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The village that made Nigel Farage Can he resist returning to frontline politics?

Farage: the constant separatist. (Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty)

Farage: the constant separatist. (Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty)


March 28, 2024   7 mins

In almost all respects, life for Reform UK’s “honorary president” couldn’t be any better at the moment. About to turn 60, Nigel Farage is earning more than ever, drinking less (a third of what he used to, he told me), and still gets to cause mischief. All that he ever hoped for has seemingly come to pass. Brexit has happened. Freedom of movement has ended. And he’s friends with the favourite to be the next President of the United States. Why risk it all by flirting with a return to frontline politics? 

But when you’re with him it’s hard to avoid the sense that, somewhere not far from the surface, a thought is running through his mind, drawing his attention, pulling at his imagination: what if? 

When we meet in Westminster, he describes how he was out that morning walking his dogs in the woods near his home in Downe, a tiny little village nestled in that strange twilight between the sprawl of London and the wooded folds of Kent. There, he tells me, with genuine excitement, he spotted the first bluebells of spring.

The annual bloom of spring caused Farage’s political hero, Enoch Powell, “sheer, almost physical agony”, because it reminded him of the relentless passage of time. “The succession of the seasons is like a recurrent inescapable catastrophe, which sweeps away what is young and beautiful, and what is beautiful because it is young.” It is fair to say that Farage does not brood on such thoughts; the bluebells, he thinks, are pretty.

For Farage is an instinctive Powellite, not a darkly poetic and intellectual one. Spring does not evoke terrible reflections on mortality. Yet, what Farage does share with Powell is an idea of a threat connected to the landscape where he was born and still lives, not far from where Charles Darwin made his home. “The country is extraordinarily rural and quiet with narrow lanes and high hedges and hardly any ruts,” wrote Darwin in 1842. “It is really surprising to think London is only 16 miles off.”

Venture to Downe today and you’d think the same. The place remains wrapped in green, surrounded by fields, meadows, country lanes and woods separating it from the creep of Thirties suburbia just around the corner. I chanced upon it during the pandemic, while searching for new woodland walks for the family. From where I live in Lewisham, seemingly as far from Downe as is possible to get, it’s a short drive through the suburbia of South East London to a place called Coney Hall on the very outer edges of Bromley. Here, we began our plod through Well Wood, assuming we had not left the city. And then, suddenly, we emerged through the trees to see farms and fields. This was the end of London, sudden and total — and the beginning of Kent rolling out before us, well within the M25. On the other side of the fields was Downe and the land of Nigel Farage.

“When I was born, Downe was in Kent County Council,” Farage tells me. “But then Greater London extended and just took us in.” And so, today, the country lanes of Farageland are dotted with Sadiq Khan’s Ulez cameras. “Well, they won’t be there for very long,” says Farage, laughing. Vigilante justice will see to that.

Such are the passions over Ulez that Farage believes Downe will try to secede from London to rejoin Kent. “Nobody in those twin villages of Downe and Cudham believe they live in London,” Farage explains. “It just feels wrong. At the next local elections, there will be a candidate elected to take TN14 and TN16 out of Greater London. Separatism from Greater London is coming, believe you me.” The next elections for Bromley Borough Council come in 2026. May’s elections for London Mayor and Assembly may just be the start of the suburban rebellion.

Separatism from London. What a remarkable thought. Was it even possible? Can places really just secede from the cities to which they are attached? And to what end? To avoid new taxes? Well, it’s been done before. “They will win by a mile,” Farage is certain. “It’s going to happen. We will elect councillors to leave Greater London.” In fact, Farage believes the whole of Bromley could vote to leave, becoming a unitary authority instead. “You’re taxing the poor and the elderly. Everybody thinks it’s monstrous. Even those with nice, smart cars.” 

For many, this sort of separatism represents a kind of rebellion against modernity, a response to the slow but inevitable creep of modern city life over Farage’s rural idyll, much as Powell regarded the passage of time through the seasons. Separatism is the tool to stop the inevitable, just as it was supposed to stop Europe’s spread over Britain. In a sense, then, Faragism all comes back to Downe. His politics are based on the instinct, as Roger Scruton put it, “that what has been lost can also be recaptured — not necessarily as it was when it first slipped from our grasp, but as it will be when consciously regained and remodelled, to reward us for all the toil of separation…”

Farage himself does not entirely demur from this explanation. “What shaped me more than anything was growing up in a village where everyone knew everyone,” he tells me. “I grew up with a sense of community where class was irrelevant. There was a genuine sense of being, of identity. I think that’s what we’re losing in our big cities.” Downe, to Farage, is an extension of his family — and the nation should act like a giant extension of Downe. “My political beliefs are very much based on where I grew up,” he says. 

