Making plans for Nigel

Populism in Britain took a giant leap towards its inevitable nadir this week with the return of Nigel Farage as leader of Reform UK with the announcement that he will be standing for election in Clacton, which as a former UKIP constituency and one of the poorest areas in the country with the lowest life expectancy is probably the best chance he’s ever likely to get of finally getting into Parliament.

And who do we have to blame for this? Well as far as I’m concerned it’s that other Marmite figure Piers Morgan, who went full rant on last Thursday’s BBC Question Time, accusing Nige of “bottling it” and slouching off to America to sniff around Trump.

There’s no way that Farage’s ego was going to let that one go and after eating away at him for a few days, all that needed to be done was to create the scenario for his U-turn. Richard Tice had asked him to take over as leader of the party and he couldn’t let millions of people down so after much soul searching he’s changed his mind.

Riiight…

Like his divisive megalomaniac convicted criminal mate across the Atlantic, Farage is one of the most polarising figures in the UK, as was made clear by the conflicting reactions on his first day of campaigning in the north Essex coastal town where he was once again drenched with a McDonalds milkshake (why is it always banana?)

But there’s a lot more to his entry into the fray than photo opportunities. This is part of a much bigger agenda centred around Farage’s hatred of the Conservatives, or should I say, the leadership.

It’s less about how many seats Reform could win, if any, and more about the extent of the Tories’ defeat. How many votes can be taken from them, even if Labour benefits from it as Farage has already said he believes the result is a foregone conclusion.

From July 5, Tories, particularly on the right of the party who hadn’t already bailed out, will be preoccupied with pointing the finger of blame as they face the possibility of the next 10 years in opposition.

There are prominent figures on the Conservative right who are already more closely aligned to Reform than the centre of their own party. How much worse can it get for them when Labour can make a complete mess of how the Diane Abbott situation has been handled and still climb in the polls?

Farage thrives on the politics of division and the factions hiding behind the illusion of a broad church have created the perfect climate for him to exert the sort of influence ovr the country that he has craved for decades.

………………………………………

The first leaders debate on ITV was an unedifying spectacle which did little to encourage confidence in either Rishi Sunak or Kier Starmer as the PM showed his characteristic tetchiness and chair Julie Etchingham struggled to keep order as the two men squabbled and spoke over each other.

Starmer failed to sufficiently rebutt the PM’s claims about tax rises and

Even after the the event, while being interviewed on Sky News, Johnny Mercer and West Streeting got into another massive spat that was eventually brought to an end when veteran reporter Jon Craig walked away refusing to act as referee.

………………………………………

Phrases I’m already utterly sick of

  1. The only poll that matters is the one on July 4
  2. Well, what I’m hearing on the doorsteps…
  3. My dad was a toolmaker
  4. It’s down to Covid, Ukraine, blah blah
  5. The plan is working

………………………………………

The line-up for this year’s Glastonbury leaves much to be desired. There are only about four acts I’m interested in watching alone on TV, let alone in a field full of complete strangers.

Advertisement

Edward Case

Columnist