Archive for the 'Farage' Category

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A CON majority drops out of the GE2019 betting favourite slot following Farage’s campaign threat

Friday, November 1st, 2019

Ever since a 2019 general election became a certainty punters made a CON majority the favourite outcome touching nearly a 60% chance on the Betfair according to the betdata.io chart.

That’s all changed following Farage announcement that his Brexit Party will fight a full range of seats thus possibly splitting the leave vote unless Johnson is ready to form a leave alliance.

Looking at the official election timetable the last point at which Farage has got to decide is 4pm on Thursday December 14th which is the strict closure of nominations.

The real problem Farage has got is that the person who has the most influence on Johnson is DCummings who has a history of arguments with the former UKIP leader and its hard to see any accommodation being made.

The question then would be whether Farage, if his approach is rebuffed, has the bottle to go forward with his threat to field a full slate of candidates with the risk that Brexit itself could be at risk.

It would be ironic if differing views over what Brexit should be is what keeps the UK in the EU.

Mike Smithson




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Farage plays his Trump card but Johnson surely shouldn’t be tempted

Friday, November 1st, 2019

Perhaps the most bizarre event so far in this election campaign was Nigel Farage talking to Donald Trump on his LBC radio programme yesterday.

Clearly Farage has been the big loser from the emergence of Johnson as the Conservative leader and Prime Minister and we have heard very little from the the Brexit party leader over the last month or so.

How was Farage going to get back into the game and start commanding media attention again? Well we have now seen how and the question is what does Johnson do do?

The problem is that in UK terms a link with Trump himself is an asset that is declining in value by the day as the moves to impeach him ratchet up.

What is the political benefit to Johnson in entering a dialogue particularly when there is the Farage link? The last thing the prime minister wants to do is to take action that puts the attention back on Farage who has been so damaging to Conservative Party interests in the past.

Also it is hard to see how Trump adds to Johnson’s political position at the moment. Of course if the UK does leave the EU at the end of of January then the government will need to talk to the US about a trade deal but being seen to use the Farage link would not be helpful.

No doubt Farage will use his relationship with Trump at today’s Brexit Party campaign launch.

As the Mirror front page this morning highlights a Johnson relationship with Trump could be a very big negative because it rightly or wrongly triggers the “US threat to the NHS” meme that has been used before and seems to get traction.

Mike Smithson




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Food for thought for would-be defectors to the Brexit Party

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

Mike Greene, the Brexit Party candidate for the Peterborough by-election, reportedly met Nigel Farage for the first time the night before he was unveiled as the new party’s representative. You have to hope that he does better due diligence on the companies he invests in.

For Nigel Farage is not the easiest man to work for.He has a very long-established habit of falling out with those around him. His history of leading UKIP was one of nonstop rows with senior colleagues. The body count rivalled that of Game Of Thrones.

Let’s have a look at what some of them had to say.

Douglas Carswell was a high profile MP defector from the Conservatives who became disillusioned: “Far from having a strategy, we seemed to be driven by whatever came out of Nigel’s mouth.”

Mike Nattrass was a UKIP MEP. After he left, he claimed:

“Ukip is now a totalitarian party. Nigel Farage only wants people in the party who absolutely and totally agree with him. I’m regarded as a troublemaker. The party has done very well. We all do a lot of work but it now has a totalitarian regime because the leader only wants people elected who are his cronies.”

David Campbell-Bannerman was also a UKIP MEP. His view, after defecting to the Conservatives was:

“What is concerning about UKIP is it has become very much a one-man band and a bit of a cult. There is a followership and even the constitution has been changed to favour pro-leader candidates. I don’t think that’s healthy.”

Maria Andreasen was a UKIP MEP (a former chief accountant for the European Commission before that, as it happens). Her view after leaving wasit was Mr Farage’s jealousy of potential competitors inside the “one-man band” party that had prevented candidates from having their records checked.

She said Mr Farage changed the party’s constitution last year “giving him full power on everything, including the establishment of strategy, policies and selection processes for candidates for elections”.

Godfrey Bloom, also a former UKIP MEP and one-time flatmate of Nigel Farage noted that  “even a hint of criticism” would risk getting “your membership card chopped up”.

You might notice something of a theme in these criticisms.

There have been darker suggestions. Nikki Sinclaire was a former UKIP MEP, she claimed that he put a fist in her face. She also helpfully provided some statistical analysis for those doing due diligence:

“Nigel Farage has been an MEP for 15 years; in that time there has been 19 other UKIP MEPs and he has fallen out with 11. In this Parliament in the last five years, the 12 MEPs he brought back to Brussels, he has fallen out with six.”

Nigel Farage has his own views on this. Of Ms Andreasen, he said: “The woman is impossible.” Douglas Carswell was “sniping from the sidelines”. He is no more flattering about his other former disillusioned colleagues.