“What shaped me more than anything was growing up in a village where everyone knew everyone”

Farage insists this does not mean he is running from modern life. “I don’t mind modernity,” he says. “What I think is awful is that people who live in the big cities now don’t even know the names of their neighbours or might not even speak the same language. That’s how I view that.”

In one sense, at least, Farage’s home is threatened by London. For those who prioritise house-building over conservation, the area around Downe is among the most obvious development opportunities in Britain. Here is a land of fields comfortably within the M25, close to Bromley, Orpington, Croydon and Sevenoaks. It is a land fit for Deano. For Farage, such talk is appalling: the inevitable consequence of immigration, as he sees it. “It’s why the immigration issue will be the dominant issue for the next 10 years in British politics.” But what would he do if this happened? “I’ll just move,” he says. “Between Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells — whatever it takes.”

While it is evidently true that Faragism represents a battle against this vision of modernity — against the bureaucrats in Whitehall, City Hall or Brussels imposing their control — it is better understood, I think, as a product of modernity. Faragism is a reaction to and a reflection of modern life. The increase in population requires more homes to be built, which does threaten existing landscapes like those around Downe. But the planning laws which stop these houses being built are a core reason why Britain is becoming both a poor and expensive place to live — the elemental source of the current disenchantment threatening to sweep the Conservative Party from power and perhaps even from existence.

It is this sense of a coming revolution that is pulling Farage back to the flame of politics. Will he return to frontline politics? “I honestly don’t know,” he replies, unconvincingly. “Life for me is pretty good. I’ve got a job that I love… I’m earning very good money, which I haven’t done for 30 years. The kids are all grown up
 getting back into politics means giving all that up.” And then again he adds: “But maybe, just maybe.” 

But if life is so good, why the maybe? “There’s a historic opportunity to really change things,” he says. “I edge towards thinking that may be the case.” What’s holding him back isn’t actually the money, but the risk of defeat. “I still feel very burnt by 2015,” Farage explains. “Four million votes and one seat.” The general election of 2015 seemed to be the moment the wave had finally crested for Farage. The year before, Ukip had won the European elections. It was now or never to finally enter parliament — but he ended up 1,800 votes short, losing to the former Ukip deputy leader Craig Mackinlay. After the election, Farage quit as leader and prepared for retirement. But then modernity intervened. David Cameron had won, unexpectedly, and had to make good on his promise to hold a referendum. Would he really risk it all again for the same result?

Over the past few weeks, there has been much speculation Farage might be tempted to follow Mackinlay’s path into the Tories. Yet, he is not only honorary president of Reform, but majority shareholder — owner in fact. So, if he stood, would it be for Reform? “Of course. Oh absolutely.” Yet, the idea of him leading the Tories isn’t entirely fanciful. “If Reform do well and get a lot of votes and a reasonable representation of seats — and the Tories do very badly — then something very big is coming afterwards,” he explains. 

Like what? Look at Canada, he says. In 1993, the leader of Canada’s Progressive Conservative Party Brian Mulroney was replaced as prime minister a few months before the general election. The new leader Kim Campbell then led the party — which had been in power for the previous nine years — to an astonishing defeat, losing all but two of the party’s seats. They would never be a major political force again.

In the Progressive Conservative Party’s place came a new political force also called Reform. In time, Reform changed its name to the Canadian Alliance to broaden its appeal, and then formally merged with the old Progressive Conservatives to become the Conservative Party: Stephen Harper, Canada’s Conservative prime minister between 2006 and 2015, was also one of Reform’s founders. “Reform basically reverse took over the Conservatives and Stephen Harper became Prime Minister,” Farage explains. “If there was a model, it’s Canada. If it’s doable, I don’t know. We’ll see.” 

At Powell’s funeral, his daughter read A.E. Housman’s “The Loveliest of Trees” from A Shropshire Lad. Not just a paean to beauty, it’s another reflection on mortality. “Now, of my threescore years and ten, twenty will not come again,” he writes; “And take from seventy springs a score, It only leaves me fifty more.” 

