by Paul Embery
Tuesday, 25
October 2022
Analysis
10:00

Nigel Farage’s latest relaunch has a fatal flaw

Seeking to build a populist movement on libertarian economics is a fool's errand
by Paul Embery
Going right on economics is not an election-winner. Credit: Getty

Tories everywhere had better watch out: their old bête noire is on manoeuvres. Nigel Farage, brimming with fury at the abandonment of Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget and subsequent takeover of the Conservative Party by “globalists” and “Remainers”, scents blood.

“This party is now dead, and it needs to be replaced,” railed Farage, before issuing a call to arms for “national household names” to help him build a new “centre-right movement” that will, among other things, fight globalism, stand up for the little man over the big corporations, and prioritise national resilience over just-in-time supply chains.

It is undeniable that, when it comes to fomenting insurgency against the soggy liberal-centrist orthodoxy, Farage is the past master. But while his latest intervention may appeal to a certain cohort of Tory voter, it is doubtful that it will stir up a wider populist revolt.

For while the man himself has the ability to command popular support on such issues as the EU, immigration, wokery and free speech, neither his anger at the jettisoning of the mini-budget nor his broader libertarian economic philosophy — which ultimately serve as the main drivers for his recent intervention — are shared to any great extent by the masses. On the contrary, according to new research conducted by the Onward think-tank, tax cuts are currently popular in only 15% of parliamentary constituencies.

The same research shows every constituency to be majority conservative on social issues but majority Left-wing on economic issues. This single piece of data provides the key to understanding British politics. As some of us have been pointing out for years, most voters have little time for the hyper-liberal attitudes, social or economic, of our elites.

These voters value family, place and nation, and take a robust stance on issues such as law and order, borders and national security. Many would see Farage as an ally on these things. Simultaneously, however, they support greater government intervention designed to bring about a more just economy — higher wages, a smaller gap between rich and poor, a reduction in regional equalities, and so on. After years of deindustrialisation, austerity and low wage growth, there exists among the electorate little appetite for a return to a 1980s Thatcherite agenda that would see the rolling back of the frontiers of the state and a devil-take-the-hindmost attitude in matters economic.

That being the case, it is difficult to see how Farage’s small state, low tax, low regulation, Singapore-on-Thames vision for Britain would serve as any sort of launchpad for a new bid to break the political mould. In the past, his anger was the anger of millions; his cause their cause. His bitterness now at the rejection by the Tories of Trussonomics will not elicit their support in the same way. This time, he’s fighting a losing battle.

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Will Will
Will Will
1 month ago

I support pretty much any thing Nigel Farage can do if it stops the Tories from treating the electorate with contempt and generally taking the piss.

Mike Seeney
Mike Seeney
1 month ago

Once again complete common sense from the author. I never understand why the mainstream parties just can’t see these basics as what the majority want. If they want to win then start listening to Mr Embury!

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Seeney

They are owned, these 25 years gone by, by the malign alliance of Big Money and the Hard Far Left, who in the short and middle terms have shared paramount goals; e.g mass immigration, sending industtry abroad, making government unaccountable to those it rules.

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Seeney

You’d think a party like Reform would get it at least and come up with a platform of being economically to the left and to the right on cultural/social issues. Ironically it was Boris in 2019 who came closest with this and he won a huge majority.

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
1 month ago
Reply to  John Dellingby

It does baffle me how the received wisdom for at least a decade has been that “fund the NHS, hang the pa3dos” would be an insta-win cheat code of a slogan for any British political party that used it. So why has no-one done so? Especially for a party like Reform, so down in the polling dumps because the Tories (apparently) ate their lunch on free movement, it makes no sense that they wouldn’t at least try it.

chris Barton
chris Barton
1 month ago

Anything that helps get rid of the Tory Party should be welcomed.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 month ago
Reply to  chris Barton

Agreed. The Tory Party is a corpse blocking the highway. And it is beginning to smell.

chris Barton
chris Barton
1 month ago
Reply to  polidori redux

I wish people with any conservative principles or beliefs would finally realise the Tory party is the biggest obstacle to a proper opposition to the current Liberal/woke/globalist orthodoxy (use the term Liberal very loosely) I don’t get how many times they have to be betrayed before they come round. Left vs Right is an outdated divide in any case.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
1 month ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Peter Hitchens has been saying that for years, and adding, ‘that until the Tory Party dies Labour will survive.’
Both are stinking corpses.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 month ago
Reply to  chris Barton

Not “anything”, there always limits, and UKIP is beyond that limit for me.

