Well, we all had a good laugh, didn’t we?

Farage’s ‘Our contract with you’ – a hoot, a joke, figures plucked from the air, nothing adding up, £50 billion plus £50 billion makes £150 billion, enormous tax cuts, huge spending cuts, smaller government but bigger prisons, no migrants to staff the NHS but shorter waiting lists…

A turbo-charged, low tax, ‘Truss on steroids’, white, Anglo-Saxon economy.

Not to be taken seriously, of course. Well, not by the political establishment.

Michael Gove dismisses it out of hand: Farage is part of the “great entertainment machine”. Not a serious man. Not someone who can run the country. A joke. After all, as now ex-MP Michael tells us: “In this country, whoever we vote for in the end, the British people choose authoritative, sensible managers, whether from the left or the right. What they don’t do is go in for the performative politics that Nigel has made such a successful financial career out of.”

The Institute for Fiscal Studies says the numbers in Nigel’s ‘Contract’ simply don’t add up. Of course, everyone knows and respects the IFS. Don’t they?

Labour refuses to engage with such fantastical nonsense. It is beneath Starmer to indulge such silliness. Their strategists opine: “Reform could yet be the dog that doesn’t bark. Some support could slope off and they could end up with just 8% of the vote.”

And the educated, liberal, middle classes chuckle. Farage and his corporate party are not to be taken seriously. They will wither on the vine and die. Good riddance.

And yet, Farage and his party hover around 20% in the polls, just above or just below the Tories. They have been running at c. 10% or more in some polls since the end of 2022. Or not long after Boris Johnson resigned. Of course, Boris was boosted by the return of many Brexit/UKIP voters in 2019. Without the magical buffoon they drifted back to their natural home – the anti-immigrant, anti-woke, xenophobic, reactionary, often misogynistic, right.

And now Nigel has come back to energise them. To pander to their prejudices. To whip up their resentment. To blame someone else for their, and the country’s, troubles. To provide a scapegoat.

So, whilst in 2016, everything wrong with your life was the fault of some anonymous European, now everything wrong with your life is the fault of a black, or brown, or yellow person. Oh, and this Tory government which is led by, ooh look, a brown person.

Thus, in Farageland…

NHS Waiting Lists are not a problem because of Covid, doctors strikes, staff pay and conditions leading to recruitment shortages, underfunding, an ageing population and a lack of a coherent care policy. No. It is simple. Immigration has allowed 6 million non-white, non-Anglo-Saxons into your country. Now they are taking YOUR rightful place in the waiting list – like I (and the Daily Mail) told you (lied to you) they were taking YOUR jobs and YOUR houses back before the Referendum.

It is always good to have a scapegoat. Preferably one who looks different in some way. Has a different culture. Eats different food. Worships a different god. Speaks a different language. Who, to quote straight-talking Nigel, ‘doesn’t understand our culture’.

For Hitler in the 1920s and 30s it was the Jews – with a few Gipsies, socialists, trade unionists, liberals, intellectuals, educators, etc., (it was an ever-growing list), thrown in along the way.

Now in not-so-great Britain in 2024 it is migrants. You can blame them for almost anything. Which is convenient. And then you can blame the people – the politicians and civil servants – who let them into the country in the first place. A double whammy!

Sure, we want you to ignore the fact that migrants disproportionately run the NHS and the care system, and do many of the key jobs decent, white, Anglo-Saxons would not demean themselves by doing. Never mind any of that. Facts? Who needs them?

If you ignore the facts then it is eminently possible to find a way to blame everything wrong with this country on migrants.

And the trouble is, too many people don’t like facts. They don’t like knowledge. Encouraged by the likes of Michael Gove, they don’t trust or like experts. They trust their gut… and their ‘gut’ tells them that Nigel is a decent cove. A man to share a pint and a fag with down the pub. He tells it like it is. Or, rather, he tells it like I want to hear it – that my problems are someone else’s fault.

We like to describe ourselves as Homo Sapiens. We are the clever ones, even wise. But actually, we are not. If we think about them at all, we want simple answers to complex problems. We want a better life without sacrifice. We want solutions without pain. We want convenient lies not uncomfortable truths.

We are not Homo Sapiens – we are Homo Struthio camelus. We are ostriches with our heads deep in the sand.

Take Global Warming (or the Heat Death of the Planet as I prefer to call it). Not too fucking warm here this summer is it? What’s the problem? Let’s scrap all these expensive policies to belatedly take the edge of climate change. They are clearly not needed.

OK, ignore the ‘facts’. Every month the warmest on record. The wettest spring on record pretty much. People and animals dying from the heat around the world (but what do we care? They are foreigners after all).

This Global Warming things is either a con-trick – or someone else’s problem (and the swing to the extreme right in the recent Euro elections was linked to a reaction against environmental policies).

Take tax cuts. In the USA, Trumpite tax cuts benefited the already wealthy. In the UK, Tory tax cuts mainly benefited the already wealthy. Undoubtedly, under Reform their enormous tax cuts will, you guessed it, mainly benefit the already wealthy (though their plan to raise the tax threshold to £20,000 is something with which I cannot entirely disagree).

But, many voters who will not benefit much from such tax cuts don’t really care. Like poor, rural voters in the Deep South of the USA, they are not voting Republican/Reform out of economic self-interest.

If many British working class voters had voted out of purely economic self-interest they would not have voted for Brexit in such numbers in places where the economy was already fucked and leaving the EU would only make matters worse. But logic, facts, are irrelevant. This was voting by gut instinct, not a logical, considered decision.

Farage and his mates gave them someone to blame – the foreigner – and they swallowed the idea whole.

Now he is giving them someone else to blame – the migrant – and do not be surprised if all the bogus figures and mad ideas in Nigel’s ‘Contract’ are ignored as millions of people vote with their ‘gut’. They vote against the ‘establishment’ – the Tories, Labour, the ‘powers that be’ who have gotten us into this mess. And Reform does horribly well. And is not just a ‘thin end of an extreme right-wing wedge’ but a bloody great door stop of it.

Farage targets 2029, driving politics towards the intolerant, authoritarian, violent, extreme right in the meantime. But why wait?

And, as the liberal, middle classes look complacently on, I am reminded of Pastor Martin Niemöller’s quote about the inexorable rise of the Nazis:

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.”

It can’t happen here? Don’t be so sure.