On Wednesday, Nigel Farage will have seen out threescore years of his time on earth, all of them in Downe. As he traipses through the woodlands of his childhood, dogs in tow, cigarette in hand, a flicker of mortality may well intrude on his thoughts too. Will he get another chance like this? The Tory party’s problems may be about to get even worse.


Tom McTague is UnHerd’s Political Editor. He is the author of Betting The House: The Inside Story of the 2017 Election.

TomMcTague

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R Wright
R Wright
3 months ago

There are a handful of moments in every person’s life where they have to make a truly significant choice between risky action or comfortable inaction. Everything else is just rehearsal before getting to these moments.

If Farage does nothing at this historic juncture, he will have disgraced himself. It is his duty when he sees his country in such dire straits to take action. Powell didn’t idly sit by and say nothing as he watched what he saw disturbed him. “The supreme function of statesmanship is to provide against preventable evils.”

This is the moment that decides whether Farage reveals himself to be nothing more than a petty populist courting popular opinion, to be forgotten by the next generation for whom Brexit is as relevant as the Milk Marketing Board. In the alternative, if he steps back into the fray he could be remembered for a century as the statesman who helped to smash the treacherous Tory Party and reshape British politics forever.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

Way too harsh. He has already achieved more for this country’s demos than nearly all current MPs and probably all UnHerd commenters.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

Powell may not have stood “idly by”, but was a complete political failure on the issue on which he felt most strongly. (However, he did instigate a very effective hospital building programme!). In fact by shifting the Overton window on acceptable discourse on this subject, he made it more difficult to limit immigration in the longer run.

In politics, as indeed in life, it isn’t just intent and determination matter, effectiveness does too. Farage has already shown himself far more effective in achieving his political goals.

Kevin Jones
Kevin Jones
3 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

I suspect he’s done far more than you or I have done or will do.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 months ago

A good read. Rare to see an article on Farage not designed purely to disparage him.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
3 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Those are usually accompanied by a photo showing him grinning like a chimpanzee as he holds a pint aloft in seeming salute to getting p*****d.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 months ago

A good read that illustrates why so many people share his instincts, despite all the MSM efforts to tarnish him.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
3 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Which means we have an absolute right to be governed in a way that actually suits us, by people who deeply respect that.

T Bone
T Bone
3 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

My concern with Farage is that although he appears to be factually correct about basically everything, most Progressives find him to be divisive.

If a plurality of Progressives find him divisive than he must be against the progressive definition of “human progress.” If he’s against human progress than he’s against Democracy. The people that dislike Farage are very kind, compassionate people and as such are excellent judges of both character and expertise.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
3 months ago
Reply to  T Bone
Timothy Baker
Timothy Baker
3 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

The people that dislike Farage are often smug intolerant self satisfied ba###rds. Good judges of character ? Leyla Moran, Anna Soubry, Ed Davey et al. Guardian readers to a man.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Like Judge Leonard Hoffman for example?
He of Pinochet infamy for those who may not instantly recall him.
There are hundreds of others as you well know, but I shall not bore you.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago

Ah yes Chile
The Country ( before Pinochet ) to which the East German leaders retired ( fled ) having governed as good as an example of a Prison State as any other in the world.
The East German Secret Police (Stasi ) setting a very high standard much admired in Chile
Including a ” Shoot to kill policy ” for anyone trying to leave ” without peremission ”
There are other examples of Chilean hospiltality but I will not bore you

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
3 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Wasn’t that after Pinochet?

David Harris
David Harris
3 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Most ‘Progressives’ are nothing of the sort. Your ‘kind compassionate people’ are quite happy to coerce, bully and cancel anyone that they disagree with.

T Bone
T Bone
3 months ago
Reply to  David Harris

Good lord guys, I thought it was pretty obviously tongue and cheek!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Yes, take a well deserved bow Sir!

Peter Principle
Peter Principle
3 months ago

“Freedom of movement has ended.” Only in the sense that Brussels-sponsored great replacement has been replaced by Sunak-sponsored great replacement.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 months ago

Migration from the EU was white immigration. Farage isn’t responsible for the Tories liberalising immigration laws under Johnson and his successors.

Peter Principle
Peter Principle
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

I did not say that Farage is responsible for Tory immigration policy. My post was about the sentence in the article “Freedom of movement has ended”, which clearly cries out for some qualification.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
3 months ago

‘The increase in population requires more homes to be built, which does threaten existing landscapes like those around Downe. But the planning laws which stop these houses being built are a core reason why Britain is becoming both a poor and expensive place to live..’

