cannot be paid, offering everything but the kitchen sink in the absence of cash. ‘Take the HD TV set – I’ve only had it six months and it cost a fortune; take my car – it’s worth five grand, easily; take my watch, my mother’s engagement ring, the shirt off my back…’ BANG!

Ironically, Theresa May has at last achieved something that has seemed impossible for the past couple of years: she’s actually united the Commons. Unfortunately for her, she’s united it in opposition. Labour, the SNP, the DUP, the Lib Dems, the Greens, and the majority of her own party – all united against what must surely be the final despairing throw of the dice for this embarrassingly hapless and hopeless Prime Minister. Brexiteers and Remainers alike have turned their noses up at the latest add-ons to the same old deal, the deal that has been rejected so many times that it’s hard to remember which occasions promised which bribes. On one of them, she said she’d quit if it got through; on another, she said the magic money tree in the Downing Street garden would sprout a few notes for deprived communities Oop North if it got through; now, she’s even stooped so low as offer a vote on a second referendum if it gets through, one more U-turn for the book. And nobody is buying it.

After six futile weeks of beer & sandwiches chinwags with Labour that resulted in bugger all, May has publicly announced Corbyn-flavoured compromises I suspect she tried out behind closed doors – workers’ rights, environmental protection, customs union, and (of course) second referendum – yet the response from the Opposition is the same. John McDonnell had a valid point when he compared entering into an agreement with this Government to signing a contract with a company poised to go into administration. Their word is no bond at all because they are on the verge of collapse, and any agreement would be null and void before the ink had even dried. Everyone bar our lame duck leader can see it. She has changed nobody’s mind with this week’s model; by the evening following yesterday’s announcement, not one MP who was opposed to the deal last time round had declared their conversion to the PM’s way of thinking and promised to vote differently.

All of this was pretty inevitable, however. The disastrous gamble of the 2017 General Election was evidence enough that Mrs May was out of her depth on a scale unseen since old Turnip Taylor’s memorably woeful stint as England manager in the early 90s. The Tories did not like that, but when they had their opportunity to oust May last December, they bottled it; the absence of an outstanding candidate to replace her and perennial fear of Jezza grabbing the keys to No.10 persuaded the party to retain a leader too obstinate and perhaps too stupid to realise its decision was not motivated by any faith in her ability to get the job done. Most of this could have been prevented, but the Conservative Party is now paying the price for its failure to show May the door.

The Ghost of Referendums Past in the shape of Mr Milkshake himself has returned to haunt the Tories and send them plummeting to the bottom of virtually every poll published over the last month or so; May had already alienated the party’s blue-rinsed backbone with certain polices outlined in the 2017 manifesto, but diehard Tory voters are now abandoning their traditional voting preferences handed down like family heirlooms and are flocking in their droves to a party that wouldn’t need to exist had Mrs May and her unruly underlings honoured the Referendum result as they told us they would two years ago. Should Theresa May’s pitiful premiership ever lay claim to a ‘legacy’ once it’s put out of its misery, chances are that legacy will be the Brexit Party.

Right now, there appear to be just two parties unashamedly honest in their intentions – Farage’s lot and Old Mother Cable’s wet blankets. The Lib Dem’s ‘Stop Brexit’ posts dotted around suburban grass verges – or indeed their attempt at wooing the proles, ‘Bollocks to Brexit’ – is a rare example of plain-speaking in a political culture wracked with doublethink rhetoric. At least the Lib Dems aren’t masking their Remoaner agenda in unconvincing pretensions to a ‘Brexit for all’ fantasy; that’s been half the problem with May, not to mention Corbyn’s crowd, which is why both are being deserted by once-loyal constituencies that voted Leave in 2016. This is a mess entirely of the political class’s making, and the fact so many members of it still don’t understand – either by demanding a second referendum or simply pretending nobody can discern the fact they’re Remainers in Leave clothing – not only shows they have learnt nothing but that they are utterly incapable of learning anything.

The political class and their ideological allies, the media class, can see the writing on the wall, but they don’t want to read it; so, they resort to clutching at any straw they can magic-up. Indulging in daily smears against their opponents or ordering an investigation into the Brexit Party’s funding that has found no evidence of wrongdoing any different from the far-from saintly way most political parties are funded – none of these tired tactics are working for anyone other than Farage. Every dairy-based beverage aimed in his direction only serves to guarantee another dozen votes for his party come tomorrow; the political and media classes are pouring petrol on the bonfire and can’t figure out why their actions aren’t putting out the flames.

