His worldview was inspired by and infused exhaustively with bigotry, hatred and a sociopathic psyche but Nigel Farage’s focus in his life and his professions has always been his personal financial gain.
Campaigning to leave the EU provided a steady and lucrative income for him for more than two decades via a variety of sources including supporters’ donations (non-refundable), EU parliamentary salary and misuse of associated expenses, large corporate donations from extremist free marketeers, most recently chanelled through World 4 Brexit, convenient wind-ups of companies he owned leaving creditors short-changed and a tax haven registered side-career as a public speaker.
Armed with a few skills – prejudice, absence of shame and relentless gobshitery – Farage developed his saleability as a promoter and enabler of ultra-conservative destruction of public services and statutory and legal rights through his support for departure from the EU’s regulatory framework that offered some basic (though insufficient) protections of worker’ rights, legal rights, human rights and health and safety regulations.
His specific role, enhanced over the last five years, was to grab votes for destructive conservatism from non-Tory voters. Positioned as an opponent of the EU, one of his sources of underserved income, he appealed to base instincts of faux patriotism and othering. There was no subtlety, intelligence or highly-developed strategy behind his approach; it was simple, dishonest and fraudulent.
Farage was aided by compliant media, some of which fully endorsed his swindle and some that was so inept it presented a loud-mouthed yob as a great orator. Without considerable assistance from news media he would never have become popular. Centrist and liberal media were as culpable as right-wing media.
Following a successful EU election for The Brexit Party in June he encouraged applications for potential candidates in the December general election, charging each applicant a non-refundable £100. There were at least 3000 applications – £300,000 into Farage’s offshore pocket. A few weeks later he declared that no Brexit Party candidates will stand in seats held currently by the Tories having previously stated the party’s intent was to contest all parliamentary seats. £158,000 was saved by not having to pay 317 deposits for those seats; in the election most of the deposits would have been lost.
Farage’s decision to not contest the 317 seats – acting under instruction from his wealthiest and most generous (to him) donors – was a simple tactic to stop a split conservative vote giving Labour some seats. Of course, immediate financial benefits for him and possible future payment if Tories win the election were motivating factors.
Media veneration of Farage as a key political figure was its own self-fulfilling invention. Motivation to promote him was partly political and partly a consequence of news media’s schooled contempt for the people. Since the 1980s, dumbing down, with associated simplicity and omissions, assimilated news delivery in newspapers and on TV and radio. Denial of knowledge and diversion from analysis was the aim.
Gobby, repetitive professional liars, conmen and charlatans have been staples of democratic societies for decades; useful tools to distract attention from culprits and to coerce support for damaging governments. Such characters were necessarily venal, dishonest and focussed on their own financial fulfilment. Farage’s personality and his political career fitted the template exactly.
His success as rabble-rouser was an indictment of the ease with which the British democratic system can be played. It showed that manipulation of the process of democracy lay within reach of those with the will and the funds to attack it and it revealed the abject duplicity and deception intrinsic to centrist politics and liberal media whose fear of a shift leftward in British politics was much greater than its opposition to right-wing charlatans and illiberal philosophy. If Farage hadn’t existed then the BBC and the Guardian would have had to invent him, which, in a way, they did.