The return to campaigning ahead of the EU referendum has not gone totally smoothly for every member of the political class, and today the discomfort was all too clear as Nigel “Thirsty” Farage was taken out of his saloon bar comfort zone and subjected to a variety of interrogation techniques with a result suggesting that this particular campaign is progressing not necessarily to his advantage.
(c) Steve Bell 2016
With the Outers’ berth on The Andy Marr Show (tm) already occupied by the more mainstream presence of Michael “Oiky” Gove, the best that Mr Thirsty could do was to be the support act to George Osborne on Peston On Sunday, and here a problem entered: after he had said his piece, whoever was sitting in Critics’ Corner (tm) would be able to pass adverse comment upon his contribution.
With this in mind, Farage might have been better advised not merely to avoid saying that Britain cannot control who comes here from the EU - we can, and do, refuse entry to thousands of EU residents every year for a variety of reasons, including their having acquired a criminal record - but also to tell Robert Peston on the subject of stirring up hatred that “I think I've been a victim of it to be honest with you”.
Yes, Nige was now a victim! So we should “look over there” and not discuss the infamous “Breaking Point” poster, with its Nazi overtones. That was not going to get past one occupant of Critics’ Corner, Labour MP Yvette Cooper, who was a good friend of murdered colleague Jo Cox. She tore Farage off a strip, and laid into anyone not giving the UKIP leader and his views A Very Hard Time Indeed, just to be on the safe side.
That much was bad enough, but then Farage made the journey over to Sky News (“first for breaking wind”) where he was subjected to the further inquisition of Dermot Murnaghan, who, to no surprise at all, also wanted a word with him about That Poster. At first Mr Thirsty was unrepentant: “That poster reflects the truth of what’s going on”. Not in Britain it doesn’t. But he wasn’t finished with the foot-in-mouth just yet.
An innocent MP had been murdered. Farage wished that had not happened. Murnaghan suggested everybody wished that, to which Farage added “Had that not happened, I don’t think we’d have had this kind of row”. This is total bullshit. Social media had already thrown up the similarity to a Nazi attack on Jewish refugees before news came through of the attack on Jo Cox. Linking his poster to that attack is disgraceful.
Nigel Farage is not part of the designated Out group, which is Vote Leave. The problem the Outers have is that he is on the same side as them, whether they like it or not. And he’s such an embarrassment that his only MP, Douglas “Kamikaze” Carswell, has not only joined Vote Leave, but has also disowned that poster. Playing the victim when caught recycling Third Reich propaganda won’t help his cause, either.
Nigel Farage isn’t a victim, he’s a very naughty boy. So no change there, then.