The fight between Nigel Farage and Douglas Carswell is the definition of political nihilism

If you have one MP, and you subtract one MP, what you’re left with is nil MPs. Advocating for a parliamentary strength of zero is an eccentric way to hammer home the message about Brexit restoring parliamentary supremacy

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The Independent Online

Poor, poor Nigel Farage. In any ordinary week, his consolation prize for missing out on a knighthood would be the Gerald Ratner Golden Knuckleduster (0.002 carat; touch it for a second, have a rash for a month) for Most Cataclysmic Instant Rebranding.

This is no ordinary week, however, and the Oscars finale robs him of another title he did more to deserve it than its actual recipients. When Woody Allen was asked how he would most want to be reincarnated, he said “As Warren Beatty’s fingertips”. Now those fingertips will be remembered less for gliding over Hollywood’s most desirable women (check out the A-Z lists) than for grasping a card reading “Best Actress, Emma Stone, La La Land” while their owner gazed out sheepishly at the  millions observing his bemusement around the world.

For all that, you wouldn’t want to underplay the damage dealt to the Farage brand by the latest model to roll off the inexhaustible factory line of Ukip superfiasci. Nigel is furious with Douglas Carswell, the party’s lone MP, over the latter’s efforts to stop him getting the knighthood Nigel deems his due reward for Brexit

He has been furious with Carswell ever since that erstwhile Tory MP defected and won the Clacton by-election under the purple banner. He patently regards Carswell as an effete intellectual ponce, and his ambition to detoxify Ukip by moving the focus away from immigration as a treacherous affront to himself. That fury has boiled over with the leak of emails showing Carswell being mischievous when he was asked to help get Farage a knighthood by Malcolm Pearson. If that entrant on the capacious honours board of Ukip farceurs escapes you, it was Pearson who, when leader of Ukip, denied having read his own manifesto before the 2010 election in a tone implying he wouldn’t have the bloody thing in the house.

Nigel Farage says 'our real friends speak English'

This genius is so loyal to his predecessor and successor on the Ukip iron throne that he originally hoped to wangle him a peerage. When that plan was abandoned for one of two reasons – either 1) Nigel would have had to quit as an MEP, which he didn’t care to do, or 2) “The noble Baron Farage of Whiteseville in the County of Albinoshire”? Are you pulling my bell end? – his thoughts turned to a K.

In late December, Pearson asked Carswell to report on how his knighthood lobbying was going. “As promised, I did speak to the government Chief Whip,” emailed Carswell. “Perhaps we might try angling to get Nigel an OBE next time round? For services to headline writers?” The cheeky bleeder well knew how Farage would take the idea of an OBE. For guidance on this, we turn to a late expert on etiquette. “An OBE is what you get,” said Michael Winner on refusing one in 2006, “if you clean the toilets well at King’s Cross Station.”

But surely, you must be thinking, mainline termini toilet cleaners are the kind of people for whom Farage fights the good fight? Wouldn’t an anti-establishment warrior, who in the US on the weekend cited the Brexit-Trump axis as the start of a “global revolution”, prefer a humble OBE to show solidarity with ordinary folk? Isn’t a knighthood the emblem of how a self-serving political class rewards its cronies and donors? Could there be a tawdrier mascot for a decadent establishment than a K?

Apparently there could. And so Nigel’s man of the people schtick (never that convincing, but not as laughably exposed as now) can be seen spinning clockwise towards the reputational U-bend.

The rotten luck here for dear Nige is that there was no recent precedent of a populist icon who, after presenting his public work as wholly altruistic, was caught petulantly screeching about being denied a knighthood. Had there been, it would have warned him that rampant hypocrisy and a glaring sense of entitlement can incinerate any brand. Instead, the latest Ukip golden balls-up since Paul Nuttall’s Walter Mitty tribute act finds Farage screaming in print that Ukip will collapse unless Carswell is expelled from the party. 

This is a pretty useful working definition of political nihilism. I’m no Stephen Hawking, but you needn’t be Lucasian Professor of Mathematics to master this equation: if you have one MP, and you subtract one MP, what you’re left with is nil MPs.

Advocating for a parliamentary strength of zero is an eccentric way to hammer home the message about Brexit restoring parliamentary supremacy. So if Carswell is kicked out, one hopes Nigel will have another crack at becoming an MP by standing against him in Clacton.

Eighth time’s a charm – and if he does finally plant his bum on the green benches, it would only be the beginning of the rapid surge to Downing St that would end, as it does for all male ex-premiers, with the choice of knighthood or peerage.

Don’t take my word for it. “Farage will make a fine UK Prime Minister. Looking forward to that,” tweets David Duke.

Lose a knighthood, gain the admiration of a former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan… Swings and roundabouts for plain Mister Nigel there as the crazy hurtling of the Ukip rollercoaster leaves it clinging to relevance by the tips of its fingers.

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