Monday 11 November 2019

Nigel Farage's Surrender Act

What was Nigel Farage's price? A nice warm seat in the House of Lords? No, apparently he's already turned the ermine down. How about a gong or, even better, a knighthood? We'll see when the New Year's honours swing round. Whatever convinced Farage to stand the Brexit Party down in the 317 Tory-held seats, surely some pay off will find its way to him should the Tories be successful on 12th December. Spare a moment then for those 300-odd would-be Brexit Party candidates who stumped up the hundred quid application fee only be told no refund will be given. On second thoughts, don't.

Farage's Brexit Party certainly had the money and the candidates to pull a wider challenge off, and so why not? At his press conference, Farage accused Labour of betraying its leave voters whereas the Tories are on course for a departure from the transition period (assuming Johnson's Brexit deal gets through the Commons) by the end of next year. Yes, imagine being a leader of a rival political party in late 2019 and believing a promise made by the Prime Minister. The reality is Farage knows the Tories' position is built on a foundation of sand. Having swallowed all the media hype about how Johnson "the campaigner" is going to rout Corbyn, the polling figures are showing a rally to Labour yielding numbers better than at this stage in the contest in 2017. If it carries on like this, and it could, then we're either in hung parliament territory or, terror of terrors, Labour is the largest party with perhaps even a majority. In latter cases Farage should thank his lucky stars that a Labour win at least guarantees him continued relevance.

Still, if ensuring Brexit happens is the objective then Farage's very own surrender act is a bit weird. To get it through while avoiding a second referendum, Johnson needs a majority. Standing "spoiler" candidates in Labour and LibDem-held seats is, by any reckoning, more likely to hit Tory chances of acquiring more seats. For example in my very own Stoke-on-Trent Central splitting the vote, as per UKIP's performance in the 2017 by-election, ensured Labour held on while the purple vote combined with the Tories exceeded ours. They slipped back at the general election and we polled just over half of total votes cast. The Brexit Party standing again is more likely than not to help the same happen again, unless specific factors come into play. Nevertheless if Farage is stuck on this peculiar game, neither me nor any sitting Labour MP are about to stop him.

How about Labour, can this harm the party like 2015? Perhaps, perhaps not. Just as Johnson's chances rely on polarising the vote and the Tories being the main beneficiary of the leave vote, Labour has to squeeze the LibDems and the Greens. Farage's retreat from the field tarnishes his image as a serious contender and as an anti-establishment politician. It might be a unilateral act on his part, but subordinating BXP to the Tories' electoral effort is more than suggestive of their being in hock together. Now this might not matter much in the Home Counties, but it does in many a Labour-held seat. Class consciousness isn't what it used to be, but there's residue enough that so-called Labour leavers, who may have dallied with UKIP and BXP in EU elections, would not ever vote Tory and will find Farage's desperate toadying to Johnson utterly repugnant. In short, the class character of the Brexit Party (remember, it is an actual company) stands thoroughly exposed, and many a Labour-inclined would-be BXP voter will act accordingly.

And so, as this general election trundles on its semblance to the last continues to bear a striking similarity, albeit the right are unravelling and Labour are putting on the numbers at a faster pace. And if we dare to dream and Jeremy Corbyn is put into Number 10, a small part of this great victory would be thanks to the unintended consequences of Farage's spoiler move. Perhaps he'll get a gong after all.


Tasker Dunham said...

What's the betting he'll stand down some more before Thursday?

Anonymous said...

I don't like to credit Farage in any way but it just occurred to me that he might be holding the remaining seats back to use as leverage against Johnson in the future.

Boffy said...

Farage's only concern is Farage. If there was going to be no formal alliance, and a safe seat for him, and promise of a place in government he was going to sabotage Brexit if he could.

That's what he's done. In southern Tory seats he's said to Tory Remainers, the Tories are now the Brexit Party, which will deliver them into the hands of the Remain Alliance. In the North, he continues to take Tory votes at a rate of 2:1 compared to Labour votes, so by standing in these seats he draws away Tory Leave voters, splitting the Leave vote, and so helping Labour to hold on, or for the Remain Alliance to possibly take the seats from Labour.

he thereby scuppers Brexit, and so keeps his seat as an MEP, keeps his lucrative funding from rich Brexit mavericks, keeps his useful role as go between for Trump, and keeps his face in front of the cameras as the BBC and rest of the Tory media invite him on to TV every few days to pontificate so as to boost their viewer numbers.

If you were me you would have my views said...

Shock Horror! Farage favours the Tories over Corbyn.

I always expected this, particularly given that many prominent members of the Brexit party fear Corbyn more than anything. I mean what would be the point of escaping all that red tape and then having Corbyn as leader.

I think Farage would have argued that out the EU Corbyn would be forced to adopt a race to the bottom agenda but I think the others argued this was actually nonsense and anyway Corbyn was such a clsoe relationship with the EU that it would be remain in all but name.

Actually i think this is how I would describe Johnson's deal, it like remain except far far worse.

Jimbo said...

I think this is a misstep from farridge. Although for the last three years he has been making overtures to leave labour voters this is conclusive proof he is at heart a Tory. Labour activists need to ram this message as hard as possible when out door knocking.