Nigel Farage has resigned from the leadership of UKIP

 

Member of the European Parliament Nigel Farage resigned his position as leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party yesterday. He is in a position to request applause for his astonishing success. Under him, a party that holds only a single seat in Parliament not only moved the Tories to hold a Brexit referendum, but has done what only men like Farage used to want. This man is, in short, the only successful populist of our times and he says that his career is now over, though he will retain his job MEP through the Brexit process.

There is much to learn about the problems of British politics by looking at Farage’s strange successes and failures. I flatter myself that I predicted the end of Mr. Farage’s career, but I am not a man who makes predictions. My purpose rather is to display with some care political conflict as what it is and how it emerges.

Mr. Farage is a former Tory, but he decided long ago to abandon the natural party of businessmen and,  instead, to start an anti-EU party. What pushed him over the edge? The 1992 Treaty of Maastricht, which created the modern EU and was the first opportunity for its democracy-mocking way of ignoring votes it didn’t like and insisting on those it did.

Farage has failed to win a sit in Parliament for some 20 years now, which required his resignation — an unwise campaign promise — in 2015. For all that, the party lovingly insisted on rejecting that resignation, so he retained leadership of the party.

For all its tactical failures, UKIP managed, in 2015, something comparable to the rise of Labour a hundred years before. Farage’s party won 12.7 percent of the vote with 3.88 million votes, slightly more than the combined total of the next two parties, both of them lefty-loosy. The Liberal Democrats who got 2.4 million votes and were nearly annihilated after five years of playing foolish junior partner to the Tories. The other, the Scottish Nationalists, are taking the new anarchist Left’s model of wannabe tax-collector for the welfare state to the new low of wannabe tax-collector for the EU. The SNP is now in possession of about 55 seats in Scotland, while the Lib-Dems hold a mere eight of the fifty-something seats they held only a few years ago. British politics is about to become uglier and more serious.

I speak now without authority: UKIP cost the Tories more votes than Labour in 2015, so it cut into the Tory majority while putting pressure on them so far as Brexit was concerned. In the future, Farage seems to recognize, UKIP must become an enemy of Labour, competing for its working-class constituency, and turning into a true populist party.

Brexit was hardly the first time Farage or UKIP has won an election. Since 2014, his party holds the plurality of the British delegation to the EU Parliament, giving institutional form to the anti-EU sentiment in Britain. Farage himself has been one of these representatives since 1999 — and has been re-elected twice — where he has made a habit of humiliating the leaders of the EU, including his own countrymen. It may have been useful to Britain to have such a man doing such a job, which no one else publicly will. Unfortunately, his harangues and his cussed orneriness are insufficiently popular in Britain. He is a self-appointed tribune of the plebs and his smoking, drinking, vulgar joie de vivre is one of the finer spectacles of British politics.

Farage shows the successes and failures of British populism. The party system as much as guarantees that the political class is isolated from voter revolts — this is an essential part of parliamentary democracy, as are the safe seats controlled by the party — and they are as legitimate as anything in Britain. But UKIP has quadrupled its share of vote in-between 2010 and 2015, which has forced the Tories’ hand. I have no doubt the Tories would rather lose much or little to destroy UKIP for good, but that is not now an option. How to deal with an anti-UKIP Tory party is not clear, but it starts with marginalizing Farage. He was never going to be the future of Britain; but his time is over now. Farage’s new job is to destroy the relation between Labour and the working classes. This is, you guessed it, my next concern, and the ugly truth we have to face about our treasured science of economics.

By the way, here’s his resignation from last year. He hates first-past-the-post system.

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  1. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Tremendous article Titus. Hope it goes to the Main Feed.

    • #1
  2. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    BrentB67:Tremendous article Titus. Hope it goes to the Main Feed.

    Thanks a lot!

    • #2
  3. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    I will add something to my notes above: Hair seems to have caused people to compare Mr. Trump to Mr. Johnson despite every difference of social class, political principle, & style. Mr. Farage is the only politician of any note who can be compared as a populist to Mr. Trump. ‘Make Britain Great Again’ would have described him well, just like carelessness about political correctness, vulgar answers to his snobbish adversaries, &, of course, an ability to speak such that working-class people listen.

    • #3
  4. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Et tu Nigel?

    Another one scarpering so he doesn’t own how the outcome is delivered.

    • #4
  5. Robert Lux Inactive
    Robert Lux
    @RobertLux

    “vulgar joie de vivre”  Well, I’m not sure he’s that vulgar. Well…as I always mention, as it never ceases to crack me up, he did call Herman Van Rumpuy “Herman Van Rumpy Pumpy” in a speech I heard once. Wish to god I could track it down again.   The greatest political insult I’ve ever heard.

    I’ll second Brent’s praise — great post. Main Feed please.

