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Nigel Farage declares war on Tory press over Ukraine

Nigel Farage in a video shared to X last night accusing the Daily Mail of collaborating with the Kremlin. Credit: Nigel Farage/X

June 24, 2024 - 10:00am

Reform UK has performed startlingly well since the return of Nigel Farage, and is now ahead of the Conservative Party according to several polls. It’s unsurprising, then, to find Farage’s opponents — on the Right as well as the Left — leaning into an issue on which Reform’s supporters are clearly split: Ukraine.

Since Farage defended earlier statements from a BBC interview with Nick Robinson, in which he laid some responsibility for the Ukraine war at the feet of Nato and the EU, a frenzy of media condemnation has ensued spanning most mainstream press outlets, 10 Downing Street, and every other major party leader.

Now, Farage has hit back at the press, after the Mail on Sunday’s front page quoted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office as joining the dogpile by describing him as “infected with Putinism”. The Reform leader retorted, via his X account, that this was a misleading hit piece and “breach of the editors’ code”. In the same edition of the Mail on Sunday, the headline was joined by an editorial denouncing “sympathy for Putin, or even an attempt to explain his actions”, as “not much better than sympathy for Hitler”, a view the MoS regards as aligned not just with elite consensus but also “British public opinion”.

Certainly, if you scroll far enough into the front-page Zelensky report, the body of text does indeed acknowledge that the Ukrainian President has not, in fact, made this statement about Farage (or anyone else). Rather, an anonymous source in his office said “the virus of Putinism, unfortunately, infects people” — without specifying which “people”. In Farage’s view, the newspaper has spun a misleading headline on this basis so as to whip up emotion against Reform and support “their friends” in the “dying Conservative Party”. He added that he so adamantly contests this falsehood that he has instructed the notorious legal attack dogs Carter-Ruck.

The exchange that provoked the brouhaha was an exasperating instance of soundbite TV: a medium in which it is, by design, impossible to explore divergent assumptions. It’s clear that Farage’s assessment of the Ukraine situation has long been premised on a currently-unfashionable realist understanding of geopolitics, while Robinson’s hews to the liberal internationalism currently dominant in American officialdom and its global outposts. Conclusions which read as coherent within a realist frame, such as the notion that one may “provoke” retaliation without being “in the wrong” in any absolute sense, read as morally bankrupt within an internationalist one.

Pitting these perspectives against one another without acknowledging the divergent assumptions is at best futile. But even accepting that sensationalising this kind of disconnect is the whole point of soundbite TV, to my eye the more interesting gulf remains unacknowledged across the board: a generational split in baseline assumptions about Russia.

Anyone who is part of Generation X or older can at least dimly remember the Cold War; many Xers will vividly recall nuclear panic from their own childhoods. In that context, the prospect that Russia might be the primary threat to our safety feels intuitively correct, and sympathy for Russia codes reflexively as treacherous. By contrast, the entire 18-34 cohort was born following the end of the Cold War, and as such has no such first-hand memories. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a February poll showed that this group is much more likely to rank Russia lower in the list of UK foreign policy priorities.

This generational divide, rooted in different historical experiences, represents a vulnerability for Farage, whose recent success rests on a potentially unstable coalition of older provincial voters and extremely online Zoomers. For as UnHerd polling noted earlier this month, Ukraine is the exception to a general mood of “realism” among the British public: overall, UK support for Zelensky against Putin is backed by voters. Farage’s unfashionable realism on the Nato question may be less of a vulnerability among his younger supporters, who don’t remember the Cold War, but it’s clearly out of step with the older portion of his base, as well as with British media and political consensus overall.

It’s hard to say whether his longstanding Russia realism will be enough to dent Farage on polling day. But it’s the first substantive wedge his enemies have identified with which they could potentially split the Reform coalition. So it’s no wonder that they’re hammering at it with all their might.


Mary Harrington is a contributing editor at UnHerd.

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AC Harper
AC Harper
28 days ago

Do we only want ‘fashionable’ leaders?
Arguably part of the creeping dissatisfaction with politics is because of the vacuous inability of the main party leaders to say anything unfashionable – and fashions can change in an eye-blink.

And always keep a-hold of Nurse

For fear of finding something worse.

Hilaire Belloc

It would appear that ‘fear’ is the official theme for the General Election of 2024. Unsubstantiated or not.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
28 days ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Fear indeed; shoehorned nicely into the fear of the ‘next major pandemic’ (it’s not if but when, Jim) and the ongoing ‘climate catastrophe ‘.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
28 days ago
Reply to  AC Harper

They sell fear because they got nothing else.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
28 days ago

The Ukraine situation is way down the list of most voters concerns, despite the best efforts of the MSM. They really don’t want to get involved.

In fact the trashing of Farage has quickly died for that very reason.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
28 days ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Clearly shows the panic about one person across the MSM and main parties. How insubstantial they seem as a result.

Andrew F
Andrew F
27 days ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Maybe.
I had no intention of voting for Reform, despite my support for Brexit and Reform immigration policies, but my friends with some military connections are reconsidering now.

