Andrew Marr is one of the most decent and intelligent people in broadcasting. He doesn’t indulge in point scoring, hectoring nor making a cheap headline. If you are interviewed by him expect fair play. But beware. He is not a soft touch. He will gently prize out of his subject an inner truth. With charm rather than brute force.
Farage gave us a glimpse of an inner truth yesterday. I found it deeply disturbing. The saloon bar at the Dog and Duck facade slipped to reveal a ranting, belligerent and foul tempered demagogue refusing to answer the most basic of questions. To be fair to Marr I don’t think that it was as a result of the interviewer’s skill. I have no doubt that this was a stunt.
Farage wanted to pick a fight and with whom better than the British Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation, that bastion of left wing Woke. His message was simple. ‘I am one of the people and like you I have been betrayed. All the liberal elite hate me as they hate you. They will smear us, because they fear us. Yet, despite the campaign of hate against us I will fight for you. For democracy.’ It was a depressing piece of fake news. And his message would have been loved by his base. ‘The only honest politician who fights for truth and democracy’. At a stroke he has put terror into broadcasters as he has set his own agenda. ‘The little man must be heard and not silenced.’
It is terrifying, sinister and a lie. For a while he has shut down debate about his past. But if the mould of British politics is to be broken, if the two party system is to be replaced, then we have a right to know what the Brexit Party stands for, or rather what Farage stands for, what he believes, what path he would lead this country down. Don’t let’s fool ourselves that this is a broad based consensual organisation. It is a vehicle of fast travel for the longest ego trip in British politics.
What was so revealing about the Marr interview was that Farage regards the word ‘manifesto’ as a dirty word. It is not surprising. If you make clear promises, if you give detailed policies, people will probe and scrutinise. It is the essence of democracy. In way does this man want to be scrutinised. He has come unstuck before. Yet past words and deeds are as important as they can be inconvenient. Does he believe that the NHS should be replaced by an insurance based system? Does he believe that climate change is nonsense? Does he believe that gun controls should be relaxed? Apart from himself, what does Nigel Farage actually believe in? The people have a right to know and the press must not be afraid to ask.
The irony is that he has chosen to attack the very organisation that has given him a life line. Thirty four appearances on Question Time, which admittedly has become a bit of a shambles, is hardly sidelining him. But a boycott of the BBC gives him an excuse not to be grilled by the forensic and deadly logic of Andrew Neil. If only Brian Walden were still alive. He would swat Farage like a drunken gnat who has feasted on the nation’s blood.
By refusing to answer questions about his past utterances on leaving the EU or be scrutinised about where he seeks to lead Britain, Farage has shown that he is a coward. But his appearance on Marr was far more revealing. British politics has spawned a demagogue. Caveat Emptor. You have been warned.