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
1 month ago

Instead of believing the nonstop propaganda of the globalists’ court stooges and lackeys = the mainstream media, academe &c; did you actually read UKIP’s excellent manifesto, 50 sound points, for the 2015 General Election?
Have you researched and discovered how few UKIP members were and are far-right neo-Nazi types or otherwise very unsavoury; fewer than in the big parties, I strongly suspect.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

The MSM hated UKIP, so expect such attacks. They’ll do the same to Reform IF they look like upsetting the current status quo. A pity Mr Farage chickened out last election. He should have simply announced to the Nation the statement I’ve read a few times now on BBC comments pages. Based on the 2016 referendum results, 410 constituencies in the UK have a Brexit majority. IF they all voted for Reform, then they would be in Government with an historic landslide majority.
More amusing is that NO tactical voting by remainers would affect that result. One can dream I suppose

Mike Bell
Mike Bell
28 days ago
Reply to  chris Barton

Get rid of the Tory Party and we get endless Woke Starmer.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 month ago

I always find Paul Embury’s articles interesting but this time he is seriously wrong. There is nothing “libertarian” about Farage’s economic philosophy. A moment’s examination of the UKIP 2019 manifesto would have shown Paul that it is very much in line with the big state predilections of Red Wall voters.
UKIP acquired the right-wing label simply because our wonderful media consider anyone who talks about immigration as right-wing (even Mrs Gillian Duffy!). Had they bothered to examine the party’s other policies they would have found them quite socialist.
It’s precisely because UKIP under Farage had a message that was economically left of centre and socially conservative that it had such an impact on the Red Wall.

james boo
james boo
1 month ago

UKIP was a single issue party. It’s message worked in the red wall because free movement was negatively impacting their standards of living. That issue is done with, the world has moved on.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 month ago
Reply to  james boo

Yes, UKIP was essentially a single-issue party and has now effectively been replaced by Reform. But my point stands, UKIP did have a full range of policies in its manifesto and economic policy was on the Left.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 month ago

Hadn’t Farage largely left UKIP by 2019?

Rob Britton
Rob Britton
1 month ago

Farage is right in the sense that “The State” in its present form has become unaffordable and needs to be shrunk somehow, otherwise the country is going to become bankrupt. Most voters understand that even if they may not accept it.

Terry M
Terry M
1 month ago

The same research shows every constituency to be majority conservative on social issues but majority Left-wing on economic issues. This single piece of data provides the key to understanding British politics.
Britain is truly in peril if they want more government.Thatcher was right that “eventually you run out of other people’s money” (or their credit).

james boo
james boo
1 month ago
Reply to  Terry M

In shock news it’s not the 1980’s anymore. Corbyn didn’t win running on Wilson’s manifesto and the tories won’t win by running on Thatcher’s. The electrate isn’t interested in your abstractions

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
1 month ago
Reply to  james boo

In about 4 months or so the electorate are probably going to discover the real value of polymer money that the BoE has effectively printed by the Billion. Once they do, then all their dreams of the magic money machine paying for eternal deficit spending and lockdowns, Net Zero etc, goes up in virtual if not literal smoke.
So far, I haven’t seen anyone but a few obscure financial reports and Reuters – or maybe it was Bloomberg, report on the fact that the day Sunak was crowned the Treasury ‘Bailed out’ the BoE with just over £11 Bn.
How intriguing is that? The BoE bail out the Govt by buying gilts, the Govt then bails out the BoE for all the losses they’ll make with QT and selling those gilts, so the BoE can then bail out the Govt again.
Now that monetary magic makes the idea of us all making a living by taking in our neighbour’s washing, sound sensible.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  Terry M

Thatcher eventually run out of state owned assets to sell to cover her economic incompetence

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
1 month ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Not true, Brown found a fair few. Westinghouse, Gold, and I understand a fair bit of Land. Tho’ I can’t remember who flogged on Qinetiq.

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
28 days ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

Blair, I believe. For a fraction of its true value, as it turned out. And to none other than the friendly, politically well-connected George Soros.

