Farage’s popularity has always been a mystery. So many people who said they were sick of Blair’s smile and wanted substance are fans of Farage, and yet the former UKIP leader has been about soundbites, digs at the EU and rarely offered any substance to his argument about why we should leave. Since the victory of Leave, it seems that Farage’s place in history is unfortunately cemented, but why anyone ever supported him in the first place is baffling.
The rise of populism might explain it, if Farage wasn’t a former stockbroker who had spent the vast majority of his political career trying and failing to get a seat in the Commons, only to complain about the EU while accepting its expenses and refusing to give up his pension. Farage’s privilege is epitomised by the photograph shaking hands with Trump in a golden elevator. Farage would never begin to understand what working class, ordinary people face – but he does understand the xenophobia which is rooted in British society across the classes.
“Farage would never begin to understand what working class, ordinary people face”
Farage has stoked up tensions from going on about migrants with HIV to that horrific poster campaign implying that our borders were falling apart. All of it was hyperbole, and none of it was backed up by any evidence. These weren’t day to day concerns because the issues simply didn’t exist. What they are the result of is white allocishet men feeling threatened. They don’t need borders to break down or for anything they’ve said to come true. For them, same-sex marriage was a sign of the apocalypse. They’re living in a state of terror because slowly but surely their privilege is being eroded.
It’s not about rents, or employment or supporting the NHS. It’s about being able to say mean things and do mean things without being called out. Farage isn’t a good bloke but people want to be able to bring back a time where people like him could be horrible and yet still thought of as nice guys. The real snowflakes are the ones who can’t stand people making them live to a higher standard.
Farage might be a laugh down the pub – to people who think being able to say offensive terms and slurs are funny and not oppressive. He validates white allocishet men who are starting to think equality is oppression, because it means that they won’t be catered to constantly. A lot of people have believed what Farage has said and it hasn’t helped that for a time, he was almost never off the BBC. To have him on respected shows extended respectability to him. It allowed people to think he might not be so ridiculous. Everyone has a duty to call out hatred, and there’s no excuse for supporting the platform of UKIP but the media exposure helped make him seem like an okay bloke to some.
He was never okay though. The politics he pushed should have been challenged by everyone, but so many people bought into it that it asks serious questions about our entire society. Who really bought into his smarm and thought he was a good guy? The only person he’s ever supported has been men exactly like him.
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