Long interview with Nigel Farage in Spiked!. A few sample passages:
‘They’re not proper people.’
Pint in one hand, fag in the other, Nigel Farage is passing withering judgement on the political class. ‘They don’t pass the Farage Test’, he says of Cameron, Clegg and Miliband. The Farage Test? Warming to his theme, his voice rising an octave, he explains. ‘I judge everybody by two simple criteria. Number one: would I employ them? And number two: would I want to have a drink with them? To pass the Farage Test, you only have to pass one of those. There are lots of people I’ve employed over the years who I wouldn’t choose to have a drink with, and there are lots of people who are completely useless but rather nice to have a bit of a jolly with. But this mob don’t pass either.’ Then, after eviscerating Them, calling into question their employability and drinkability, wondering out loud if they’re even ‘proper people’, he lets out what I think we should call the Farage Laugh: a deep and hearty, nicotine-stained guffaw at the world: ‘HA HA HA HA HA HA HA.’
Farage is intrigued by the inability of the other party leaders to do what he does, to be normal, to engage the electorate in real, everyday language. Cameron has to boast about once having eaten a Cornish pasty in Leeds in a desperate bid to connect with the throng, while poor old Miliband can’t even eat a bacon sarnie without making a tit of himself and reportedly seeks expert advice on how to do that terrifying thing of Talking To People. Farage puts this colossal disconnect between the political class and the public down both to the political leaders’ seamless, knocks-free lives and also to the professionalisation of politics — the way politics has become the domain of an increasingly narrow, bubbled strata of society.
‘As the seven per cent that go to public schools dominate politics, the media, the arts, sport, every aspect of our life in this country, [we’ve] almost reached a situation where the only time these guys have met a working-class man or woman is if they are driving the car. And they can’t even be nice to them then’, he says.
He saves his most stinging class-based barbs for the Tories. ‘The Conservative Party is as upper class today as it has ever been. Over the past hundred years, the upper classes had more connection to their fellow man than they have today. And I’ll tell you why. Firstly, those that were from the landed classes may have been selfish financially, over the corn laws or whatever it was, but they ran their estates themselves. They actually knew the lads that cut the hay and looked after the horses. And then we had two world wars, which brought the whole class system together. Up until the late 1980s you had senior Tory politicians from posh backgrounds who could talk to the lads doing the scaffolding. They can’t do that now.’
Or take the nanny state, or the nudge industry, or the public-health lobby — whatever it’s being called these days. Here, too, Farage rips up a firmly established script. He says UKIP would allow pubs to choose to allow their patrons to smoke and would prevent minimum pricing on alcohol.
‘It’s the modern puritanism’, he says of the bossy new politics of lifestyle micromanagement. ‘It’s about controlling people. It is the same paternalistic agenda from the great and the good, who think they know better than ordinary folk what is good for them.’ He says he wants smoking restrictions and other booze-demonising policies kicked out of pubs for the simple reason that the freer a pub is, the better it is. ‘Every pub is a parliament’, he says. ‘It’s in pubs where you discuss who the England football manager should be, who you’re gonna vote for in the General Election, just how useless is your local councillor, what you think about the Archbishop of Canterbury. Pubs are essential parts of communities, essential places to meet and debate.’