Why I’m praying to the electoral gods that Nigel Farage finally becomes an MP

Westminster has a way of sniffing out the weirdos, loud mouths and fantasists—which is why I want to see the Cheeky Chappy’s bum on the green leather seats of the Commons

January 20, 2024
A future MP? Nigel Farage in Iowa after Donald Trump won the state’s Republican caucus. Image: Associated Press / Alamy Stock Photo
Nigel Farage in Iowa after Donald Trump won the state’s Republican caucus. Image: Associated Press / Alamy Stock Photo

Eighth time lucky? The Cheeky Chappy is hinting he might just have another go. And, you know, this time round, the good citizens of Clacton might even oblige us and elect Nigel Farage MP to represent them later this year.

I do hope so.

Give Farage his due, he’s been trying to add those two letters to his name ever since 1994, when he stood for—and was rejected by—Eastleigh in Hampshire. He failed again in 1997, and five more times since then. He’s up there with Screaming Lord Sutch as one of British politics’ greatest losers.

Which, when you stop to think about it, is rather ridiculous. The movement he led in 2016 somehow managed to persuade 52 per cent of us—more than 17m people—to vote for Brexit (and a fine mess that’s turned out to be, as even he concedes). He’s both a staggeringly successful winner as well as an all-time loser. So I say it’s about time he was an MP.

We should acknowledge there are many powerful arguments to the contrary. Was there anything more toe-curlingly cringe-inducing than the way Farage and his ragtag crew of MEPs made their graceless, smirking, triumphalist, union-flag-waving exit from the European Parliament at the end of January 2020? Wasn’t it—even for some of those who voted for his cause—a moment of dismal national embarrassment?

He’s aligned himself with racists and homophobes. By any reasonable definition of misogynist, he qualifies. He has told lies. He’s evasive about his sources of funding. He’s a politically untrustworthy, unreliable, single-issue, small-minded demagogue. He’s a mate of Donald Trump. When he appeared on I’m a Celebrity, you almost felt sorry for the snakes.

No wonder he’s never won a parliamentary seat.

But lots of people do like him and his politics, and if we had a saner voting system, Farage would almost certainly have been an MP already: the Brexit Party would have won between three and 12 seats in 2019, were we, as a nation, not so addicted to first-past-the-post.

The Electoral Reform Society’s analysis of that election came to the sobering conclusion that millions of voters were denied any form of representation. The report contrasted our system with Ireland’s, and quoted one Irish voter as saying: “In Ireland, your vote matters, no matter where you live. But first-past-the-post makes you feel your vote’s impact depends on your postcode. It is an issue of vibrancy compared to stagnation.”

So those of us who would prefer a voting system that more closely resembles who we are must accept that we will get more Nigel Farages (as well as more Caroline Lucases).

But there are more reasons for wanting to see the old rascal in Westminster. And high among them is that it would make it harder for him to play the victim.

You’ll have noticed that he shares this game with his chum Donald. No matter how wealthy they are, no matter how expensively educated or well-connected, they still claim to be misunderstood outsiders.

They are on your side against “them”—you know, the powerful, out of touch, technocratic metropolitan elites who just don’t get it and are out to betray you. So I would very much like to see Farage place his bum on the green leather benches and join “them” in trying to make things work.

If he was going to knuckle down and truly represent the people of Clacton, Farage would have to switch from performative victimhood to the mundane business of delivery. Never mind the will of the 17.4m—he’ll have to help Tendring Council solve its forecasted budget deficit of more than £2.5m.

He’ll have to come up with a strategy for the regeneration of Clacton and Dovercourt town centres; work out how to keep small Tendring businesses afloat; take a position on library closures and cuts to youth services; and find out why the new local plan, which started in 2011, still hasn’t materialised.

That should keep him busy for a while.

With any luck, a) there will be a crackdown on MPs doing second jobs, and b) Ofcom will finally have come to its senses and prevented GB News from providing well-paid platforms to very right-wing MPs. So Farage will not be distracted by his current lucrative employment opportunities.

His mate Arron Banks is reported to have subsidised Farage to the tune of £450,000 in the year after the Brexit vote, including rental of a £4.4m Chelsea home, as well as a car and driver. (Although Banks dismissed these claims as a “smear”.)

Fine, but now he’ll have to declare all that instead of us relying on Channel 4 News to rummage the details out on our behalf. It would be a bad look to continue to live in Chelsea, so Farage should start to look for a property in the constituency. You can pick up a three-bedroom house in Jaywick—said to be the poorest town in Britain—for around £250,000.

And the other good thing about Farage becoming MP for Clacton is that it’s much better than having him parachuted into the House of Lords with a seat for life.

According to Farage, he was twice offered a peerage to stop the Brexit Party from running against the Conservatives in 2019. And who’s to say it wouldn’t happen again? His bum plumped on the red benches rather than the green ones. £342 a day just to turn up. Licence to sound off, responsible to no one.

No, let Farage stand in Clacton and let us pray to the electoral gods that he wins. Westminster, for all its faults, has a way of sniffing out the weirdos, the loudmouths and the fantasists and cutting them down to size.

Always assuming he doesn’t become prime minister…