Will K
Will K
27 days ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Voters are concerned about the economy, and the Ukraine situation has made the economy worse.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
27 days ago
Reply to  Will K

So surely the best thing is to end the war as soon as possible…eg with a peace agreement as was almost agreed…

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
28 days ago

Farage was unwise to get into the discussion in the first place – he and Reform have no past baggage on the issue and should only need to look at what happens next.
Rather than getting sucked into an unedifying row over it and calling in the lawyers he would be better to rise above it and use it as yet another example of how the “elites” backed by MSM look to shut down free speech whenever there is something they don’t agree with. He could use it as a segue into Starmer’s plans for even more hate speech laws.
Personally I think Nigel is being too charitable to Putin but he has the right to express his opinion just as I have the right to express mine – for now.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
27 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

Farage is effective precisely because he goes where other politicians (in the general sense, not just MPs) fear to tread. Calling him “unwise” would just serve to neuter him when what we need is for those seeking power to speak their minds, plainly, even if (or especially when) we might disagree.

Andrew F
Andrew F
27 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

I disagree with Farage on Russia but your advice to Reform is spot on.
It shows, again, that Farage is not serious politician.
Let’s say he is PM.
Could you take offence and call lawyers when some paper, or foreign leaders says something contradicting his polices?
You might argue that Trump is a bit like him.
But Trump is likely to be USA president, whereas Farage will be lucky to enter Parliament.
Then been blocked from ever speaking there.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
27 days ago
Reply to  Andrew F

The regime media is broken. No one is shocked when politicians refuse to talk to certain outlets. Why would they be?

John Riordan
John Riordan
26 days ago
Reply to  Andrew F

“Could you take offence and call lawyers when some paper, or foreign leaders says something contradicting his polices?”

What makes you think he would need to do this once in office? He’s doing it now because the media can afford to treat him as an extremist who they can misrepresent at will.

j watson
j watson
27 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

That’s one the important secondary points – one of judgment. And Farage lacks it.

John Riordan
John Riordan
26 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

On the contrary, from Farage’s perspective the Ukraine invasion is one of those things that emphasises that his Euroscepticism is actually just realpolitik, while Europhilia is post-reality politics for the naive.

It is very much in his interests to remind everyone that he called this right, if it’s a matter of public record that he did so, as he claims.

Peter Mott
Peter Mott
28 days ago

It is said that her apparent admiration for Putin cost Marine Le Pen dear in the last presidential election in France and I think the same “No I don’t like Putin but …” will likely sink Farage in Clacton because he will need old people (like me).

Jürg Gassmann
Jürg Gassmann
28 days ago

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
Arthur Schopenhauer

Andrew R
Andrew R
28 days ago
Reply to  Jürg Gassmann

Whose truth?

Amelia Melkinthorpe
Amelia Melkinthorpe
28 days ago
Reply to  Andrew R

THE truth. There is only one.

Andrew R
Andrew R
27 days ago

Objective truth, not absolute truth.

Will K
Will K
27 days ago

Who decides which one?

michael harris
michael harris
27 days ago
Reply to  Andrew R

‘Said Pilate and did not wait for an answer…’

Andrew R
Andrew R
27 days ago
Reply to  michael harris

I wonder how many people here believe in “My truth”?

Robbie K
Robbie K
27 days ago
Reply to  Jürg Gassmann

Does this theory include Putin’s truth?

Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis
28 days ago

I think it says a lot about the modern (New and EVER improving) education system, and the people ‘entrusted’ with running the world.
The ever better education system, and ever better educated, even though they have more information than ever before, cannot be trusted to arrive at the ‘correct’ viewpoint, unless the argument is painted in primary colours ,and any nuance, or counter argument, is bullied out of those on the “Wrong side of history” by the ‘be-kind’ crew.
The people entrusted with running our worlds are, I think, genuinely terrified of democracy. I never imagined that I might end up living in a dictatorship, with any increasingly thin veneer of freedom, or that it might more resemble a multi headed hydra rather than the Furher, or Il Duce, led models of yesteryear.

Martin Layfield
Martin Layfield
28 days ago

Makes me smile at their naivety when the Tories have been saying Farage is like Chamberlain and they’re like Churchill. It’s like they’ve forgotten that Churchill got absolutely thumped by Labour in 1945, just like they are about to. Also, in the context of Russia, it was Churchill and not Chamberlain who helped the Soviet Union impose communism on Eastern Europe.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
27 days ago

Indeed! Churchill was an appeaser of Stalin and the Soviet Union, but not Germany some years previously.

Tony Price
Tony Price
27 days ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

I violently disagree with that. Churchill was a realist (certainly in this respect, if not in all of his military flights of fancy), it was FDR who was the appeaser, who went behind WSC’s back to placate Stalin.

Martin Layfield
Martin Layfield
27 days ago
Reply to  Tony Price

It was Churchill to blame for why at that point Britain was so dependent on America it just had to suck up and do what FDR told them to. All Churchill could do is complain and moan. Sounds a lot like appeasement to be honest.

Peter B
Peter B
27 days ago

Garbage. See my comment above. Study some more history.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
27 days ago
Reply to  Peter B

Which history? Churchill’s?…”history will be kind to me, for I shall write it”…and it was accepted for many years…not so much now…

Andrew F
Andrew F
27 days ago

So what is your alternative scenario?
In what sense any other possible leader could be better and more successful?
Unless you claim that making uk vassal state of Germany and giving up Jews, like French did, is the good outcome?
That was Halifax faction …

Peter B
Peter B
27 days ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Agreed. It’s garbage. Churchill was never a friend of the Soviet Communists. He was also the first to call out the Iron Curtain after WWII.
Churchill was largely responsible for the UK intervention against the Bolsheviks in around 1920 when he was Secretary of State for War:
“Churchill was insistent on continuing the Russian Civil War. He believed that world peace and a successful League of Nations would not be achievable until a democratic government was formed in Russia. Churchill’s aim was to fight the Bolsheviks using the White Russian Armies led by Denikin, Kolchak and Yudenitch using British weapons and reinforcements.”

