Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Nigel Farage makes hay while the goldfish cling to the comfort blanket... and other mixed similes


Never mind how historic an electoral breakthrough this is. Nigel Farage is way ahead in the phrase-making stakes.

We’ve had the fox in the Westminster henhouse. We’re braced for the kitchen sink he’s promising to hurl at marginal constituencies. But on Monday he surpassed himself with an arresting mixed simile.

The main parties were like “goldfish that have just been tipped out of the bowl onto the floor, desperately gasping for air and clinging on to the comfort blanket that this is a protest vote”, he said.

Farage was not gasping for air. You could tell he had arrived politically when he didn’t actually take any questions at his victory “press conference”. And from the sleek Land Rover Discovery that drove him away.


And because on the way out, after promising to show that Ukip wasn’t “a one-man band” and that “you will see less of me” over the summer, he was immediately engulfed by television crews who seemed strangely uninterested in the “bright, able” new MEPs from whom he would be selecting spokesmen on issues from defence to immigration.

Ironically, the media scrum eerily recalled the heady days of Cleggmania in 2010. And of course he generously name-checked the LibDem leader, to whom he was “extremely grateful” for the two TV debates, and who – there are times when Farage likes to do a bit of punditry – he found it “very difficult to believe... will lead the Liberal  Democrats into the next election”.

For all his effort to detoxify his party – yes, he freely admitted, the selection of all his council candidates had not been quite what it might have been – the Ukip leader still does scary pretty well.

Read more: Clegg faces fight for survival
French VF victory based on anguish, rage and denial
Cameron to use Ukip victory as warning for Brussels
Ukip sets target of 20 seats for 2015
Labour MPs call on Miliband to promise referendum
Calls for Lib Dem unity after calls for Clegg to go
Conservatives bid to ward off Ukip threat
Ukip top poll as Europe moves to right
Far-right parties flourish across Europe

Having won a Scottish Euro seat, he promised the pro-Union Ukip would create a “whole new dynamic” ahead of the independence referendum, as if the “no” campaign did not have enough problems already.

And in declaring that the “people’s army is marching” to the Newark by-election, he greeted the party’s candidate, Roger Helmer, with a handshake, grin and what can only be described as a slightly sinister double-eyed wink.

Was it mere coincidence that Ukip picked for Nigel Farage’s triumphant appearance the same Westminster hotel where a Very Senior Tory allegedly attacked his own activists as “swivel-eyed loons”?

The new MEPs on the stage were not swivel-eyed. Indeed, the male and suited majority looked a bit, well, conventional. But is this wise? Could becoming boring actually dent the party’s astounding popularity? Is it time to bring back Godfrey “sluts don’t clean behind the fridge” Bloom? 

That said, it was Farage’s day all right. If this is just a flash in the pan, you couldn’t  help thinking as the cameras popped in the InterContinental  on Monday: “Some flash. Some pan.” 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
A poster by Durham Constabulary
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine