Published on 21 May 2014

Nigel Farage: shock jock or statesman?

Nigel Farage on the Today programme quoted the British Election Study poll suggesting that in the general election Ukip will keep nearly 60 per cent of what it polls tomorrow in the Euro elections. I’m not sure even people involved in that finding really believe it.

Pollsters say individuals don’t like appearing fickle and ready to change their mind quickly and that the “retention” question is not a reliable one to predict outcomes – better simply to conduct a general election preference vote in the same poll and spot the difference. That said, the BES managed to predict Ukip’s vote retention pretty accurately from the 2009 Euros to the 2010 general election – they predicted 4 per cent Ukip share of the vote in 2010 and Ukip got 3 per cent.

Tory strategists are convinced that Ukip will come top tomorrow in the Euros despite some evidence of a slight slide in some polls, not least because more than 40 per cent of votes may have been cast in the post before the other parties and theĀ  newspapers fully turned their fire on Ukip.

But Tories hope they can calm their troops down as the results come in on Sunday night by claiming that Ukip has peaked. Not least they’ll point at Nigel Farage’s declining rating as a leader. Tory strategists hope they can, with allies in the press, brutally focus on his inconsistencies in the months to come to batter him down further. One Tory strategist compares him to a “shock jock” radio host whose daily rants won’t measure up to what voters expect of a leader.

Not that Tories think he’s going to disappear. They are increasingly resigned to him retaining just under 10 per cent share of the vote. But they point out that in many marginal seats in 2010 the combined Ukip and BNP vote was around 10 pee cent anyway. The BNP vote has crumbled, mostly into Ukip’s hands. Things haven’t changed that much, is the argument. The margins aren’t so forbidding.

Tomorrow has long been in Tory strategists’ diaries like a pre-booked heart attack. The Euros would unleash Tory demons and lead to a carnival of political self-harm. The leadership now hopes it’s done enough work behind the scenes and got enough signs of Ukip-squeezing progress to point at to calm nerves and avoid serious division after the results.

Nigel Farage boldly said the Newark by-election will prove whether or not Ukip has peaked. If he comes second there two weeks from now, having just come first in a national poll, the Tories will say that’s exactly what he’s done. That by-election is now central to both parties’ strategies.

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8 reader comments

  1. Philip Edwards says:


    Farage “a statesman”?


  2. Neil Craig says:

    Hands up all those who thought Gary was going to plump for “statesman” or indeed that C4 would have let him?

    “before the other parties and the newspapers fully turned their fire on Ukip” and the later mention of the “allies in the press” gives about 1/3rd of the game away. It admits the extent to which our “free” press is controlled by the ruling political class, partly by ownership, partly by government advertising, which is often more than any profit a paper makes, is used to censor dissent.

    The other 2/3rds is the obvious way the state owned broadcasters, BBC & C4, are lying and censoring, in a manner entirely contrary to their legal duty of “balance” to interfere in party politics. Of course they always have to some extent, and have always censored to promote “approved” stories, such as catastrophic global warming or suppressing news of our government committing racial genocide in Kosovo and elsewhere. However there has always been some distaste about lying and censoring during elections to promote particular parties and smear others. I think the British people have enough decency that the BBC/C4 are running a significant risk of arousing popular contempt.

    1. Philip says:


  3. Sean O'Hare says:

    There is a big difference between 2010 and next year’s General Election. Last time people still had some faith in the Tory Parties promise of “We won’t let matters rest there”. Since then Cameron has imposed a 3 line whip against an in/out referendum and despite the pathetic tripe lock has transferred as many if not more powers to Brussels in 4 years than the Labour government did in 13 years.

    Gary please don’t pretend that Nigel Farage expects Roger Helmer to come first in Newark, because he hasn’t said that. He, and the rest of us UKIPpers genuinely wish him well and hope his campaigning efforts are duly rewarded.

  4. Martin Hall says:

    It seems to me that the 3 main political parties are totally disinterested in the European elections, no political paraphernalia through the post telling you what they stand for in Europe.
    According to John Prescott (In the Mirror), Labour are saving their money for the General Election.
    David Cameron has said the Conservatives are “listening to the voters”, but has no policies or ambitions at this moment.
    Nick Clegg is pro Europe but has nothing he wants to change or at least tell the voters about.
    It almost appears that the leaders of these parties want the voters to vote UKIP as the only electioneering has been to tarnish UKIP.

  5. DRA says:

    Hardly balanced reporting ..even the Chanel 4`s listings of comments on the hijacked twitter account is biased towards the negative [with regards to UKIP]

  6. Roger Craven says:

    UKIP are hiding their policies from the public. What do those that vote UKIP really know about its health policy for example? Do they realise UKIP’s health spokesman has argued in favour of charging for visits to A&E departments in hospitals?
    The problem with single issue parties is even if you like the issue you will not like the baggage.
    If you vote UKIP you are voting for a party of pub bores without a coherent story for anything they’ve not read from the Daily Mail.

  7. Neil Craig says:

    Nice one Philip. A fine example of the mature and reasoned debate that is the best UKIP’s foes can manage. Block capitals throughout was a neat touch.

    Roger it can hardly be UKIP who are hiding our policies from the public. We don’t control the decisions of the state owned BBC & C4 to censor all discussion of them and to make sure our policy spokespeople never get a chance to speak on air.

    Your own ludicrous smear depends on people being kept in the dark about many of our policies.

    I wish our policies were not being hidden from the public, if only because, when people actually know anything about them they overwhelmingly support them. Presumably C4 know this.

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