HIV: Voters see through the mirage of UKIP’s Nigel Farage

The leader of the people’s army has developed a bizarre romance with the US Tea Party, frequently looks tetchy and irritated, and is beginning to lose his once magnetic ability to win voters to UKIP. His comments about HIV have been widely seen as callous and cruel and perhaps a deliberate snub to Douglas Carswell

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HIV comments: Farage and Carswell split
Steven_george-hilley
Steven George-Hilley
On 19 April 2015 07:42

There can be no denying that Nigel Farage is one of the most effective political leaders of modern times.

Seeing an opportunity amidst the fallout from the expenses scandal and a breach of trust between the British people and their elected officials, he seized the moment and crafted an image and message that resonated with an electorate tired of the same old established parties letting them down.

Whilst many feel that UKIP’s tough line on immigration and the EU was its biggest selling point, I have always argued that the party’s ability to deliver an anti-establishment message was more potent with defectors from other parties.

The image of Farage drinking an ice cool pint in the Marquis of Granby whilst claiming that none of the main party leaders have ever had a proper job was as compelling as it was true.

There was a time when seeing his grinning face on television struck a little fear into the hearts of the Conservatives, already anxious about potential defections and the rising momentum of UKIP’s machine.

The loss of Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless as Conservative MPs to UKIP was a bitter blow and brought home the reality of the threat of the situation, with two once impressive representatives defying the Prime Minister and their party.

Yet even since the defection of Reckless, something has changed at the very top of UKIP, and Nigel Farage is not the same man that the Tories feared back last November.

The new Nigel has developed an unhealthy obsession with the United States, particularly the Tea Party. He has compared himself to Republican candidate Rand Paul and addressed the CPAC conference in the states when he should have been rallying his troops at home ahead of the UKIP campaign launch.

The new Nigel looks tired and frustrated due to his back-breaking work schedule, like he did during the BBC debate with David Dimbleby where he insulted the audience. His usually well-crafted one liners fell flat, a sign perhaps that he didn’t spend long enough rehearsing and preparing ahead of the debate.

The new Nigel claims that he will stop ineligible foreigners with HIV getting medical treatment, a policy which whilst economically sensible was widely perceived to be both spiteful and unpleasant, further damaging his party’s brand.

Now, Douglas Carswell is a decent man, but how ashamed must his father be that his son now represents a party that is perceived to be opposed to helping fight against a disease which he has fought against all his life?

Carswell grew up in Uganda and should know more than most what a terrible disease HIV is and the importance of his father’s work in researching and helping to prevent it.

It is hard to believe that a man like Nigel Farage was totally oblivious to his first elected MP’s background living and working in Africa. Can we really assume that Farage had zero knowledge of Wilson Carswell’s pioneering work researching HIV?

So why did Farage choose HIV specifically, he could have picked any number of other diseases? The answer lies in the new team which surround the UKIP leader and control his every word.

Such extreme messaging is characteristic of those seeking to turn Farage into a vehicle for a big post-election job under US employment at Fox News instead of helping to win votes in South Thanet, Clacton and Rochester and Strood.

That’s why the likes of original UKIP loyalists Patrick O'Flynn and Tim Aker have found themselves smeared on right-wing blogs and in the newspapers. That’s why Farage is losing his popularity, why he’s behind in the polls in South Thanet, and why the party’s overall share is down.

One of Farage’s biggest faults is that he never runs a proper background check on those closest to him; this is especially important in politics.

Farage shouldn’t be taking advice on how to be popular from those who are extraordinarily poisonous and unpopular, and for good reason. He should also never make a hire without getting references from previous employers. Doing so might reveal things he really, really ought to know.

Steven George-Hilley is Associate Editor of The Commentator and a director at the Parliament Street think tank. @StevenGeorgia

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