The pictures above were chosen for more than just their depiction of last night’s debate. They were chosen because they illustrate what the debate was really about.
You may have been fooled into thinking that it was about 27 million Romanians and Bulgarians, or 3 million jobs, or bizarrely, at one point, same-sex marriage. It was about none of these things.
After internalising last night’s head-to-head between the two party leaders, I’ve decided. It was about traditionalism in British politics versus the Third Way.
It was trendy wine bar versus pub. It was skinny jeans versus corduroy trousers. It was indie music versus… good music.
Last night Britain was treated to, and asked to respond to, not just a debate about the European Union, but a debate about the British culture. It struck me as unsurprising therefore, having seen the debate live, and scored it 6-4 to Nigel Farage, that a YouGov/Sun poll of 1000 Brits scored it 57-36 percent in favour of the UKIP leader too.
Britain’s liberal luvvies were scratching their heads. Even those who are conservative under notional terms. The former ConservativeHome editor and soon-to-be former Times Opinion editor Tim Montgomerie tweeted, “Clegg is winning this imho. Sounding more reasonable and I say that as an Outer”.
Fundamentally, I would argue, the Westminster bubble has lost touch with the greater British public. They’re so far in denial about it that even as UKIP continues to grow around the country, Westminster-types shake their heads and declare it a temporary situation.
UKIP itself may be temporary, but it is current. The sentiment it stands for will never disappear, and last night’s debate and consequent reaction serves to underscore that.
Clegg was the corporatist, Clintonian third-way shill. He couldn’t stop name-dropping big business names.
Farage was the traditionalist, Churchillian, localist. He stood up for the small businesses, the ‘silent majority’, and as Clegg pejoratively called it: ‘Little England’.