In 2010, the UK Independence Party finished last, 26,000 votes behind Patrick Mercer in Newark. Mercer’s resignation on Tuesday evening was followed by immense speculation that it be beginning of Nigel Farage’s British parliamentary career. I for one thought he would run. It seemed fitting with his overall character, somebody hungry for the power and influence that Westminster brings. When he is interviewed on television, he is never afraid to say something controversial or certain politicians weak. He never trembles when attacking the European establishment. But events with Newark this week have changed his character. Twelve hours after stating he was interested in running, he rules it out. He claims he is not running scared, but his actions are very much out of character.
I think it is completely right the claims of cowardice Farage now faces and his arguments that he is not running scared do not add up. Farage claims he is no ‘opportunist’ and this is why he has not run. Think back to the last couple of years since UKIP’s surge began. Every time there is a scandal or mistake form Westminster, Farage appears ready to benefit from the situation. We’ve seen it recently with Maria Miller who was one of the first to call for her to resign. This is quite ironic now considering Farage himself is under intense scrutiny for ‘missing’ expenses. The party’s popularity has essentially grown form the opportunistic actions they have taken.
Why else did he not run? He did not want UKIP to be a one –man party. The fact is it is too late to change that. Without doing research, the vast majority of people will struggle to name more than two or three senior UKIP members. With Farage, the party would be nowhere. Whoever is chosen as the UKIP candidate for Newark will not win. They may be a local candidate but he or she will not carry the same gravitas and certain qualities that are attracting voters to Farage. There will be no UKIP MPs until Farage himself is elected (if he ever is). Farage himself caused this through his dictatorial leadership of his party. If anybody criticises him, they are kicked out of the position they held. Recently following claims by The Times over his expenses, UKIP members were told to essentially ‘shut up’ if they asked about money.
Politicians form his all over the spectrum attacked him. At this point I found myself (rather surprisingly) agreeing with former UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom who stated that ‘He vacillated- and I think that made him look indecisive’. He did add however, that it may be part of Farage’s ‘cunning’ plan, but I am struggling to see that. Conservative MP Anna Soubry, a fierce Farage critic called him ‘frit’, a phrase that describes his actions perfectly.
His cowardice could have some serious repercussions. Looking ahead to the possible TV leaders debates next year, Farage would have a much stronger argument to be part of the debate if their support remained high and they actually had an MP. At the current time, there is now actual way how it can be justified for him to appear. In my opinion the Green party and George Galloway with Respect have a much stronger right.
It is disappointing not see him run, and most likely lose. The look on his face following defeat would have been priceless and could have slowed down the UKIP train. Nevertheless, this could very well begin to ‘burst’ the UKIP bubble. Fingers crossed, the Tories should the seat and with no Farage threat the scale of UKIP’s influence in the area would be much weaker. The events of the past few days have shown the public that Farage is not a strong leader. He could have avoided all of this by stating that he was not interested in running. Instead, it has shown him running scared and it presents us the the ‘true’ Nigel Farage.He will deflect criticism in every way and it will not affect him in the polls. But for those not hypnotised by his character, they will see the cowardice that lies within.