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
27 days ago
Reply to  Peter B

And Churchill later asked Stalin “can you forgive me?” …as well as saying of him “I like that man”…

Andrew F
Andrew F
27 days ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Exactly.
Although it was still marriage of convenience.
Roosevelt needed Stalin help to defeat Japan because there was no guarantee that nukes would work.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
27 days ago
Reply to  Tony Price

However Churchill’s “naughty document” suggests otherwise…

Andrew F
Andrew F
27 days ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Nonsense.
He accepted Stalin as essential tool in defeating Germany.
He had no illusions about Communism.
He was the main voice warning about rearmament of Germany and advocated military build up for years.
That is why he was in political wilderness for years when appeasers faction led by Chamberlain and Halifax were dominant.
And supported by British public.

Andrew F
Andrew F
27 days ago

Nonsense.
For a start Chamberlain was dead in November 1940, if I recall, so not in position to do anything.
There was nothing about Estern Europe Churchill could do anything about.
The only person who could do something was USA president.
But people in the West wanted peace and in UK “New Jerusalem”.
So uk wasted money on social stuff and imperial overreach, instead of retooling industry.
All explained in Barnett book “Lost Victory”.

George Zed
George Zed
24 days ago

I find it strange that when so many people reach for the analogy that our current moment is ‘just like the 1930’s’ they miss one of the most salient lessons of that period. That it was the lone voices who were proved to be right. Who are the lone voices now? The ones calling for Ukrainian victory at all costs, or the ones suggesting that that is clearly insane and that a negotiated settlement must be sought?

Andrew R
Andrew R
28 days ago

Is it ideology (narrative as truth), modern media or plain narcissism whereby people repeatedly hold on to arguments that have been shown to be riddled with fallacies or maybe they are simply being paid to promote such falsehoods?

Jeremy Daw
Jeremy Daw
28 days ago

Nice, succinct and dispassionate summary of the situation. Thanks, Mary. Clear-eyed and lucid as always.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
28 days ago

Maybe the difference in attitudes between the generations has more to do with the relative stakes? After having squandered the post-war peace, the old geezers are on their way out anyway. A game of nuclear chicken with the Rooskies is as good a way of going as any?
The Zoomers, on the other hand, are more averse to a nuclear exchange with Russia because they’d very much like to live four or five or six more decades.

Michael Lingens
Michael Lingens
28 days ago

On first outing with Nick Robinson, Nigel Farage was making a more nuanced point, to the effect that NATO/EU ‘expansion’ gave Putin a useful excuse to make repeated attempts to crush Ukraine but that he (Farage) did not condone this attack on the country’s sovereignty and that he would indeed continue to supply Ukraine if ever in power. That, at best, rather weak and superficial point, was then spoilt by saying he had been, Cassandra-like, been the only person warning about this for years. So far, so typically narcissistic, as I am pretty sure others also foresaw the danger.
He then ‘doubles down’ with the Telegraph piece, saying the time has come to negotiate a settlement, which really does play into Putin’s hands, as Putin’s peace offering before the Swiss Ukraine conference clearly shows. The Kremlin’s reaction (and that of the state controlled media) to Farage’s intervention, speaks for itself.
Let’s hope this pub bore never gets into a position of having any influence over these matters

Andrew F
Andrew F
27 days ago

Yes, great post.
He is great few issues guy, usually linked, like Brexit and immigration.
I support him on both.
Russia?
No, total tool.

John Riordan
John Riordan
27 days ago

The distinction Farage made is not a “rather weak and superficial point” as you put it, it contains the entirety of the historic mistake made by the West in pursuing NATO/EU expansion. Farage was not the only person warning about the dangers of course (though he might well have been the only prominent UK politician to do so), because George Kennan (American ex-ambassador to Russia) made the same point over 20 years ago and he, too, was ignored by the US establishment. And of course there were many in the European establishment who advanced the same argument, which in a nutshell is that it doesn’t matter whether Russia correctly understands the West’s motives or not, what matters is what it actually does about the West’s actions.

As we can now see, expanding NATO eastwards against the advice of some of your own experts and then being surprised that Russia reacts aggressively is not what you’d call a good strategy.

0 0
0 0
28 days ago

More seriously for Farage, stirring up the hornets’ nest of anti-Putinism is bound to complicate any attempt to take over the Tory Party as well as nobble its base. And that’s the main objective. So, beyond being willing to be known as a geo-realist, what could justify taking on this extra risk?

Putin’s an unlikely model for small state Farage. Although Nigel might admire him as an oil oligarch, Putin presides over a government with a classic social democratic programne, with rising wages, revenues and benefits fed by strong growth stimulated by public investment and easy credit for industry.
You wouldn’t catch Nigel going there.

Of course, as a Brexiteer, Farage might admire how Putin has seized on sanctions to strengthen the national focus of the Russian economy, something Brexiteers sought but have singularly failed to do.. Maybe he’s even realised that the only way Brexit Britain could emulate Russian success is by gaining access to its resources and markets via a trade deal. That really would give the EU a run for its money.

