Proper Gander: A Barrage of Farage
Switch on the BBC news and chances are you’ll be greeted by the sight of Nigel Farage’s face, usually stretched out in a smug grin. The BBC’s apparent response to accusations that it gives a disproportionate amount of airtime to UKIP has been to give it even more exposure, albeit with an expose of its seamier side. On Panorama’s The Farage Factor (BBC1), steely determined reporter Darragh MacIntyre hopes to wipe the smile off Farage’s fizzog.
Some of the dodgy practices MacIntyre reveals include Farage endorsing e-cigarettes after UKIP was given £25,000 by an e-cigarette manufacturer, and an allegation that Farage siphoned off more than his share of party funds to pay for his publicity campaign. The programme also points out that Farage co-chairs the ‘Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy’ group within the European Parliament, which includes openly homophobic and far-right members. Unfortunately, these claims aren’t explored in enough detail, perhaps because UKIP advised its staff not to co-operate with MacIntyre’s investigation. More vocal are the former members with a disgruntled axe to grind about Farage ‘stabbing people in the back’ and how UKIP is his ‘ego trip’. Farage describes them as ‘the dregs of our rejects’.
Despite these concerns, UKIP’s rise continues, with Farage leading the march to its mythical utopia, where society’s ills have been magicked away along with immigration. UKIP’s brutal and blinkered politics have found support partly because of Farage’s slick, confident image. He realises that maximum media exposure drums up followers, especially if he plays up to his persona. Farage (like Boris Johnson) promotes himself as a likeable bounder eager to crash through the usual way of doing things, but he still subscribes to the status quo, with his viewpoint being particularly harsh. And The Farage Factor shows that he behaves in the same self-serving, shady way as other politicians.