Presiding over the longest unbroken parliament since the English Civil War, Theresa May and her rump rabble will one day give us a cracking six-part Sunday night serial, for the Watergate factor of government-in-meltdown makes for a far more engrossing drama than one about an administration winning landslides. There’s never been a shortage of dramatisations of Thatcher’s fall from power, for example; but who would want to watch one based around the 1987 General Election? At this moment in time, however, we aren’t watching the meltdown of May from the distance of decades and wondering if they picked the right cast to play her motley crew; it’s happening for real right in front of us – and the only definite outcome of this drama is that Theresa is toast.

© The Editor


It pays to flick through past posts if approaching a topic I’ve written about on previous occasions, if only to avoid repetition. Past posts can also be handy ways of assessing not necessarily predictions, but attempts at guessing where we might go next. Well, few knew before and fewer still know now – that much is true today. The talk at the end of last year and the start of this was anticipating a move by restless centrist politicians from both left and right meeting in the middle to form their own SDP-like breakaway party that would allegedly appeal to moderates alienated by the warring factions on either side of the Brexit barricade. That appeared to be the only change on the cards; and though it eventually happened, any new party dependent on oily Umunna and sour-faced Soubry is facing far more of an uphill challenge than the one formed by Jenkins, Owens, Williams and Rodgers almost 40 years ago.

What began as ‘TIG’ and has now been rebranded Change UK isn’t exactly taking the country by storm. Whereas the SDP peaked at a 50% poll rating in the autumn of 1981 (less than a year after its formation), the apathy greeting Change UK is a consequence of the conceit of its founders. All are second division strikers, with not one of them having scored one of the great offices of state; but their high opinion of themselves and belief that their outdated approach remains relevant has blinded them to a sea-change in the public mood that is seeing an even newer party steal the headlines and soar way ahead of them in the polls. The Change UK attitude is to dismiss Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party as a right-wing rest-home for bonkers old Tories and ex-UKIP fruitcakes; their smug arrogance in dismissing something they should be taking very seriously will be their undoing, but will they listen? What do you think?

The BBC’s archaic attempts at impartiality saw last Friday’s scheduled edition of ‘Have I Got News For You’ pulled at the last minute because one of the guest panellists was Change UK’s Heidi Allen. The reason given for this abrupt, eleventh hour cancellation was Allen representing a party intending to participate in the upcoming European Elections, which seems strange; Britain’s late entry into the contest was already known on the day the programme was recorded; could not another guest have been chosen? After all, a tub of lard once famously deputised for Roy Hattersley on the show a few years ago. The BBC has a history of panicking when politics risks being treated lightly – infamously axing ‘That Was The Week That Was’ at the end of 1963, when a General Election was imminent – and is terrified of being seen as favouring one political party over the other, despite its pro-Remain stance being pretty indisputable.

Then again, the BBC (as with all London-centric mainstream media outlets) belongs to the same exclusive gentleman’s club as the Westminster set, burying its head in the same sand and pissing in the same pot. Ignoring something in the hope it will simply go away is not good enough at this moment in history. That’s precisely what the two major parties have been guilty of for far too long. In 2017, the Conservatives and Labour enjoyed the largest share of the vote the two major parties had managed since 1970, seemingly ending the fragmented era of fringe parties stealing their seats. Now, less than two years on from the last General Election, their failure to honour the 2016 Referendum result (not to mention deliberate efforts at outright prevention) has seen their hard-fought recovery utterly trashed; they’ve blown it, quite possibly for good.

A new poll published in the Sunday Telegraph puts the Brexit Party one point ahead of the Tories; the poll, by ComRes, is taking a hypothetical survey in the event of a snap General Election, but the findings should shake even the most blinkered, deluded Tories who still cling to the fallacy that Theresa May’s repeatedly rejected deal is the only way out of this impasse. The PM herself has told the 1922 Committee she’ll finally walk the plank if her deal passes when she drags it before the Commons one more time – the same promise she made last time it faced the firing squad; it didn’t work then and it won’t work now.

The catastrophic recent local election results from the Conservative perspective – losing over a thousand councillors – saw most of those seats go to the Lib Dems and the Greens; those two claimed they were on the side of the electoral angels in the wake of the results, but there were a record number of spoiled ballot papers in the absence of any Leave candidates. It’s a bit like justifying the questionable appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as permanent Manchester Utd manager on the strength of his results as caretaker, when the team had an easy run of winnable fixtures against lower opposition. They ended the season by losing at home to relegated Cardiff.

