Brexit – The XTC of making plans for Nigel

With the Tory Party in disarray, and PM May set to step down before the next General Election, perhaps sooner, attention moves to the contenders to lead an (anything but)  United Kingdom. Whether the main parties split or not, the wave of populism and nationalism engulfing the World provides the perfect environment for politicians like Nigel Farage. Make plans for Nigel.

I’ll be back

Nigel Farage is back. In fact, he never left, but instead watched UK politics eviscerating itself from the bleachers, like any sensible politician would.

At the formal launch of his new Brexit Party campaign for the May 23rd EU parliamentary elections, he announced he’d placed a £1,000 bet on his party winning most seats. Once the trader, always the trader.

His op-ed in the UK press was a little more sober.

 

Go-Fund the fun

But with £750,000 raised in already, and Former Tory MP and lifelong Conservative member Michael Brown registering as a supporter of the Brexit Party, his claim that he will contest all 70 mainland seats ( the 3 DUP seats will be uncontested ) with serious candidates “successful in business, in the armed forces, in academia as well as those from all walks of life” seems genuine. There’s even to be A N Other Ress-Mogg – Annunziata, sister of the Brexiter Jacob. Annuziata actually stood for the Conservative Party twice, but wouldn’t yield when then-leader David Cameron tried to change her name to Nancy Mogg.

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Oh and there’s Ann WiddecombeImportantly, Farage insisted Arron Banks won’t be on the go-fund list.

The agony and the XTC.

Nigel Farage has been a feature of UK politics since the mid-2000s, but he rose to fame in 2010 with several visceral speeches given in the EU Parliament, which resonated with more than would care to admit. This was after the Great Financial Crisis, so people were angry, but before the debacles of Greece and the “PIGS” of peripheral Europe. His words soon looked prescient.

Days after the Brexit result in June 2016, having tasted the ecstasy of berating multiple EU politicians and dignitaries for six years, he was able to enjoy a seeming Coup de grâce – an exchange with his nemesis, Jean-Claude Juncker the President of the European Commission.

 

But as with everything Brexit, that was the pinnacle – the zenith. From there on Farage’s fortunes followed those of Brexit – into the long grass, amongst scandal and intrigue.Riven with political infighting and disappointment. No end in sight, no ray of sunlight.

And if young Nigel says he’s happy

Apart from his own autobiography, Fighting Bull (Flying Free in paperback), intelligent, open-minded assessments of the real Farage are rare. This BBC profile is very readable.

Nigel’s father, Guy Oscar Justus Farage, was a stockbroker, and something of a bon vivant. He was also an alcoholic. He left the family home when Nigel was five years old.

Born in Kent in 1964, the young Nigel bounced through private school, joining everything from the cricket and rugby clubs to Army Cadets and the politics society.

Never been near a university, Never took a paper or a learned degree,

Farage decided not go to university in 1982, instead chosing to work in the City as a commodities trader, working successfully for over ten years..

His inner strength was forged by the near death experiences he’s faced;

But on the morning of the election, Farage was involved in an air crash caused by the UKIP election banner the plane was towing getting caught in the plane’s tail fin. Farage emerged from the accident remarkably quickly. He has previously survived a serious car accident at the age of 21 and soon after that, testicular cancer. The pub landlord in his local, saw him after the crash. “I don’t think he had quite got over it at the time, but he was obviously being as bouncy as he could… putting a brave face on it all. It’s the sort of guy he is. Nigel is a passionate fighter, he doesn’t sling the towel in.” Farage’s old friend from the City, Steven Spencer, also saw him soon after the air accident. “Having crashed his plane in the election campaign, he turned up at the church, still injured, with a stick, to pay tribute to one of his colleagues who’d died at the London metal exchange. He was walking in incredible pain… but he wasn’t going to miss it. It’s just absolutely Nigel.” ” (from the BBC profile).

Nigel is not outspoken

“My first impression of Nigel is an unorthodox, happy, cheerful guy – outspoken and humorous,” says friend Steven Spencer who joins him on his tours of the battlefields of World War 1. “I remember we were in Ypres, it was about 3:00am in the morning, we must have drunk the restaurant completely dry …. “I staggered up into bed, and Farage shouted at me, ‘lightweight’ and that really sums him up. “We do sometimes refer to them as ‘bottlefield tours’,” says UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom.

