Farage’s star is fading — and he may bring UKIP down with him

The official designation of Vote Leave rather than Grassroots Out is a further sign of Farage's political decline


This week’s announcement by the Electoral Commission that Vote Leave has been designated as the official Leave campaign in the EU referendum debate is a huge blow to Nigel Farage and is a further sign of his political decline.

Farage is supporting the rival Grassroots Out campaign, which had been vying with Vote Leave for the right to spend up to seven million pounds and receive £600,000 of public funds as the official Leave campaign.

The decision sparked an angry response from UKIP donor Arron Banks, who said it ‘smells of political corruption’ and vowed to take legal action — which he claimed could delay the referendum until October — but then dropped his plans the next day.

It seems that Farage may have sensed that Vote Leave had the momentum, however. He had been trying to pursue a merger between the two Leave campaigns for a number of months, saying:

‘I have always wanted all on the Leave side to come together and have done my best to try and make this happen. I’ll continue to do so in the run up to the referendum to ensure the Leave side wins.’

There are presumably many in the Conservative Party who appreciate the irony of Farage preaching right-wing unity.

This is all a far cry from the early months of 2015, when Farage was at the peak of his political powers. Back then, you could barely open a newspaper or switch on the news without encountering a smug-looking Farage holding aloft a pint of beer.

UKIP had two MPs who had defected from the Conservatives and had reached 23 per cent in general election polls, with Farage predicting the party would win ‘more than three or four seats’ at the general election.

So what happened?

Firstly, and most importantly, the party woefully underachieved in May’s general election. Granted, our archaic and unfair electoral system played a part. But still, Farage failed to win a seat and the party lost one of its two MPs, leaving Douglas Carswell as their sole representative in the House of Commons.

That’s a disaster, even accounting for the unfairness of the first-past-the-post system. Farage had promised to resign as UKIP leader if he failed to get elected and duly did so … only to reverse that decision three days later, officially because the party had ‘rejected’ his resignation.

This decision established the precedent Farage’s leadership has followed ever since. Effectively, the party has become a one-man fiefdom, with Carswell effectively acting as an independent MP.

He and Farage have had numerous disagreements – including over Carswell’s support for Vote Leave, rather than Grassroots Out.

Shortly after Ukip came an extremely distant second to Labour in the December 2015 Oldham by-election, having been tipped by some to win the seat, Carswell called for Farage to stand down as leader of UKIP, with Farage responding with an aggressive call for him to ‘put up or shut up’.

Most recently, Suzanne Evans, the party’s deputy chairwoman and author of the 2015 manifesto, was suspended from the party for ‘disloyalty’. One doesn’t have to be a supporter of Evans’ politics to recognise that she is a plausible and effective political operator and a less divisive orator than Farage.

But with Farage apparently under the impression that she was part of a group planning a leadership coup, she was unceremoniously dumped. She denies any wrongdoing and has been supported by other senior UKIP figures, such as the party’s former Economics spokesman Patrick O’Flynn.

Back when the EU referendum was announced by David Cameron, many warned that the campaign would provide a platform for Farage to further increase support for UKIP. Instead, the most prominent Leave campaigners have been Boris Johnson and Iain Duncan Smith, and Farage is receiving less media coverage than he was this time last year.

A YouGov poll carried out for The Times this week found that Jeremy Corbyn, Boris Johnson, David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith are all more trusted on the EU than Farage.

There is a scenario in which Farage could recover some political momentum. If Britain votes narrowly to remain in the EU, the outrage and anger of thwarted eurosceptics may prompt a surge of support for the party – the ‘SNP effect’, if you will. And UKIP are likely to gain representation on the Welsh Assembly in May although, even there, they have slipped back in the polls recently.

Sooner or later, Farage will have to accept that his attempts to make UKIP a one-man operation have harmed the party; that he is too divisive a figure – both within the party and amongst the wider electorate – to significantly increase UKIP’s electoral representation.

The left cannot afford to be complacent about UKIP and its socially corrosive messages on immigration, climate change and taxation. But if Farage carries on the way he’s going, he may end up hastening the demise of UKIP for us.

Aidan Rylatt is a Politics Masters graduate and has worked in Parliament, local politics and public affairs

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19 Responses to “Farage’s star is fading — and he may bring UKIP down with him”

  1. Andrew Green

    Farage is better than all the rest added together and has my full support.

  2. David Lindsay

    At EU level, legislation can only originate with the Commission, which can only draft it pursuant to the Treaties. Those enshrine and entrench neoliberalism at every point. That is just what the EU is. Always has been, always will be. Even so, UKIP and the Brexit Right would be finished if there were a vote this year to stay in the EU. Or, indeed, if there were a vote this year to leave the EU. What, after all, would then be the point of them? UKIP is already collapsing in internal rancour, and it is rapidly running out of money.

    If Britain is still participating in European Elections by 2019, then the Lexit movement that has taken shape this year needs to have its act together. In order to present a single, full list in every region. So that we could vote, since we should have to, for the reform of the EU in a leftward direction. Good luck with that. But at least we need the option to express a clear preference for it. At least as much to send a domestic message as to send any message that might ever register with the EU.

  3. Glenys Hutchinson

    I think you are scaremongering. UKIP is not running out of money, they have raised almost as much from members for Brexit as the other side have from robbing public funds. You obviously have not been on any UKIP sites recently and seen the massive support for Nigel. He is the only politician who puts his country before himself.

