‘Don’t let Farage get in the best way of the details – hatred should not be normalised’

On the continent, they’ve had his number for quite some time.

Five years ago, in a blistering, prescient attack on the walking self-publicity machine that is Nigel Farage, the European Parliament liberal group leader Guy Verhofstadt called him out.

The former Belgian Prime Minister also tweeted a video from the European Parliament chamber from 2012, in which – to applause from MEP’s – he said: “Nigel Farage has been an elected MEP since 1999…the biggest waste of EU resources is [his] salary. Why would anyone re-elect him to this role?”

Verhofstadt attached a video from the Parliament chamber from 2012, in which he added, to applause from MEPs: “Let’s be honest about it. You are a member of the fisheries committee, for example, and you’re never there. Never. In 2011, no attendance.

“You are cheating your own citizens here. All the time.”

A photo of Nigel Farage and Richard Tice

Reform UK launched their manifesto in Wales
AFP via Getty Images)

As he launches his Reform party manifesto this week, Clacton beware.

Farage has form. He launched and has disbanded the Brexit Party after scaring voters into the economic act of self-harm he now never talks about.

Instead, time and again, Farage gets a pass to pollute our broadcast media with his hate masquerading as legitimate political discourse from a seemingly affable bloke next door.

Just to remind you, he is the man who, in a 2014 radio interview, said he felt “uncomfortable” when he heard people speaking in other languages on London transport.

The man who, that same year, said the “basic principle” of Enoch Powell’s infamous anti-immigration Rivers of Blood speech was correct.

The man who described Donald Trump’s obscene boast that he could sexually assault women as no more than “alpha male boasting”.

A photo of Nigel Farage

Farage claimed Sunak did not understand “our culture”
AFP via Getty Images)

In fact, as late as last week, Farage was first given the platform to claim Prime Minister Rishi Sunak did not understand “our culture” by leaving the D-Day commemorations early.

The truth is, like the European Parliament, nobody believes Farage gives a damn about Clacton, the seat in which he is standing so that he can have a reason to be on the telly or the radio.

He remains, remember, the man who tried and failed seven times to be elected elsewhere.

It is only here in England that, for some reason, our broadcast media feels the need to showcase his racism and his poison at every opportunity.

Maybe it’s because they can’t grasp the potential consequences of his language which emboldens racists.

Maybe they can but don’t care because, for them, the social media engagement from the outrage is too good.

Maybe they feel they can get away with it if they respond with a bit of tut-tutting and the both-sides bookings often employed to defend the indefensible.

Even though you’d never book someone to provide the opposing position to, say, a domestic violence campaigner or an idiot claiming that the age of consent should be lowered.

One broadcaster appeared to humiliate a presenter, last month, into apologising for correctly describing Farage’s customary inflammatory language as, well, customary inflammatory language.

Others host him as if he is just another talk show guest. He has already been, remember, a contestant on I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.

But don’t try to convince me you are an ally when you’ve played your part in trying to normalise and humanise a man whose years of xenophobic language are well documented.

A photo of Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage is standing in Clacton
AFP via Getty Images)

Don’t try to tell me you want unity when you platform a guy whose rhetoric emboldens racists.

These are people whose venom on flyers resembles the kind the National Front would spout back in the day. Now they are entertained as part of our daily broadcast diet.

Because without us even realising it, immigration has been bedded in as a cause for greater concern than most of the things for which the government and men like Farage should be held to account. We are among the countries taking in the fewest refugees in Europe.

Britain is broken, Farage keeps reminding us, as he works through his pre-prepared soundbites designed to hoodwink those who don’t read the detail into swallowing them whole.

Who broke it though? Who was it who said Brexit would make food cheaper by bringing in cheap imports?

Who was the man who supported a Vote Leave campaign repeatedly rebuked by the UK Statistics Authority for incorrectly claiming the UK paid the EU £350 million a week?

Who scared the pants off the small businesses by erroneously claiming EU legislation makes things difficult for small businesses?

Who is the hate monger still trying to convince the public to fear their neighbour instead of men like him who make it up as they go along?

That would be Farage.

In France, the superstar footballer Kylian Mbappe used his pre-match press conference ahead of their first game at the Euros against Austria to call on the country’s young people to mobilise. To vote to ensure the far right Marine Le Pen does not gain power.

We need top level athletes here to do the same.

Because despite the best efforts of some, Farage would plunge this country even further into the abyss. We can’t let him.