If the Tories should be on red alert following the findings of the poll in the Sunday Telegraph – and those of a similar poll by Opinium – Labour have no cause for complacency either. The pressure by the membership to adopt the Second Referendum route whilst traditional Labour voters in the diehard northern and midlands heartlands remain Leave-inclined has left poor old Jezza looking more at sea and less in control of the party’s destiny than ever before. And if the future looks bleak when one contemplates the likely contenders to succeed Mrs May, there’s no less despair when one thinks of Tom Watson or Keir Starmer seizing the Corbyn crown. Take two weak leaders surrounded by mediocre wannabes, add a shameful determination to overturn a democratic mandate, throw in dismissive contempt for the concerns of the plebs – and you have a recipe for potential disaster.

If one at least tries to take the long view, it’s possible to conclude that a single-issue party run by a man adept at generating publicity and more than capable of exploiting widespread disaffection with the political process is one it’s difficult to see being relevant beyond its moment, like a particular pair of trousers fashionable for a solitary season. Closer examination would no doubt uncover not much substance beneath the surface and one could argue Farage’s response to an admittedly piss-poor grilling from Andrew Marr was to resort to tried-and-trusted Trump-like tactics, crying media bias and avoiding awkward questions. Yet, the Brexit Party has timed its moment to absolute perfection, and as long the big two keep their fingers in their ears, that moment will retain its relevance.

The need for a new party that can – to paraphrase Roy Jenkins – ‘break the mould of British politics’ and end the century-old Tory and Labour stranglehold has been pressing for a long time; and though Change UK are (in their minds) attempting to do just that in the old-fashioned way, nobody is interested. It’s hard not to feel we’ve moved on from that now. God knows where we’ve moved on to or where we’re going; but I can’t help thinking the old-fashioned way is over. And it’s over because those who prospered from it fatally failed to detect the people had had enough. You can only push them so far, and then who knows what they’ll do? Just ask Monsieur Macron – or maybe one of his distant predecessors, Louis XVI.

© The Editor


Well, exactly one year ago today we were all about to wake up to the news that a majority of the Great British Public had voted to leave the European Union. At the time, this blog showcased a variety of views pre-vote, and I welcomed them all into what I hoped would be perceived as a healthy forum for the great debate of our times. Twelve months on, the subject remains on the tip of that same public’s tongue, though the phrase ‘Brexit’ has become so ubiquitous that I have to admit I’m pretty sick of it. The General Election of just over a fortnight ago was called in order that Theresa May could strengthen her position when it came to orchestrating the actual physical withdrawal from the EU, and the inconclusive result of that campaign speaks volumes as to how divisive the issue has remained ever since June 23/24 last year.

For all Nigel Farage’s understandable euphoria when he saw his life’s work finally succeed, Britain’s ‘Independence Day’ didn’t necessarily mean everything changed in the space of 24 hours. We’ve had a year to get used to the result, though it’s only been in the past week that a Minister from the UK Parliament has actually sat down with the Brussels mandarins and begun negotiations; we’ve still got two years of this to look forward to. The result was more or less as close as the result of the Scottish Independence Referendum of 2014 and the reaction of many whose vote wasn’t on the winning side has been similarly ill-tempered and emitting a distinctly malodorous odour of sour grapes.

A rash of hissy-fit protests in the wake of the vote and then the emergence of figures such as Gina Miller have served to intensify divisions that even led to a tediously-vocal audience member being ejected from the ‘Question Time’ audience last Thursday. If the EU Referendum exposed divisions in the UK that had been fermenting for decades, the General Election has simply reinforced them.

The glaring divide between young and old on this issue has been simplified in characteristic tabloid fashion both in the actual tabloids and on television, though the divisions distinguishing the metropolitan mafia of Westminster bigwigs and media commentators from those residing outside of the self-contained M25 bubble are more prescient. A lazy assumption that to vote Leave was somehow the exclusive province of Britain First-supporting white working-class bigots or racist pensioners is typical of numerous distortions propagated over the past year; in reality, many British-born Asians voted Leave, some doing so because they believed Britain’s traditional loyalties lie with the Commonwealth rather than Eastern Europe.

