Gut Feeling and Cold Reason

The recent (and perhaps still current) furore surrounding UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom’s ‘Bongo Bongo Land‘ remarks seem to have caused something of a rift in the ranks of eurosceptics surrounding Richard North and Autonomous Mind.

In their view, Bloom’s remarks were a disastrous mistake. Richard North called him

“a racist oaf”

Autonomous Mind didn’t see the remarks as racist, but was almost equally scathing.

“So what of the comments themselves?  Racist?  No.  Pathetic, boorish, arrogant, demeaning, antagonistic, needless and stupid? Absolutely.  But then this story is not unexpected because Bloom has demonstrated these same character flaws, among others,  many times before and he does it because he revels in courting controversy and thinks it plays well to UKIP’s core constituency.  Making such comments also allow him to indulge his fetish for acting like an uneducated juvenile delinquent.”

It’s nothing new, however. They both regularly heap scorn on UKIP and Nigel Farage, even though they both share his wish for Britain to leave the EU.

Part of the scorn seems to grow from the fact that, for all its anti-European rhetoric, UKIP has yet explain exactly how Britain might leave the EU. They’re strong on rhetoric, short on policy.

But part of it is also personal animosity towards Nigel Farage, who they regularly describe as dictatorial and paranoid and worse. Autonomous Mind elaborates a little:

 We want Farage to succeed for us.  But all the evidence so far is that Farage is failing.  He is putting long standing electoral self interest (the desire to split the Tories and lead one part of the resulting mess) before the cause he is supposed to be leading.  In my view he is not the man for the job and UKIP would be performing much better with someone else in the role.

Agree with me, don’t agree with me.  It’s completely up to you.  But if you prefer facts and evidence to ‘gut feeling’ then consider this.

Despite this, many of their regular readers didn’t agree with them at all, and said as much in the comments.

The trouble, perhaps, is that the likes of Richard North and Autonomous Mind are intellectuals who do a lot of serious thinking about the EU and the nature of British politics, and Nigel Farage isn’t an intellectual at all. Nigel Farage is all gut feeling.

Nothing perhaps expressed that better than Nigel Farage’s arrival to speak at Stony Stratford two years ago against a proposed outdoor smoking ban. I was there, and listened to him speak. He didn’t offer any sort of deep analysis of the proposed ban, and why it was wrong. He was simply very strongly opposed to it (as we all were), and said as much.

Richard North wasn’t there. And I doubt that Autonomous Mind was there either. Richard North is an ex-smoker (although probably not an antismoker). For them things like smoking bans are of utterly trivial importance by comparison with the much more substantive matter of Britain’s EU membership. They really have no interest in smoking bans at all. And they perhaps have no interest because the politics of smoking bans is all about gut feelings (on both sides).

And yet it’s Nigel Farage who is the charismatic leader of UKIP, not Richard North or Autonomous Mind. And for all their biting criticism of Farage, they haven’t been one tenth as successful as he has in building a political movement. Putting it very bluntly, Nigel Farage is a far more successful practical politician than either Richard North or Autonomous Mind.

And I dare say that Nigel Farage is successful precisely because he expresses many people’s gut feelings about Europe and smoking bans and very much else. And if intellectuals like Richard North were to take over UKIP, all that would almost certainly stop, and UKIP would become just as uninspiring as the current Conservative or Labour parties, and its support would melt away.

The lesson, perhaps, is that politics is much more about gut feeling than cold reason. The political arena is more an emotional arena than a rational one. And a successful politician is more likely to be a eloquent orator than a chilly theorist – in almost exactly the same way as a successful musician is almost always someone who can inject feeling into his instrument, and not just hit all the right notes.

And Nigel Farage is one of those eloquent orators. Not many politicians are. And, as such, he stands head and shoulders above the competition. He can do something that they can’t do. And perhaps that’s why he is able to decide what he wants to do, rather than have other people decide for him. Which probably does actually mean that he’s a bit autocratic. He’s in a commanding position, after all.