  4. edozpom

    Funny old world we live in… Being neither left or right wing, it’s fascinating to see those on the extremes of the spectrum including LFF spout as much biased nonsense as any of their right-wing adversaries. Fact remains that Britain has for forty years been duped into joining a union who’s aim is to ultimately dismantle national democracies and centre all law making into Brussels. The British people do not want that and will not tolerate being lied to by either Labour or Conservative parties. Whatever the outcome, this man Farage has – like it or not – fought for and secured the British People an opportunity to search and weigh up this reality and decide (whether again duped or not) to remain or leave this undemocratic failed construct. Tony Benn was right about the EU and Nigel Farage is continuing what that great man warned about it. That is his achievement and we should thank him for that.

  5. Nick

    Farage is on the way out which is a shame as he is a nice person underneath. i am a person who likes and wont’s to build communities we even today have the king of Saudi Arabia wanting to build a bridge across to Egypt

    i myself have always wonted that as the distance isn’t that far across from sharm in Egypt and those in the world who think like myself will always outrank the like’s of Farage as the world has and ultimately will always be a social environment and not like the right and far right fringes of conservationism and all of the wars that they get involved in

  6. Kate Blair

    I have been on many UKIP pages both official and none official sites and I have found it to be a far from uplifting experience. In fact most of the time, I have found overt racism/bigotry, despite Nigel Farage’s claims UKIP is not a racist party and UKIP will deal with the issue of racism in its ranks. Either UKIP’s bigotry problem is considerably worse than thought at large or the controls in place to combat it are not working.
    Combine this with the number of public gaffes by its candidates,and officals, for instance, the infamous gay marriage weather claim or the sluts statement. Further evidence can be found at http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/ukip/. Then there is the running Farage vs Carswell debacle, party leader vs your one MP. etc The list just keeps growing.
    I consider it my civic duty to vote but if UKIP was the only party standing I would have to put NO THANKS on the ballot paper.

  7. Stuart Heron

    Nigel Farage has put the welfare of this country behond his own personal life,and he has dedicated
    himself to the cause of Brexit. He has made personal sacrifice were other MEPs and MPs have lined
    their pockets and argue the case to ” Stay In” in order to ensure they continue their “Fat Cat ” lifestyles.
    All these so called career politicians past and present ,Cameron,Osborne,Corbyn,Mandelson,Blair etc
    etc who claim they only want to serve the public have and continue to use us for their own personal
    gains. There is not a ” True Brit ” in any of them.
    Nigel Farage is a breath of fresh air and the British People should be thankful for what he has achieved,
    in ensuring we have finally got the referendum.Now it is up to the British People to wake up and smell
    the coffee and VOTE OUT in June. We owe it to our Childrens future and our past elders memory who
    fought for this country.
    And just watch when we do vote out, all these Politicians will start saying ” The British Public have
    spoken and we respect that and we will deliver a Great Britain – vote for us !!
    And on another point why wont ” they ” push for the Chilcot enquiry to be published before the Referendum, a lot of skeletons are going to fall out of that cupboard ,for sure.

  8. Ken D

    No Farage
    No referendum
    Eternally greatful to Nigel

  9. Angela Sullivan

    I think Carswell (UKIPs only MP) is hastening the decline of the UKIP as well. He is very clearly a Tory at heart, and has voted with the Conservative government on almost every issue. That probably went down well enough with his constituents, but it is likely to severely damage UKIP’s chances of taking votes from disgruntled Labour supporters.

  10. Ted

    The problem for UKIP and many such parties is trying to draw common support from diverse directions. Once you get a few ex Tories and a few old Labour voters in the room something will give, the Tories start praying Thatcher for instance and thats it.

  11. Susan francis

    I had a feeling vote leave would get it .they are all mp.s.not a surprise really comon nigel dont give up

  12. Andy

    Seeing conviction polititians of diverse beliefs coming together on rescuing democracy gives hope that “Rothschilds Razor”, dividing and ruling over us hoy-polli is losing its appeal. Down the pub, in the corner shop, we are breaking free. I’m hearing genuine discussions.
    Refreshing, revolutionary. If we choose to put a spanner in the Globalist/ Bankers Project, the People of Europe will all rise up with us.
    Bring it on.

  13. David James Tough

    Goodbye Farage and your nasty little Xenophobic party

  14. Tony

    Wait until the elections in May?, we will see UKIP gain many seats again………………….while Labour come 3rd in Scotland.

  15. Tony

    Why would lefties vote for the EU when we see huge numbers of U25’s unemployed in the EU?, also TTIP will see the NHS sold off to US corporations, then we come to Cameron………………..voting for the EU means Cameron stays for 3 more years………………..now do lefties see the problem?.

  16. Andrew

    Goodbye Nigel, goodbye kippers. You will not be missed.

  17. Thomas Evans

    Don’t know if the author has realised. But over half of UKIP Councillors backed Vote Leave, along with a couple of MEPs, our MP and Suzanne Evans.

    Now designation has gone to the group with the Cabinet Ministers in it (unsurprising) Farage has thrown his support behind Vote Leave with the rest of UKIP.

    This article is frankly a waste of time and a pathetic attempt to attack Farage and UKIP.

    You claim that UKIP “painfully underachieved”, interestingly choosing not to mention how many people voted for UKIP (3.88 million) a figure above that of the Lib Dems and SNP combined (yet they both got 64 MPs?)

    The only thing that failed in May 2015 was the democratic process and First Past the Post. A system designed for a two party system that we quite clearly nolonger live in.

    I would love to be able to read moral stories that put party politics aside and speak what is best for Britain and British politics on Left Foot Forward.

    Unfortunately we continue to get this really tiresome anti-democratic propaganda. #YAWN

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    […] has been teetering on the brink of civil war for quite some time, with repeated disputes between pro- and anti-Farage […]

  19. Zarkply

    Well this article was completely wrong.

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