Farage’s fake promise to quit shows he’s as slippery as any politician
So it was all a ruse. Every time Nigel Farage said he would quit if he didn't win South Thanet, he was making it up. The Ukip leader never intended to step down. He was going to go through the formalities, orchestrate an event which allowed him to remain in place, and then remain in post.
On election night, when journalists asked if he would remain in post if he lost, he replied: "Are you calling me a liar?"
Once it was clear he had comprehensively lost, Farage changed his tune. This is what he said:
"I'm a man of my word – and I don't break my word. So I shall be writing to the Ukip national executive in a few minutes and saying that I am standing down as leader of Ukip."
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But then he added a rather significant caveat:
"I intend to take the summer off, enjoy myself a bit. There will be a leadership election for the next leader of Ukip in September and I will consider over the course of this summer whether to put my name forward to do that job again."
Er, so he's not quitting at all then. He's taking a summer holiday. His hold on the party is total – it must be perfectly obvious to him and anyone watching he'd win any leadership contest.
But even this substantial change from his pre-election position was more honourable than what came afterwards.
Yesterday, he was asked about stepping down. "Well I honoured the commitment," he replied. It is an answer which is strictly accurate but utterly misleading. He was asked if he'd find his way back into the leadership role. "I've no idea," he replied, smiling nervously. Would you like to? "At the moment, not particularly."
UK Independence Party (UKIP)'s outgoing leader Nigel Farage hints that he may return to fight for his position…
Posted by Channel 4 News on Sunday, May 10, 2015
So something great and unexpected must have changed since then, because it turns out Farage is staying as leader.
Here's the statement from the Ukip chairman:
"As promised Nigel Farage tendered his official resignation as leader of Ukip to the NEC. This offer was unanimously rejected by the NEC members who produced overwhelmingly evidence that the Ukip membership did not want Nigel to go.
"The NEC also concluded that Ukip's general election campaign had been a great success. We have fought a positive campaign with a very good manifesto and despite relentless, negative attacks and an astonishing last minute swing to the Conservatives over fear of the SNP, that in these circumstances, 4 million votes was an extraordinary achievement. On that basis Mr Farage withdrew his resignation and will remain leader of Ukip. In addition the NEC recognised that the referendum campaign has already begun this week and we need our best team to fight that campaign led by Nigel. He has therefore been persuaded by the NEC to withdraw his resignation and remains leader of Ukip."
This is Putin-level theatrics. According to Ukip, Farage hands in his resignation, the council produces "overwhelming evidence" Ukip members don't want him to go, they "persuaded" him to withdraw his resignation, and then he promptly did so.
Does anyone believe this Soviet nonsense? Farage's ruse was to threaten his resignation at Thanet South to convince local voters that the only way to keep him in the national conversation was to turn out on polling day. Now that his fight for a seat in parliament has failed – yet again – he takes part in this ludicrous pantomime.
The truth about Nigel Farage is that he just as slippery and misleading as the politicians he claims to stand against. If you want to resign, you resign. It is not complicated. You hand in your resignation and you step down.
The voters of South Thanet called his bluff and lo and behold, here is again – the no-nonsense, plain-speaking leader of the people's army, in place once again, despite promising he wouldn't be.