The man who served as Ukip’s Press Secretary for 13 years says his party never prevaricated like thisby Gawain Towler / February 9, 2018 / Leave a comment
On 23rd June 2016, the masses of the UK chose not to listen to their betters. They voted to Leave the European Union. Politicians, academics, and journalists took to the newspapers, television studios and social media in panic. For once, it was they who had been ignored. A vision championed by Ukip, that rag-tag bunch of fruitcakes, had triumphed.
I was Ukip’s press secretary for 13 years, and know how instrumental Nigel Farage was in the result. The mainstream media branded him “deeply xenophobic and misogynistic.” His views were “unacceptable.”
Yet as many people from across the political spectrum will attest, the simple fact is that he is very personable. I’ve forgotten how many profile pieces over the years would start with a paragraph saying how ghastly he is, but by the end of the piece there would normally be a grudging acceptance. “You know, he’s rather a fun and engaging chap,” they would say. “Not that I agree with him.”
There was a moment before the 2015 general election that the Tory Party believed his impact would be devastating. They were terrified that were he to win in Thanet and take up a seat on the green benches, he would be a far more attractive figure than anyone in the then Tory leadership.
It is accepted that Ukip was in discussion with at least another seven Tory MPs following the tactical defections of Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless. A party with a fist of members in the Commons and a greater presence in the Lords would have provided, what is it, a “strong and stable” base from which to conduct operations in the upcoming referendum.
This was not to be. But we all know what happened. Momentum nonetheless gathered behind the Brexit campaign and Britain voted to Leave.
Since that day, many narratives have taken hold. A key one is that there has been some form of reverse takeover of the Tory Party by Ukip. This is an idea most fervently pushed by Andrew Adonis. His fixation with Ukip beats even that of Kerrie Webb, the former Chesterfield Railway engineer who had Nigel Farage’s face tattooed on her bicep a couple of years ago.
Over the New Year, Adonis went on LBC. “To all intents and purposes” he said, “Nigel Farage is Prime Minister of this country.”
Suffice to say the whole premise of the position is so flawed as to be nonsensical. Farage was able to change the future of the country. But in no way is he in charge today. Much as I wish he were.
The Conservative Party is led by a prime minister who was a silent Remainer. Her Cabinet is staunchly Remain, barring a few isolated figures. It is currently only 30 per cent Leave-supporting after all.
It is also clear that the majority of the machine of government is less than happy with the result, as the vote took power out of the hands of the expert Whitehall practitioners and put it into the hands of the fools who “frankly don’t understand”—you know, the electorate.
If Ukip really had staged a takeover of the Tory Party, you can bet it wouldn’t be prevaricating like this.
It is a simple fact that the job of this government is to fulfil the promises made in the referendum campaign, as the infamous piece of £9 million direct mail propaganda put it, “This is your decision.” It also said “The government will implement what you decide.”
It must now get on with it. That’s how democracy works. Nigel, whatever you might think of him, understood that.