Yesterday we published the first of a series of edited extracts from the Daily Telegraph’s conversation with Nigel Farage conducted by Christopher Hope at Cadogan Hall earlier this month. Today’s excerpts start with Mr Farage on the perils of electioneering.
I’VE had pints of lager chucked over me, not bitter, thank God . . . Well, you [Christoper Hope] were with me [at the milkshake incident], I met you shortly afterwards. I did say, for a split second, ‘God, you know, it’s milkshake but it could’ve been something else.’ Which is why I thought the comments of the so-called comedian Jo Brand on the BBC – I’m sick to death of all these overpaid Lefties on Radio 4 comedy programmes – which is why I thought that comment last week was so repulsive. Because we’ve got this situation where the Remainers think they’re morally superior to the Leavers. And when one group of people think they’re morally superior to another group of people, bad things happen. And it’s almost as if, in the name of stopping Brexit and forcing a second referendum, it’s almost as if any form of abuse, or any form of behaviour, is deemed acceptable by people like Jo Brand. That is wrong and it’s dangerous. But it also comes up against the limits of free speech. You know, we should be able to offend each other, absolutely. And I think, you know, ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’, you could perhaps do this more in modern society . . .
Inciting violence goes beyond the limits of free speech. That is what Jo Brand did, she had not offered a proper apology, the BBC to begin with defended her and then had a half-hearted apology, and it’s absolutely shameful that she’ll be back on that wretched programme this week, being paid from your licence fee. And when it comes to pressing charges, I’ve pressed charges against people who’ve smashed eggs on my head, I’ve pressed charges against people who’ve hit me over the head with banners, and I’ve pressed charges against this [milkshake] guy. And I will press charges against anybody who behaves violently when I’m going about peaceful, democratic discourse and debate. And they can shout what they like at us, they can say what they like, I couldn’t care less . . . but I think we have to stand very firm on this. You know, if we don’t, and if people don’t think there’s a punishment for behaving like that, then normal campaigning politics ends.
What did Nigel think about the sentence given to the man who threw the milkshake, Paul Crowther, of a 12-month community order, 150 hours of unpaid work, £85 victim surcharge, £85 costs and £350 compensation?
I’m not a judge. It’s not for me to say whether it was the right penalty or the wrong penalty. I just hope that it discourages other people from behaving like that, whether it’s me or Anna Soubry, or whoever else it may be. We need people out on the streets, into our market towns and making these arguments.
A picture of Nigel Farage is shown in front of three thousand supporters at a meeting, Hope mentioning that bars were kept open around the perimeter of the hall.
We did, it was a booze-fuelled event. And there was no yobbery, no bad behaviour. And that was right at the end of the campaign, people were very, very up for it, and, again, there was no anger. There was no anger at Brexit Party events, there was just optimism, and a belief that we could do something to change politics.
Asking what it felt like with people chanting his name, Hope notes the event was the biggest ticketed event since the BBC 2016 Referendum rally at Wembley, and says ‘This isn’t normal in politics.’
Look, you know . . . Chris, as I’ve said already tonight . . . I didn’t want to get back involved in this, but I did say if I had to do it, I’d do it, I’d give it my all, and I felt, that night at Olympia, I felt, ‘Wow, we’re really achieving something here.’ And do you know what, I was loving it. Loving it. Our next event is in Birmingham, at the NEC on 30 June, and this is our first ever party rally. It’s open to subscribers to the Brexit Party, there are 5,000 seats . . .
Showing a photograph from May 27 of Nigel Farage winning the European Elections, Hope asks whether this was a highlight of his career so far, and whether it compares to the UKIP 2014 victory.
Well, no, I mean, history will judge UKIP . . . look, we’d [the Brexit Party] been going for six weeks, we’d gone from nothing, not just to winning the elections, we got 50 per cent of all votes of our nearest rival. We got almost double the votes of the Labour and Conservative parties added together. It was a very, very huge – to quote an American friend of mine – I think it was a terrific victory . . . I felt that so many of those people who had voted for us on that night would, if the circumstances were right, stick with us for a general election, and that was the amazing thing. It was an amazing six weeks, I loved it, I was very, very lucky to have someone of the calibre of Richard Tice working with me. And we worked together very tightly as a team, and we were with a bunch of kids, almost nobody over the age of 23, because that’s where the social media world is today. What we produced with our videos, everything on social media, it had energy, it had vibrancy, it had life. So listen, listen, it was an amazing six weeks.
Hope asks about the Peterborough by-election and Brexit Party candidate Mike Greene, who nearly won.
The problem was this, that I had to focus on the European elections, and I had to focus the party’s resources on the European elections, because we had to win the European elections. And it wasn’t until that result was in and it was over, that we really turned our forces to Peterborough, [words unclear] you know, and we started with zero data . . . ‘data’ means . . . in my time in the Conservative Party, in my village, the local chairman of the Conservative Association basically knew how every single person in that village voted, and if by 7 o’clock, a list of people who haven’t voted, the Major went out and knocked on their doors . . . That information those days was sort of kept on . . . you know, box files and sheets of paper. That principle has now been updated and put on a computer, but the basic system hasn’t changed. Elections are won by getting your people to actually go out and vote. So the Labour Party [has had] a length of time, and worked month after month after month after month [on this]. And there is a particular twist to this, and . . . I said to Tice, on the day of the election, there are two reasons – one is [building the database] and the second is we must make a formal complaint about the way postal votes are [abused]. I’ve raised the postal vote issue, I’ve raised [the issue of] intimidation, bribery, corruption on a grand scale, and, and virtually none of you [have reported it]. You reported, ‘Nigel Farage looked like a bad loser’ because it was all down to postal votes. The only person that did look at this was Eric Pickles, and Eric Pickles [concluded that it was] open to abuse.
. . . And the intimidation. I have watched in a Manchester suburb, I’ve watched postmen delivering the postal votes, the postal votes that people signed up to, because a nice man in the local trade union knocked on the door, and got someone to tick a box. I’ve watched the postman go to deliver, and then I’ve watched someone with a Labour rosette a hundred yards behind him, knocking on [the same] door, minutes after the postal vote has arrived, saying, ‘I’ve come to [check your] postal vote.’ So it’s open to intimidation. And how about this? You can register for a postal vote, and ask for the vote to be sent to a different address. [You] at the Daily Telegraph, who, by the way, I think have done a fantastic job over the last few months, you’ve held solid on Brexit, the Telegraph’s been terrific. A very good campaign for your newspaper would be to clean up British democracy and get it back to where it used to be.
Next: Nigel Farage discusses his special relationship with Donald Trump.