I don’t mean, a big reduction in the price of beer

Farage likes a pint of beer and a cigarette. This makes him appear to be a man of the people, despite the pin-stripe suits and eloquence. The city-slicker ex-broker image would normally have been a huge barrier to political popularity, but the carefully honed “defender of British-ness” has been the kite to fly in a windstorm of anti-EU feeling. Those that suggest Farage is not politically savvy and strategic miss the evolution of a seasoned politician who has sharpened his blade in the mouth of his enemy.

Whoa, generals and majors always, Seem so unhappy ‘less they got a war

He’s deeply interested in Europe, and the history of Europe and where it’s gone wrong. He likes people to understand what Britain went through in two world wars and what our position is in Europe – he’s passionately interested,” Spencer says.

An understanding of Europe and her violent history, and Britain’s role in it, is a prerequisite if one is to be taken serious as a modern politician by a people for whom history is home.

A passion for that history, and a desire to feel the spirits of those who lived and fought on those muddy fields in Ypres and Mons, raises that respect tenfold. Every year we bid farewell to another cohort of World War veterans. Yet the respect for those sacrifices seems to grow stronger, and the desire to maintain sovereignty and nationhood grows alongside.

No thugs in our house, are there dear?

While plainly nationalist, perhaps jingoistic, question marks over racism and such have never been proven, they may stem from his respect for Enoch Powell and Sir Keith Joseph whom he met in his school days. Close friends are convinced he’s not a racist. “If he is a racist, then he’s also a consummate actor….. Personally I don’t think he is. I think he’s an old-fashioned jingoistic patriot” said ex-ally, now critic Richard North. 

Indeed his resignation from UKIP was directly linked to his view that “thugs were joining UKIP”. His recognition that Europe has failed completely with its approach towards the refugee crisis, inspired by the Libyan and Syrian civil wars, is shared more broadly across the European political spectrum. Even his thoughts on immigration are clear and arguably non-racist. Examples start with the segment from 26:00 minutes in this excellent interview.

He clarifies his criticism of the language used by, rather than the perceptiveness of,  Enoch Powell, as naive. Later in the interview, he explains why he has distanced himself, and UKIP while within it, from extremism.

He must be happy in his work

Farage is rarely happier than when making some grand, anti-EU speech. His work is never done.

He burst onto the Global stage in the mid 2000s. In a now famous speech in February 2010 denigrating Van Rompuy, the then President of the EU council, he said “I don’t want to be rude, but .. you have the charisma of a damp rag, and the appearance of a low grade bank clerk…. we don’t know you and we don’t want you”.

Indeed, far from outspoken, Farage has in fact made his name for speaking the mind of those left out of the debate – Brits who have never been able to vote for their “masters” in Brussels and Strasbourg. His questioning of the logic, and success of the EU refugee policy has above all gained him sympathy in the EU Parliament as well as the corridors of power across Europe.

But he likes to speak

Simple quotation, and text, can never do justice to the warmth and vibrato of a great orator. Rather than attempt a surrogate here, we’d rather simply look to some of his best.

And loves to be spoken to

In this speech in Oxford, he’s debating Brexit with “the enemy”, back in 2015, pre-Brexit. It’s the first time we’d heard the funny explanation of  UK/EU problems as “the old couple” divorce.

The Motion: This House Believes Britain and the EU are Better Together. Nigel Farage closed the case for the opposition but the motion carried, with a total of 283 ayes to 73 noes. But his exchanges with students (and politicians on the other side of of the motion) give a good account of the man.

He has his future in a British steel

Whether Brexit has been “stolen”, or was, as we’ve argued throughout, just impossible, the plain fact is that this outcome has only acted to make the Farage view of Europe, and the World, look more accurate to the “man in the street”. This has helped Farage, not hindered him. When he recently said “British politics needs a revolution” he meant it – and that he’s the one to do it.

If Brexit miraculously occurs (of which we remain unconvinced, as we wrote here) Farage looks set to be one of the biggest winners as both parties suffer the blowback from the debacle. Indeed Farage already predicted the UK economy was set for a recession before Brexit, and has laid the blame firmly at the feet of PM May. Labour switching to the second referendum option has ensured it has an internal civil war  yet to be fought.

And if Brexit is delayed or even revoked, Farage will surely be at the vanguard of the new campaign to discredit Europe as it cascades into its own crises. If one thing is certain   in life, it’s that the longer you wait for an EU crisis the more likely two come along together. Farage will be waiting.