And given the amount of animosity directed at him, even from people who are nominally on his side, perhaps he’s a bit paranoid too.

In the end, eloquence is not enough, of course. Richard North is right: there do need to be clear, well-thought-out policies.

But it’s probably better to start with eloquence and no policies, than with policies and no eloquence.

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33 Responses to Gut Feeling and Cold Reason

  1. Tony says:

    Richard North keeps going on about the details of an exit strategy and about invoking clause 50 of the Lisbon treaty. He’s probably right but I think he’s trying to put the cart before the horse.

    UKIP have to have a public mandate before they can do anything. And talking about clause 50 is going to make people’s eyes glaze over.

    In any case, once UKIP do obtain a public mandate they may well find that the liblabcon have signed yet another treaty that nullifies the clause 50 plan.

    Disclaimer: I support UKIP but am not a spokesman.

  2. beobrigitte says:

    This remark about “Bongo-Bongo Land” has been blown out of proportion:
    The recent (and perhaps still current) furore surrounding UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom’s ‘Bongo Bongo Land‘ remarks seem to have caused something of a rift in the ranks of eurosceptics surrounding Richard North and Autonomous Mind.

    For crying out loud!!! Bongo-Bongo Land just simply means ANYWHERE!
    For entertainment; I have a friend who has always called me ‘Kraut’ – her mother thought that my mother must be a cruel person to give me such a name……………..

    I guess, the rise of UKIP rattles a few cages.

    • ianhillsatsparklingsites says:

      North and AM might THINK they are surrounded by massed ranks of worshippers. They might sulk and threaten to stop blogging because of perceived personal abuse (although they’ve heaped plenty of that on Farage themselves). But contrary to their own inflated opinions, they are not essential to Britain’s future. Neither is Farage for that matter, but at least more than a handful of people take notice of him.

  3. Pingback: What Nigel Farage Doesn’t Say | John Rentoul | Independent Eagle Eye Blogs « Dr Alf's Blog

  4. smokervoter says:

    Although I don’t have the exact, precise words Farage used while addressing the crowd at Stony Stratford I think it went “We’ve got to get these [Puritans] god awful people off of our backs”. I was very impressed with this gut level use of the language and the vehemence with which he delivered it. I remarked over at Pat Nurse’s blog (from which I got the quote from) as such. No American politician would have been gutsy enough to publicly say such a thing given the straight jacket that political correctness has them all wrapped up in.

    You’ve got it right, Nigel Farage is a special person at a special juncture in time and long may he run.

    And speaking of Godfrey Bloom, I remember an interview on the Alex Jones show that I joined into mid-session. Without knowing who Alex was talking with I thought ‘what a brilliant and, above all, sublimely humorous fellow this guest is’. It was only towards the end that his name was mentioned. I was impressed. His grown-up brand of wittiness is obviously too much for the average infantile Joe to fathom.

  5. Twisted Root says:

    In the current political dispensation Farage and UKIP have done many things which should have led to political oblivion. Ukip’s brand of anti-politics has worked so far but, the argument goes, it has limited appeal. I wonder.

    Before the local elections last May Ken Clarke called them “fruitcakes” and afterward Cameron said that UKIP would be subject to more scrutiny from the other parties. At the time he came across to me as the unpleasant bully he is and the scrutiny indeed turned out to be just more name calling.

    Richard North and Autonomous Mind point out the lack of post Brexit vision and disorganised naivety. I think they have a point. Do a thought experiment and imagine you wake up tomorrow to find a UKIP government in office. My head tells me that the resulting chaos as political realities crowd in would be a horror show.

    What Farage and co. have grasped however, is that the current political dispensation is breaking down in a big way and the Lib/Lab/Con are stuck with the old order one party label. There is a wider recognition amongst the public than generally appreciated that throwing around terms such as racist, sexist and homophobic, is the height of immaturity and anti-intellectualism. The very things of which UKIP stands accused by Richard North and Autonomous Mind.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Do a thought experiment and imagine you wake up tomorrow to find a UKIP government in office. My head tells me that the resulting chaos as political realities crowd in would be a horror show.

