You’ve all heard of one hit wonders. Rick Astley? Dexys Midnight Runners? Those two bald blokes of which one was presumably called Fred? You know who I’m talking about. They’ll continue to tour and release new material, toiling up and down the country flogging their internally cherished but outwardly forgettable new album; but the majority of their modest audience are only there for one thing – that one hit song which brought about an all too fleeting moment of fame. Try as they might, all the other numbers are just an excuse for punters to nip off for a piss.
If only such a concept was indeed limited to the musical world but alas, we’re not so fortunate. After all, were such yawnsome regurgitation be confined to an ailing pop act clinging onto some form of relevancy, we’d have been spared the excruciating presence of a political super-group (“super” being used in the loosest possible sense of course) banding together from the remnants of various bands of Eurosceptics and hitting the road.
Yes, fresh off the back of the Vote Leave scandal, ex-members have joined forces with disparate Brexiteer tribute acts from across the nation and formed a truly malignant conglomerate – Leave Means Leave. Fronted no less by a man so toxic, Vote Leave didn’t even let him join the band in the first place.
Of course I speak of the self styled “Bad Boy of Brexit” himself – Nigel Farage.
Rather like The Fall, with each gig the line up is ever changing – save for Farage adopting the Mark E. Smith role, albeit only bothering to emulate the booze soaked, old-before-its-time chassis from the late singer and leaving the wit, charm and enduring talent firmly to one side.
Though whichever backing member is flanking Nigel, whether it be the dull witted, semi-coherence of Tim Martin or the ghoulish detachment of Jacob Rees-Mogg, they’re ultimately just window dressing – Farage is the main attraction.
But why, having previously claimed he was done with politics and “wanted his life back”, has Nigel backtracked on his self imposed “retirement” from the front line politics he was never especially a part of and hit the Brexit campaign trail once more? To deliver the “proper” Brexit he previously promised yet continues to define in varying contradictory terms? Perhaps, but the £6 entry fee for Leave Means Leave gigs likely provides a more telling insight into his motivations.
Let’s face facts – Nigel Farage is a one note performer. Brexit has ultimately been his only political aim and, once it’s been achieved, there’s not really anywhere else for him to go. You could argue that, having ripped Britain from the oddly unrestrictive shackles of the nefarious EU via subterfuge, his mission has been accomplished, but that would only serve to paint half a picture. Farage is not only a wealthy man who enjoys a lifestyle of privilege and comfort but also craves the spotlight – and when you’re known as “Mr Brexit” there’s few prizes for guessing that Brexit and Brexit alone is the only field which will ever bear fruit for Nigel.
Which is precisely why his recent cries lamenting a supposed Brexit “sell-out” were unlikely to be laced with as much anger as one might initially expect.
Dubious indignation aside, being able to impose such a narrative really is the gift that keeps on giving for Farage. Think about it – not only will he be guaranteed yet more uniformly tortuous media appearances to bolster his profile and swell his bank account, but it also gives him plausible deniability for the unremitting chaos that is ever the more suffocating our country with each passing day. The idea of “If only we’d listened to Nigel, Brexit would have been sorted by now!” may be absurd but there’s nevertheless still life to be had in this most deceptive of rhetoric. As easy as it is to mock those at the Leave Means Leave rallies for looking like the cast of Last of the Summer Wine at a 30 year reunion they’re still showing up, paying the entry fee and cheering along with each and every reality denying utterance which spills from Nigel’s nicotine stained lips, topping up the fuel tanks as the Brexit gravy train chugs ever onward.
It’s not as though Farage hasn’t tried over avenues. He recently underwent a tour of Australia with his “An Entertaining Evening with Nigel Farage” show – though given the lack of ticket sales and outright cancellation of the event in Sydney, it seems likely that many Australians considered an evening spent having their genitals gnawed off by a venomous spider a more entertaining alternative than paying good money to listen to the embittered bloviations of the one poisonous snake who still can’t find his way into the British Parliament.
So with his post-Brexit dreams of being an internationally renown raconteur having already disappeared round the u-bend where does that leave poor Nigel? Well, it’s true that he’s managed to secure a semi-regular stint as a Fox News contributor over in the States but that’s never struck me as something with much of a shelf life. Brexit aside, the only genuine recognition he gets in the States is as a preposterous British caricature who unquestioningly offers snivelling deference to President Trump. Once that particular nightmare is over, Americans will see another fade into obscurity in a rather inviting ‘two for the price of one’ deal.
Truth be known, Brexit is really all Nigel Farage has. However long this seemingly eternal omnishambles blunders on Nigel will be there, feeding off it like a parasite. It gives him life, it gives him fame and it brings him money. It matters not that he’s got no solutions himself, he never had – unless you count the one he kept exclusively for himself.
Brexit may have thrown millions of lives in a state of paralysis, left many wondering whether they’ll still have a job or even a home when all’s said and done. But Nigel’s not worried – the frontman of the merry band of charlatans who brought this all about in the first place will still be whistling a joyful tune.
All the way to the bank.Follow @grahamlithgow