Nigel Farage’s image as a plain speaking-politician suffered a severe blow today, when he became so rattled on live radio that his chief spin doctor intervened to try to bring the interview to a halt.
In a tense 22-minute confrontation on LBC, the Ukip leader looked increasingly uncomfortable as he was asked about his views on race, on “idiots” in Ukip, and his parliamentary allowance.
Mr Farage had once said in a reply to a question that he would be uncomfortable if a group of Romanian men moved in next door to him. He is married to a German and has bilingual children. He was asked by the presenter, James O’Brien, to explain what the difference would be if a group of German speaking children moved in next door.
Ukip gaffes and controversies
Ukip gaffes and controversies
1/12 Neil Hamilton
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2/12 Kerry Smith
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3/12 Natasha Bolter
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Ukip spin doctor forced to intervene as Farage falters in disastrous radio interview
6/12 Janice Atkinson
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7/12 Ukip cancels Freephone
Ukip cancels Freephone number after protesters repeatedly called to push up costs
8/12 Farage 'car-crash' interview
Mr Farage appeared to be caught out on a number of issues, from Romanian neighbours to people speaking foreign languages on the train
9/12 Ukip employs illegal immigrants
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10/12 Magnus Nielsen
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11/12 London Live make-up
Ukip's Nigel Farage reportedly refused to go on London Live 'without professional make up-artist'
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“I think you know what the difference would be,” Mr Farage replied. “We want an immigration policy based on controlling not just quantity but quality as well.” He went on to talk about poverty in Roumania and the discrimination against the Roma minority in that country.
Asked about a comment he had once made about travelling on a train in Britain on which the only languages he heard spoken were foreign, Mr Farage said the experience had made him “slightly uncomfortable”. Asked if his wife spoke German, he replied: “I don’t suppose she talks it on the train. That’s the point I’m making.”
Read more: Ukip cancels Freephone number after protesters repeatedly called to push up costs
Farage 'refuses to go on London Live without professional make up-artist'
He was also challenged about a Ukip candidate in Gloucestershire who had tweeted: “I rather often wonder if we shot one ‘poofter’, whether the next 99 would decide on balance, that they weren’t after-all?”
Mr Farage said that he did not know about the tweet or the individual who tweeted it. He complained: “All anybody ever wants to talk about are the idiots in Ukip. There’s never a conversation about the idiots in the Labour Party.”
Mr Farage was also asked if he would submit the £3,500-a-month allowance he receives as a member of the European Parliament to the same scrutiny as Labour MEPs submit theirs. He replied: “They have an auditor to make sure they spend in accordance with the rules.”
“You say that as if there is something wrong it,” Mr O’Brien retorted.
At that point, Ukip’s Director of Communications, Patrick O’Flynn, interrupted to say that the interview had gone “massively” over length. It had actually lasted just over 21 minutes, when Mr Farage had agreed to appear for 20 minutes.
Afterwards, the programme prompted hundreds of comments on the social media, almost all of which were scathing about Mr Farage’s performance, which was compared with the disastrous appearance of the BNP leader Nick Griffin on BBC’s Question Time.
Asked about the interview during a campaigning visit to Lancashire, David Cameron said: “Mr Farage has done this interview and said frankly some pretty unpleasant things. I just hope people will look at this and recognise that we are an open, tolerant, compassionate country. Yes, we want to sort out the welfare system but we shouldn't put these labels on as Ukip do. It just sends out a terrible message about Britain.”Reuse content