We need to talk about Nigel. Well actually we need to talk about not talking about Nigel. We need to gather everyone together and agree that much like Justin Bieber and other people’s dreams, if we just stopped talking about Nigel Farage, life would be much much sweeter.
You see UKIP launched their campaign posters for the EU elections this week and to no one’s surprise, they’re pretty unpalatable. A point not lost on the twitterverse who were keen to point out the posters flaws. Some humorously remade the posters with actual figures and a pro-immigration slant.
— James Evans (@jamesevans42) April 23, 2014
While others pointed out the vast similarities with another party’s election posters.
— Miriam Brett (@MiriamBrett) April 21, 2014
The Labour party were quick to condemn the posters as racist, while The Times orchestrated a not-so-subtle attack on Farage and his expenses on behalf of the Conservative party. It all slightly misses the point though. The small fact that the ‘establishment’ — as you-can-call-me-Nige likes to put it — seems to have missed, is that UKIP’s core voters aren’t going to be reasoned with. At least not in the Nick Clegg, Guardian readers of Hampstead Heath way.
There is now a significant anti-immigration sentiment among the British public. A recent YouGov poll claimed 70 per cent of the UK public believe that low skilled immigrants looking for low paid work should not be allowed into the country. That’s despite the many studies that show there are thousands of low paid jobs still unfilled across the country, that low-skilled British workers often refuse to work in some sectors, and the chief executive of Domino’s Pizza asserting that he could build another 5,000 stores across the nation — a boost to the country’s economy — if they let in more immigrants not less. But there, I’ve fallen into the same trap; I’ve used facts and figures to reason with what is effectively a populist feeling.
So what’s the solution? How to regain a sense of clarity? Its certainly not calling them ‘fruitcakes’ and ‘loons’ or deeming their every move racist. Its almost certainly not to trumpet and scream about the UKIP members. Its not even to take them as seriously as to give their leader — who’s party has zero Members of Parliament — an equal footing with the Deputy Prime Minister on the BBC. Farage’s appeal comes from his ‘man of the people’ shtick and UKIP’s policies appeal to the heart of their voters not their heads. Where Nigel knows best is in feasting on the ‘us vs them’ atmosphere, creating a siege mentality amongst their voters whilst plying them with style over substance rhetoric.
There is genuine anti-establishment anger among the British public and that needs to be channelled by those who see that our future lies within the EU. The UK isn’t and won’t ever be full of people who you can have a reasoned argument with. These people will not listen to facts — as so accurately proven by the recent television debates — but they will vote and they are important. In Europe for these elections, each political party outlines their policies on Europe, their visions for the future of the EU. Even the Eurosceptics on the continent are aware that the EU isn’t going anywhere soon. So really we need to take less notice of who we can ‘go and have a beer with’ and start developing a plan for how to ensure the government represents the people’s wishes, the starting point of democracy. These elections have been and always will be bigger than UKIP, so its time the other parties stopped making plans for Nigel.
And if we can all agree to stop writing about Nigel Farage maybe we’d all be much happier in our worlds too. I for one will start right now.
By Jamie Timson
Picture credit: UKIP