The Guardian did a piece on Nigel Farage a few weeks back. It was the sort of typical, “on the campaign trail with politician x” article you get round this sort of period just before a general election. There was one quote from Farage that has stuck with me since I first read it. When asked what the best outcome for him come May 7th would be, Farage said: “To lose, get out of politics completely, go back to business and get very rich.” Obviously it was a joke – but I’ve started to wonder a little how much that little aside reflects Nigel’s true feelings.
Personally, I can’t see why he’d want to win. If he could have got Redwood or Davies or Bone, or preferably from his perspective all three of them, to jump ship from the Tories to UKIP back in October/November 2014, Farage really would have had something to build on. But all he ended up withi was Carswell – admittedly a big coup – and Reckless. If Reckless loses his seat in May, which is highly probable, it will be a huge warning sign to any Tory MP (or Labour MP for that matter) thinking of defecting to UKIP going forward.
So Farage faces the likelihood, should he win in Thanet South in May, of it being him and Carswell as the only UKIP MPs. If it’s a Labour led government, it’s five years with no real prospect of an In/Out referendum, simply having to shout repeatedly about the need for one as the public gets less and less Eurosceptic as time goes by (the younger you are, the less statistically likely you are to want out of the EU). If it’s a Tory led administration and the game is on, Farage may face being sidelined. Either way, he knows the purple revolution that looked a real possibility in May 2014 has receded from view.
Farage is a very intelligent man and is well aware of all of this. Add into the equation his recent trip to America, where he was very warmly received by Fox News and the American Right overall (which is his natural political home anyhow), and Farage and his “go back into business” comment has real context. If you were Nigel Farage, which of the following would you prefer to do?
1. Sit as an MP in a party with one other member in the House of Commons, your only ray of sunshine a secondary election held in 2019?
2. Move to America and become the darling of the American Right permanently, a voice decrying the European project to a willing, adoring audience willing to pay Farage quite a bit of money for the privilege?
Of course you’d rather the latter came true. I’m not saying it’s that black and white in Farage’s mind – I’m sure he has mixed feelings on the subject. And ultimately, I’ve never met the bloke and cannot possibly tell you for sure what he’s thinking or why. But I know what I’d be thinking if I was him – I’d be flat hunting in Georgetown by now.