Editor's Letter: In which I defend giving Mr Farage a weekly column

The Independent's founders were determined that we should be of no party or faction

Share
Related Topics

When we re-designed The Independent a few months ago, your reaction was very encouraging, but naturally there were complaints. The biggest was about legibility. In response to your feedback, we have increased the font sizes in captions, changed the tracking between words, and redesigned the font to be blacker. Thank you to all the readers who wrote in to say they noticed the difference and appreciated it.

After legibility, I think the issue I received most correspondence on, for good and bad, was Nigel Farage’s new Monday column. In a thoughtful email, Dennis Plank asked: “Who is this Nigel Farage?”  A Mrs Clements said that if Mr Farage gets a column, “that will be the end for me”. Neil Stevens said that he considers the Ukip leader “bigoted and racist”.

I must say I didn’t think, when I decided to become a journalist, that I’d find myself in the position of defending Ukip or its leader. But actually I am happy to, not least because I know many of you have been pleasantly surprised by his articles.

The rise of Ukip, while membership of the other main parties declines, is one of the most decisive trends in British politics. It is true, as Mr Farage has written for us, that Ukip’s vote comes increasingly from former Labour voters, or those who might otherwise not vote; but the main threat is still to the Tory party. A Ukip surge in May 2015 could swing many Tory-Labour marginal seats to Labour. Tories already face huge electoral hurdles to get a majority; Ukip turns this big problem into something much bigger. That is why I say that if you are a Labour donor with a spare million, you would be mad to give it to Labour. Donate to Ukip instead.

The sheer number of Ukip voters, and their likely triumph in the European elections in May, means your newspaper must choose between ignoring and engaging with them. My instinct, in keeping with our heritage, is to opt for the latter. And that brings me to the other main reason Mr Farage has a column with us.

Our founders were determined that we should be of no party or faction. Diversity in opinion has long been our strength (see Andrew Grice and Boyd Tonkin this week, for instance). We already have the two best socialist writers in Britain, in Mark Steel and Owen Jones, so I wanted the other end of the political spectrum to be represented too. My postbag suggests that you (mostly) do too.

Finally, Mr Farage (like Mr Steel) is a cricket nut, and the more of them in our pages the better, frankly.

I’m off on honeymoon shortly, back in a few weeks. Have a great weekend and New Year, and best wishes to all our readers for 2014.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ed Miliband created a crisis of confidence about himself within Labour when he forgot to mention the deficit in his party conference speech  

The political parties aren't all the same – which means 2015 will be a 'big-choice' election

Andrew Grice
 

Beware of the jovial buffoon who picks fights overseas

Boyd Tonkin
Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect