“An imperfect candidate but a necessary agent of change”
Not my formulation but the unconsidered response to my question.
I was standing at the bar of the Westminster Arms following a successful meeting with Share Action in the house of commons.
I had been chatting with Professor Green (Nico Aspinall) and Sandy Trust and was about to make my way home, finishing a fine pint of Whitstable Bay. A journalistic friend was asking me what I thought of Trump.
Farage was standing beside me , he too was drinking Whitstable Bay. He has a knack with words and he knows his own mind.
What Trump and Farage have in common is a keen appreciation that they can ride a wave of populism that is more powerful than any intellectual argument that can be put in its way. We see these surges in popular discontent through history and we see people who achieve prominence as their articulation. This Trump and Farage have in common.
But there was more to what Farage said than the promotion of necessary change. In 40 minutes of conversation, Farage was decent, funny, attentive and empathic. He was what others say about him, the sort of bloke that someone like me enjoys having a pint of Whitstable Bay with.
Trump is not like that. He is ” imperfect” and to a liberal like me, very frightening. There is nothing in Trump’s behaviour that makes me comfortable. He panders to the base instincts of human nature, there is no virtue in the man and his vision is circumscribed by his narcissistic megalomania.
Whether Trump will win is certain. As Farage pointed out, he would have been more powerful a political force if we had voted to remain. If Trump wins, he will be a violent and offensive thorn in the side of Clinton , the Democratic party and the American political establishment. Either way – Trump wins.
Farage is unfairly demonised for speaking aloud about the worries of ordinary people. My partner has picked up on his sincerity and – as she is from the exact demographic that Farage gets his support- she is entirely on his wavelength. Farage laughed when I explained that she got him, while I didn’t. He looked me up and down and laughed again. There was no ill-will in that.
The big ideas of the Trump/Farage populist front are
- A revolt against globalisation
- A return to national identity
- A wish to return to an earlier demographic
- An abandonment of political rectitude.
I asked Farage what he attributed his success to. He was adamant that it was youtube. His ideas were spread through social media, his message viewed on phones and tablets by people who did not normally do politics.
The big ideas were latent but had no articulation and Farage gave them articulation through the social media he employed. The media like the ideas were waiting to be used.
What surprised me about Farage was his very detailed understanding of the impact of EU legislation on the financial services industry and his optimism about the capacity of UK financial services to recreate themselves as a force in their own right. What he was worried about was the over reliance of the City on globalisation as a concept which could inhibit our ability to adapt and reform to the post Brexit reality.
This analysis is not shallow. It may not resonate with those working in the City for global companies, nor with the City fathers, but is is more cogent than the weary bleating of those predicting the City’s gradual demise as a financial centre. Farage may not be able to lead, but he has a clarity of thought and a precise game plan for change that impressed me.
Which is why i give his analysis of Trump a deal of respect. It was 40 minutes well spent and I never thought I would return home and say to the missus
“you were right about Farage – he is a perfect agent of change”.