    • #5
  6. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Robert Lux:“vulgar joie de vivre” Well, I’m not sure he’s that vulgar. Well…as I always mention, as it never ceases to crack me up, he did call Herman Van Rumpuy “Herman Van Rumpy Pumpy” in a speech I heard once. Wish to god I could track it down again. The greatest political insult I’ve ever heard.

    I’ll second Brent’s praise — great post. Main Feed please.

    Thanks a bunch. I think vulgarity is now both misunderstood & malpracticed so to speak–but it is very important for populism in politics. It is the part of style or speech that immediately separates respectable politicians from the rest. As for the extent to which smoking & drinking have come publicly to separate the social classes, I think that’s self-evident.

    Oftenest, the demand for respectability–& the underlying assumption that it is the sole path to legitimacy–is meant specifically to throw out of discussion people who disagree with the opinions that dominate public speech. In such people, to disagree politely is most often to agree to be marginalized, ignored, & contemned-

    So, I think there is a need for vulgarity to clarify politically where everyone stands…

    • #6
  7. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Zafar:Et tu Nigel?

    Another one scarpering so he doesn’t own how the outcome is delivered.

    Less than gracious of you. Well, I suppose this is no time to be gracious: The people who used to be gracious about politics are the people who treated Mr. Farage as though he were some demented child…

    • #7
  8. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Zafar:Et tu Nigel?

    Another one scarpering so he doesn’t own how the outcome is delivered.

    Could just be a man on a quest who knows his Grail when he sees it.

    He was a crank when he started. Now, victorious, he quits the field. His nemesis has been revealed to be not the “United States of Europe” but the EUSSR.

    EDIT: That/Who. Gahh!

    • #8
  9. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Percival’s Postulate: Any sufficiently lengthy discussion of Brexit devolves into an argument about Texas secession.

    • #9
  10. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Percival:

    Zafar:Et tu Nigel?

    Another one scarpering so he doesn’t own how the outcome is delivered.

    Could just be a man on a quest who knows his Grail when he sees it.

    He was a crank when he started. Now, victorious, he quits the field. His nemesis has been revealed to be not the “United States of Europe” but the EUSSR.

    EDIT: That/Who. Gahh!

    It’s at least worth considering whether this one man, of no obvious ability & without the pageant that attends on important politicians, marginalized from his first day to his last, is not the most consequential politician since Mrs. Thatcher!

    Compared to that perspective, the notion that some narrow interest leads him blindly, is piteous…

    • #10
  11. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Farage is the right kind of populist. He really does have principles.

    • #11
  12. Could Be Anyone Member
    Could Be Anyone
    @CouldBeAnyone

    I don’t know if Farage is actually a populist though. In interviews he has stated his favorite candidate for the American presidency was Rand Paul and specifically because of Rand’s principles. While Rand’s more cautious foreign policy no doubt works towards Farage’s perception of British greatness the economic principles of Rand are free market and that isn’t populist.

    Even then traditional populist conceptions of foreign policy also run a wide gambit so if you could perhaps expand on this notion of Farage being a populist Titus it would be most helpful.

    • #12
  13. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Could Be Anyone: if you could perhaps expand on this notion of Farage being a populist Titus it would be most helpful.

    I’ll bite. Farage is a man of the people. He is a drinker, a smoker, and the kind of guy it is easy to imagine in a pub brawl. He also tends to say exactly what he thinks.

    • #13
  14. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    iWe:

    Could Be Anyone: if you could perhaps expand on this notion of Farage being a populist Titus it would be most helpful.

    I’ll bite. Farage is a man of the people. He is a drinker, a smoker, and the kind of guy it is easy to imagine in a pub brawl. He also tends to say exactly what he thinks.

    Mr. Farage’s one of the people who could easily have made in the new Britain–post-Thatcher, all about Blairite New Labour–but he didn’t. He is not only recognizably & unabashedly English, but, unlike most politicians, he shares both the habits & opinions of the population. It’s hard to find anyone better suited to play the populist–especially in a country where political success is predicated on abandoning or denouncing or ignoring both the habits & the opinions of the electorate!

    Maybe he is not of remarkable ability–but does not that make it all the more remarkable that no one of political talent or influential with the people or popular has tried to do better than Mr. Farage lo these twenty years?

    • #14
  15. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Titus Techera:

    Zafar:Et tu Nigel?

    Another one scarpering so he doesn’t own how the outcome is delivered.

    Less than gracious of you.

    Just sceptical.

    I think he’ll let things go through the chaotic pear shaped phase – and they will go through the chaotic pear shaped phase – and then he’ll be back.  Or he’ll try to be.

    • #15
  16. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Fascinating man and intriguing situation. Thanks for filling us in, Titus!

    • #16
  17. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Susan Quinn:Fascinating man and intriguing situation. Thanks for filling us in, Titus!