The conventional argument this risks breaking the special relationship with Washington has rarely looked less certain with Trump’s reelection a real possibility. So maybe Farage does have a medium term game here.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
27 days ago
Reply to  0 0

I don‘t think Farage‘s comment on the Ukrainian war has anything to do with him admiring Putin and his running the Russian economy. Farage just thinks, like John Mearsheimer and other historians, that the expansion of NATO was always perceived by Russia as security risk.

Martin M
Martin M
27 days ago

I note with interest that Mearsheimer thought Ukraine was stupid to give up its nuclear weapons. On that I agree with him.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
27 days ago
Reply to  0 0

Of course one view is that the entire Ukraine mess is about breaking Germany’s links with Russia.

German technology and expertise together with Russian resources makes a very economically powerful combination which could challenge US hegemony.

As I recall Merkel did hold private talks with Putin once…no interpreters, no records…and Merkel is fluent in Russian, as I think Putin is in German. What could they possibly have discussed?

Instead we now have a Russia- China axis… precisely what previous, more realistic US geopolitical diplomats sought to avoid.

Martin M
Martin M
27 days ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Well, Germany made the grave mistake of buying gas from Russia, and got blackmailed with “you are going to freeze this winter” when the Ukraine war started. Fortunately, the gas pipeline blew up, and the problem went away.

Dylan Blackhurst
Dylan Blackhurst
28 days ago

I’ve found the mainstream media’s reaction to his comments on Ukraine bizarre.
Many people, politicians, military experts, journalists etc have in the past criticised Nato expansion East. If you have any historical knowledge at all you know that Russia has as much reason to fear the West as we fear their threat from the East.
This constant need in the media to portray Farage as a racist and Putin apologist is getting boring.
Holding views that break from the ‘accepted’ narrative doesn’t qualify someone as a Facist.
It shows a person who is capable of independent thought. Weirdly that appears to be missing from the mainstream media.

Citizen Diversity
Citizen Diversity
27 days ago

Private opinions are always dangerous to an authoritarian regime.

b blimbax
b blimbax
27 days ago

Yes, and to suggest that Russia was provoked is not the same thing as being some sort of apologist for Putin.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
27 days ago
Reply to  b blimbax

I’d challenge that. If you say Russia was ‘provoked’ you are saying that has the right to expect dominion over its neighbours, and that other countries are not only wrong but deliberately inflammatory in denying Russia that right. Sounds like Putin apologism to me.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
26 days ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

So Rasmus, how do you feel about the Monroe Doctrine in the US? The truth is that Russia has acted no differently than the US would have acted in a similar situation. Further, as concerns Ukraine, you cannot separate Ukraine (and especially the eastern regions) that easily from Russia. The link is a lot closer than between the 4 countries constituting the UK.
The truth of the matter is that this whole situation in Ukraine could have been avoided if the US had behaved with a little less arrogance. Continually moving NATO eastwards was a mistake of massive proportions, and one that the US had been warned about by, among others, many within US academia and the realism faction within the foreign relations community. Further, the US had assured Russia during the first Bush administration that they wouldn’t expand NATO eastward (which only goes to show that one cannot count on the US ever keeping its work or acting honorably). Indeed, even a few weeks before the invasion Blinken, the Secretary of State, refused to state that Ukraine would never be. a part of NATO, something that the Russians had indicated time and time again was an absolute red line for them. Allk it would have taken is one simple word from Blinken and the Russians would not have invaded.

Ultimately, the war in Ukraine is a proxy war being conducted by the US to the huge financial benefit of the industrial-military complex, something that Eisenhower had warned about.

David L
David L
27 days ago

These are the same people that peddled the Saddam Hussain WMD lies. The Assad chemical weapon lies. The Covid lies.

The establishment lies. About everything.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
27 days ago

If you had any historical knowledge you would know that Russia has reason to fear Germany, not “the West”. Most other countries in Europe were Russia’s allies in both WWI and WWII.
The Ukrainians haven’t forgiven the Russians for Stalin’s imposition of mass starvation in the 1930s, even if you have.

Dylan Blackhurst
Dylan Blackhurst
26 days ago

Okay. So the Cold War never happened in your world then?
Napoleon never happened either.
How about the Crimean War. Did that happen?
No one is ignoring the brutality of Russia over its neighbours.
But to say that Russia need only fear Germany is beyond daft.

Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
27 days ago

Interestingly it was by portraying him as Putin-adjacent or whatever the term is these days, that the MSM and self-styled progressives went after Trump during his first presidency.
The real loss has been the potential to have Russia at least half in the Western camp. There are three major military powers in the world. The US, China and Russia. Where there’s three, there’s a two and one, unless someone sits on the fence.
Through the reckless demonisation of Russia by polticians and media in the west for what a lot of the time seems to be domestic political advantage, we’ve pushed Russia and China into a two, which was wholly unnecessary. Russia has plenty to fear from China, and would likely been satisfied with the gains from 2014 had there been more incentive for it to maintain positive relations with the west. So now it’s 2 against 1, and we’re the one.

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
27 days ago

They were on it like a flash and flogged it past death and well into the afterlife. But if anything, it just came across as demonstrating even more clearly how much the Conservative party and wider establishment are excreting themselves about the Farage threat. It feels like another Brexit style nose thumbing from the Great British Public is rapidly heading down the tracks.

Not sure that Ukraine is as much of an issue with the public as it is with the Bien Pensant.

j watson
j watson
27 days ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney

It was the Daily Mail. Were it the Guardian I’m sure the Right would dismiss it as usual tribal stuff. But it being the Mail it’s much more intriguing.