      That’s not actually going to happen though, is it? What’s more likely is that UKIP will become a political party about the size of the Lib Dems. And maybe not even that.

      And would it really be ‘chaos’? What we might see is genuine political debate, rather than the managed politics of the past decade or two.

      • Tony says:

        I hope that, long term, UKIP will do a lot more than just replacing the libdems.
        As for the notion of chaos, I think it is worth remembering that when Blair won the election in 1997 neither he nor any of his new ministers had any experience of government. So at worst they might kow tow to their civil servants and at best might change a lot of things, hopefully for the better.

      • right_writes says:

        Frank wrote:“And would it really be ‘chaos’? What we might see is genuine political debate, rather than the managed politics of the past decade or two.”

        I wonder whether without UKIP, any of the big issues of the last twenty years would even be under discussion?

        I reckon that we would be suffering under the Euro, even worse than with the pigs ear that our government has made with Sterling. No, that argument would have been left to Vague Hague as a piece of ephemera. And we certainly wouldn’t be discussing HS2, immigration policy, Article 50 (or 49) of the Lisbon treaty (we would have had a “constitution”)…

        But here’s the thing, there is no ambiguity about leaving the EU…. Change the nature of the government in Westminster, and Westminster will leave the EU by whatever method offers the most expedient exit. It’s not the EU that is the problem, it is the crowd that have infested Westminster and the communist/communitarian hordes that have hijacked the institutions of government.

        Oh yes… It is only through UKIP (without any seats at Westminster) making lots of noise from the sidelines, attracting sell out crowds at public meetings and being damned awkward, that any debate is being had at all.

        The reality of leaving the EU of course is that under the British constitution, no parliament can be bound by its predecessors… So a simple one line act that repeals the 1972 ECA and the 1973 Act of Accession will become null and void… Then it will take upwards of 10 (or even 20) years to gradually untie all of those oh so carefully tied knots, and if during that time it is moot to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty then so be it.

        Of course as even North has pointed out, there are many contracts/agreements/treaties that we are signed up to as members of the EU, that most non-members are also signed up to… International agreements. In general, the newspapers and Richard North attempt to trivialise the process of international law, and suggest that only article 50 (blah blah) will do… Well that is frankly… balderdash.

        I reckon that North has it wrong, the Lisbon Treaty is not something that we should have any respect for, we should just use it if it happens to simplify a part of the exit process.

        Incidentally, when was the last time that one listened to (or watched) an electronic meeja news broadcast, and though that the “real story” was 180° opposed… The precise opposite?

  6. Rose says:

    Skullduggery at the Daily Telegraph

    The original headline on the front page

    Ministers treat traditional families as an ‘economic enemy’, says Nigel Farage

    Has now been changed to “Families are ‘economic enemy’ says Farage”

    With the inevitable surge of outraged comments by those who have not read the article.

  7. woodsy42 says:

    I quite agree with you Frank. Details are unimportant at this stage, direction and attitudes are what matter. Farage is going in the right direction and has the right (ie sensible and practical) attitude towards the nanny state and do-gooder puritanism. Ironically the EU itself is probably less important than how the UK government reacts to it and bows to its demands with gold plating.

  8. smokingscot says:

    I’ve never been in a plane that crashed, nor had to deal with the physical damage. On top of all that, it seems the pilot was more than a little batty.

    “He was arrested on Sunday after calls were made to the police, alleging that on November 26 he threatened to kill Mr Farage and that on Sunday he similarly threatened CAA investigator Martin James”.

    I can only speculate how Nigel might feel about that one, however I admire his pluck and ability to continue, despite the fact he still has lingering physical issues from that crash.