A year on, many who didn’t pick the winning horse (not all of whom belonged to any ‘elite’) have accepted the result with good grace and are grown-up enough to acknowledge that a democratic vote doesn’t always side with the way you yourself voted; some, however, cling to the slim hope that the will of the people can somehow be overturned and what they regard as common sense will prevail in the end. These dissenting voices stretch from Europhile Tory grandees like Clarke and Heseltine to the aforementioned Miller and the conscience-stricken Christian Lib Dem ex-leader Tim Farron. Their determination that a so-called ‘Soft Brexit’ will preserve membership of the Single Market and Customs Union, therefore enabling free movement of labour to continue, flies in the face of the immigration issue that was so pivotal to the Leave vote in the first place; but as much as their argument effectively negates the actual result, any ‘Hard Brexit’ strategy has been trashed by the failure of Theresa May to achieve a majority in the Commons.

The problem with Brexit as far as most people are concerned is that they still don’t know what it fully entails; the simplistic Remain/Leave option on the ballot paper a year ago has become so ambiguous and open to so many interpretations in the last twelve months that it has allowed both sides to fill in the blank spaces with their own notions of what it should mean. It’ll take another couple of years before the full ramifications of the decision that claimed the head of a serving Prime Minister (and May well claim the head of another) are fully understood, and by then who knows what this country will resemble? As a means of healing divisions, Brexit remains an unconvincing Superglue.


There’s something about cricket that lends itself to a certain kind of voice. John Arlott, Johnners, Jim Laker, Fred Trueman, Richie Benaud, and Henry Blofeld – none of these great gentlemen could have commentated on football or rugby league, for example. The fast-paced nature of both those sports was suited to immortal voices belonging to the likes of Brian Moore or Eddie Waring – the former able to capture goalmouth action with such a memorable level of fevered excitement that it ensured Jim Montgomery’s miraculous save from Peter Lorimer in the ’73 Cup Final would be incomplete without him; and the latter perfectly complementing what was once a gritty, grubby sport played on cold, muddy pitches with a bullish northern delivery that was never better expressed than when Wakefield Trinity’s Don Fox missed a penalty kick in the dying seconds of the ’68 Challenge Cup Final that handed the cup to Leeds – ‘eeh, the poor lad’.

Cricket, with its often soporific interludes and evocation of quintessential English summer serenity, requires a different kind of commentary, and with all of its past poets now gone, ‘Blowers’ was one of the last of the old school still elucidating at will on long-wave. Alas, no more. Blofeld has announced his retirement from ‘Test Match Special’ with the end of the current cricket season in September. His diction is pure pre-war and why not? Estuary English has no place in cricket and it remains one of the lingering bastions of unfashionable pronunciation that is allowed because it implies a certain eccentricity in the context of a sport that, certainly at county and Test Match level, refuses to adhere to the hyper pace of modern life. And even if you don’t like cricket, it’s hard to deny such a rare precious anachronism in the twenty-first century must be embraced.

Blofeld, whose father was at school with Ian Fleming and therefore no doubt provided the surname for James Bond’s nemesis, has been a fixture of radio’s most mellifluous sports broadcast since 1974 and it’s as hard to imagine TMS without him as it once was to imagine it without his illustrious predecessors and one-time fellow commentators. It turns out he’s ‘only’ 77; I imagined him to be closer to 100, but maybe that’s merely due to the voice, which betrays an admirable immunity to healthy living as recommended by government guidelines. But it will go on. As will he – one hopes. England needs him.

© The Editor


Standing as an independent is often a handy get-out clause for an MP at odds with his or her superiors and officials; a bone of contention between party and politician can prompt a resignation and provoke a by-election, as happened with Zac Goldsmith in Richmond Park. Although it didn’t pay off for that particularly hapless Hooray Henry, if the MP is popular enough within the constituency, voters can overlook tribal loyalties and go for the personality rather than the party. Even then, however, one man (or woman) against the intimidating onslaught of everything a major political party can call upon is not an experience for the faint-hearted.

On the eve of the February 1974 Election, Eddie Milne – MP for Blyth of 14 years’ vintage – was deselected by Labour following years of campaigning against local government corruption in the North East; Milne was eventually vindicated when the Poulson Affair broke, but the involvement of leading Labour figures in the scandal had earned Milne the enmity of his local party. He decided to run as an independent and defeated the Labour candidate. When losing his seat in the October Election that same year, Milne blamed his loss on the overwhelming strength of the party machine, claiming Labour had utilised the entire weight at its disposal and directed it towards Blyth for the sole purpose of dislodging a thorn in its side.