Unwoke S
Unwoke S
27 days ago

I wish people would read what Farage ACTUALLY said in his interview with Nick Soundbite Robinson. Anyway, on a related topic, here is a very short essay by Jeffrey Sachs which I recommend to anyone interested in the argument about Putin, Russsia and Ukraine. https://www.commondreams.org/opinion/the-war-in-ukraine-was-provoked-and-why-that-matters-if-we-want-peace

Agnes Barley
Agnes Barley
27 days ago
Reply to  Unwoke S

Good comment!

Will K
Will K
27 days ago
Reply to  Unwoke S

Thank you for the Link

Unwoke S
Unwoke S
27 days ago

I wish people would read what Farage ACTUALLY said in his interview with Nick Soundbite Robinson. Anyway, on a related topic, here is a very short essay by Jeffrey Sachs which I recommend to anyone interested in the argument about Putin, Russia and Ukraine. https://www.commondreams.org/opinion/the-war-in-ukraine-was-provoked-and-why-that-matters-if-we-want-peace

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
27 days ago
Reply to  Unwoke S

Unfortunately, none of the web sites still have the articles referred to.

Unwoke S
Unwoke S
27 days ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

So sorry. Please try again.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
27 days ago

Farage has said nothing whatsoever that is remotely untoward, and his language has been remarkably balanced, including stating in crystal clear terms that he has never been a Putin apologist, which is patently true.

I don’t agree with Farage that the west bears any responsibility for pushing Putin into attacking Ukraine, because it has been obvious since Chechnya days in the nineties that Putin yearns to put the Russian empire back together, and likely he would have attacked Ukraine regardless, and will attack other former satellite states if he gets the chance. Be that as it may, Farage’s position is perfectly legitimate and supported by many heavyweight realists including people like Mearsheimer, indeed there are plenty across the US political establishment who think exactly the same.

What is ironic is the Labour party has a lot of Putin apologists below the immediate surface of the leadership, and even the leadership was full of those under Corbyn, including dear leader. Putin apologists, Mao apologists, Castro apologists, Stalin apologists… endlessly on and on, every kind of apologist bent on justifying someone making life miserable for someone else in the past or present, eg, XR, Just Stop Oil, or those religious fanatics putting children who are confused about their sexuality under the knife, leaving the parents and the kids facing a lifetime of pain and anguish when the kids reach maturity and realise what has been done to them.

On the Tory side it might strike some people as a tad hypocritical that all of the last several Tory Premiers are making a big song and dance about Putin while continuing to do big scale business with Xi’s China, or indeed with the Saudis, neither of which are one iota less morally bankrupt. They will of course flip when China attempts to grab Taiwan, as though that had been their position all along. That Starmer is a disgusting dissembler was known. Not a surprise to anyone who followed the Brexit ding dongs that Robinson, Marr, Maitlis, et al are all a bunch of dissemblers either, but it was still startling to see the open bias visible in that interview and be reminded of the way Brexit was reported. Johnson, hardly a surprise, but let’s be honest we knew what we were getting with Johnson so that one’s on us. Sunak’s attack though, has come as a bit of a surprise because I thought he was better than that. Clueless as a politician or administrator, but better than that as a person. But it seems I was wrong.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
27 days ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

it has been obvious since Chechnya days in the nineties that Putin yearns to put the Russian empire back together
The man has been in power 20+ years with no putting back together of the old empire. When is this bad talking point going to either die or be manifested into action?

Peter B
Peter B
27 days ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

You clearly haven’t listened to or read any of Putin’s speeches. Or noticed that he claims four Ukrainian provinces (some of which he occupies only 10% of) as “Russian”. Or claims that Ukraine “isn’t a real country”. Or that he believes that Russia has a veto on what its neighbours can and cannot do (e.g. ridiculous demands that NATO withdraw from all of Eastern Europe).
But those are just facts … carry on blundering onwards in ignorance if you must …

Agnes Barley
Agnes Barley
26 days ago
Reply to  Peter B

Putin once said “Whoever does not miss the Soviet Union has no heart. Whoever wants it back has no brain” This contradicts the popular view that he wants to restore the Soviet Union.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
26 days ago
Reply to  Peter B

Those 4 Ukrainian provinces are largely Russian and entirely Russian speaking. As for Crimea it was gifted to Ukraine in 1955 by Khrushchev who was himself Ukrainian! Further in a historic sense Russia and Ukraine are inseparable, dating back to Viking times. Indeed the name Russia comes from Kievan Rus.

Dr E C
Dr E C
27 days ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

It’s plausible that as he moves into old age (and perhaps starts to lose his marbles) he’s thinking about his legacy though isn’t it?

John Murray
John Murray
27 days ago

I’d like to register my absolute annoyance with Sky News (which I watch on youtube to keep up with UK news from the US). They had talking heads banging on about what Zelensky said. I now learn that he never said any such thing. This is why nobody trusts the bloody media.

Martin M
Martin M
27 days ago
Reply to  John Murray

Sky News? You might be better getting your news from the BBC!

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
27 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

I’d look further afield than that bunch of useless ****s.

Martin M
Martin M
27 days ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

There is someone on UnHerd that doesn’t like the BBC? I’m shocked!