Finally, if, as we have always expected, there is a second Brexit referendum, Farage has his new Brexit party ready to lead that campaign. Seasoned from the mistakes (and stochastic events that can occur, like the terrible murder of MP Jo Cox) Farage knows this time which are the real issues and how to fight on those alone. From his recent interviews (some of which are posted in here), it’s clear he will focus on the desire to remove incompetent and corrupt EU rule while focussing on the perils of uncontrolled, mass immigration. And even amongst Remain supporters, both of these issues have merit. The incompetence of the Tory Government, and lack of any coherent opposition on these fronts, have eroded the belief in Parliamentary democracy itself. Many will “never vote again”. This is the main difficulty in accepting the need for a second referendum.  Farage gets this, and has already put his shoulder behind “restoring faith in democracy” – if Britain had swamps, you know what the catch phrase would be.

And some of your friends think it’s really unsound

So what does Nigel Farage stand for on all of the other UK policy challenges? Fiscal policy, Bank of England independence, social justice, defense, housing etc?

Well one thing that’s clear is, Nigel is a fiscal conservative, at least where European governments are concerned. Often criticizing “club med” for their lax final programs and huge deficits, he has always suggested the UK would be best “off that hook”. That said, he blames the “Gauleiter” attitude of European powers towards the peripheral nations, best summed up by the failure of Greece in 2010-12, for their predicament.

His actual views on other issues have to be gleaned from UKIP manifestoes. As such they are unreliable.

When one compares the UKIP of 2010 with the 2014 version (the last manifesto to have Farage’s finger prints on it, as he’d already left by the 2017 election) UKIP has lost a lot of its fiscal spending preferences. They had favored three high-speed rail programs in 2010, but by 2014 were opposing the one the Government was building.  The excuse that one line impacts the environment while three wouldn’t shows they (and Farage) have had to “mature” fiscally.  On taxation policy, he/they reversed course on the flat tax strategy they’d employed in 2010; He stated in June 2014,

No, we’re going to rethink the tax policy.… The idea was to abolish National Insurance. What I can tell you for certain is that our biggest tax objective in that next manifesto will be: no tax on the minimum wage. we’ve got to incentivize people to get off benefit and to get back to work. Now that obviously will cost money…

I think a top rate of tax of around about 40 per cent is the one that will bring in the most revenue into the Exchequer and I think through the 80s and 90s we saw that… anything over 40 and you start seeing people going overseas. But really what we’ve got to worry about actually are the millions of people there on low pay and, frankly, without sufficient incentives to be in work.”

On corporate taxation, typically Economy spokesman O’Flynn spoke for UKIP, but these are likely akin to Farage’s own views;

“UKIP proposes that a Treasury Commission, using the best brains of that elite Whitehall department, be set up to design a turnover tax for large businesses. Every major company would have to show it had paid a set proportion of its turnover in corporation and other taxes or would face an additional charge.”  Essentially, a tax on unprofitable businesses – hardly an enterprise-friendly environment.

UKIP’s Head of policy Tim Aker seemed to be anti-free flow of capital, and therein free-trade, with “There is a discussion going on about whether foreign governments have the right to buy up stakes in our national assets and national resources” . Their policy towards free trade had appeared to be very pro-, so these statements appeared muddled, and are unlikely to have been aligned with Farage’s previous, nor current view on foreign investment.

Similarly the “handbag tax” as it became known, was almost certainly a fringe attempt to grab anti-EU Labour voters.  O’Flynn’s Economic Plan initially included a feasibility study of a “luxury goods rate of VAT”. This was probably part of the about-face on tax that UKIP was performing. In 2010 they had talked of abolishing VAT altogether. Aimed at shoes, handbags and cars. Farage junked the idea quickly, indicating where his true fiscal preferences lie. Additionally, fringe members like Dexter had talked about mass renationalizations, which Farage also seems to have trampled on. 

On the Bank of England, his disdain for Goveneor Carney probably exaggerates his distrust of the BoE and their need for independence. His comments about the weakness of sterling since 2014, and his commodity-broker background suggests he understand the need for stability in financial markets. The BoE can play a key role there.

On the sticky policy of immigration, his 2015 musings – Migration Control Commission, which looked like a quango by any other name, and his party’s 50,000 pa limit, has probably evolved somewhat. Furthermore, going into the 2015 election, the strategy was to threaten th Tory Party into a Brexit referendum promise, and therefore little coherence on other policy issues seems to have been important. Hence the healthcare strategy morphed into dismissing private care as a solution to the NHS. The attempt to torture the Tories alongside trolling Labour seems to have muddied the manifesto mix.

