Alex Kane interviewed Nigel Farage a couple of weeks ago when he was over meeting the UKIP faithful in the Stormont Hotel. There’s a lot of background noise, but the interview – broadcast today on Lisburn’s 98FM On the Record politics show – will give you a flavour of the David McNarry’s boss and his party.
When asked his reaction to being described as middle-class BNP:
If you challenge consensus, whether it’s in science, politics or business, all through the ages of man the first technique is to try and laugh you off for being a bunch of nutcases. They did it to Galileo, they did it to Darwin, they did it to O’Leary from Ryanair… so to be mocked and derided is not unusual.
The likelihood of UKIP electoral growth:
The significant thing about May 2nd was that in the south they were screaming that if you voted UKIP you would let Labour in; if you voted UKIP you would let the Lib Dems in; or in the north if you voted UKIP you would let the Conservatives in. But what happened was that if you voted UKIP you got UKIP… Who is to say that by doing what the Lib Dems did in the 80s and 90s, by building up clusters of support, we find ourselves in the position were we become serious challengers for seats in 2015.
If you look at Clegg, Miliband, Cameron and Osborne, none of them have ever had a job. [Ed – I think all four would dispute that claim.] They all come from extraordinary privilege. They have all come from top public schools, into Oxbridge, into research offices, into the House of Commons. It’s all well and good having a few people like that, but what you expect to see from political leadership in a political party is a bit more of a balanced team … I think with UKIP we are speaking the kind of language that ordinary people speak and we are demonstrably of this world.
UKIP just doesn’t talk about who governs Britain, but about how Britain should be governed. The entire UKIP manifesto is about what we do after we have left the European Union.
What drives Cameron? Rank. Position. Title.
I haven’t formed a bandwagon and it wasn’t populist when I got involved. When I first started talking about immigration, climate change and the EU this was all far from being populist.
I’ve already given up all the baubles. I’ve already given up a prosperous life to do this. I’ve followed a belief. I’ve followed a passion. I’ve helped – I think – to make something possible that everyone thought was impossible. That’s worth a lot more than money.
Conservative Party membership:
I was in the Conservative Party in the Keith Joseph, Thatcher years. That’s when I used to think I was a Conservative—but now, on reflection, I realise I never was a Conservative. I was a radical economic liberal. I was a member from 1978-1990 and I left when it joined the Exchange Rate Mechanism. I felt completely betrayed.
Looking forward to the 2014 Euro elections:
If UKIP was able to become the top party in the UK in the Euro elections in 2014 then that is a political earthquake. There is a huge message being sent out … to our political classes here. It’s one that will give us such momentum that unless they seriously respond to it then I think anything is possible.
You could tell it was a UKIP meeting in the 1990s because of the number of Bomber Command ties in the front row. There is no doubt many of our earlier supporters hated Europe. If I showed you the early membership of UKIP in the south of England there were very few people below the rank of major. It was all the WW2 generation who felt completely betrayed by Maastricht. They had given up on the political class … But now we are much more of a positive party then we are a negative party.
The peace process has changed Sinn Fein more than it’s changed anybody actually … It’s amazing what a ministerial car can do.
Approach to Assembly:
One of the debates we are going to have in UKIP is what approach we are going to take to the next Assembly election. Are we going to go in there with a radical reform platform or not?
When asked were UKIP going to fight every Assembly seat:
That’s very much our intention, but again there is going to have to be a degree of quality control and trying to get that all right; but yes they are the intentions … And I think non-sectarian politics has a place; or at least I think it should have a place; I’d like to see it have its place. That’s consistent with our thinking … I think there is a gap in the market for us.
When asked about a possible UKIP/ TUV deal:
I think that whilst UKIP and the TUV would have quite strong agreement on the European question, I think that on many of the other issues the divide may be too great. I think it’s difficult but I also think it’s not up to me to intervene too much myself.
Thanks to Alex and Kerri for sharing the audio. Image via Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Alan Meban. Tweets as @alaninbelfast. Blogs about cinema and theatre over at Alan in Belfast. A freelancer who writes about, reports from, live-tweets and live-streams civic, academic and political events and conferences. He delivers social media training/coaching; produces podcasts and radio programmes; is a FactCheckNI director; a member of Ofcom’s Advisory Committee for Northern Ireland; and a member of the Corrymeela Community.