When Nigel Farage announced his intention to stand as a candidate for the seat of South Thanet in Kent at the 2015 General Election, the same party machine that can be turned on its own renegade sons and daughters was directed towards the then-UKIP leader. It was evident that the Conservative Party was determined to prevent Farage from winning the seat at all costs. South Thanet was vacant on account of its Tory MP Laura Sandys deciding to stand down, and such a high-profile figure as Farage aiming to make it seventh time lucky in his ongoing bid for Westminster triggered the alarm bells at Central Office. Emails leaked to the media two years later alleged that Theresa May’s Political Secretary Stephen Parkinson and Chris Brannigan, Director of Government Relations at the Cabinet Office, had played a significant part in the operation to keep Farage out, suggesting this was no ordinary attempt to protect a vulnerable marginal.

Opinion polls published in the months leading up to the Election showed UKIP with a strong lead over the Tories in South Thanet – including 9% in April; Farage being perhaps the most famous politician in the country without an actual Parliamentary constituency to his name meant that the media selected the seat as one-to-watch during the campaign and on Election Night itself. The intervention of comedian Al Murray, standing as an independent in a stunt to further derail Farage’s chances of capturing the seat, placed an even greater spotlight on South Thanet. Its previous claim-to-fame rested on its MP from 1983-97, disgraced Tory Minister Jonathan Aitken; but in 2015 South Thanet attracted as much attention as any other constituency being fought over in the country.

To add additional spice to the drama, the Conservative candidate Craig Mackinlay was a former member of UKIP himself and had been the party’s deputy leader in 1997; he stood unsuccessfully at both the 2001 and 2005 General Elections for UKIP before defecting to the Tories shortly after his second defeat. The incumbent UKIP leader standing against a former UKIP deputy leader in the same seat in 2015 was a dream script for political observers, yet it was difficult to predict which way the wind would blow in South Thanet come the day of the Election. In the end, Mackinlay narrowly defeated Farage, receiving 18,838 votes to Nigel’s 16,026; and that seemed to be the end of the affair, with Farage resigning as UKIP leader and his best shot to date at becoming an MP resulting in failure once again.

However, when Channel 4 News broke the story of extortionate Conservative Party spending during the 2015 General Election the following year, South Thanet returned to the national headlines. The Tories were accused of pouring thousands into the battle-buses ferrying activists to and from marginal constituencies and covering their expenses (including hotel accommodation) in the process; though not a crime in itself, these associated costs should have been regarded as local expenditure rather than national, something which did indeed break the rules.

Kent Police opened an investigation into Craig Mackinlay’s spending returns, and whereas the CPS baulked at proceeding with prosecution when it came to the many other accusations of a similar ilk relating to 2015, the case of South Thanet has been the exception. Today, with less than a week to go to the General Election, it was announced that Craig Mackinlay, his election agent Nathan Gray, and party activist Marion Little have all been charged with offences under the Representation of the People Act 1983 and are scheduled to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on July 4. The CPS decided there was sufficient evidence to charge the trio and it is in the public interest to do so.

With only two years between the last General Election and this one, rather than the expected five, the chances of the South Thanet 2015 result being declared void and a by-election being triggered as a consequence (depending on the outcome of the case against Mackinlay) have been scuppered by the overturning of the Fixed Term Parliament Act and the fact Mackinlay is standing again on June 8. As for Nigel Farage, he’s already declared he won’t be standing this time round, so what could have been a far more interesting end to this story won’t take place after all. But the murky nature of the machinations to prevent Nigel Farage from capturing South Thanet is a lesson to smaller parties and independents everywhere.

© The Editor


vlcsnap-2016-11-16-17h54m01s92There has been an abundance of media discussion on the ‘Special Relationship’ between the UK and the US in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory in the US Presidential Election, and the haste of Nigel Farage to play the Blair poodle to Trump’s Bush has been fairly excruciating to witness over the last few days. Obama’s ‘back of the queue’ response to Brexit set the British cat amongst the American pigeons a few months ago, yet the extent of the UK handover to US interests in the wake of the Empire’s dissolution half-a-century ago remains relatively under-reported.

