As you may be aware, former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has openly criticised their new leader Gerard Batten for his hard stance on Islam.
In a recent party meeting, Farage discussed how while Batten’s new direction on criticising Islamic extremism was welcome, he felt that his supposed attack on the religion would mean that UKIP would ‘lose’ any support. He also stressed gaining the support of moderate Muslims.
While many would find it surprising that Farage would openly attack the party for such issues (for which I believe it would have the backing of the majority of the British public), the sad truth is that it doesn’t surprise me much at all.
This is because Farage, as great as he was as both UKIP leader and the one to get Brexit rolling, has seemingly been doing everything he can to push the party back. Why do I think this you may ask?
It is because he seems rather terrified of either the party moving on beyond Brexit (why this is, I don’t know; our Editor-in-Chief asks if Nigel is concerned about his image for his media career) and has subsequently demonised anyone who has tried to bring change into the party. This also isn’t helped by how he seems to weed out anyone from the party who doesn’t share exactly his view.
Most of his feuds have been out of line. This fall out with Batten being one example, showing his complete unwillingness to tackle one of the most important issues in our country of which could win votes for the party, and make sure those votes didn’t fall in to the hands of actual far right parties.
His public feud with Clacton MP Douglas Carswell over funding, that some suggest would have been spent on jobs for Nigel’s favourites. Then there is his infamous clash with Neil Hamilton AM over whether his mistress Alex Philips should be parachuted in Wales; awkwardly for Nigel, Welsh UKIP said no. Democracy in action!
Not to mention, his (or more likely the party’s) removal of the likes of anti-globalist Godfrey Bloom and Winston McKenzie from UKIP because of their non-PC attitude caused huge fallout, with the former stating that Farage had ‘lost touch’ with his grassroots supporters in the party and the latter openly (and wrongly) called the party racist over the debacle.
Now I fully appreciate that the likes of Bloom and McKenzie were probably not the shall we say presentable types that UKIP may have wanted to have standing for the more professional party they were becoming in the earlier half of this decade, but they were local party supporters, not to mention electable.
Bloom was a Member of the European Parliament for Yorkshire and the Humber for a decade, and McKenzie did come third in the seat of Croydon North, both in the 2012 by-election in that seat & the 2015 general election. His blunt dismissal of both of them may have been excusable, one may argue, because he was planning to professionalise the party. That would be wonderful had the subsequent candidates been worth their salt, but more on that later.
Despite what one’s feelings are on both Bloom and McKenzie being fired from UKIP are, at least one could argue that they were doing it to make the party look professional, which their gaffes prevented UKIP from doing. However, many UKIP members would feel otherwise.
As for Anne Marie Waters, she may have been politically incorrect, some would say she needs to be more so, but she was also deadly serious, and anyone who campaigned with her back in last year’s UKIP leadership election (including myself) would know.
She cared about important issues like Islamist extremism, on top of issues like public sector funding and holding the authorities (the police most notably) to account. I believe she was the perfect person to take UKIP forward after its complete tanking in that year’s earlier general and local elections being blamed on its supposed one issue stance.
The way she was treated was shocking to me. It seems weird that Farage was so angry about Waters. While there was some controversy within UKIP regards her choice of campaign team, it was Waters herself that Farage attacked, as he claimed that she was a ‘racist’ after she lost, and even hoped that she would leave the party as soon as she lost. What a charmer!
I find this to be most inconsistent. After all, she had said similar statements about Islam back in 2015 when she was standing as a candidate in Lewisham East for UKIP and no one complained there (she came third). Meanwhile, Farage had no qualms about backing the likes of Marine Le Pen, the Alternative for Germany party and Donald Trump, of who all had similarly critical views on Islam, and ran on those platforms. Hell, Trump managed to win the Presidency, so Farage’s views that such a view is unelectable isn’t true either.
Not to mention how he also backed the Republican Senate candidate for Alabama Roy Moore, whose views on Islam are far more extreme than anything Waters expressed (unless you think calling Islam a ‘false religion’ and arguing that Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to stand for public office aren’t extreme views – neither view advocated by Waters it should be said). Meanwhile, Moore’s other views (including those on various tragedies in the US being committed because of the lack of belief of God in the States and homosexuality) are far more extreme than anything Waters could have cooked up. So, one must wonder why Farage had such a problem with Waters at all.
It was most likely because he couldn’t control the party from the outside with his stooge Bolton, or have as large an influence as he used to. Despite stepping down as leader after the 2016 EU referendum declared a Leave victory and denying various chances to re-run, he seems to have a huge sway as to who is in charge and their limitations. He is still leader of the EFDD. From this, most of UKIP’s leaders post-Farage have been singing from the same hymn sheet.
That would be fine had this worked out for the better for the party, but it hasn’t, with even the likes of prominent UKIP member Suzanne Evans saying that Farage had ‘terrible judgment’ over it.
The likes of Carswell and Mark Reckless defecting to UKIP in 2014 may have been seen as great advances for the party at the time (of which Farage was initially positive about for the former and called the latter a ‘great result’) but when Farage seemingly implied that they were career politicians jumping on the UKIP bandwagon, it got rather messy with public feuds between both politicians and Farage, with him even calling the latter returning to the Conservatives ‘very dishonourable’.
Not to mention his backing of former leaders Paul Nuttall and Henry Bolton. The former may have been possibly competent, or maybe a weak yes-man, but was clearly the captain of a sinking ship of who didn’t have the resources or the public support to stop it sinking completely.
And the latter (who Farage claimed was a ‘man of substance’) is now disgraced, through his infidelity to a very racist woman and is now under such grand delusion, is now starting his own party, making him this decade’s Robert Kilroy-Silk. At least Farage called Henry’s behaviour ‘stupidity’ I suppose.
That is why his constant intervention post his leadership is such a problem; it’s stopping the party from growing into a post-Brexit party that can truly challenge consensus politics and do something. I understand that he is passionate about Brexit (what British patriot isn’t), but there are other problems affecting Britain outside of that.
His refusal to move beyond Brexit and weed out anyone who does threatens to sink UKIP into political Britain, leaving a power vacuum where actual far right parties can spring on, which is never a good thing.
There are rumours that Nigel Farage may stand as a Democratic Unionist Party candidate in Northern Ireland in the next general election, a move which has been compared to Enoch Powell’s one whereby he left the Conservatives in 1974 and subsequently stood for the Ulster Unionist Party later that year, winning the seat and holding it for 13 years. And while this comparison is probably one just to further demonise him as evil and racist like Enoch supposedly was (which he wasn’t), it is apt here. And maybe it is for the best.
Until he can let his baby grow up in UKIP, it will ultimately struggle not to be stagnant and will strive against political oblivion. This will only lead to bad times in the future which will give the far right breeding ground. So maybe it is time for Farage to keep his promise about staying out of politics. It’ll do him and his party some good.
Disclaimer: The content of this post reflects the views of the author, and not necessarily those of MBGA News.
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