The wobbly boozer turned out to be the steady hand at the tiller UKIP needed. He was elected (via proportional representation) to the European Parliament, which for the aspiring Brit politician is Siberia with an expense account. Then, in 2010, Farage became a global Internet sensation by raining on the EU’s most ridiculous parade — the inaugural appearance by the first supposed “President of Europe,” not a popularly elected or even parliamentarily accountable figure but just another backroom deal by the commissars of Eutopia. The new “President” was revealed to be, after the usual Franco-German stitch-up, a fellow from Belgium called Herman van Rompuy. “Who are you?” demanded Farage from his seat in the European Parliament during President van Rompuy’s address thereto. “No one in Europe has ever heard of you.” Which was quite true. One day, Mr. van Rompuy was an obscure Belgian, the next he was an obscure Belgian with a business card reading “President of Europe.” But, as is his wont, Nigel warmed to his theme and told President van Rompuy that he had “the charisma of a damp rag and the appearance of a low-grade bank clerk.” A few days later, having conferred in their inner sanctum, the Eurocrats ordered Farage to make a public apology. So he did — to low-grade bank clerks for having been so ill-mannered as to compare them to President van Rompuy. He was then fined 2,980 euros (about $4,000) for his impertinence, since when he has referred to the European president as Rumpy-Pumpy, a British synonym for a bloody good shag.
This is rude, and to Britain’s horrified chattering classes, appallingly “xenophobic.” But it’s not altogether unwarranted. Mr. van Rompuy is one of those chaps “no one has ever heard of” who nevertheless decide everything that matters. As M. le Président remarked casually, “2009 is the first year of global governance.” I don’t remember getting the memo on that, and it’s not altogether clear, if one chances to differ with Mr. van Rompuy, where one would go to vote it down. So if it takes a barrage of cheap invective from Farage followed by a fine for lèse-majesté to make the faceless transnational hacks into household names, bring it on.
And, even more than the policies, the men advancing them are increasingly interchangeable. I lived in London for a long time and still get to Britain every few months, but I can barely tell any of these guys apart. They look the same, dress the same, talk the same. The equivalent British shorthand for “the Beltway” is “the Westminster village,” which accurately conveys both its size and its parochialism but not perhaps the increasingly Stepfordesque quality of its inhabitants. The Labour, Liberal, and Tory leaders all came off the assembly line within 20 minutes of each other in the 1960s and, before they achieved their present ascendancy, worked only as consultants, special advisers, public-relations men. One of them did something at the European Commission, another was something to do with a think tank for social justice — the non-jobs that now serve as political apprenticeships. The men waiting to succeed them are also all the same. There are mild variations in background — this one went to Eton, that one is heir to an Irish baronetcy — but once they determine on a life in politics they all lapse into the same smarmy voice, and they all hold the same opinions, on everything from the joys of gay marriage and the vibrant contributions of Islam to the vital necessity of wind farms and the historical inevitability of the EU. And they sound even more alike on the stuff they stay silent on — ruinous welfare, transformative immigration, a once-great nation’s shrunken armed forces . . .
Occasionally, the realities of electoral politics oblige the village’s denizens to dissemble to the barbarians beyond, as in David Cameron’s current pledge of a referendum on EU membership sometime after his reelection, which is intended to staunch defections to UKIP by seizing the nuanced ground of pretending that he’s not entirely opposed to adopting the position of conceding the prospect of admitting the possibility of potentially considering the theoretical option of exploring the hypothetical scenario of discussing in a roundabout way Britain’s leaving the EU. He doesn’t mean it, of course, but he has to toss a bone out there from time to time. Lord Feldman, the Tories’ co-chairman and Cameron’s tennis partner, rather gave the game away when he was overheard dismissing the massed ranks of his party as “mad, swivel-eyed loons.” Weary of being insulted by Cameron and his Oxford chums, Conservative voters began phoning the local UKIP office for membership applications. In nothing flat, “swivel-eyed loons” became a badge of honor, and the prime minister was giving speeches to the effect that, underneath the insincere unprincipled elitist veneer, he was a swivel-eyed loon himself.
Read the whole thing — it’s a marvelous piece of writing. The video above is of Farage sticking it to Herman van Rompuy.