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
27 days ago

This interesting article has gone to the trouble of finding relatively recent MSM commentary making exactly the same points as Farage. The memory hole is alive and well.

https://open.substack.com/pub/lowstatus/p/reform-clubbed?r=1fl6hp&utm_medium=ios

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
27 days ago

At last, an Unherd article about Farage that isn’t headed by a photo of him gurning like a lunatic.
Come on Unherd, if you wish to set yourself apart, don’t fall into the MSM trap of photos intended to ridicule.

Simon S
Simon S
27 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

But he is wearing an awful white patterned jacket

Adam K
Adam K
27 days ago

Even if Farage was wrong, it would be foolish to abandon support of him on this issue. The trouble with a lot of boomers is that they still get their news from the established press. Anyone who cannot see through the bloodthirsty traitors within our political class and media at this stage, is probably too far gone. https://theheritagesite.substack.com/

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
27 days ago
Reply to  Adam K

What genuinely most motivated Putin to invade Ukraine is not something anyone outside of Putin and his immediate circle can be right or wrong about, we can only speculate and give our own opinions – strangely that is what open discourse is supposed to be all about.

j watson
j watson
27 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

Err no. Just watch the Tucker Carlson interview. It’s all v clear. He sees Countries like Ukraine as part of a Russian empire stretching back centuries. Their right to independence is invalid so far as he’s concerned.
The ‘blame NATO’ for provoking is just smokescreen and camouflage. It’s a load of cobblers.
At least Putin in that interview displayed his true views. Some of the appeasing Putin defenders here utterly clueless.

Agnes Barley
Agnes Barley
27 days ago
Reply to  j watson

err silly me, thinking it was all about Putin not wanting hypersonic missiles right up against his border

Martin M
Martin M
27 days ago
Reply to  Agnes Barley

If the US had hypersonic missiles (I’m not sure that they do), they could now presumably be stationed on the Finnish border, which is not that far from Moscow and St Petersburg. Putin can’t really have much of a problem with that. After all, he pretty much personally organised Finland’s accession to NATO.

Agnes Barley
Agnes Barley
26 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said his country sees “no need” in placing US nuclear weapons on its territory. “There is no need for this (deployment of US nuclear weapons in Finland) because NATO itself provides nuclear deterrence,” Orpo said in an interview with Rzeczpospolita, a Polish newspaper.19 Feb 2024

Martin M
Martin M
26 days ago
Reply to  Agnes Barley

I don’t doubt that is true, but I think it would be a good idea to station just a couple there, to remind Putin that he is personally responsible for Finland and Sweden joining NATO.

George Zed
George Zed
24 days ago
Reply to  j watson

Well I saw that interview too, and Putin also spoke at length about his attempts to forge good relations with the US only to be rebuffed.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
27 days ago
Reply to  Adam K

Thanks for the reference.

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
27 days ago

“in which he laid some responsibility for the Ukraine war at the feet of Nato and the EU” <– He was not so slightly insane as to say only “some”.
He agreed entire with what Putin has sometimes said.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
27 days ago

Just for once, I seem to disagree with everyone. Putin’s motivation, like,as Vera Dunham argued, Stalin’s is the panSlavic one. Serbia, Bulgaria, not Romania or Greece. And it was the 2014 coup, never mentioned now that started this particular ball rolling.

Dominic English
Dominic English
27 days ago

The pearl clutching around Farage’s remarks is enlightening, given that these were mainstream opinions, expressed in such liberal outlets as the Guardian just two years ago. This entertaining article gives plenty of examples. https://open.substack.com/pub/lowstatus/p/reform-clubbed?r=evzeq&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
27 days ago

Some responsibility DOES lay at the feet of NATO. The pursuit of Ukraine for membership, despite knowing that Russia would not put up with it, looks a bit like a clue. There is also the matter of the coup back in 2014, which is not as far down the memory hole as some might like.
Perhaps instead of whining about who did what, there might be a greater focus on stopping the killing. This adventure has done no one in Ukraine any favors outside of Zelenskyy and a few others who have amassed fortunes with their grift. We’re at the point where ‘nuclear’ is casually bandied about, as if it’s a reasonable step to consider.

Peter B
Peter B
27 days ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Fact: it is only the Russians who “casually bandy about ‘nuclear'” “as if it’s a reasonable step to take”.
If you stopped and thought about it for a moment, this might tell you something.
Fact: Russia was interfering in and destabilising Ukraine well before 2014. Inconveninet for you. But still true.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
27 days ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Janukovych was removed by the Ukrainian Parliament after a huge display of popular opposition, after he refused to implement a free trade agreement with the EU that the Parliament had approved. I recommend the Netflix series Turning Point for a comprehensive account of what happened.
Why should NATO, or Russia, have a veto on what the Ukrainian people decide?

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
27 days ago

Or the USA on what the Cuban people decide…but it did..

Francisco Menezes
Francisco Menezes
27 days ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Or replace a president in Italy, Libya, Chile, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Indonesia etc. Soviet Union was just as imperialist as the United States. Each had their military expression of that, NATO and Warschau Pact. The latter was dissolved, as was the Soviet Union. Russia remained, and now I should believe that the Americans have suddenly changed. They know only one interest, and that is their own interest. Putin is just an other one of the big baddies. The small mice may look on and see if there will be some crumbs left on the table.

Martin M
Martin M
27 days ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Good point. You can’t get a more democratic country than Cuba.

Damon Hager
Damon Hager
27 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

Quite right. Cuba is an oppressive country in which personal and professional advancement is dependent on conformity to certain favoured, official narratives. Those who dissent from these left-wing political perspectives are dealt with ruthlessly, while political opponents are repressed by a crooked judicial system that eliminates anyone who rocks the boat. Fortunately, this repressive model could never be constructed here in …
Oh, hang on.

