UKIP, led by Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, is doing well in the polls – even though it still hasn’t secured a by-election win – and is looking good for a record showing in this year’s elections to the European Parliament (EP). There is lots of press coverage, much of it favourable. Gaffes and revelations about the party’s fruitcake fringe just bounce off the leader. What can possibly go wrong?
Squeaky finger up the bum time once more
“Nigel Farage: I admire Vladimir Putin ... Ukip leader praises Russian president's handling of Syria crisis, but describes Germany's chancellor as 'incredibly cold'”. Er, right. That might not be the best way to retain votes in that EP election. Perhaps he was jesting? “Nigel Farage has named Vladimir Putin as the world leader he most admires, praising the Russian president's handling of the crisis in Syria”. Oh dear.
Next, we’ll find that he has alienated those voters who came over to UKIP from the Tories and Labour. “He also said he saw little to choose between the leaders of Britain's three major parties, telling GQ magazine he does not give a damn whether David Cameron or Ed Miliband wins next year's general election”. Yes, well, I wasn’t thinking he was really going to alienate them, but what the heck.
And did he really say that about Angela Merkel? You betcha, says Sarah: “She is incredibly cold. I always say – I agree this is a bit rude – but whatever you think of the public image of Merkel, in private she is even more miserable. I warm to more extrovert people”. She could, of course, just take exception to those who turn up to the EP only to take the piss and claim their expenses.
This succession of foot-in-mouth episodes has been meat and drink to Corporal Clegg and his motley platoon, and the timing could not have been worse, with the two men facing off in the second of two debates tomorrow. The Lib Dems have lost no time calling Farage’s stance “I agree with Vlad” and telling that he is “taking his talking points straight from the Kremlin”. Ouch!
So what caused “Thirsty” to put his foot in it with so little subtlety or forethought? You’ll love this: “Farage was questioned for GQ by Labour's former director of communications Alastair Campbell, in his first interview in his new role as the glossy monthly's ‘arch-interrogator’”. What did he think that Big Al was going to talk to him about, the sodding weather? What a sucker.
And it got worse: when Campbell quizzed him on the current content of the UKIP website, “He said he ‘hadn't seen the wording’ of the law and order policy on the site, and when told that it makes the claim that ‘violent crime is erupting on our streets’, he admitted: ‘Oh, I do need to look at this’”. There’s only so much you can manage in politics today by winging it. And “Thirsty” just proved that point.
The chief Kipper got done up – like a kipper. Other interviewers take note.