Adam McDermont
Adam McDermont
1 month ago

To become politically relevant again Farage could: run on a platform to cut all immigration and mean it, deport illegals and criminals, promise to eliminate wokery from our institutions, and leave the ECHR. If he managed to enlist other notables (please not Laurence Fox) then he might get somewhere. His comments have taken on a slightly spicier turn of late. Perhaps being around Steyn more is having a positive impact on him.
The Heritage Site | Adam McDermont | Substack

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
1 month ago

All of this rings entirely true.
The PROBLEM is that we need a much smaller state, bureaucracy and welfare-wise.
Until and unless the British people can stop demanding funding of more and more very expensive things (e.g childcare, seniors care, and millions opting out work on spurious disability grounds), the national economy cannot be made sense of.
Schools’ standards will decline and decline as hitherto because the pupils and their parents are not highly motivated to ensure those youngsters get a valuable training for a lifetime of self-support.
Then, it has followed, the government exercises the cheap option of importing millions to do the work the Brits won’t do.
It would help Mr Farage if he simultaneously with his programme offered the public the enactment of a severe programme dealing with the bankers and other exploitive abuse behemoths in our system.
In that case he might find 60% of the public rallying behind his themes and policies.
Yetis he too much a City gent to do that?

Mike Bell
Mike Bell
28 days ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

Agreed. We need to all keep saying this: Until and unless the British people can stop demanding funding of more and more very expensive things (e.g childcare, seniors care, and millions opting out work on spurious disability grounds), the national economy cannot be made sense of.”

Larry Moran
Larry Moran
1 month ago

These voters value family, place and nation, and take a robust stance on issues such as law and order, borders and national security”
Correct.
We currently work for the lowest pension in the developed world but every day thousands flood our borders and we pay to feed, clothe and house them. This suits the leftists as they wish to see this country destroyed. It also suits the fats cats as they make money filling hotels up with these people.
Law and order. I saw an article in my local newspaper about a lad who was riding a scrambler bike on the pavement and crashed into a phone box. Apparently seriously ill in hospital. In the myriad of comments there was zero sympathy. In fact someone suggested starting a Go Fund Me for the phone box. People are sick of the feral rubbish allowed to roam our streets. The police seem too busy pratting about in rainbow cars and dancing at carnivals. They wonder why they get no respect.
Our identity as a nation – by this I mean England – as Wales and Scotland are allowed to celebrate their nationalism – is condemned as “fascist”.
Well, I am sorry for the London liberal wokies but this is OUR country more than yours. Because we are the majority.
London itself is an aberration and a lesson in what not to do in terms of managing immigration and social integration. Our capital city has a mayor who was once the lawyer for Nation Of Islam. I don’t think he likes people mentioning that.
John Cleese was condemned for saying that London is no longer an English city. He’s right. It will soon get to the point where English is not the primary language. Refer to that and the cry of “racist” goes up from the unwashed, social justice warriors who never seem to be associated with any real employment.
They condemn the majority while living as parasites on them. That should stop.
I recently watched the documentary by Candace Owens regarding the BLM organisation in the US. The truth was staggering. Of the millions of dollars raked in by the organisation as a result of the death of George Floyd ZERO has found its way back to grass roots black people. Mansions have been bought yes, and this Marxist organisation has actually invested millions into the stock market…….
WE see this hypocrisy both in the US and here and are bullied into silence about it.
Does anyone really think that this silencing can go on forever?
Millions of us don’t.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 month ago

 Simultaneously, however, they support greater government intervention designed to bring about a more just economy — higher wages, a smaller gap between rich and poor, a reduction in regional equalities, and so on. 
How exactly does government intervention bring about higher wages? Or reduce regional (in)equalities?
Businesses pay wages out of the wealth they create. Allowing them to retain and reinvest more of that wealth by lowering taxes gives them more scope to pay higher wages. Providing tax incentives, such as freeports, encourages them to invest in areas which require “levelling up”.
These things cannot be mandated by government unless you subscribe to the Xi Jinping theory of common prosperity.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
1 month ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

and Xi builds really crap houses

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
28 days ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

Too late to join this discussion, but events seem to show that if you leave ‘businesses’ more of their own money, they (the owners) reinvest in their own personal wealth, not higher wages or productivity. Certainly they have more ‘scope’, but it’s usually government using tax money or more likely borrowed money that end up leveraging the investment we need at any sort of scale. Trouble is they do it badly.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
1 month ago

The author is wrong to suggest that Farage is proposing a “devil take the hindmost” philosophy. Most of his anti-EU sentiment was based around globalisation’s destruction of UK working class living standards.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

We used to have a Labour Party aiming to protect the working class, but (as Mr Embury would say) that is long gone ….