    I believe he handled that up-front-and-in-your-face-bigotry in Edinburgh rather well. He recognised it was a tiny minority and said so. The sad fact is the Radical Independence Campaign has managed to stop him returning to speak in Orkney as well as other venues in Scotland – and we’re the losers because of these thugs.

    What Beobrigitte says resonates with me. Bongo Bongo describes a whole stack of places.. and some are in the EU. Increasingly it seems that Scotland’s mad keen to join the Bongo’s.

  9. harleyrider1978 says:

    Boycott the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014

    The organizers of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow have said the event will be entirely “smoke-free”. It has decided to introduce tobacco controls at all competition venues in what it calls “Venue Perimeters.”
    There is a campaign underway to boycott the Winter Olympic Games in Russia because of their discrimination of gays in Russia. I suggest we start a campaign to boycott the Glasgow Games because of discrimination of people who smoke.
    People should not be discriminated against because of their religion, sexual orientation, race, or any life style choices. Human Rights are Human Rights and there should be no exceptions to it. If you are against discrimination then you should be against any discrimination, otherwise it is nothing but hypocrisy. It is time we become a human race, and not allow anyone to break us up into easy to vilify and control groups. Stand together and create the force that governments all over the world fear… the people.
    We have to do something.
    The discrimination has to stop!
    Enough is enough!

    All people of good will, no matter if you smoke or not, join us.
    Say NO to discrimination!
    Say YES to the Human Rights!

  10. David Brown says:

    Thanks Frank
    I think you have captured the current situation really well. I have been an avid reader of EUR and AM for years, but this festering antagonism between them and UKIP just splits and seperated all those with the same views, for gods sake even if you dont agree with someone on the same side work with them, ortherwise the whole cause will come crashing down.

    David B

  11. Martin says:

    Good stuff, Frank. But no-one needs to look for Bongo-Bongo Land; it’s here.

  12. cherie79 says:

    More like Bonker Bonker land!

  13. harleyrider1978 says:

    New strategy: Tell smokers they stink

    Forget their health, aim at their vanity – research suggests smokers who are told they stink are more likely to quit the habit.

    In findings that are to be published in the prestigious Journal of Smoking Cessation, an Auckland University research team reveals insights into the real reasons that prompt smokers to quit and shows how quit campaigns are wide of the mark.

    The survey – “Do New Zealand Maori and Pacific walk the talk when it comes to stopping smoking? A qualitative study of motivation to quit” – finds that questioning the personal hygiene of smokers may be a significant motivator.

    One of the report’s authors, Dr Marewa Glover, said campaigns with the primary purpose of triggering quit attempts should include more emotionally loaded reasons, such as “it stinks”.

    “It stinks probably has a greater emotional load because it relates to personal hygiene and can be associated with stigma, shame and embarrassment,” she said.

    This was highly likely to trigger a decision to stop smoking.

    Highlighting the lingering unpleasant smell of stale smoke on people could be creatively used in campaigns but it was important not to belittle or alienate smokers, she said.

    And this was reinforced by Otago University’s Professor Janet Hoek, who said quit results didn’t come from making people feel bad about themselves. They had tested photos of smokers with their mouths stuffed full of cigarettes, and these provoked a strong negative reaction.

    “Young adult smokers are very, very conscious that they smell after they’ve had a cigarette and they will engage in all sorts of behaviours to try and mask that. They’ll chew gum and use body sprays.”

    Other findings in the Auckland research were that personal sickness or, children getting sick because of second-hand smoke, were other emotional pulls likely to be more effective at getting Maori and Pacific Islanders to stop smoking.

    The findings seem to fit the thinking of Mangere salesman Feke Valu, 21, who, by his own admission, is a heavy smoker.

    It’s a habit he started when he was 15 and he said the graphic images of diseased organs on the back of cigarette packs weren’t putting him off. But he said he noticed the smell of smoke after he’d had a cigarette and would chew gum or spray perfume to mask it from others.

    “If someone close to me tells me I stink, then I’d consider stopping smoking.”

