Saturday, February 27, 2010

Nigel Farage's geography lessons

UKIP's biggest own goal since the days of Kilroy-Silk.

It may sound unlikely, but Prime Minister Gordon Brown may -just this once- be grateful to UKIP and their top MEP Nigel Farage.

In one quick go, Farage successfully managed to score a major political own goal, deflecting accusations of bullying away from Downing Street and onto himself. How? Take a look at what he mouthed off in the European Parliament on Wednesday. Referring to President of the European Council Mr Van Rompuy, Farage said:
"I don't want to be rude. But you know, really, you have the charisma of a damp rag and the appearance of a low grade bank clerk. The question that I want to ask and that we are all going to ask is: who are you? I had never heard of you; nobody in Europe had ever heard of you. [...] You appear to have a loathing for the very concept of the existence of nation states; perhaps that is because you come from Belgium, which of course is pretty much a non-country".
Now, most people would agree that, whereas you can have the lowest opinion of Europe, the EU, or the President of the European Commission, there's no need for a politician to resort to such low, insulting, attention-seeking personal attacks. Generally speaking, these are best left to overpaid professional bullies a-la Jeremy Clarkson or Chris Moyles.

Worse, however, is the way Farage tried to justify his words. The following day on BBC Question Time, he repeated that Belgium is a non-country because there is friction between the two main linguistic groups (the Flemish and the Waloons).

But if you apply the Farage yardstick then, there's an even bigger "non-country": the United Kingdom, a place where millions of people have voted for parties that want independence of both Scotland and Wales. Would that be enough to call you a "nobody with the charisma of a damp rag", Mr Farage?


James D said...

That's the hypocrisy of UKIP: they even want to abolish the Welsh Assembly. Perhaps they should turn their fire on useless Welsh Labour MPs instead.

Paul said...

'You've omitted the part of Farage's speech that made sense. He said 'who elected you?'

He may have gone overboard but to criticise how he said something and not what he actually did say only helps the unelected Brussels elite. The fact that this Rumpuy guy now has power and a constitutional role ought to be a concern. Why? Because he was NOT ELECTED! Pretty important in democracy actually.

claude said...

Exactly, Paul.

Farage did not do himself and his supporters any favour. The bit you said I omitted was actually drowned in what was a personal tirade.
This is why it was a staggering own goal.

There are good points to be made about lack of accountability in Europe, the non-referendum on the constitution, non-elected figures, etc...

But to steal the limelight with a boorish, stupid, personal speech more reminiscent of playground bullies ensured that the media at large are now simply focusing on Farage's inept choice of words.

It was just so unnecessarily rude. What possible good - apart from the cretinisation of politics- can come from a professional politician publicly insulting someone's "appearance" and "personality" as well as slagging off an entire Sovereign State in public?

Paul said...

Fair one. But aside from being rude about Belgium, Farage was correct. An unelected bureaucrat lording it up deserves to be mocked and humiliated. I mean they are worse than celebrities or other no marks as they actually hold power. Taking the piss out of them is crude of course but fair game IMHO.

Stan Moss said...

I just read bits of the UKIP manifesto. It says that Britishness can be defined in terms of belief in democracy, fair play and freedom, as well as traits such as politeness.

Maybe Farage forgot to read it. Or maybe it's all bollocks.