Often said, but not quite true. There are as many houses per head of population in the UK now as there were 25 years ago (about 468 per 1,000 pop). The problem is that too many people now want (and get) more than one each – ie we have a landlord problem, not a housing problem. I’m not sure how many thousand homes have been built in London since the 1950s, but there are the same number of people living there, oddly enough.
The European countries with similar ratios of population to housing but different rules on renting don’t have our obsession with building more houses so that the bourgeois rentiers can snap up a couple more each. Hence, also, our terrible record on productivity – investment goes to rents, not productive industries. And yet the answer is always build more houses, whilst one in 21 people in the UK is now a landlord. Odd.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 months ago

Actually, the population of Greater London HAS significantly increased since 1991 and now is it is at its highest ever, at 8.9 million. This excludes the intensification of development in towns outside the London boundaries, but which probably form part of the city of region in socioeconomic terms.

https://trustforlondon.org.uk/data/population-over-time/

In addition, people tend to live in smaller nuclear families and need more homes for the same number of people.

Your comments about a “landlord problem” are bizarre. We don’t have enough good quality rental accommodation, but rental homes are still homes, which house people, as much as owner occupied ones are. Oddly enough, most landlords don’t actually want to pay costs and achieve zero income by leaving properties empty!

There is however in some areas a real problem of “investment properties”, often foreign owned, which are indeed left empty much of the time.

Matt M
Matt M
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

The population of London only reached its 1939 level in 2021. It was depopulated during and after the war hitting a low of 6m in the 1980s. Then it started attracting internal and external migrants up to the high point we see today. I suspect it will start to fall again soon (assuming one government or the other finally grasps the legal immigration nettle).

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
3 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

Why would any government grasp that nettle — just because a majority of the population wants it? Haw haw haw.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
3 months ago

The rentier economy is ruining our once productive economy, and the AirB&B incarnation, which doesn’t even provide homes while making more money, is an accelerant akin to pouring petroleum onto a smoldering forest fire.

j watson
j watson
3 months ago

Undoubtedly one of the most effective politicians of last 20 yrs. Even his strongest opponents cannot deny that. Yet as we stand it’s achieved what? Brexit a pyrrhic victory at best, and that entirely predictable. He now channels a different ‘demon’ albeit this one is an ‘enemy within’ – the Tory party. That was inevitable too as a result of Right wing failure to properly grasp and reconcile it’s own contradictions.
Farage will wait and see. He’s an opportunist at his core.

Peter B
Peter B
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

He’s certainly an opportunist (not always a bad thing in a politician – there are times when that’s needed), but that’s built on some underlying beliefs. Which is probably more than you might say for Boris Johnson (the other great political opportunist of our times).
But hold on a moment here – isn’t there something more than a little opportunist about Keir Starmer’s repeated changes of policy ? He just doesn’t seem like an authentic opportunist – but seems to behave like one.
I have cautioned before – anyone who judges the outcome of Brexit over a short period misunderstands how long it will take to truly understand the long term costs and benefits.

j watson
j watson
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

On last point – yep Rees-Mogg said c50yrs didn’t he? But interestingly, and relevant here, Farage said it’s been an utter disaster. And of course early on made sure his daughters got their German passports to supplement their UK passports, and thus retained their free movement. Man of principle wandering the North Downs.
However I think the difficulty with a genuine comparison is we are clearly realigning as far as poss short of rejoining and that has an inevitable momentum regardless because of simple geography. The additional problem is the counter-factual will always remain speculation. Just been reading a bit about the current and to come battle for influence and leverage in Space – on which already so much technology depends. No longer having a role in the ESA a disaster most remain unaware of. We cannot compete for long alone.

