'Affable' Farage impresses despite 'liars' in UKIP ranks

Cigar-smoking leader wins praise as his party comes under scrutiny ahead of Thursday's local elections

Column LAST UPDATED AT 09:42 ON Tue 30 Apr 2013

NIGEL FARAGE labelled some of his own candidates "liars" this morning, but the UKIP leader remained cool as he faced fresh criticism about the ugly face of some members of his party.

Farage was questioned on the BBC Today programme about a story published in the Daily Mirror which revealed that Alex Wood, a UKIP candidate in Blackmore Vale, Somerset, had put a photograph of himself giving a Nazi salute on his Facebook page.

"It doesn't look very pretty," Farage admitted. "I agree with you that out of 1,700 candidates there are a handful who have embarrassed us precisely because they haven't told us the truth… We have a couple of very bizarre cases and two members who were former BNP who basically lied to us."

Wood this morning claimed his Facebook page had been "hacked". Farage said his party did not have the resources to trawl through the social media sites of all its candidates. It was a sticky moment for Farage, who had a furious spat at the weekend with veteran Tory MP Ken Clarke. Clarke accused UKIP of being packed with "racists".

But Farage drew praise for the affable way he handled the questions when he was confronted by John Humphrys, the Today programme's interrogator-in-chief. Tim Montgomery, former editor of the Tory grassroots website, ConservativeHome immediately Tweeted:  "Stellar performance from @Nigel_Farage on @BBCr4today. Friendly. Direct. Reasonable. Stated some compelling views. A formidable opponent."

Farage, a cigar smoker, went on to defend UKIP policies for the lifting of the smoking ban in bars and laughed off Humphrys' suggestion that he was no better than a taxi-driver spouting right-wing policies from the cab.

Farage – described by Boris Johnson yesterday as a "rather engaging geezer" – has plenty to be affable about. A YouGov poll in The Sun this morning gives UKIP a record 14 per cent of the vote ahead of Thursday's local elections in the Tory shires. No wonder the Tories are getting rattled and David Cameron has gone on the attack, warning Tory voters that if they vote for UKIP, they will get Labour by default.

Farage's relatively affable encounter with Humphrys was in complete contrast to Ed Miliband's tetchy "car crash" interview with Martha Kearney on the World at One programme yesterday.  The Labour leader was challenged more than ten times to admit his party's plans for reviving the economy would mean more immediate borrowing. At one point, the normally sweet-talking Kearney told 'Red Ed' that his ratings suggested he was more popular than Michael Foot, but less popular than Neil Kinnock. OUCH! · 

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Just as there are undesirables in any other MAJOR political party, the same applies to UKIP - but not disproportionately so, I would guess.

Mr Farage is a compellingly lucid and clear-headed politician (yes! a politician) who, uniquely it seems, has an ear to this nation's genuine interests, concerns and aspirations.

To say that UKIP has no policies other than to withdraw from the EU and to "bring back hanging" would be wide of the mark. Grammar Schools, social mobility, health, eduction, law and order, defence, taxation et al are also addressed as issues of concern by UKIP and issues that chime with a great many ordinary people beyond the M25 and the "Westminster Bubble".

UKIP has as much right to be heard as has any other political party - for louche bon viveurs, such as Ken Clarke, to berate UKIP voters for exercising their democratic right to choose and to vote for whichever party they so wish is to betray an innate and arrogant sense of political "entitlement".

No party has an unchallengeable right to govern this nation; the Conservatives have demonstrated, after three years in office, that they are not the answer to the many and deep problems facing our country in this changing world - they should recognise that we, the electorate, are GENUINELY seeking an alternative to the tired, failed and discredited policies offered by the three "mainstream" parties and they should NOT simply dismiss UKIP as a "temporary nuisance" and a repository for protest votes.

Times are changing!

"Farage, ....... laughed off Humphrys' suggestion that he
was no better than a taxi-driver spouting right-wing policies from the
cab"

Would Humphrys ever suggest that someone was no better than a lefty, LibLab, London luvvie spouting fashionable, politically correct policies from a BBC studio?

I don't think so.

I have always believed that the UK missed out big time by not ever having a chance to vote for Ken Clarke as PM. Humane, smart, willing to listen among his many attributes, he is by far the most acceptable Tory to vast numbers of people ordinarily anti Tory.

You are right, Tubb. Or would he ever point out that Labour Party members had in many cases embraced the Communist Party?

Yolande - you are right - but Mr Clarke has changed very much since those heady days. He was, perhaps, our most successful Chancellor of the Exchequer in recent times, having left Labour with a golden economic legacy - which, in true Labour fashion, they then proceeded to squander.

Sadly, I feel, Mr Clarke no longer speaks for the greater majority of "conservatives" (with a small "c"); that shortcoming, combined with some fairly nutty liberal views on (eg) law and order, seems to portray him as someone who is rather petulant, rattled by any opposition to his own views and intolerant of "annoying little men" who might happen to pose an existential threat to the Conservatives.