Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Nigel Farage’s thoughts from the back of an envelope

Farage's centrepiece was a plan to allow five per cent of the electorate to trigger a referendum against a government proposal they didn’t like

“How would Ukip run a government?” ran a startling question in a note inviting us to a “keynote” speech by Nigel Farage. Luckily for his opponents, for whom the nightmare scenario next year is to discover that the Ukip leader is Prime Minister, Farage modestly disavowed any such prospect.

Which may be as well, since his ideas on  “the role of the state”– the subject of his address to the august Institute of Government on Monday – is a work in progress. Farage often gives the impression of having jotted down a few thoughts on the back of an envelope on the way to a meeting. As he did in this instance, undaunted by an audience including present and former civil servants used to challenging the notions of politicians.

The centrepiece was a plan to allow five per cent of the electorate (2.3 million) to trigger a referendum against a government proposal they didn’t like. Representative democracy, he added airily, had not “served us very well” without  a “safety net”. But, said a man from the Department of Energy, how could investors have any certainty if, say, a plan to expand nuclear power was subject to a referendum that might overturn it? Well, said Farage, that was a “risk” but anyway the “grand folly” of the “wind energy project” would have been stopped by such a plebiscite. The Energy man did not seem reassured.

Then a Treasury official questioned his comprehensive plan for MP recall. Wouldn’t decisions be taken not in the national interest but on the basis of whether an MP who backed it might be sacked by his constituents? If that turned out to be a problem you could always “change the rules” and “set the bar higher,” said Farage

He had said that the “lion’s share” of funding for NGOs was paid by the governments they lobbied – whether Whitehall or the European Commission.

Another questioner, 35 years a civil servant, told him politely he had got his facts wrong, before asking Farage, who had said he wanted smaller government, what he would cut. He had only been setting a “direction of travel,” he said, and anyway some services, currently outsourced, might have to be brought back into Whitehall.

He said he would cut overseas aid, which as the Institute’s director Peter Riddell pointed out, would account for a mere 0.7 per cent of the national budget. “It’s a start,” said Farage cheerily. 

Finally, a journalist asked him if a referendum would not restore capital punishment, which the polls show at least half the country wants, or forbid the building of minarets as in Switzerland. No, thanks to a “massive change on social attitudes” not even a referendum of Ukip members would support capital punishment. He didn’t answer the question on minarets.

A lesser man might have been a bit chastened by all this. Farage is made of sterner stuff.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special
tvNick Frost, Natalie Gumede and Michael Troughton step up
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Beard, Ben Schnetzer, Douglas Booth and Jack Farthing in ‘The Riot Club’
filmReview: Sheer nastiness of Riot Club takes you aback
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Senior Research Executive - Quantitative/Qualitative

£27000 - £31000 Per Annum Excellent Benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

ETL Developer / Consultant

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week