So to summarize, it looks like Farage is a moderate fiscal conservative, inclined to ensure the tax system incentives work over benefits, but is conscious of the plight of the common man. His answer to square the two – pay less to EU.

Everyone’s creeping up to the money god

Some question the sincerity of Nigel Farage and his “Brexiteers”. Is this just an act, pretending to fight the European superstate and the pigs?  Those pictures of Farage and Juncker are peculiar. Alongside the “swamp draining” considerations in the US, and personal links to the Trump administration. various newspapers suggest Farage is involved in some anti-establishment conspiracy theory.  Different pigs, same old farm.

Nigel just needs this helping hand

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Before taking the reins of the Brexit party, he had intimated he would follow Enoch Powell’s lead and become a DUP MP. His association with Arron Banks, a backer for both UKIP, the Leave campaign, and the DUP,  is the basis for most of the negative press he courts. Obviously mounting political campaigns is expensive. Everyone needs a sponsor, and this is still Farage’s biggest weakness.

Nigel’s whole future is as good as sealed

It’s easy to dismiss Nigel Farage – he’s failed to win a Parliamentary seat in England, abandoned main-party politics, built, left, rejoined and abandoned the party he created, abused and jousted with almost every EU-establishment figure. He’s even allowed confusion over major policy comments, like his acceptance of a second referendum (clarified in the above interview, at 22:00).

Whether the EU elections go ahead or not, Farage is back and is already inside the Tory party destroying it from within. Indeed the only way May 23rd won’t be fought is if May’s deal is voted through Parliament. The only reason this could possibly happen is because MPs are frightened to see their MEP brethren decimated by Farage’s legions. If that’s the case, Farage has already won.

They’re never too far, Away from men who made the grade

In his speech today, Farage declared war on UK politicians of all colors; “It is time for those who have never done a deal in their life to be replaced.” To us, this sounded similar to his comment that EU bureaucrats have “never had a proper job”. These sentiments will resonate with many, including those devout main-party supporters. Brexit has done little, but to show how impotent UK politics and her politicians, have become.

We only want what’s best for him

So is it all about him? Is his only ambition for himself? We think not. Clearly there is an ego there – why else go into the house of Godot and scream “time!”.

But the passion and fire of the man regarding the British as “lions led by donkeys” resonates with more and more of them. Cometh the time, cometh man.

We’re only making plans for Nigel

In conclusion, the consensus view that he’s a showman and nothing more, is nothing more than naive. Upon researching this post, we found a new Nigel. One that has evolved and matured as a politician. One that has been forged in the fire of anti-social media. Like Trump, he has come through major criminal allegations (a foreign power utilizing technology to overturn democracy). and has survived. The anger and frustration remain, but its power to damage Farage has been emasculated.

The second thing that favors Nigel is the dearth of leaders, globally. Certainly, UK politics has never been so lacking in credible, charismatic and trustworthy politicians and leaders. Farage’s “damp rag” quip raged at Van Rompuy (above) would fit almost every potential leader in the country. But Nigel won’t need a red baseball cap or a wall to cement his popularity. And money no longer favors the main parties – both Tory and Labour parties are effectively broke.

We’re comfortable in predicting Nigel Farage is back, and to be reckoned with. As UK politics faces tectonic transformation, new party structures will soon evolve and Nigel Farage will be in its vanguard. Perhaps his £1,000 bet on winning most seats is worth a wager.

Nigel has a plan.

But do others have plans for dealing with Nigel?

Better get busy making plans for Nigel.

We’re only making plans for Nigel

We only want what’s best for him
We’re only making plans for Nigel
Nigel just needs this helping hand
And if young Nigel says he’s happy
He must be happy
He must be happy in his work
We’re only making plans for Nigel
He has his future in a British steel
We’re only making plans for Nigel
Nigel’s whole future is as good as sealed
And if young Nigel says he’s happy
He must be happy
He must be happy in his work
Nigel is not outspoken
But he likes to speak
And loves to be spoken to
Nigel is happy in his work
We’re only making plans for Nigel
Songwriters: Colin Ivor Moulding
Making Plans for Nigel lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Other song lyrics relevant here;

The Mayor of Simpleton

King for a Day

Generals and Majors

Dear God

NB – these are the (inflated) opinions of the author, and are NOT investment advice

 

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