How Nigel Farage beat Nick Clegg in the big Europe debate

Apr 3, 2014

Anti-EU leader triumphed by channelling popular outrage at political elite, experts say

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

UKIP leader Nigel Farage emerged victorious from the second television debate on Europe, with snap polls in the wake of his clash with Nick Clegg showing that more than two thirds of viewers thought he put in the better performance.

The Guardian/ICM survey gave him 69 per cent and he managed 68 per cent in The Sun's Yougov poll. It amounts to another huge victory for Farage and his anti-European agenda over his rival, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who argued Britain should stay with the EU, and described Farage as a "dangerous" man who was "conning" the British people.

In the debate's aftermath, commentators weighed in to offer explanations for the Ukip leader's "landslide" victory.

Farage is at his best when he channels popular outrage at the political establishment, says politics lecturer Robert Ford of The Conversation: "This was smart politics by Farage, whose strongest support comes from voters who are deeply unhappy with the state of British politics and hostile to all the mainstream parties and their leaders."

He has painted Clegg as just another representative of an "out-of-touch and unresponsive" political class. "The audience loved it," Ford says. "And – judging by the polls – so did the folks back home."

As for Clegg, he was at his strongest at the start of the debate, says the Daily Mail's Quentin Letts, when he addressed Farage's admiration for Russian president Vladimir Putin. Clegg claimed that Farage was "so consumed with loathing" for Brussels that he was prepared to support a Russian leader who was allowing Syrians to be murdered in terrible numbers. That attack caught Farage by surprise, Letts says, and made him turn "a rather peculiar colour, almost his party's purple".

Still, Farage regathered himself as the debate went on and landed some blows of his own. The Ukip leader depicted Europe as a conspiracy between politicians and capitalists, creating pools of under-educated, cheap labour, geared entirely towards providing "cheaper chauffeurs and cheaper gardeners for the rich".

Ann Treneman, in her sketch for The Times, says Farage won the debate by appealing to people who wanted to reclaim their country. "He was for the little guy, the worker, the people who weren't Nick."

The strangest thing about the debate, Treneman observes, was how the two men's styles merged. "Nick was shoutier, Nigel was calmer (which isn't saying much). But for two men with diametrically opposing views, they did seem awfully alike."

The Independent's Donald Macintyre claims Farage "remains in many respects a dangerously logic-free zone" whose arguments simply do not stack up. "It's a bit rich, from a party which has been boasting about swallowing up BNP members, to express high-minded fears about 'worrying political extremism' in Europe," Macintyre says.

But Clegg's vision of the future of the EU was "fairly lame". If they are to rally anyone to their cause "the pro-Europeans are going to have to do better than this," Macintyre concludes.

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Unfortunately Nigel Farage did come across very well.
His only policy - leave the EU - had some good points, but not overwhelming.

But he does not seem to have any other policies.
Anyway he does not really need them as he will never form a government.

UKIP stand for returning democracy and power to the British people.That by definition means whom ever the British people elect.

Oddly that means Labour and Conservative parties stand to get more actual power if UKIP achieves its end.

The question isn't what would a UKIP government do, but rather what would a sovereign UK do ?

How many people actually watched it to qualify voting either way ? I wonder how many were already disposed to a Nigel Farage "performance"
These polls are wholly unreliable

only if you dont agree with them!!!

ukip will influence whoever is in government

Is UKIP simply the Tories' Militant Tendency? And didn't that work out well for Labour?
The greatest appeal of Farrago is to his fellow swivel eyed/foam flecked backwoods little englanders - as Klegg once held some appeal to Labour voters disgusted by bLIAR & his clones.
I've pointed out here several times that until we get Proportional Representation (as in MEP elections) this country will continue to be ruled by patronage & privilege, fronted by apparatchiks extruded from a vat like low grade sausage.

People seemed to be talking about it today, although few seem to have watched the actual debate. Nigel Farage is well liked, but whether this admiration extends to his party and its anti European ambitions is less clear. We like watching him poke fun at the powerful, and get the better of mealy mouthed, discredited politicians. His anti establishment pitch is hugely appealing, because mainstream politics is devoid of principle and character and is as remote from the electorate as the European Commission is from a democratic mandate. There's little real accountability in either case. Farage reminds me a lot of the late Alan Clark, entertaining, intelligent, but not a significant figure. He just looks it when standing next to Clegg, whose standing could not be lower!

I didn't watch it - nor did 90% of the electorate but journalists live this stuff - saves having to think

More important is the fact that both the debates and the polls show that Clegg and the loony lib/dems are totally out of touch with the electorate and should not be involved in government,in the future I will only vote for who guarantees no coalition with the loony party.