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An open letter to Nigel Farage: you may smile, but I am not seduced

This is a man absolutely of the establishment

Dear Nigel Farage,

This open letter will infuriate you. I know from personal experience how your temper flares and torches detractors. Do you remember the last time we met? I’ve never forgotten. It was in an intimate LBC studio, on the Iain Dale show. We were asked to review 2012, discuss key political events. Before I had got four words out, you went for me, like a well-trained dog. (I don’t mean that to be an insult. Dogs are noble creatures, held dear by millions in this country, as are you.) You called me a “stupid girl” because I said Ukip was anti-Europe. No, you barked, your party is against the EU, not Europe. Fair point, but did you have to insult and bully me on air? I threatened to walk out and you grudgingly apologised.

I was at the BBC watching you and Nick Clegg battling it out earlier this month. A few of us were invited to dinner afterwards and I was so hoping for a reunion. But you didn’t show. I had criticised you on Channel 4 the week before and we could have had another raging row. You were impressively combative in that debate. And smart. And captivating. One friend thinks you are really sexy and imagines you’d be a good spanker. It takes all sorts.

I, though, am not seduced. Your perpetual smile and famous charm is just a masquerade. And it works. It even did last week on the usually merciless Have I Got News For You. They asked you about your expense claims and alleged sexual adventures and you smiled and smiled and smiled, though you must have been incandescent. Many Britons will have been impressed by that performance. Paul Merton and Ian Hislop didn’t pursue you as hard as they did Boris or the Hamiltons (those two now, of course, Ukip names). Perhaps because all broadcasters have been accused by you of bias against your party. To have been on Question Time more than 26 times, forever elsewhere on the airwaves, is obviously still not enough. You go on about how the Establishment hates Ukip, the party of the common man. This strategy of faux victimhood is working. Congratulations.

But let’s examine this anti-establishment posturing. You have been an MEP for nearly 14 years, paid around £70,000 per year, plus the £2m expenses you boasted about in 2009. Your father was a stockbroker; you went to that private school for the privileged, Dulwich College, and then became a City trader. You employ your wife as a paid secretary and wear tailor-made, pin-striped suits, silk ties and shirts. Your backers are multimillionaires. You were in a two-seater plane which crashed. You survived. What a hero. You are a man absolutely of the establishment. Smoking and drinking pints does not make you a man of the people. But you, being the Paul Daniels of politics, have tricked many into believing that.


You slag off EU policies ad nauseam. So tell me, Mr Farage, would you bring back smoking in public places, free people so they can die? Would you bring back the death penalty? Do you want adults to be able to thrash kids at home and in schools? Would you tear up the Human Rights Act?

You have sexists, racists, homophobes and cheats in your party. Some are exposed from time to time. You seem to think that doesn’t matter, that “eccentrics” are fun. That, to me, shows tacit approval of some very nasty people and ideas. I can’t see much divergence between Ukip’s views on forced assimilation of migrants and repatriation and those held by the BNP. You just make them sound reasonable and know exactly how to tap into widespread anxieties about migration. (By the way, that was a nice touch, expressing tender concern for workless Afro-Caribbeans who have lost out to Poles and Romanians.) Though you won’t join Marie Le Pen’s coalition of the far right, you still praise her and your party is close to some of those hardliners. Professor Alen Sked of the LSE left your party because it was, he said, too extremist.

I feel that you viscerally loathe cultures and peoples outside your mean little Englishness. You blame the EU, blame migrants and diversity for all the ills of the nation, which you must know has grown and maintained its position by being pro-European, open and cosmopolitan. Ukip MEP Marta Andreasen defected to the Tories last year saying you are a “Stalinist dictator” who doesn’t like women. I am a woman, Asian, Muslim and a migrant. I must repel you on all fronts. And I, in return, don’t like, trust or believe anything you say.

Yours sincerely

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown


Sir Frederick Barclay

This article originally noted that Sir Frederick Barclay had reportedly paid for Nigel Farage’s medical expenses for injuries he sustained in a plane crash. We have been asked by Sir Frederick’s representatives to point out that this is not so. We are happy to clarify matters and apologise for any misunderstanding caused