A very peculiar practice

Lord what fools these mortals be

Reading a certain story in the paper this morning, (Friday 23rd) I found myself struck by a very curious, unsettling feeling. It took me a while and two cups of tea to work out what it was and when I did I was really quite taken aback.

Could it be, no, surely not, that I found myself feeling slightly sorry for Nigel Farage? I’ll let you digest that thought for a moment but, yes dear, dear readers, I feel rather sorry for Nigel Farage.

Yes, I know, I have called him all sorts of variants on the theme of ‘odious little man’ in these pages, and I stand by that. But the news today that the current leader of UKIP has appointed Tommy Robinson as personal special advisor to leader Gerard Batten takes every last shred of credibility that UKIP still has (& l know it’s precious little) and flushes it down the sewer.

Why do I feel slightly sorry for Farage? Because, ghastly though he may be, he built something. As leader of UKIP, he built the party up so that it was enough of a political force to put the heebee jeebies up David Cameron so much that he called a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. Under Farage UKIP campaigned for the UK to leave the EU and won. Only just, and with some questionable claims and political bandwaggon-hitching (Boris, I’m looking at you), but a victory nonetheless.

I know that UKIP have been struggling to find a direction and purpose now that Brexit is ‘a thing’, but appointing a right wing thug like Robinson is a direction that Farage is decidedly unhappy about. Rightly so.
As Farage said on the Today programme on Radio 4, the appointment of Robinson as personal special advisor “steers UKIP into a direction of effectively being a, sort of, street activist party.”

Any business person who has either sold up, retired or moved on and then sees their replacement effectively ruin what they had carefully curated (I’m thinking of one in particular – you know who you are!) may understand some of Farage’s dismay.

So, there you have it. I feel slightly sorry for Farage and slightly discombobulated as a result.
It’s all very odd.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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