General Election 2015: Farage tackles immigration, as the Coastguard bars entry

Ukip leader fires his opening shots in Dover, then retreats to a less-than-public house

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Genius. Where better for Nigel Farage to invoke the spirit of 1940 than at St Margaret’s Bay, where he could gaze across the Channel, framed heroically against the White Cliffs of Dover, while scanning the horizon for the invading multitudes?

Ideal for a dramatic unveiling of Ukip’s sub-Daliesque anti-immigration election poster, just down the beach from the handsome seafront home where first Nöel Coward, and then Ian Fleming lived before the country went to hell in a handcart. (Even if so near continental Europe that due to a border- insensitive cyber-quirk, you get a text message announcing: “Welcome to France.”) 

This being the Tory end of the Dover constituency, Farage was in green Barbour, mustard cords, and brown brogues to clarify that “we are not being negative on this subject [immigration].”

Nigel Farage gazes across the Channel from under the White Cliffs of Dover (Getty)

This was just after explaining that when David Cameron set his 2010 immigration target he was being “wilfully dishonest” ... and just before lamenting that the general election was “so negative and personal. I’m doing everything I can to refrain from personal attacks of any kind”. His Cameron point had been “political”, he later explained.

Ukip’s own on-off immigration target seemed to be back as Farage explained that “about 30,000 a year is roughly what we had for 50 years from 1950”. After such a “return to normality” – and controlling the “quantity and quality” of immigrants thanks to a Brexit, the issue would be defused.


Now he explained (non negatively of course), there was in “virtually every town in eastern England deep ... discomfort” at present immigration levels. And, yes, “you can come to Britain from anywhere in the world and be tested and get the drugs for Aids.” At “about £25,000 per year, per person”.

Then he went to the pub, The Coastguard, which advertises itself as “your home by the sea” where “we’d love to see you soon”. Not too soon yesterday. Perhaps through no fault of its proprietor, the doors were barred for a while, to all but one or two privileged journalists, by a pair of the Ukip leader’s well built bodyguards. While he (presumably) talked to actual voters.

To be fair to Farage, whatever else he’d been doing it hadn’t, apparently, been necking pints because when we were finally admitted he was clutching a chaste cup of coffee. No, he was not on the wagon, he assured The Independent .... “In fact ...” he began, with an interested glance at the bar. Then, sadly, he was ushered out by his minders.

It would have been nice to see him canvassing support. “I don’t make the rules,” one of the heavies had explained before shutting the door.  “I’m just trying to abide by them.” A novel application of the term  “public” house, though, and hardly one designed for full-on electoral transparency.

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