Martin M
Martin M
27 days ago
Reply to  Damon Hager

At least those in Western countries get a vote on who leads them.

George Venning
George Venning
27 days ago

Imagine being unable to comprehend a world where it is possible for Putin to be simultaneously a bad political actor and also to have been provoked by reckless western foreign policy.
Imagine being so profoundly thick that you can’t see that these things go together (we don’t recklessly provoke nuclear-armed powers whom we regard as good political actors do we?)
Or, alternatively, imagine being so arrogant that you are perfectly aware of these things but you simultaneously hold your audience in such contempt that you believe they can’t get their tiny little heads around them.
Is there better way to build up the stature of idiots savant like Farrage than by picking utterly nonsensical arguments with them and losing?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
27 days ago
Reply to  George Venning

This binary thinking seems to have infected all aspects of politics. There’s only one way of approaching an issue and anything outside that narrow band is heretical. You’re a drooling anti-vaxxer if you opposed lockdowns. You’re a climate change denier if you believe net zero will cause more harm than help. You’re a transphobe if you believe trans men should not compete in sports against women. IDK why politics is like this now. Maybe it’s always been this way.

George Venning
George Venning
26 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I know, it’s maddening.
But I hold out a weird optimism that we are nearing some sort of inflection point.
The number of people who have found themselves on the wrong site of one or other of these doctrinal edicts is surely approaching some sort of critical mass. And, as soon as you’ve been on the outs once, the experience lingers.
My guess (hope) is that people have been suppressing their concern over this for a while because they are so desperate to see the back of the Tories. But, once the Tory bogeyman recedes from view, people will have a great deal less patience about getting sneered at.
It’s already coming I think. The high water mark of the trans nonsnense had passed even before the Cass Report was published and, another nostrum might be collapsing this very day as Julian Assange might finally be released. An awful lot of people who refused to take up the cudgels for Julian will, I think, be rather exposed if he gets to speak his mind.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
27 days ago

Well I’m a boomer and I don’t think that my main concern should be Russia.
We have more obvious problems much closer to home, but the blob is not interested in those and says it’s all a conspiracy by those feckless bigoted racist xenophobic people who just won’t shut up and believe what they are told.

j watson
j watson
27 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Think the Poll Author referred to was about foreign threats. 84% of Brits polled said Putin and Russia.
Poll was just a Poll. The Author chose to use it and include the link. You I guess chose not to click the link and absorb a bit more before concluding. Who exactly is not interested?

John Tyler
John Tyler
27 days ago

He has said it as it is, without in any way supporting Putin. In fact he specifically said Putin is to blame. This does not excuse the EU from trying to push its borders closer to Russia at the same time as declaring itself a major power bloc. Nor does it excuse NATO from misjudging the potential actions from Russia when suggesting further expansion eastward. As Mary says, the liberal internationalist mindset simply cannot understand the dangers of such moves. Putin does not believe NATO to be benign, because he is aggressive; nor in his eyes is the EU benign, again, because we’re he in charge of the EU he would be using its power to bully neighbours.

The simple fact is that bullies remain bullies and only understand bullying behaviour however much you may try to reason with them. Standing up to a bully does not stop him bullying, but it does make him look elsewhere. In international terms, you get nowhere proclaiming your good intentions even as you get in face of the bully. The best approach is to stay out of his way while making it clear that he risks a very bloody nose if he ever tries it on with you. Should we stop Russia interfering elsewhere? Only if it directly affects our welfare. Moral grounds? No! Putin cannot understand morality! Like any bully he simply sees you as being patronising or a would-be colonialist.

We should protect ourselves ruthlessly and let dictators run their private empires. Be totally prepared to use power to combat any threat; deterrence is a thousand times more effective than appeasement.

j watson
j watson
27 days ago
Reply to  John Tyler

I would surmise you may have favoured Brexit, and perhaps some Take Back Control viewpoint. Thus why would you deny the same instinct for a Ukrainian?
It’s clear you have an ‘I’m alright Jack’ mentality, but apart from the moral bankruptcy of that it’s v short sighted too in so far of one’s own self interest. History tells us that.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
26 days ago
Reply to  John Tyler

I couldn’t help thinking that certain member states of the EU (specifically Germany and France) also bully their neighbours and fellow EU members. Indeed, the EU has achieved what the 3rd Reich set out to achieve, and basically all the EU member states are vassals of Germany and to a lesser extent France.

Citizen Diversity
Citizen Diversity
27 days ago

The funniest thing about the Mail on Sunday’s headline is that this media outlet can no longer publish columns by Peter Hitchens in which he writes, for instance, that the ‘Americans long sought a war with Russia over Ukraine and they have now got one’.
And that, ‘The war which (in my view) the USA provoked in this region’ has been ‘a disaster for Ukrainian people’.
The editors have ‘shut down’ (I believe that’s the correct phrase in the world of free speech) their own star columnist. Otherwise they will have to run a front page headline screaming that they are likewise ‘infected with the Putin virus’. Russocovid, the new panicdemic? Farage, the right’s Typhoid Mary?

David L
David L
27 days ago

Only one opinion on any subject seems to be permitted these days.

Any deviation from the bien pensant view must be harshly punished.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
27 days ago

Is there anyone in the country who finds themselves in agreement with every single policy in a party’s manifesto? Every vote cast in a GE is, realistically, a vote for the least worst option.