Sam Hill
Sam Hill
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

I am quite open to the idea that Nigel Farage is an opportunist and certainly that he is open to the criticism that he has the comfort zone of permanent opposition. That being said he (and others outside of comfort zone centrism) have clearly tapped into some sentiment that is considerably stronger and more coherent than the mainstream would like to admit, and the mainstream has too-often been unable to accept its own contradictions, as summed up in Dani Roderik’s ‘Trilemma’. Farage might be an opportunist, but he’s not exactly been left short of opportunities.
Your problem I think is that what ‘populists’ (for want of a better term) really rail against is not so much ‘right wing’ or ‘left wing’ but corporatism. We have not in this country had much that is classically right wing but it has been corporatist to the nth degree. What exactly is right wing about triple locked pensions for property windfall millionaires or the young being saddled with debt and priced out? What is right wing about our current tax rates? What is right wing about foreign adventures that have worked out lovely for corporate interests, but not so much the citizen-at-large? Indeed what is right wing about 1.2m immigration? There is an entirely reasonable criticism to be made that too many people have a habit of looking back on good old days that perhaps weren’t that good. But what we have undoubtedly seen are a lot of bad trends, and they go back a lot further than 14 years.
The EU is the ultimate in globalising corporatism. I would suggest to you that if you see the 2016 referendum result as nothing other than a reactionary gripe then you are very simply not looking hard enough.
I suspect that Keir Starmer will try the Blair approach of more corporatism, just with a bit of smile on its face and more DEI, and he will be vulnerable as the Conservatives have been.

j watson
j watson
3 months ago
Reply to  Sam Hill

Agree with some of that SH. We just might vary a bit on what we define as Corporatism. I’d most definitely include in that likes of Thames Water, paying dividends to shareholders and having Executives trouser huge salaries, then come back to public wanting to hike charges. How we privatised and regulated a number of natural monopolies compares v poorly with European equivalents in France, Germany and a few others. Worth pondering what might be the difference.

Chipoko
Chipoko
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

If Brexit is judged a ‘pyrrhic victory’ that is because malignant anti-Brexit forces deep within every sector of the British Establishment (not least the civil service and MPs) have made it their mission to undermine and ultimately destroy it. It will be interesting to see how far a Starmer administration accelerates if not achieves the complete demise of Brexit.

j watson
j watson
3 months ago
Reply to  Chipoko

Cobblers Chip. It’s because the clowns who promulgated it didn’t think it through on so many levels. It’s both criminal and laughable incompetence. Classic deflection subsequently.

Chipoko
Chipoko
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Cobbler’s Chip to you! You promote a one-sided, simplistic perspective on this issue.

Theodoros
Theodoros
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

I really can’t see anyone better than Farage at the moment. He’s not an intellectual, and I’m not much fussed by his Thatcherism, but he’s a patriot and he has a backbone. If the opportunity arises, I hope he is opportunistic enough to take it!

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
3 months ago

Who’s going live in all the new houses – near Downe or elsewhere – once boomers like Farage really have lived out their three-score-and-ten? The fertility rate in England & Wales is at a record low, and it’s falling. In 2020 it was 1.58 per woman, the lowest since records began in 1938. It had peaked at 2.93, in 1964, the year of Farage’s birth. Motherhood is no longer like motherhood and apple pie; in fact in certain liberal-progressive-nihilist circles with an outsized cultural influence it’s positively frowned upon as selfish and outmoded. And such a boring drag. Perpetual maidenhood is sooo much more fun and liberating.

Fast forward twenty years or so: the boomers are all dead or clinging on in dreadful, inadequately heated, understaffed, semi-automated care homes. At the rate we are going, for every two UK-born boomers born in 1964 who die or vacate their homes in the 2040s there will be just one UK-born twenty-something to replace them. You don’t have to be mathematical genius to see the point I’m making here. Deano’s kids, if he can be bothered to have them or if his missus slips up and forgets to pop her pill one morning, are surely going to have plenty of choice of empty homes to live in?

You might say “immigration” but, whatever your view on that might be, objectively it would be dependent upon persuading millions of young people to come and live on a wet, windy, heavily indebted island and wash the failing, incontinent bodies of Farage’s faithless, fickle, entitled generation for a living. Oh, and why they’re at it, paying taxes to service their underfunded pensions and maintain a crumbling public infrastructure, whilst being on the receiving end of an inevitable, and potentially quite nasty, cultural backlash against the fruits of land-of-make-believe open borders, open everything policies and mindsets of successive UK “governments” and professional-managerial elites. That’s going to be quite a hard sell.

Why are people not talking about this?

Matt M
Matt M
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

Quite a few people are talking about this, just not in the mainstream of the media or politics yet. I highly recommend Louise Perry’s enlightening podcast from yesterday where she interviewed futurist Robin Hanson on this subject. I thought it was eye-opening: Hanson reckons within 50 years or so, there will be so few people born that technical innovation will grind to a halt. We won’t regress that much – there will still be running water and central heating – but no new big breakthroughs will occur until the birth-rate begins to grow substantially again. He predicts that might take 300 or so years. Where will the revived birth-rate come from? From communities which are insular enough to have high birth-rates and high rates of adult retention within their community. Basically religious groups like the Amish whose number grows by 3% per year and who retain over 80% of adults within the sect so reproducing the high fertility rate. He forecasts that the Amish will inherit the earth as the modern global monoculture commits generational suicide by not having kids. This will mean over the next century a pretty static, family based culture will emerge to replace the ever-shifting, atomised one we have today. It will be a Dark Age of sorts but not necessarily an unpleasant one (unless you are the shifting, atomic type, that is). Worth a listen.

