Richard North, 04/07/2016  
 


Top of the week's news for a few nanoseconds is the resignation of Ukip leader Nigel Farage – once again. I suppose we must wait for the statutory ten-day return period before it can be taken as confirmed.

Already, the political eulogies are flooding in, with the media rewriting history – casting Farage as the man who got us the referendum and then proceeded to win it: "the man who got us out of Europe".

Actually, as regards the referendum, he always opposed the idea – preferring to put his resources into taking Parliament by storm through the election process. When he found he could not block it, he reluctantly supported it, climbing on the bandwagon at the last minute.

However, he made no preparations for the campaign, rejected outright the idea of an exit plan and, when it came to the lead campaigner designation, the submission made on his behalf was so woefully inadequate that Farage ended up consigned to the periphery of the campaign, and us lumbered with Vote Leave.

Having thus done his best to lose us the campaign before it had even started, he then intensified his efforts with an obsessive focus on immigration – failing to distinguish between free movement of persons and the EU asylum policy, culminating in "that" advert, which probably cost us thousands of votes.

The majority of British voters nevertheless opted to leave the EU – for reasons we still do not fully understand. Now, with the political parties in turmoil, never before has clear direction been needed. But clearly, Farage is not the one to provide that,. With nothing useful to contribute to the debate, at least he has the decency to do the appropriate thing and resign.

However, with unconfirmed rumours that his Brussels offices have been raided, believed to be at the behest of Olaf investigating falsified documents in relation to Ukip's finances, Farage could be jumping before he is pushed. More than a few are suggesting that this "shock" move was not voluntary.

If one was to look for a political legacy, Farage was always a good spokesman and a moderately competent debater – let down by his indifferent grasp of detail, although so often paired with people who knew less, this was not always a handicap.

But he was also rigorous in excluding competition and suppressing fresh talent, so we will never know whether someone better might have emerged to lead Ukip more effectively, making victory more assured.

From a personal perspective, having shared a desk with him in Strasbourg over the four years that I worked for Ukip in the early days of our representation in the European Parliament, I have to say that he is a man best savoured from a distance – the greater the better.

His "boyish charm" is wafer thin and behind the façade he is a liar, a bully and a braggart, who does not know the meaning of the word loyalty. Personally he has done me great harm and, in my view, has held back the development of the party to the extent that he is largely responsible for its current parlous state.

Whether there is anyone of calibre ready to step up and take his place remains to be see but, from past performance, with the dictator gone we can expect a period of bitter in-fighting before a clear victor emerges. But this is a bad time for it to be happening, when we need focus on the EU withdrawal process.

As always, therefore, Farage has put himself before party and himself before country, telling us, "I want my life back". Well, having blighted many others, he can go and get his life. There will be no regrets over his passing from this quarter.






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