Take the British Indian Ocean Territory, for example. Not familiar with it? Halfway between Tanzania and Indonesia, this area encompasses around a thousand islands within 23 square miles, the largest landmass of which is Diego Garcia, covering 17 square miles. Today, its inhabitants are US and UK military personnel and numerous contractors numbering up to 2,5000, though until the late 60s and early 70s the island had a native population of 2,000 descended largely from eighteenth century slaves originally emanating from Mozambique and Madagascar. Even after the abolition of slavery within the British Empire in 1834, the Chagos Archipelago remained a colonial outpost where the natives were very much second-class citizens; with the nearest imperial HQ in Mauritius, a considerable distance away, the post-slavery ‘freemen’ on Diego Garcia were poorly-paid contract workers employed by an absentee landlord, whose working and living conditions were rarely studied or improved.

During the Second World War, British and Indian troops were garrisoned on the island, with its strategic position attracting the peacetime attention of both the UK and US Governments, who entered into discussions to establish a permanent military base there. There had already been a significant change in the island population due to the French ownership of the various plantations there; a 1964 census claimed up to 80% of the populace were contract workers imported from the Seychelles. When talk of a military base resurfaced in the mid-60s, UK sovereignty in the region meant that the territory would remain British, despite any proposed base being a joint enterprise with the USA. Mauritius gaining independence in 1968 caused the UK to relieve the newly-independent former governor of the remote islands in the Chagos Archipelago of its duties, and to set about making plans for the main island’s future.

Fifty years ago next month, the British and American Governments signed an agreement that is shortly due to expire, one that allocated the region for military use, nominally under UK control, but essentially an army base for the US. In order to carry out the stipulations of the agreement, the native population was required to be evacuated from Diego Garcia, a task undertaken in virtual secrecy by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office between 1967 and 1973. This depopulation removed most of the island’s inhabitants to Mauritius and the Seychelles, though many settled in the unlikely environs of Crawley, West Sussex.

Sneakily skirting around UN rules and regulations on such issues, the British Government claimed the majority of the island’s population as it stood when seeking to evict them was ‘non-resident’, implying most were migrant workers with no historical or emotional attachment to the area. Those who actually contradicted the official view soon found themselves separated from family and friends when attempting to return home from visiting Mauritius, denied entry and suddenly rendered both homeless and jobless.

Perhaps the most despicable method of depopulation came via the cruel and cynical massacre of the island resident’s pets. According to veteran journalist John Pilger, upwards of a thousand animals kept as pets, mostly dogs, were taken away from the natives and gassed with exhaust fumes. This barbarous act served as a warning to the population that it was time to pack their bags, and when Labour MP Tam Dalyell received word of what was happening and expressed his intentions to raise the subject in the Commons, the FCO responded with a hastily-compiled excuse to cover their tracks that exposed their compliance with US military interests. By 1971, construction had already begun on establishing an American base on Diego Garcia.

In 1972, compensation payments to natives totalling £650,000 were handed to the Mauritian Government by the British, though it took the best part of five years before these payments reached those evicted from Diego Garcia. When the Washington Post tried to raise public awareness in America in the mid-70s, subsequent US Congressional Committees seeking to look into the matter were brushed off with a ‘classified information’ clause, whereas successive efforts to return islanders to their home have failed, blocked by endless legal loopholes as the case has been a virtual pass-the-parcel game through various international courts over the last 25 years that the British public has been largely ignorant of.

This week it has been announced that the latest attempt of islanders and their descendents to return home has been rejected by the British Government. FCO Minister Baroness Anelay has said that resettlement was turned down on the grounds of ‘feasibility, defence and security interests’ as well as ‘costs to the British taxpayer’, offering £4 million compensation payments spread over the next decade as a means of fobbing off ongoing campaigns to reclaim Diego Garcia from the US military.

Next time the subject of the ‘Special Relationship’ is raised, it’s probably worth examining precisely what that vague description actually means. In the case of the British Indian Ocean Territory, it essentially translates as the British selling their remaining dependencies down the river for the benefit of the American military, something that the upcoming Trump administration would probably wholeheartedly approve of. Nice one, Nigel.

© The Editor


boxing-glovesThe impact of Brexit on the political makeup of this country made its mark in remarkably swift time, with the body count including the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and over half of the Shadow Cabinet. Yet, the one party that should have been on top of the world in the wake of British politics’ most seismic shift in over 30 years, the one that should have benefitted from it more than any other, the one for which Brexit was its entire raison d’être, appears to have imploded. While the media’s attention has largely been focused on the civil war within the Labour Party since June 23, the party that actually got the result it wanted has undergone an arguably greater period of turmoil post-Brexit. Yes, I’m naturally talking about our old friends in UKIP. This was the party formed for the sole reason of getting Britain out of the European Union; against all the expected odds, it finally succeeded in achieving its aim, and since then the whole enterprise has gone…well…tits up – an expression I’m sure they wouldn’t object to in UKIP circles.

