Hands-down winner of last night’s general election TV debates was Nigel Farage: the only authentic politician, the only man willing or able to tell it like it is.
He even gave a straight answer to an elephant trap of a question about what he did personally to save the environment:
“I drive all over the country. I catch a lot of aeroplane flights every year. I am not a leading example.”
That was while being cross-examined on ITV after the main debate in which only Boris and Corbyn took part. His performance on a BBC Question Time special with Fiona Bruce, though, was even better because it was punchier.
It was just Farage, on his own, in front of a studio audience which — typical BBC — sounded as if it had been bussed in from a Labour Momentum meeting.
One questioner effectively accused Farage of being a racist; another whiny female SJW creature contrived to take fake offence at the legal structure of Farage’s Brexit Party and just wouldn’t shut up about it; there were lots of hostile questions about the National Health Service and immigration.
But Farage is used to this nonsense. Indeed, he thrives on it. Cleverer still, he has found a formula whereby he can speak critically about sacred cows like the NHS and ‘refugees’ seeking asylum in the UK without sounding like the complete bastard his audience would like him to be.
“Two of our major political parties, many former prime ministers, refuse to accept the result of the greatest democratic exercise in the history of our nation”@Nigel_Farage on Brexit and what his party stands for. #bbcqt pic.twitter.com/elURkHna90
— BBC Question Time (@bbcquestiontime) November 19, 2019
On the NHS, he managed to slip in at least three killer points:
That the reason it’s under such pressure is because it has to serve a population which is growing by half a million every year. (Good sideways swipe at the immigration which lefties, of course, think is such a good thing and which they tell us is the only way we can cope with the shortfall in doctors and nurses).
That one of the reasons it’s effectively bankrupt is because of all the iniquitous PFI deals arranged by a previous incompetent Labour administration. So Labour is not, as it keeps lying to us, ‘the party of the NHS’. (Even though frankly, I wish it were, leaving the field open to right-wing parties to talk honestly about reforming it)
That what everyone wants is an NHS ‘where money is not being wasted.’ (I may be wrong, but I don’t think any of the other party leaders came even close to admitting that the NHS is anything other than a model of efficiency and financial rectitude)
The studio audience hated him – but then of course they did because they were all, or mostly, Corbynistas.
But I suspect the vast majority of normal viewers will have admired Farage’s honesty and his willingness to challenge these revolting Trots rather than pretend to suck up to them most refreshing.
I give him an alpha minus for his Question Time performance. But only a beta plus for his more lacklustre ITV one.
Also, he really needs to sort out his position on the whole energy/environment issue. At the moment it’s confused, it concedes far too much territory needless to the enemy and it is — not qualities you normally associate with Farage — overcautious, mealy-mouthed and cowardly.
Farage needs to take a leaf out of the book of his Brexit Party MEP Nathan Gill who isn’t sitting on the fence at all.
"I don't think we should be covering Wales, industrialising it, with wind turbines and solar panels"
— ITV Wales News (@ITVWales) November 17, 2019
I accept that there’s climate change because the climate has always been changing. This isn’t my party policy but personally I don’t believe it’s man made. And I certainly don’t think we should be covering Wales, industrialising it, with wind turbines and solar panels.
Yes! (And also: see how easy it is when you don’t back down or apologise but simply state your beliefs clearly?)
One of the best things about telling the truth is that it’s SO much easier — and more defensible — than telling lies. I still think the Brexit Party has made a very wrong call by not having a sensible, sceptical, evidence-driven position on energy and the environment. Not least it means that Farage — who surely knows that the whole Climate Emergency thing is absolute bollocks — is forced onto the back foot every time it comes up and cannot rely on his trademark forthrightness.
Still, this is a small quibble. I think many of us Brexiteers will have watched Farage’s performances yesterday and sighed ruefully over the unfortunate concatenation of circumstances which are preventing him taking a bigger role in British politics and holding Boris Johnson properly to account from the Thatcherite right position.
Like Dan Hannan, yesterday, I do think that Boris Johnson’s Conservatives are best placed to deliver Brexit and that when they win this election — as they surely will — they’ll make a better fist of running a Conservative administration than David Cameron or Theresa May did.
But that’s not exactly a very high bar, is it?
Certainly in my dream world, we would have several Brexit Party members in parliament after this election stopping Boris’s Conservatives degenerating ever further into noisome squishitude. But it is, I fear, only a dream…