A farrago from Mr Farage

June 22, 2019 0 Comments

Another interesting printed document has come, uninvited, through our letterbox. 

It’s an A3 sheet, printed in colour and folded once.  Its publisher is an organisation calling itself the EFDD Group in the European Parliament.  EFDD, we’re told, stands for ‘Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy’.  In the bottom right-hand corner of page 4 is a photograph of the Group’s President, Nigel Farage MEP.  Interestingly, the Brexit Party and its ‘moving right’ arrow logo are absent, but there’s little doubt it’s Mr Farage and not the anonymous EFD² who’s behind the sending of this leaflet.

EFD² claims to have 41 MEPs. They come mainly from two political parties: the Brexit Part in the UK (29 members) and the Five-Star Movement in Italy.  The Five-Star Movement was created by the comedian Beppo Grillo and is known for its attachment to ‘direct democracy’ (online voting on policy issues, by-passing parliament) and for its anti-immigrant and anti-vaccination policies.  Other members are independents or belong to assorted right-wing parties, included one member of the neo-Nazi Alternatif fuer Deutschland.

Our leaflet, in various forms – there’s a similar one, for example, in Scotland – has clearly had a very wide circulation.  So the question arises, who paid the large sums of money needed to print and distribute it?  The leaflet itself doesn’t tell us.  Is it EFD²?  If so, did it use EU funds available to it?  (It’s not clear that If EFD² is technically a ‘Group’ and therefore eligible for funds, since a Parliamentary Group needs to include parties from a quarter of the states represented.)  If not, who paid?  We know that Mr Farage’s previous party, UKIP, was generously funded by a rich insurance salesman, Arron Banks.  We also know that the sums provided by Banks could not all have come from his personal wealth, and suspicions abound about the ‘dark’, overseas sources of this money, especially in 2016 at the time of what the leaflet, in the face of the facts, calls a ‘free and fair national referendum’.  Unless Mr Farage can enlighten us, similar suspicions arise in the case of our leaflet.

The leaflet’s headline is ‘How Project Fear tried to kill off direct democracy’.  The text underneath explains how ‘undemocratic remain voters’ have ‘tried every tactic they can think of to reverse the decision made by 17.4 milion [sic] people’.  Their claims, says the leaflet, ‘have all been turned out [sic] to be completely false’.  Page 4 carries a serious of quotations, mainly from the media, such as ‘NHS would collapse if it wasn’t for immigrants’ (Independent), ‘A vote to leave will push our economy into recession’ (George Osborne) and ‘House prices will collapse between 10% and 18% if we leave’ (Daily Mirror).  These ‘fictions’ are ‘corrected’.  For example, ‘house prices have increased by an average of 8% since the referendum.  That means the average house has gained £18,000 in value since June 2016!’.  Many of these supposed ‘facts’ are dubious (house prices, for instance, are now falling), and all of them ignore the truth that we are yet to leave the EU.  Almost all experts expect the economic effects of a ‘hard exit’, favoured by Farage, to be negative, if not catastrophic.

The leaflet’s front page features some faux posters.  One of them says ‘crashing out = cashing in’, a claim long abandoned, even by most Brexit champions.  Several contrast ‘the will of the people’ with its ‘betrayal’ by the obstructions of Parliament.  These terms are now settled tropes of Brexiter-speak, borrowed from the rhetoric of the extreme right in Germany after the First World War.  Farage seems to believe that representative democracy is illegitimate – little wonder, maybe, since he’s failed on many occasions in his own attempts to be elected in England – and inferior to the ‘direct democracy’ he’d prefer.  Presumably he’d like to ‘prorogue’ Parliament permanently and replace it with a series of referenda – tools used by Adolf Hitler in the 1930s to strengthen his political power.

Farage’s attachment to democracy, of course, doesn’t extend very far.  His new ‘Brexit Party’ isn’t democratic, and isn’t a political party in any normal sense.  You can’t join it, since it has no members (Farage and a few of his friends are its controlling owners).  If you’re a true believer, all you can do is declare your allegiance and donate your money.  You have no chance of influencing the Party’s direction: that is dictated by Farage alone.

But what’s most striking about the leaflet is its inside, which takes the form of an A3 poster (‘please place this poster where everyone can see it’).  Its message is ‘Be a Brexit Beleaver’.  The sub-title reads ‘we’re standing up for Wales and direct democracy’, and below it is an aggressive image: a clenched hand, with two fingers raised in a ‘victory’ or possibly a ‘fuck off’ sign.  The hand is clothed in the colours and red dragon of the Welsh flag.  So the leaflet is directed specifically to Welsh people (‘our message to the people of Wales is simple: be bold, be brave and let’s Brexit!’).

It takes quite a cheek for Farage to pose as a defender of Wales.  Wales stands to lose heavily from leaving the European Union: EU structural funds will cease, and our exports to Europe, at a higher level than any other part of the UK, will suffer badly.  And Farage has never shown the slightest interest in Wales in the past, except as a general source of votes.  On his visit to Merthyr Tydfil in May 2019 he was asked eight times how he thought Brexit would benefit the area, and was unable to reply.  The leaflet contains not a word of Welsh.  Its only hint about why Wales is relevant is the sentence ‘the architects of Project Fear continue to drive a wedge between the nations of the United Kingdom’.  Now that we know the Conservative Party members would rather destroy the integrity of the UK than risk Brexit, maybe Farage is posing here as the only true unionist?

Why has Farage chosen to have his leaflet sent now?  Does he think that a general election is on the way?  An opinion poll at the end of May 2019 put his party on 26% of the vote, ahead of all others. 

How long will it take for people in the UK to wake up to how dangerous Farage and his shadowy backers are?

Leave a Reply