Martin M
Martin M
27 days ago

Some policies can be “deal-breakers” though.

j watson
j watson
27 days ago

Come on Mary 29% vs 21% in a Poll of the younger cohort not that indicative esp at a time when the Gaza conflict was receiving much more publicity. She fails to mention same Poll had 84% of Brits polled seeing Russia as greatest threat.
As regards the rest of the analysis – she clearly doesn’t know what to say about the ‘Blue on Blue’ Daily Mail vs Farage clash. Get the popcorn, sit back and enjoy would be my advice. Farage and his sort can hardly complain about a few Mail-isms when that publication been peddling Right wing twaddle for years.

John Riordan
John Riordan
27 days ago
Reply to  j watson

I haven’t read the Mail for years now, but I do come across stories in it now and then, and I’ve never seen any view printed in it that seems right-wing to me. It seems, conversely, to be a repository of small-mindedness and the politics of envy, ie the one form of social conservatism that the traditional Labour voter can get behind if they feel like it.

The Mail most certainly doesn’t support small government and low taxes, not in any form whatsoever.

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
27 days ago

I don’t believe Putin was provoked but i believe the actions of NATO expanding east, together with Biden’s abandonment of deterrence as a strategy (speak softly with a big stick), emboldened him and gave him a narrative to sell to the home crowd. To that extent I’m a realist. What I do appreciate is Farage holding his ground. By this point any other politician would have had 4 attempts at defining the concept (what is a woman Kier?), claimed they had mis spoken, attempted gaslighting, or all of the above. The energy has gone out of public discourse in favour of pile ons. We’d rather bury any semblance of dissent rather than grapple with it. I think we need more grit in the shell given the gravity of our current situation. The IFS 2 hour review of manifestos today should certainly focus the mind in a way that it hasn’t focused the politicians in this election. Expect the widest divergence we’ve ever seen between promises and reality if Paul Johnson’s critique is correct.

Martin M
Martin M
27 days ago
Reply to  Susan Grabston

This isn’t like the “What is a woman?” question. That is indeed a tricky one. Russia is the Evil Empire. Reagan said it in the 1980s, and nothing has changed.

Will K
Will K
27 days ago

To lead, a Leader must speak against the accepted narrative. Leaders are usually exceptional persons, with exceptional merits and faults. I’d like to see Mr Farage get his chance to lead the UK. There seems little to lose.

Martin M
Martin M
27 days ago
Reply to  Will K

I am generally kindly disposed towards Farage, and I have always thought he has a lot to offer, but him being pro-Russia is simply a deal-breaker for me.

George Zed
George Zed
24 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

Yes. It is much more sensible to be anti-Russia, isn’t it?

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
27 days ago

Don’t forget Monty’s advice. Rule One, don’t invade Russia. Rule Two, don’t invade China.
Hello ruling class! Anybody there?

Martin M
Martin M
27 days ago

I don’t recall there being any commentator who has seriously suggested either of those things. The actual missions are 1) stop Russia invading its neighbors, and 2) stop China invading Taiwan.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
27 days ago

Where Nigel has backed off on his plans to reform funding of British healthcare (he was in favour of French social insurance mixed model), he has opened up the debate of the strategic failure of the West in the Ukraine. But removing the current NHS model is important to me and so I’d probably opt for an SDP candidate if available.

John Riordan
John Riordan
27 days ago

“Conclusions which read as coherent within a realist frame, such as the notion that one may “provoke” retaliation without being “in the wrong” in any absolute sense, read as morally bankrupt within an internationalist one.”

Some of the discussions I’ve been having online about Ukraine really emphasise how difficult many people find this concept to understand. Almost everyone who supports Ukraine (which is most people) instinctively dismiss the notion that the West might also be partly at fault, seemingly as part of their sincere opposition to Russia.

The issue of provocation, too, seems misunderstood. Saying “Russia was provoked by NATO’s eastward expansion”, and “Russia correctly identified that NATO’s eastward expansion represented a threat to itself” are not the same thing. Russia was obviously wrong to conclude that NATO threatened itself, but that’s not the point. The point is that the West’s own strategists predicted that Russia would perceive that NATO expansion was a threat, irrespective of whether it actually was, and that if it went ahead, Russia would respond as if provoked.

In other words, it doesn’t matter if you poke the bear only for fun, the bear won’t think it’s funny and it’ll attack you. You’re supposed to know this, and not poke the bear.

George Zed
George Zed
24 days ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Indeed. The last several decades of US foreign policy have been like the behaviour of a spoiled child in a zoo.

James Kirk
James Kirk
27 days ago

The whos and wherefores are irrelevant. Farage is clearly a threat to the UK elite and The Blob and they are trying to set a dog pack on him. The irony being Putin is a far greater threat to the West than our Nigel who, but for the reddest socialist and the wettest Liberal, clearly has UK interests at heart. The other irony is the blatant false attacks are backfiring, hardening resolve on his behalf.
How this translates into seats this time remains to be seen but he holds no promises, uses the term bridgehead – take the beach, hold the beach. At least the D Day lads didn’t have the UK Press sabotaging the Mulberries and the landing craft. Not 5 minutes after they were weeping their virtue at Sunak’s early exit.

Douglas Redmayne
Douglas Redmayne
26 days ago

He should tell his supporters to boycott the Mail and Telegraph. That would potentially bankrupt both of them and teach them Tory press not to play politics.