Much as I hate to say it, Nigel Farage scored a points victory over Russell Brand at their recent BBC Question Time appearance together.
It had been billed as a kind of Mayweather v Pacquiao confrontation, but “Teflon” Nige exited the ring without a mark on him, while the self-appointed People’s Champion was left bruised and flailing on the canvas.
The most destructive blow was landed by a member of the audience, who challenged the open shirted middleweight to put his money where his mouth is and stand for parliament, where he might be able to make a practical difference. Brand’s off-the-frilly-cuff reply was embarrassingly lame and brought groans of derision from the audience. Farage smiled knowingly. One more round to him and he didn’t even have to break sweat.
Although he’d like us to see him differently, Mr Farage is a politician and a supremely effective one when it comes to dealing with the media and the public. He’s in the heavyweight division, alongside Boris Johnson and previous champions such as Tony Blair. Firing soundbites of indignation against these political pugilists is as effective as throwing cocktail sticks at a Panzer.
I’ve seen passionate but undisciplined rabble rousers become very effective in political spheres, without sacrificing their integrity. However, I’m not sure Russell has it in him. Ultimately his message is a negative one. People don’t just want hope, they need it. Farage works hard to offer that … at least he does to those who are the right kind of person.
So Russell, you need to change your brand a bit. While trashing the rich, the corporations, politicians and the democratic process itself, come up with something that you and the many who agree with your basic standpoint can be FOR.