It was meant to be a speech that proved once and for all the Ukip leader is big in America. Instead, Nigel Farage's tub-thumping speech to the great and good of the US right was made to a near-empty room.
The Ukip leader headed to the Gaylord Conference Center in Maryland, US, to make an appearance for the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), but looked out to see almost all of the seats empty.
He received a gushing introduction from Breitbart News editor Alexander Marlow, who said he is often seen with a cigarette and beer in his hands and described him as “the only politician to tell the truth about the Islamist threat.” But most people were fixated on the fact that Farage was addressing an almost-empty hall, despite US politicians at the same conference having been met with a packed room and raucous applause.
I gather darling of the right Nigel Farage has flown to the USA to give an important keynote address to an empty room. Sad times. #CPAC2015; Peter Mannion 'MP' (@PeterMannionMP) February 27, 2015
Mr Marlow added: “Recently, after 20 years of hard work dedication and being called all sorts of ugly names that he is continued to be called today, he’s a winner.”
At the beginning of his 20-minute speech to the scant audience, the former stockbroker received a soft round of hand-clapping for his attempt to make himself appear more normal than the average Westminster politician that he claims to be opposed to.
In pictures: The rise of Ukip
In pictures: The rise of Ukip
1/8 1993: Alan Sked forms Ukip
History professor Alan Sked had been active in anti-EU politics for a while beore he founded Ukip in 1993. He resigned from the party after the 1997 election, concerned that it was attracting far-right members, and has been critical of Ukip since. Picture: Reuters
2/8 2005: Kilroy defects
Former TV presenter Robert Kilroy-Silk founded Veritas in 2005, after a failed bid to become leader, and took many of Ukip's elected members with him. But the party slowly lost its popularity and didn't put forward any candidates in the last election. Picture: REUTERS/Kieran Doherty REUTERS KD/RUS
3/8 2010: Farage becomes leader, again
Farage had led Ukip from 2006 until 2009, when he stood down to fight against the Speaker, John Bercow, for his Buckingham seat. He failed to win the election and returned to lead the party in November 2010. Picture: REUTERS/Kieran Doherty
4/8 2010: Ukip fights for election
Nigel Farage was injured in a plane crash on polling day in the 2010 general election, but his party increased its success in the votes. It fielded 572 candidates and took 3.1% of the vote, though failed to win any seats. REUTERS/Darren Staples
5/8 2013: Eastleigh gains
Ukip's candidate Diane James got the highest ever number of votes for any candidate from the party, but was beaten by the Liberal Democrats. The surge in support gave Ukip confidence ahead of local and European elections later in the year. Picture: Reuters
6/8 2013: Bloom kicked out
Godfrey Bloom, who served as an Ukip MEP from 2004 to 2014, had the whip withdrawn in 2013 after sexist comments and an attack on a journalist. He sat as an independent MEP until 2014, when he ended his term in office. Picture: REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
7/8 2014: European election success
Ukip got a higher proportion of the vote than any other party in 2014's European elections, adding 11 new MEPs and taking its total to 24. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
8/8 2014: Carswell defects
Douglas Carswell defected from Ukip at the end of August, and was followed by Mark Reckless at the end of September, who resigned from the Tories amid rumours of many more defections to come. Picture: REUTERS/Toby Melville
He said: “It’s good to be back in America, I used to visit here a lot. Because for 12 years I worked for American companies. Did you hear that folks? I worked. I had a job before getting involved in politics! How about that!”
In keeping with his practice of appealing to working class voters, he urged Republicans to reach out to supporters like those of Ronald Reagan’s time as US president in the early 1980s.
Farage said that the UK and US, as allies, “must stand firm and defend our Judeo-Christian culture. We must make it clear that we believe in common law and not Sharia law.”
However, he criticised the overseas engagements and wars that the US and UK go into together and said he believes it is time for the two countries to reassess whether the actions have been successful. He blamed war for having “inflamed and stoked the fires of military Islamism”.
While explaining his stance on the EU, he made further attempts to show that he is not entirely against the concept of Europe as individual countries because his own family were refugees in the UK.
He said: “I actually care a lot about what happens in the rest of Europe. My own family were French Protestant Huguenots who fled and took refugee status in the United Kingdom.
“I’m married to a girl from Germany so nobody needs to tell me the dangers of living in a German-dominated household.”
By that time, it seems as though the room filled up with a few more audience members or that his jokes were just considered more funny as the laughter became louder. But only slightly.
He added: “She always begs me not to tell that one but never mind!”Reuse content