Nevertheless, anyone thinking of teaming up with Nigel Farage should be aware that the chances of falling out with him are substantial. And given he had a reputation as an autocrat when he was in charge of UKIP, the structure of the Brexit Party should give any would-be ally pause for thought. For it is not a party, but a company controlled by Nigel Farage. He appoints the board. There are no members. Those registered supporters are the fools who are easily parted from their money – they get nothing for it.  

Nigel Farage is leader for life and he can do as he pleases. If you join the Brexit Party and you then fall out with Nigel Farage, you will lose.  

So, those hardline Conservative MPs beguiled by the Brexit Party’s rise in the polls need to do some careful thinking. Do they stick, unhappily, with the Conservative party (which they may well believe is a sinking ship) or do they defect to a new home where they will have no power and no real influence, where they will serve as a trophy rather than a colleague? To defect is to subordinate yourself to Nigel Farage forever. That is the tariff of admission.

The choice is not a particularly easy one, especially if you believe that the Conservative party is now incapable of delivering the Brexit you want. But anyone who defects to the Brexit Party only to discover that they end up as the next of Nigel Farage’s victims deserves no sympathy for their fate: the implications of the choice are there for all to see right now.

Alastair Meeks




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Nigel Farage reportedly looking to do Corbyn’s dirty work and help Labour gain Boris Johnson’s seat

Sunday, May 5th, 2019

This week’s Spectator reports that

Rumours are circulating that Farage’s aim is to destroy the leader he fears most: Boris Johnson. This is more doable than it might sound. The former foreign secretary holds a 5,000 majority in Uxbridge —respectable, but not a lifetime guarantee, given the volatility of contemporary politics and London’s drift away from the Tories.

Word is that Farage is considering standing against Boris in the next general election. He’d lose. But he might take Johnson down with him by splitting the Leave vote in the seat, letting Labour in through the middle. This would be an entirely destructive act by Farage. But that this idea is being discussed in his circle shows how serious they are about taking out the Tories.

Prior to this news I had a private bet on Boris Johnson losing his seat at the next general election so this news interests me. The reason I’ve bet on Boris losing is seat is mostly down to London demographic trends moving away from the Tories, with 2,700 centre left voters for Labour to squeeze that 5,000 majority doesn’t look quite so secure for Boris.

Then there’s Boris Johnson’s popularity which has fallen substantially since his apotheosis. With the country polarising further on Brexit and with the role that Boris Johnson played in Leave’s victory you can see why Boris Johnson might lose his seat. Boris Johnson’s Bannonite comments on Muslim women isn’t likely to endear him in London. 

If he was Prime Minister at the time of the next general election you can see the mother and father of all decapitation strategies being planned by Labour. It would be the Portillo moment for a new generation.

But if the Leave vote in this constituency is significantly split then Boris Johnson is toast. It is clear that a substantial minority of Leavers view a No Deal Brexit as the only true Brexit and that anyone who compromises is betraying Brexit.

With Boris Johnson eventually backing the Withdrawal Agreement, something that Farage has compared the Withdrawal Agreement to the Treaty of Versailles it isn’t hard to see Farage comparing Boris Johnson to Marshal Pétain or some other Vichyist/Quisling. I’m sure Farage will also appeal to those Leavers for whom immigration was the key driver in their decision to vote Leave that Boris Johnson is in favour of an amnesty for illegal immigrants. 

It does reinforce that a feeling that I’ve had for a while, a lot of Leavers, Farage particularly, are more interested in destroying than creating. If Farage was confident in support for his policies he would stand in a more winnable seat.

TSE



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If there was a betting market on the first Tory MP defecting to the Brexit Party my money would be on Steve Baker

Sunday, April 28th, 2019

In today’s Sun on Sunday reports

Tory MPs such as Lucy Allan, the MP for Telford, have openly tweeted encouragement for the Brexit Party, and dozens of others say privately they will vote for Farage.

Some have discussed defecting.

One prominent Brexiteer said: “Maybe we should all just defect to the Brexit Party. Can you imagine the chaos.”

It was sent to members of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s European Research Group. A source close to Farage confirmed: “Nigel is very smug at the moment and is 100 per cent sure that there is at least one high-profile defection in the pipeline with others likely to follow.”

Farage is also promising the 28 Tory MPs who remain opposed to May’s Brexit deal — a group known as the “Spartans” — that the Brexit Party will not contest their seats at the next election.

In 2014, Farage successfully persuaded two Conservative MPs, Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless, to defect to Ukip.

If Shadsy does put a market on the first Tory MP defecting to the Brexit party I’d be looking to back Steve Baker.

At the start of the month Steve Baker publicly spoke about voting against the government in a vote of no confidence.