Ian_S
Ian_S
3 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

Amish? Yeah, right.

Here’s the reality, quoting here from a Pew Research report in 2015:

“The number of Muslims around the world is projected to increase rapidly in the decades ahead, growing from about 1.6 billion in 2010 to nearly 2.8 billion in 2050. Muslims are expected to grow twice as fast as the overall global population. Consequently, Muslims are projected to rise from 23% of the world’s population in 2010 to 30% in 2050.”

Misquoting one of their many self-imposed enemies, “the mosque shall inherit the earth”.

Matt M
Matt M
3 months ago
Reply to  Ian_S

I believe it comes down to birth-rate. The projected increase in Muslim population is down to increase in lifespan in Africa rather than the number of new kids being born. Birth-rates in Muslim countries are falling at the same rate as other countries – already Iran, Bangladesh, Qatar, UAE are below replacement. Iraq, Egypt, Morocco, Libya, Saudi, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon etc are almost there. Only the sub-Saharan Muslim countries are maintaining the 4-6 kids per woman rate and it is a safe bet they will plummet too once they get a little richer.
That is not to say there are not insular communities within the Muslim world which can maintain high numbers of births. But I would expect them to be as staid and traditional as the Amish, the Mennonites and the Hassidic Jews of Israel.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Ian_S

Don’t despair COVID XVI will sort ‘em out.

Andrew Vavuris
Andrew Vavuris
3 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

What is a “futurist”?

Matt M
Matt M
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Vavuris

It is a very cushy job because you can never be proved wrong within your own lifetime. In the case of this futurist:
Robin Dale Hanson (born August 28, 1959[1]) is an associate professor of economics at George Mason University[2] and a research associate at the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

The “Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford”!!!
God help us! What a ‘waste of rations’.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Vavuris

Someone who believes that the human race has a future.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Vavuris

Palm reading, astrology, reading tea leaves etc

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

You think immigrants want to come to Britain so they can wash you when you’re old?

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
3 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Um, no I don’t, not at all. But that was my point – our birth rate is way below any kind of sustainable replacement ratio and for not show any signs of increasing towards it. It appears that people are generally living longer than they used to, but they also require a lot of support from younger people to care for them in that extended old age. So, logically, and in the absence of a sudden change to those trends, either there is net immigration or the population starts to fall and get older on average. If this is sustained over time, an increasing amount of the housing stock would start to become surplus to the requirements of a smaller, aging population. Which makes one question the wisdom of building lots of new homes to meet acute shortages now that might, within a decade or two, become surplus to requirements.

If you can spot a flaw to that logic please do point it out!

Gordon Black
Gordon Black
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

“Demography is Destiny” … you are spot on and the downticks you got are unwarranted and just show the ignorance that prevails.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 months ago

There was a genuine sense of being, of identity. I think that’s what we’re losing in our big cities.
It’s happening across entire countries, my native land included. Without a national identity and a unifying culture, you don’t have a country. You have a wealthier Afghanistan in which rival tribes have nothing more in common than the border that surrounds them.

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
3 months ago

None of the polite and decent outspokenness is ever going to be enough to save the UK. The Islamic incursion into Europe is going to destroy everything the Brits hold dear unless there are marches, rallies, riots and the expression of rage that will repel the ongoing demographic replacement. It’s time to remove the Islamic flavor out of London by force if necessary, while it is still possible. Polite speech simply isn’t enough. Take a playbook page from the mobs which are turning out for that fictitious, wish-to-be-Judenrein racist state of Palestine that has never existed and hopefully never will. They turn out by the thousands because they know this is an intimidation tactic that works. While there are still far more Brits in the UK than supporters of Islam, Brits must mobilize and act with purpose. Kick Islam out of the UK, starting with the banning and closing of mosques which are not religious institutions anyway, but rather Islamic parliaments containing war cabinets. March to demand that the UK Parliament define religion, sedition and treason properly. Don’t let the western identity crisis cripple the instincts for self-perservation. Change the immigration policy to admit only the adherents of traditional British values.