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

now its the l***a party… all flaps…

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 month ago

Paul Embery should remember that an ally is just an ally in pursuit of a common goal, not a soulmate.

Richard Barrett
Richard Barrett
1 month ago

Agreed. However, Farage is still well capable of splitting the Tory vote in marginal constituencies.

Paul Taylor
Paul Taylor
1 month ago

Isn’t it the case that people support Left wing economics if they FEEL that they are in some way hard done by but that doesn’t hold of they have something to conserve ?
We all believe that OTHER people should be paying more tax to pay for services that WE desire but that we, personally, pay too much.
I suppose that it has always been thus

Leigh Dixon
Leigh Dixon
1 month ago

As one of a sell-out audience in Melbourne, I wish NF would migrate to Australia so he could lead a party to displace the Labor government and the hopeless (now in opposition) Liberal-National Coalition party.
I didn’t find anything scary about NF except he does seem to attract those that are. Remember: one is known by the company one keeps.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago

Good article as sets out simply and concisely the underlying contradiction that’s characterised UK politics post Brexit.
Farage probably grown rich on never having to take responsibility for squaring this contradiction whilst retaining his media profile and image.
Should we suspect that in years to come historians will conclude that the UK could have dealt with the immigration concern in a much better way than a grossly over-simplified/distorted Brexit? It remains a little appreciated fact that for various reasons the UK never fully deployed the free movement controls EU Articles allowed. Perhaps the truth was too much of the economy relied on cheap labour, weakening Unions etc, so the Tories could never bring themselves to actually ‘grip’ the issue in the way it could have been as they were conflicted.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

How could immigration have been controlled while it was an EU member? Free movement of workers is a non negotiable rule of being part of the bloc

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Therein lies the problem – I doubt you ever looked up the relevant EU articles. For example the ability to insist all jobs having to be advertised locally first and employers demonstrate that. Secondly you come into the country you have to demonstrate you hold a specific amount of capital first – £30k as it was at start. No job and you have to go home after 3mths. Any benefits subsequently claimed in first year paid at equivalence to value in home country. Etc. All in the relevant Articles and applied in a number of other EU countries.

The aggregated evidence was EU migration brought younger, more economically active, tax contributing paying people to the UK. We ought to also distinguish between this and immigration from elsewhere where free movement didn’t apply. Truth is that difference was never fully explained to the public. The lot was mixed up, and quite deliberately by many on the Leave side to create additional fear.
One of the other forgotten facts was the Cameron govt removed the Migration Support Fund in 2010 – this helped fund additional investment in schools, public services etc in areas experiencing higher legal immigration. And as noted EU immigration had a positive net tax contribution, so one could contend was essentially self-funding.

Cliff Dixon
Cliff Dixon
28 days ago
Reply to  j watson

When Harrow council tried to use the 3 month rule to send home an EU national of Somali heritage, the case went to the ECJ based on his children having a right to an education as they had just been enrolled in an English school. The ECJ upheld this, making that particular regulation a farce – No council afterwards tried to enforce it as they had precedent and knew they would lose. The family got a Council house and full benefits

Ann Ceely
Ann Ceely
28 days ago
Reply to  j watson

We will always need to disassociate from the EU because we are a country outside the Continent, at an arms-length doing our own thing!

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 month ago

The Reform Party, Farage and yer’ man Fox should unite… rather than imitate Tory division, and target discontented Tory MPs…

Graeme Kemp
Graeme Kemp
1 month ago

As always – good points from Paul Embery. It’s not quite clear how Nigel Farage would defeat the Conservative Party with similar policies – or similar policies to the right-wing of the Conservatives. And without proportional-representation (or even with it) he will get nowhere, anyway. And thank goodness for that…..As Paul Embery points out, large numbers of people lean left, at least on economics. Nigel Farage champions ‘freedom’ for capital, but not labour – rights for employers, but not workers.