As the Spectator noted

In response, [Baker] stressed that ‘At this point I can foresee no circumstances, while as a Conservative MP, I vote against the government in a confidence motion.’

But then went on to add:

‘But we are approaching the point where the stakes are now so very high and so transcend party politics and what this country is about, and the fundamental British value that political power rests on consent, that I think these things are coming on to the table.’

To me if you’re willing to say that publicly then you’ve contemplated leaving the Tory party and for the Spartan wing of the ERG there’s only one party to defect to, that’s Farage’s new party. Gerard Batten’s turning UKIP into the political wing of the EDL has ensured there shouldn’t be any Tory MPs defecting to UKIP.

Now there’s the Carswell/Reckless precedent that when you betray the Tory party you trigger a by election but there is an easy get out for any future defectors. Given the the Parliamentary arithmetic and Mrs May’s attempts to pass her deal every vote is crucial it would be reckless for the Spartans to be out of Parliament for around two months fighting by elections.

There’s quite a few Leavers who would be delighted to see the Spartans leave the Tory party, the defections to the Brexit party would increase the average IQ of both parties.

TSE



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Farage against the machine. Why the Brexit party’s chances are not as good as billed

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

Nigel Farage’s second coming has been greeted with fanfares in the media, which love someone who courts publicity and is prepared to do whatever it takes to get it. His gaping maw can be viewed wherever you look, and he has so far been given an unimpeded run for his message that Brexit has been betrayed. His credentials as a strategic genius who delivered Brexit are taken as read. His brilliance as a politician is assumed. The imminent collapse of the current political establishment is expected.  

At the time of writing, he was most recently backed on Betfair at 48 (47/1) for next Prime Minister.  This price is shorter than that for Philip Hammond, Geoffrey Cox, Amber Rudd and David Davis. Since he is not even an MP, this shows remarkable enthusiasm for his chances.

There are a few problems with this narrative. Let’s take a look at them.

Nigel Farage is a really poor political campaigner

Put the referendum to one side for now (I will be coming back to this). His track record in seeking election to Westminster is one of almost unmitigated failure, both for himself and for his party. The only successes have been obtaining the re-election at by-elections of two incumbent MPs. One of these lost his seat at the next election.

He himself has failed to be elected to Parliament on no fewer than seven occasions, including coming third in a two horse race in 2010 when campaigning in the Speaker’s constituency.

He has a better record in the EU elections. The Brexit party can be expected to do well there. For long term impact, however, they are going to need to start making inroads into Westminster. Nothing in Nigel Farage’s past suggests that they will.

His role in the referendum is being hugely overstated

Nigel Farage’s biggest contribution to the referendum was leaning on Conservative MPs to help get it called in the first place. During the referendum campaign he roamed around like a rogue elephant, trampling across the main campaign’s efforts.

He may have reached voters that the main campaign did not reach but he also risked alienating other voters who were also needed with such stunts as his Breaking Point poster. He was certainly one of the more visible figures but he was not so much Svengali as sidekick.

Certainly he did not impress Dominic Cummings, guru of Vote Leave. Among his comments:

“We recruited more active volunteers (~12,000) in 10 months than UKIP in 25 years (~7,000 according to Farage).”

“Farage put off millions of (middle class in particular) voters who wanted to leave the EU but who were very clear in market research that a major obstacle to voting Leave was ‘I don’t want to vote for Farage, I’m not like that’. He also put off many prominent business people from supporting us. Over and over they would say ‘I agree with you the EU is a disaster and we should get out but I just cannot be on the same side as a guy who makes comments about people with HIV’.”

Without Boris, Farage would have been a much more prominent face on TV during the crucial final weeks, probably the most prominent face. (We had to use Boris as leverage with the BBC to keep Farage off and even then they nearly screwed us as ITV did.) It is extremely plausible that this would have lost us over 600,000 vital middle class votes.”

Retrospectively making him into some kind of electoral babe-magnet is rewriting history.

The Brexit party, new as it is, has major problems

Considering the Brexit party is so new, it has a remarkably chequered track record already. It has lost its chief executive over blood-curdling anti-Islamic comments and its treasurer over a pot pourri of anti-semitism, xenophobia and homophobia.

If Labour are struggling with accusations of institutional anti-semitism, the Brexit party seem to have much greater structural problems.  What is it about Nigel Farage that attracts such people?

The Brexit party’s party structure is also going to be limiting unless quickly changed. The party leader is chosen by a committee that is appointed by Nigel Farage. The party supporters get no say. Party democracy is evidently something that Nigel Farage has no time for.

While it is no doubt a great comfort to Nigel Farage that he has the same job security as Arthur Scargill, it will prove a major barrier to obtaining new recruits. Disaffected Conservative MPs will be unwilling to jump ship to a party where their status will be subject to the caprices of a man who many others had fallen foul of once their profile got too high.