Richard Turpin
Richard Turpin
3 months ago

On the nail.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
3 months ago

Both this article and the one about American car dealers being populist share a theme of people who are committed to places and communities and antithetical to what seem to be the forces pushing everyone into one size fits all city living. It won’t happen. Some people don’t like cities and will never live in one. They like their rural lives. They like nature. They like knowing their neighbors. They’ll fight hard to preserve it, from immigrants or policies or whatever else. They aren’t going to change themselves and move to the cities and fit into the same mold for the sake of economic efficiency. They’d rather be poor where they are than affluent in a place that makes them miserable. You can’t force people to be what they’re not, and attempting to do so or allowing outside forces to do so will be met with political opposition, and that’s what Farage and populism represent. It’s as obvious as the sun in the sky on a clear day.
Can they win? In your country, I doubt it. They’ll have to find some way to appeal to some city dwellers by necessity simply because they’re badly outnumbered. The US system is different. It favors geography and makes it impossible for high population areas to completely dominate politics, to their considerable consternation. There are, however, a couple of states with a similar dynamic. Illinois and New York, which are dominated by Chicago and New York City, respectively. I live near Illinois and I can tell you there is tremendous animus in the rest of the state towards Chicago because the city dominates state politics and the rest of the state is an afterthought. It’s not a healthy dynamic. Illinois is perhaps the most politically dysfunctional state there is. At one point a couple of decades ago Illinois had two consecutive governors from opposite political parties both indicted on federal corruption charges, and convicted on those charges, and sentenced to prison terms. Kentucky’s politics aren’t exactly pure as the driven snow but at least we can say we’re not Illinois.
I like Farage and agree with him. He’s the articulate gentleman who makes a great case for populism and everything I wish Trump was, but perhaps it’s not surprising given the respective character of the US and UK that you got the soft spoken village gentlemen who greets his neighbors by name as he passes by and we got the bombastic, egocentric, boorish, womanizing, con-artist who posts incoherent ranting tweets at 3 AM.

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

But the truth is people, by a large majority, prefer urban living.
It doesn’t have to be London or other big Cities but towns with an infrastructure and facilities is what many of us are looking for.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
3 months ago

I never said there’s anything wrong with that. I implied as much when I said that the rural populists were outnumbered. They’re outnumbered in the USA as well, but not quite as badly. We can debate which is healthier and better for people but it comes down to personal preference, but if the global economy and political policy fails to allow for a broad range of preferences in terms of employment, residence, religion, etc., there are problems. It’s not much different than trying to enforce a state religion. The government ends up fighting a minority who eventually can become violent and separatist. I think the answer ultimately has to be a certain amount of local control, some scheme that allows communities to have some level of political self-determination at the lower levels, decide what sorts of businesses are allowed, decide how much development they want, etc. It sounds like you already have some of that with your planning laws but the obvious problem is migration. These places want to control their population levels and how many people come in, and yes, some of that is racial, but humans are racist. To suggest otherwise is childish fantasy. I hate to say it, but if you don’t let the villagers be racist in some official capacity, say through allowing them to determine who can apply for permanent residency and expel some, with a reasonable due process of course, they’ll be racist in an unofficial capacity. I know because that’s what happens in America, and I doubt it will ever change. In the cities there are black neighborhoods and there are white neighborhoods and places you don’t go at night if you’re the wrong color for that neighborhood. That goes for small towns as well but it’s less crime related and more subtle. We don’t have cross burners anymore but we know who would be if they could still get away with it. At some point, we’ll probably all grow up and accept our segregated communities and unequal outcomes as the price of a large country and a multicultural society. I just think that Europe’s immigration problems will eventually duplicate what we have here both in cities and outside. Look at our crime rates and our police forces. It isn’t a pretty sight.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Trump doesn’t need much sleep. He boasts about it.

Terry M
Terry M
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Vive les tweets!

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
3 months ago

Farage is a political phenomenon, a demagogue extraordinaire, he will be unable to resist the call to become the front man at the Reform party,
It’s all about the timing, they are gambling on no May election, when that is irretrievable Farage will declare his hand and join the fray for an October election.
This is an opportunity not to be repeated, the destruction of the oldest political party in the World.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
3 months ago

Farage expresses simple home truths in clear language, this makes him a demagogue?