Nigel Farage, the smoking, gurning, boozing boomerang of British politics who swore his second resignation as UKIP leader really was the end of his stint at the head of the party, is back in charge yet again, though this time he assures us it’s merely an interim post. This has been thrust upon him following the aborted 18-day reign of his successor Diane James. If Jeremy Corbyn was a virtually unknown entity to the average voter when he was elected Labour leader for the first time last year, Diane James was the invisible woman.

The strange – okay one strange – thing about UKIP is that its most familiar members weren’t actually running for control of the party when Nige stepped down for the last time. Ade Edmondson lookalike Paul Nuttall is a regular on ‘Question Time’, ‘The Daily Politics’ and ‘This Week’, as is Suzanne Evans; neither ran. Douglas Carswell is the party’s solitary MP, yet he wasn’t a contender either. Neil Hamilton, the former Tory MP who now leads UKIP in the Welsh Assembly (and a man who seems to live up to every UKIP stereotype with his air of a confused colonial colonel who refuses to accept the loss of the Empire), never got a leadership look in either.

Instead, we had a group of local councillor-types who, one suspected, even their mothers would struggle to recognise. Diane James won it and then quit less than three weeks later. Being kissed by Farage on the podium within seconds of her election victory probably wasn’t to blame, but few would envy her that honour.

A fresh leadership contest has now been thrown into disarray yet again following an ‘incident’ in the European Parliament yesterday, whereby bookies’ favourite Steven Woolfe had an altercation with a fellow UKIP MEP during a meeting of the party’s Euro-sceptic Euro boys (and girls) in Strasbourg. To be fair, all are facing a testing time; their ultimate aim would inevitably render them redundant. An MEP is fairly low down the political pecking order as it is, but actively campaigning for the UK to exit the EU naturally means no more British MEPs. Anyway, from what can be gathered from the somewhat unsavoury headlines, punches were exchanged between Mr Woolfe and – allegedly – Mike Hookem (ironically, UKIP’s Spokesman on Defence), during which the leadership hopeful banged his head; collapsing a couple of hours later, Woolfe was rushed to hospital and had a brain-scan. He is reportedly not in as serious a condition as initially thought.

Amidst this bout of playground politics, one of UKIP’s major donors Arron Banks has claimed the party to be at breaking point and let rip into Neil Hamilton, who supposedly had a few digs at Steven Woolfe on television before his condition after the scrap was fully known. Banks threatens to leave the party if both Hamilton and Douglas Carswell stay in it. The vitriolic antipathy between the various known names in UKIP makes some of Labour’s personality clashes seem no more unpleasant than the good-humoured piss-taking of Nicholas Parsons by Paul Merton on ‘Just a Minute’, and that UKIP seems to be bordering on the brink of complete collapse is remarkable considering no current political party in the country has laid out such a specific ambition and actually achieved it. Like a sportsman who has spent his entire career desperate for an Olympic gold medal, it almost feels as though reaching the pinnacle was a point at which there was only one way left to go – down.

Disgruntled Tories, disillusioned Labour voters, and – most probably – former BNP supporters who no doubt don’t like to talk about it, all flocked to UKIP during the long lead-up to the long-anticipated EU Referendum, won over by Farage’s Donald Trump-like outsider status, something perhaps enhanced by his persistent failure to be elected to Westminster. But now it would appear many that put their cross next to ‘Leave’ on the Referendum paper, chiming with UKIP sentiments, are already looking elsewhere for the next issue, whether drifting back to a Conservative Party now stripped of the Cameroons or even giving Jezza a chance. The old adage about being careful what you wish for appeared highly apt following the Brexit vote. For UKIP, it was a case of job done – so what now? Judging by recent events, oblivion.

The iniquities of Britain’s first-past-the-post system, giving the SNP 56 seats and UKIP just one at the 2015 General Election, has already made the party’s attempts to make inroads into the Commons hard work; but it seems now that UKIP are destined to retreat back to the fringes of British politics, side-by-side on the eternal periphery alongside their ideological enemies, the Greens. Be careful what you wish for indeed.

© The Editor


FarageWhere 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