    So far that hasn’t happened.

    – Herald on Sunday

  14. harleyrider1978 says:

    “If someone close to me tells me I stink, then I’d consider stopping smoking.”

    So far that hasn’t happened.

    Truly Amazing that tobacco control now thinks name calling is the tool to use!

    It just begs to ask,Is this an admission of we give up at TC!

    I cant quite see it as anything else…………… I prefer the stench of freedom to that of servitude.

  15. smokervoter says:

    I’m a instant celebrity as of yesterday afternoon. The host of a southern California radio talk show opened up the topic parameters to anything and everything under the sun, so I took the bait and dialed in. In an incredibly easy screening process that consisted of divulging my first name and my town I was suddenly on the air.

    I took the opportunity to skewer the powers that be at California State College of Fullerton for their newly launched smokefree policy that includes a ban on smoking in ones own vehicle in the parking lots.

    This is tantamount to saying that smokers, as evidenced by their smoking in their automobiles, need not apply to become educated at Cal State Fullerton. This is out and out rot gut bigotry. The chancellor responsible for this is no different from a Ku Klux Klansman spouting miscegenation. We don’t want obedient, cheerful, healthy students mixing with lower caste smokers. Just think of the offspring.

    Well, the host and his sidekick broadcast engineer (the fellow who screened me) were in complete agreement with my position. Neither were aware of the policy.

    The host mentioned Mayor Bloomberg of New York and his soda policies. The engineer said he was going to research the net to ascertain if what I was saying was actually true – he couldn’t believe his ears.

    I ended up with fifteen – count em’ fifteen – minutes of air time and fame, which I used to stick a steely knife into the backs of the enemy.

    We’ve gone from professor Ruth Engs’ description of the persuasion stage to coercion to outright tyranny and it’s time for the backlash stage in this third Clean Living Movement in America’s history.

    Regretfully we ran out of time before I got a chance to drop Frank’s and Leggy’s website addresses out to the general public.

    I didn’t even plug mine, which is probably a good thing since I haven’t updated it in six months.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      About 17 years ago I was driving down the Hiway in Lebanon tn and heard the then Govenor and the Nashville Mayor Bredeson the libtard on the radio. I hit a pay phone and called in and they tried the usual screening tactics and I got thru anyway. I LIED!

      It seemed that morning in the Nashville Banner a list of about 50 homes to be bulldozed by Nashville codes was listed and my buddies Widowed mother was listed on it…….I hit em with How dare you rubber stamp the destruction of a widow womans family homestead that they have dumped months of work in. Where will she go and who will house her and feed her. Her Husband a WW2 tail gunner on a b-17 was killed by drunk driver 10 years ago and has only her 1 disabled son to care for her!

      Lord the next thing I knew the Bastards were falling over each other wanting the name the address and they were appoligizing as they didnt even know BLA BLA BLA………..

      Needless to say within 2 hours the whole thing blew into a major news storm and how the city was going to help these disadvantaged elderly ladies…………..LMAO it was the most fun I had since well fighting the Nazis!

      • smokingscot says:

        O/T. @ Harley

        Thought you might be interested to see that yet another thinks the standard BMI scales are rubbish.

        Guy called Nick Trefethen is a Professor of Numerical Analysis at Oxford University’s Mathematical Institute. In early 2013 he wrote to the Economist advocating an alternative formula for BMI. He suggests that the existing formula is flawed, causing confusion and misinformation.

        I’ve run it through and his measure is indeed far more appropriate.

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          Ya that study I use shows just how they manipulated nearly everything and lowering standards to nearly gross exagerations of everything. The BMI standard is probably the most manipulated standard ever changed to create an epidemic out of nothing.

          But you know its all been aimed at one simple outcome/agenda right along with the smoking bans. They have literally taken every form of measurement for anything and lowered it to levels so low and then to make claims that these cause death to people and disease its just INSANITY.