    You’re very much welcome–thanks for the kind words!

    • #17
  18. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    It’s a fascinating moment for UKIP. It’s literally possible to see them, in ten years, either having completely disappeared from the scene or actually supplanting Labour as the official opposition. If the Conservatives manage Brexit reasonably well, UKIP could become irrelevant.

    But if Theresa May becomes PM and loses the confidence of Leavers, and if Labour continues to destroy itself, the party’s best days could be ahead of it.

    • #18
  19. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Correct me if I’m reading too much into the OP, but from the tone it appears you don’t buy Farage’s claim that he resigned because his political goal was to win a Brexit referendum, and that he never planned on serving as a career politician?

    Personally, I wanna give him the benefit of the doubt, though I do have to admit that his stated reason for resigning reminds me of a certain line from The Simpsons:

    And since I’d achieved all my goals as president in one term there was no need for a second.

    The end.

    – George H.W. Bush

    • #19
  20. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    I liked Jonah Goldberg’s response to the Farage resignation:

    ScreenHunter_501 Jul. 05 10.46

    • #20
  21. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Leigh:It’s a fascinating moment for UKIP. It’s literally possible to see them, in ten years, either having completely disappeared from the scene or actually supplanting Labour as the official opposition. If the Conservatives manage Brexit reasonably well, UKIP could become irrelevant.

    But if Theresa May becomes PM and loses the confidence of Leavers, and if Labour continues to destroy itself, the party’s best days could be ahead of it.

    Yes, this is really enough to keep those of us who follow British politics quite alert. It’s very strange & this is exactly the sort of thing that was supposed to not be possible anymore. Even if only for that reason, it deserves study!

    I don’t think the Tories are committed to Leave. I’m not sure who can persuade them to embrace Mr. Gove & make the closest thing they can to a principled stand.

    I will try to learn more & write some more on the matter.

    • #21
  22. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Misthiocracy:Correct me if I’m reading too much into the OP, but from the tone it appears you don’t buy Farage’s claim that he resigned because his political goal was to win a Brexit referendum, and that he never planned on serving as a career politician?

    Personally, I wanna give him the benefit of the doubt, though I do have to admit that his stated reason for resigning reminds me of a certain line from The Simpsons:

    And since I’d achieved all my goals as president in one term there was no need for a second.

    The end.

    – George H.W. Bush

    I think it’s worth giving him the benefit of the doubt, but I’m not against career politicians. People who are shouldn’t give him the benefit of the doubt. This guy has politician written all over him–it’s one reason why I like him.

    The ‘I’m a man of my word’ rhetoric is somewhat overdone. But I think it points to deep truths: Everything in his chosen career & his political situation pointed this guy to be a banal Tory & make of it as much as he could & the times allowed. But it’s really important to have people who will not do that. Forming a splinter party is not what everyone should be doing, of course, but it’s a good example. This guy has gone against every Tory instinct for decades. It’s necessary, though not a sign of greatness…

    • #22
  23. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Old Bathos:I liked Jonah Goldberg’s response to the Farage resignation:

    ScreenHunter_501 Jul. 05 10.46

    Nigel Farage: Wins the referendum. Resigns.

    David Cameron: Loses the referendum. Resigns.

    Jeremy Corbyn: Loses a Labour Party caucus no-confidence motion by a massive 172 to 40. Refuses to resign.

    #notallukpoliticians

    • #23
  24. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Titus Techera:I don’t think the Tories are committed to Leave. I’m not sure who can persuade them to embrace Mr. Gove & make the closest thing they can to a principled stand.

    I will try to learn more & write some more on the matter.

    If the Tories don’t follow through with Leave they will lose their majority, and I think even Theresa May knows this.

    I think Gove probably finished himself when he took out Johnson in that manner, fair or not. I know very little about Andrea Leadsom, but she seems well-positioned to be the last person standing against May, and from a first glance she looks like someone who could do very well among the membership.

    • #24
  25. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Leigh:

    Titus Techera:I don’t think the Tories are committed to Leave. I’m not sure who can persuade them to embrace Mr. Gove & make the closest thing they can to a principled stand.

    I will try to learn more & write some more on the matter.

    If the Tories don’t follow through with Leave they will lose their majority, and I think even Theresa May knows this.

    I think Gove probably finished himself when he took out Johnson in that manner, fair or not. I know very little about Andrea Leadsom, but she seems well-positioned to be the last person standing against May, and from a first glance she looks like someone who could do very well among the membership.

    I don’t think Mr. Gove weakened himself. For all my admiration for Mr. Johnson, including defending him from the criticism about unseriousness, I suspect Mr. Gove acted as necessary.