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
3 months ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

‘Demagogue’
a political leader who seeks support by appealing to the desires and prejudices of ordinary people rather than by using rational argument.
“a gifted demagogue with particular skill in manipulating the press”
I think this is a fair interpretation of Farage’s skills?

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
3 months ago

My dear mother said she didn’t trust men with velvet collars on their overcoats.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

Years ago those collars were referred to as ‘Jews collars’ for some inexplicable reason that I never quite fathomed.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

Coats with velvet collars were originally favoured by the slicker type of ‘city gent’ as they were called – often euphemistically. Farage once was such a type, good at making money by wheeler-dealing. What distinguishes Farage – and Boris Johnson – from most politicians, is that he can seem fun, indeed funny, whether or not you always agree with him. This surely explains a lot of his appeal, to the media as much as the electorate. Reading this article, however, makes me think there may be something more to Farage than just manipulative populism, as there certainly was to Enoch Powell. (But Farage lacks both Powell’s scholarly depths and his messianic intensity.}

Mustard Clementine
Mustard Clementine
3 months ago

Reform didn’t so much take over the Conservatives in Canada (though Harper was from that movement) as it focused on a movement to “unite the right”. It was more about taming the more eccentric right-leaning backbenchers (to make conservatism more electable for the not-so-conservative typical Canadian) than allowing the more radical elements to reign.
Pierre Poilievre does have roots in the Reform movement too, but I think it’s an open question whether he will shift Canada further right, socially. His support is heavily influenced by the housing crisis and broader economic woes, not so much a surge in conservative values. It’s just economics.
I would argue that in general, even Canadian Conservatives, compared to their US or UK counterparts, are not really all that conservative, with a preference for fiscal over social conservatism. This was reflected in Harper’s approach to separating fiscal and social conservatism, and now in Poilievre’s attention to the widespread concern over our declining quality of life.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
3 months ago

There’s some validity to that generalisation (I’ll use Commonwealth spelling eh). But I have an Alberta-born aunt whose family of self-declared Charismatic Christians settled in the Fraser Valley, part of what’s known as “Canada’s Bible Belt”.
They are holy-rolling, no-sex-before-marriage, teetotaling pro-lifers. I don’t mean to disparage that in and of itself (although the marathon church sessions–speaking in tongues, Christian “rock” band–I attended as a guest at age 19 was quite strange to me, the son of ex-Catholic hippies). Unsurprisingly, despite their fundamentalism and social conservatism, they love them some Donald Trump, and not in a holding-their-nose way. When I asked my exuberant Aunt, whom I have always liked, whether she thought Trump was a good and decent man she gave an emphatic: “Yes, I do!”. That was the end of that conservation. Still like and love that old lady, despite her conservative or reactionary extremes.

Mustard Clementine
Mustard Clementine
3 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Oh for sure, people like that exist everywhere. Even at my suburban Toronto high school, which was a regional arts program (making this even more bizarre), there was a girl who used to hand out pamphlets and ask (at the top of her lungs) if we had found Jesus or the good word or whatever. There just aren’t (or at least, weren’t) anywhere near enough of them that a party running to appeal to those sensibilities would get much traction. I suppose it remains to be seen what happens post-Poilievre. But there was a recent incident here where he proposed requiring ID for online porn that didn’t seem to go over too well with his more freedom-loving fan base. I still suspect social conservatism just doesn’t have any sort of a solid, cohesive base here, overall.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
3 months ago

Makes sense. I do find more or something like libertarianism than social conservatism among my small-town Alberta relatives. Happy Easter.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
3 months ago

What I knew of Enoch Powell was the calumny poured out by left-wing journalists (to repeat myself). Now that I have learned more of his deep learning and power of prophecy from having absorbed the plain writing on the wall back then, I think only such a man could turn around Britain’s drift into shabby decline and a Baltic-like status. Is Farage such a man? Maybe, only maybe. But it might be too late thanks to figures like Lord Call Me Dave.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago

Farage is NOT Hercules and even if he stands faces an impossible task.
CONSUMMATUM EST.

Citizen Diversity
Citizen Diversity
3 months ago

The seasons. We part only to meet again.
The seasons. Not a journey of mortality, but a growth to fruition.

Nicholas Taylor
Nicholas Taylor
3 months ago

Small town America, you are nothing special after all.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago

Nigel Farage is the original media creation.

Alan Gore
Alan Gore
3 months ago

(Oops, wrong thread)