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Thu 18 July 2019
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Populist, anti-elitist, libertarian? Nigel Farage’s new party doesn’t have any ‘members’ and is secretive, authoritarian and looks like a one man dictatorship.

Farage’s Brexit party goes from strength to strength. A remarkable achievement given that it still has no policies or members.

“No members?” You say “but I thought they had tens of thousands of people signing up.” Well yes – and no. Nigel might be bragging but the Brexit party currently has no actual membership, and the reason for that is simple. Nigel doesn’t like members.

The trouble with giving people membership is that it starts giving them ideas. They begin wanting to have a say in how things are run. They want to get involved and vote on policy and elect national executives and that way lies another Gerard Batten.

For those eager to discover the source of Farage’s mysterious benefactor, the bad news is that the Electoral Commission does not publish the declarations until the 30th of May

So the people who have logged on to the Brexit party website and paid their £25 are currently ‘registered supporters’. As such the Brexit party is more akin to the Dennis the Menace fan club than an actual political entity; although sadly you don’t as yet get a badge and a sheet of free stickers.

Ironic isn’t it that a man who has spent thirty years railing against the unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats at the EU should now be heading up the least democratic political party in Britain.

But not unsurprising.


A Party Dictatorship

Anyone watching Farage at close quarters for the last decade knows that Nigel has never much liked accountability. When he led UKIP he would occasionally run up against individuals who had the temerity to question him or the direction of party policy – but Nigel always came out on top.

People like Suzanne Evans learnt the hard way that questioning the ‘Dear leader’ only ended in political exile. Farage came to loathe the UKIP NEC, for daring to interfere in his decision making and much preferred to run the party, along with a few close acolytes, on the principle that ‘Nigel always wins in the end’. UKIP was a solo act where the session musicians came and went at the whim of the star.

The Brexit party is more akin to the Dennis the Menace fan club than an actual political entity.

Now – Farage has a vehicle all of his own. There’s no NEC to sully his decision making and no membership with uppity ideas. It’s a personality cult in all but name – but with great power comes great responsibility and difficult questions like: ‘who is funding all of this?’

It’s a question Iain Dale put to the Brexit Party leader in an hour-long interview on LBC on Sunday morning. Farage initially answered that “we’ve done this all by the website….” but when pushed admitted that there had also been one large donation. When Dale asked who it was from, Farage refused to give an answer on the principle that it wouldn’t be fair and that it would be revealed ‘in good time’. Although he did clarify that the donor was neither Arron Banks nor Steve Bannon.

So if not them who?

Who is the Big Donor?

Electoral law states that all donations over £500 must be from a permissible source. Donations to party HQs over £7,500 must be declared quarterly.  That first quarter ended on the 31st March and had to be reported by 30th April. For those eager to discover the source of Farage’s mysterious benefactor, the bad news is that the Electoral Commission does not publish the declarations until the 30th of May – a full week after the EU elections.

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So why won’t Farage tell? In the absence of a name many might reasonably speculate that it is because he doesn’t think it politically expedient, that the donor might generate unwelcome publicity and that it’s thus more convenient to wait. Once he’s won MEPs the revelation won’t matter.

Having watched Farage’s LBC performance on Sunday I put out a call on twitter for a body language expert to get in touch and give their opinion. Dr Louise Mahler, a body language expert in Melbourne was happy to oblige:  “This is not a trustworthy performance: the mouth sealing, the check for approval ‘alright’ – the eyes. I personally loved the contrast in style with the interviewer who I would describe as ‘repulsed’ beneath a calm exterior.”

Frankly, I couldn’t have summed up Farage better myself.

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