    I’m not sure the Tories can get themselves to give the nod to anyone but no-doubt-soon-to-be Lady May. That’s who & what Tories are, have been, will be…

    I’m fairly sure they will try to get out of the EU; I’m fairly sure Britain will leave the EU. But I don’t think their heart’s in it or that they’re looking to understand what it means & what it will mean for Britain & for the Tories. I think they just want the least trouble they believe they can get.

    • #25
  26. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Misthiocracy:

    Old Bathos:I liked Jonah Goldberg’s response to the Farage resignation:

    ScreenHunter_501 Jul. 05 10.46

    Nigel Farage: Wins the referendum. Resigns.

    David Cameron: Loses the referendum. Resigns.

    Jeremy Corbyn: Loses a Labour Party caucus no-confidence motion by a massive 172 to 40. Refuses to resign.

    #notallukpoliticians

    I think Mr. Corbyn may be the more reasonable in Labour, by the by.

    Now, as for the others, Mr. Cameron does not seem to have understood what he unleashed with Brexit & his staff ignored it–he ignored it, too–the Remain campaign was not orchestrated by the best guy he’d used for the dirty job of electioneering before. Mr. Cameron does not seem to want to start the Leave process–nor does his party. This is a time for a serious change, but that is the only thing in life the Tories truly & honestly & spontaneously hate…

    Mr. Farage on the other hand has the luxury of irresponsibility. The dangers of Britain are his fault to a lesser extent than anyone else’s. He has done everything he could to make things better & he is the only politician who can have it writ on his tombstone: I wanted Britain to be free to get rid of whoever thinks too highly of himself.

    I hope he returns to UKIP politics in some capacity. There is much work of scandal to be done–there are many unpleasant truths to be yelled violently. But perhaps the new Leader should be their sole MP, Mr. Doug Carswell.

    • #26
  27. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    I’ll add something. The most important reason to study Mr. Farage is this, that he has lived a strangely successful political life by the opinion that leadership is not essentially temporizing–waiting things out–waiting for trouble to calm down, so to speak. But the opinion he rejects is the opinion by which legitimate politics is conducted & the animating force of all institutions!

    This is both an urgent concern for conservatives, who want to make many changes to American politics, & an important thing to study in politics.

    • #27
  28. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Titus Techera:I don’t think Mr. Gove weakened himself. For all my admiration for Mr. Johnson, including defending him from the criticism about unseriousness, I suspect Mr. Gove acted as necessary.

    I’m not sure the Tories can get themselves to give the nod to anyone but no-doubt-soon-to-be Lady May. That’s who & what Tories are, have been, will be…

    I’m fairly sure they will try to get out of the EU; I’m fairly sure Britain will leave the EU. But I don’t think their heart’s in it or that they’re looking to understand what it means & what it will mean for Britain & for the Tories. I think they just want the least trouble they believe they can get.

    There’s no real question that Gove angered many of his fellow MPs by the way he went about it, and that hurts his leadership chances.

    I think you describe Theresa May’s movement pretty well, but that you underestimate how this shakes things up. The Eurosceptics have a new authority in the party now, even if May becomes PM. That was obvious before the Johnson-Gove split, and it will be clear again when the dust settles.

    I recall reading speculation a few months back that May might come out for Leave. She must wish she had — this really would be a “coronation” at this point.

    • #28
  29. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Yes to the anger–I’m not sure about the implications. I take the recent troubles to mean, Mr. Johnson could not satisfy Mr. Gove as to how to lead the party, win the Leadership & deal with leaving the EU. I take it Mr. Johnson was the more popular of the two, but also dismissed by Tories, who love to call him unserious as though it made them the nobler each time they uttered words to the effect… I take it Mr. Gove was the more influential with the Tory MPs in the Leave group. It shall be difficult–it is difficult–for Mr. Gove to take over the party, but his constituency has no other chance. I do not know whether they will make the most of it or no. This is a very unusual time & the usual notions are not now important, although they may still apply. Who knows!

    • #29
  30. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Titus Techera:Yes to the anger–I’m not sure about the implications. I take the recent troubles to mean, Mr. Johnson could not satisfy Mr. Gove as to how to lead the party, win the Leadership & deal with leaving the EU. I take it Mr. Johnson was the more popular of the two, but also dismissed by Tories, who love to call him unserious as though it made them the nobler each time they uttered words to the effect… I take it Mr. Gove was the more influential with the Tory MPs in the Leave group. It shall be difficult–it is difficult–for Mr. Gove to take over the party, but his constituency has no other chance. I do not know whether they will make the most of it or no. This is a very unusual time & the usual notions are not now important, although they may still apply. Who knows!

    I’m just following the updates as they come in, and there are rumors that Gove will even drop out today. Many of his natural supporters seem to be backing Leadsom. I have no idea if that is a wise choice on their part, but it is how things seemed to have moved at the moment.

    Of course, the final vote count could surprise.

    • #30

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