This may in turn explain why Nigel Farage has yet again overpromised and underdelivered. We were told that the Brexit party was going to unveil a glittering array of candidates. Instead so far we have got the sister of a backbench Conservative MP and the usual ragbag of committed EU-haters who no one else had heard of. I suppose that this was a step up from a much-touted march that ultimately had fewer than 100 participants. It still suggests that the party structures are again likely to prove an Achilles heel for him.

Nigel Farage has a host of questions to answer about himself that he won’t be able to duck forever

Then we come to the man himself. He has never shown himself particularly deft on the defence rather than on the attack. Perhaps he will break that habit. He will need to.

As Dominic Cummings noted, he has an array of past statements that are voter-repellent (Mike Smithson noted his approach to the NHS, which is far outside the mainstream, on Monday). Those will come back to haunt him – does he still believe them? If not, why did he change his mind?

He also visibly struggles over questions about funding. The ongoing questions about Leave.EU’s finances rumble on. The answers won’t sink the referendum result but the waters lap around Nigel Farage’s feet (which is no doubt why Arron Banks is not being asked to contribute to funding the Brexit party).  

It is also worth noting that the rules on disclosing MPs’ interests are more stringent than those for MEPs. Were he ever to make it eighth (or ninth, or tenth) time lucky, journalists would be queuing up to pore over them.

He will no doubt also be watching with some concern developments over the Mueller report. He was named in passing as a possible conduit to Julian Assange for wikileaks. He was indeed seen at the Ecuadorean embassy. No doubt in due course he will be asked by reporters to explain his bit part in this drama.

Most importantly, he is campaigning on the democratic need to implement Brexit and how the MPs are betraying it. But before and during the referendum campaign he made many statements on Brexit that suggest that he was expecting a much softer Brexit then than he is campaigning for now. At some point he is going to need to come up with a convincing explanation of the discrepancies if he is going to make inroads beyond the permanently aggrieved.

Ultimately, the Brexit party may well prove extremely problematic for the Conservatives, perhaps lethal up to and including the next general election. That does not mean that it will itself have much electoral success and unlike in the 2010-15 Parliament, the diehard right is in no position to impose itself on the government, which has still greater pressures from elsewhere.

All it looks set to do is hand the initiative to pro-EU forces. For all that they are being much-derided at present, CUK look more likely to achieve their policy objectives in relation to Brexit both in the short and in the long term.

Alastair Meeks




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As Farage’s “mass” march heads South the ex-UKIP leader has branding problems if there are Euro elections

Saturday, March 16th, 2019

Do voters know that he’s quit UKIP?

Given the Commons votes over the past week then there must be a chance that the UK will participate in the European Parliament elections at the end of May.

Farage is now with his new Brexit party which would what would appear on the closed list ballot papers if elections are held. The problem here is that while UKIP enjoys a high level of awareness Farage’s new party has yet to establish itself. Most voters, I’d guess, still think Farage is with UKIP.

So assuming that there are UK Euro elections then we could expect both UKIP and the Brexit party to be on the regional list ballot papers. As PBers no doubt know, in these election you vote for the party and not the individual and Farage’s name would only be on ballot paper in his own region.

This has the potential to split the pro-Brexit vote and make it mighty hard for Farage to achieve anything like the the success of 2014 when his then party, UKIP, came top.

At this stage this is hypothetical but all the main parties are working on plans just in case Euro elections take place.

Mike Smithson




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If there are UK Euro elections in May Farage’s new Brexit party could easily beat UKIP

Friday, March 1st, 2019

The elections that may or may not happen

While all sorts of attention has been given to the splits within the Conservative and Labour parties there has been very little coverage of the fact that UKIP, which won the 2014 UK euro elections, has been totally divided over the past 5 years. Barely a 3rd of 24 UKIP MEPs elected in May 2014 are still within the fold.

One of the defectors, Nigel Farage, was leader in 2014 and has setup his own party with an astute choice of name, the Brexit party.

Now we won’t know for some weeks whether or not the UK will be participating in the May European Parliament elections. If Brexit happens on time on March 29th then clearly it won’t. If there’s a short extension, as Mrs May has indicated then it won’t happen either. But if there is a longer extension agreed then by European law the UK will have to participate in the May elections.

To remind ourselves the format of these elections is unlike anything else within the UK. The country is divided into regions and people vote by marking a box on top of a party list of candidates. So unlike Westminster elections MEPs are not voted for by name. The party choice is everything.

Here there could be a fight for the same segment of the market between the remnants of UKIP and the Brexit party and my guess is that Farage’s grouping could do well.

You could see this being made into a mini referendum on Brexit itself.

Mike Smithson