One Party After Another: the ‘best biography of Nigel Farage’
Michael Crick tells the story of how Farage came to play such a decisive role in British politics
Despite never having become a British MP, Nigel Farage is one of the most “consequential” politicians of our time, said Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer. More or less single-handedly, he transformed UKIP from an “eccentric fringe into an insurgent force” capable of panicking David Cameron into pledging a referendum on Britain’s EU membership. “Absent that referendum, there would have been no Brexit” – and very likely no Boris Johnson premiership.
In this “gripping and vivid biography”, Michael Crick tells the story of how a stockbroker’s son from Kent – who went to the elite Dulwich College but never made it to university, after getting mediocre A levels – came to play such a decisive role in British politics. Comprehensively researched and full of “jaw-dropping” stories, this is the “best biography of Farage that will be written”.
Crick appears to have read every secondary source available and has “conducted an astonishing 300 interviews”, said David Aaronovitch in The Times. The Farage who emerges is “tireless and unembarrassable” – a “functioning alcoholic” with an ability to go on an all-night bender and still appear smiling the next day.
Crick details his epic philandering – “He’d shag anything that let him”, a former aide recalls – while also showing how his “affable, clubbable good guy” persona co-exists with a decidedly ruthless streak. As leader of UKIP, he “ran the party like a personal fiefdom”, and was the “most talented feuder of them all” in a field crowded with plotters and back-stabbers.
It’s somehow not surprising, given Farage’s recklessness, to learn that he has “survived three near-death experiences”, said David Runciman in The Guardian. In his early 20s, he “suffered a life-threatening car crash”, followed by a diagnosis of testicular cancer. Then in 2010, a plane he was flying in for a publicity stunt “got its banner caught in its tail fin and crashed in a field”: Farage “emerged from the wreckage, bloodied but relatively unbowed” – and made sure a photographer captured the image.
This book skilfully captures Farage’s “hybrid role, simultaneously pivotal and yet also at one remove”, said Robert Shrimsley in the FT. He had long been the country’s most vocal opponent of the EU, but the Tories who hitched themselves to the Brexit cause ensured that he was sidelined during the referendum campaign itself. Gifted, mercurial and “sometimes reptilian”, Farage may have been “key to getting the teams on the pitch” – but he “had to watch the match being decided by others”.
Simon & Schuster 608pp £25; The Week Bookshop £19.99
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