Samuel Gee
Samuel Gee
1 month ago

Paul Embery usually correct but in this case he has slightly overlooked a factor. Trying to create a new Party for its own electoral success is not the plan. The plan is to attract away the Brexity end of the Tory vote and shift the Overton Window away from what he describes as the Globalists.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  Samuel Gee

Which Brexity end though? I voted Brexit and I’d run a mile from any politician who proposes to go full economically right wing libertarian policies.
People try and put too much emphasis on what they believe those that voted Leave actually voted for. All they wanted was to leave the EU, simple as that. Their reasons for doing so vary enormously, and some groups reasons will be in direct opposition to others, but they all wanted out and for the decisions of the nation to reside solely in Westminster, where they can be fought over by domestic elected MPs.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Something in this point. However we could leave the EU and have remained in Single Market and/or Customs Union, thus avoiding alot of the problems we are grappling with. There was nothing in the Vote that confirmed the hard Brexit interpretation. Granted there were viewpoints on how it was interpreted but what people put their cross against didn’t outline a specific interpretation.
And therein lies part of the problem we continue to grapple with – the implications and choices we’d face were never properly put to us.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
29 days ago
Reply to  j watson

To stay in the single market required the UK to still abide by laws such as free movement, with no say on how those laws are passed. It was the worst of both worlds

Anthony Sutcliffe
Anthony Sutcliffe
1 month ago

I think Paul Embery is brilliant. He’s way to the left of me on economics (although since about 2015 I’ve gradually become more and more in favour of government intervention). And Embery is right. The public is to the left of me and way to the left of Farage.

Ben J
Ben J
1 month ago

Mind you, whichever political alchemist can square this circle will be in power in the UK for a long time.

Martin Terrell
Martin Terrell
28 days ago

Good analysis. I am sure Farage and Tice will never really take off if they are seen as a libertarian party on economics. I think they may come round to the view that culture is more important than economics. We would rather pay more tax in return for good public services and some decent policing, education and national pride. If all the minor parties came together on this platform, with Embery and Farage on the same podium, they could do well, at least well enough not to be ignored by the other parties.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
28 days ago

Asking people to reduce their share of the economic pie on the promise ot creating a bigger one rarely succeeds. It’s the old bird in the hand beats two in the bush dilemma.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
27 days ago

Actually read up on Singapore, Paul, before you diss it. The endless lazy clichés that run around the talking points of Embery, Roussinos and Fazi and others, insightful though they can sometimes be, are getting quite tedious.

It doesn’t matter what percentage of people decide that 2 plus 2 ought to make 5, it doesn’t make it so! We don’t live in a uber liberal ‘night watchman’ state but one with huge debt and historically high levels of tax, not to mention one which has been printing money for years.

We need a vastly more competent state, as Singapore actually has, not an ever larger one, to solve some of our major problems! That poses some big questions for the (economic) Left, who have been happy to support producer-interest mediocrity, not least in the NHS for decades, over and above the interests of the public.

If ’twere so easy, it would have been done already!

Last edited 27 days ago by Andrew Fisher
Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 month ago

The key is reform of the property market so that blue collar workers can once again afford decent housing.

That doesn’t necessarily mean building more houses. It also means discouraging the middle class elderly from occupying too much of it. Maybe council tax discounts for young families and higher rates for over occupiers.

If Farage could come up with the right policy on housing he’d sweep the board.

D Glover
D Glover
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

No, George Osbourne tried to sell something similar. It was labelled as a ‘Granny tax’ by his opponents. It sank without trace.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
1 month ago
Reply to  D Glover

So it should sink without trace! Why should a granny or grandad be kicked out of their home simply because someone else wants it. Forcing old people to move often kills them, a inconvenient truth many a council and care home owner has denied when doing so.

Larry Moran
Larry Moran
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Do you not think “The middle class elderly” will have earned their housing? And I doubt your higher rates for over occupiers would go down very well in the Asian community where a majority of families live with several generations occupying the same house?

Try think things through more fully..

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 month ago
Reply to  Larry Moran

Hey, can’t argue with what was actually said, so let’s pretend he said something else and argue with that instead, eh?