          PM 2.5 standards even dropping to 12ugrams and normal natural clean air is 10ug
          Yet OSHA sets an indoor standard of 5000ug/3

          Then take the SHS B.S. no need to explain there we already know it

          Then lowering BMI, ETC ETC………………

          The sham began 3 decades ago and really took off in 1993 the same time the nazi’s at EPA began their anti-smoking agenda.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Thanks for the plug! :-)

    • beobrigitte says:

      May many more minutes and air time come your way, Smokervoter. You did manage to give plenty of food for thought!
      (I may queue up in future for an autograph!)

  16. junican says:

    If I was asked what he meant by ‘bongo bongo’ land, my first thoughts would not be racist as in the places where ‘blackies’ live. My first thought would be places which have little economic or political development – wild, tribal places with their own ethos of who gets the money. Authoritarian places of nepotism, bribery, serfdom, etc. In other words, he was talking about pouring money aid into black holes, where it dissipates and never reaches the intended beneficiaries.

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  18. Peter Czerna says:

    Every day I check out Richard North’s blog, sometimes leaving enlightened, having learned something, but usually leaving depressed at reading (usually diagonally) an obviously intelligent and knowledgeable commentator muttering to himself in the darkness like Gollum about ancient injuries and slights.

    It doesn’t matter any more whether he is right or wrong – he’s just embarrassingly boring. He takes such delight in revealing himself as the only one who knows whatever the current mystic secret is and pointing out how ignorant everyone else is. It’s the ‘Daily Wail’ – until it publishes a piece by him, but then after a while of slagging them off he seems surprised that he gets no credit as the co-author of a Booker piece.

    I had an account on his blog and would have posted these remarks in their rightful place there but it seems I haven’t commented enough and have therefore been struck off his crazy forum system. Which is itself a model for the puritan, obsessive character of the man.

    For all I know, Farage may have a defective personality – never met him – but I know with whom I would rather have a drink.

  19. Eddy says:

    UKIP have been a significant force for around 15 years.
    In that time they have failed to come up with a coherent policy on how we leave the EU.
    Winning a referendum is going to need that, otherwise the Europhiles will simply play the FUD card and a majority will stick with the devil they know.
    15 years, its almost as if UKIP are not really serious about leaving the EU.

  20. ombzhch says:

    OK, I am Swiss, but spend too much time in the Uk now. I am an Academic Scientist and Lawyer, working in the Finance industry and speak 7+ European Languages fluently, we are out of the EU and have a good relationship with it.

    North and AM are sounding ever more shrill, their work though good is overshadowed by slow UKIP progress, anyone who thinks that Bloom was a gaff is foolish, it was a marker that the XXX-tards HAVE LOST CONTROL, Free Speech is back.

    So to the EU, North is both wrong and foolish, overburdened by legalismus (D expression), JUST stop paying, the UK pays >£190 M per day over £20B/year. AfD will make the same point in D,

    Wenn Großbritannien aus die EU ist, bei Sonnenuntergan die EU fertif ist!

    MFG, omb

    • Peter Czerna says:

      Lieber OMB

      “we are out of the EU…”
      Correction: We are nominally not in the EU, but our ‘classe politique’ is becoming ever more subservient and we are being sucked in bilateral step by bilateral step. Like the best colonies, we will be allowed to keep our name and a few rituals but our masters will be elsewhere.

      “…and have a good relationship with it.”
      Correction: a rapidly worsening relationship with it. Don’t forget the pile of Swiss money (aka ‘Danegeld’) that is paid every year into EU ‘solidarity projects’. We get to vote whether to spend some money fixing the local bus stop shelter, but not on a few billion pumped into some east European vanity scheme.

      “I am Swiss”
      If so, master of languages, why are you using the German ‘scharfes s’: what real Swiss person would use that German monstrosity? (unless of course you are being held captive and being forced to take dictation, or worse, you are one of these teutonic immigrants we all so love).

      PS: I am not Swiss. The ‘we’ is rhetorical.

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