sábado, 11 de março de 2017
Ukip’s former leader Nigel Farage is ‘knighted’ by a child dressed as the Queen on Sam Delaney’s News Thing programme on RT. Shortly afterwards, the young girl surprises Farage by telling him: ‘my mummy says you hate foreigners’, to which the host, Delaney, quickly ends the show as laughter is heard in the studio
With Farage, Assange and Trump, who needs political satire?
What synchronicity: a WikiLeaks dump, helpful to Trump, in the same week as a meeting at Ecuador’s embassy in London
Friday 10 March 2017 19.19 GMT
Asked what he’d been doing in London’s Ecuadorian embassy on Thursday, Nigel Farage gave a chilling answer: he couldn’t remember. God, poor Nigel. I’m sure that he’s not the first person to find themselves in a room with Julian Assange with no memory of how they got there. Clearly, the imperative at that point is to get your stuff together and find the door to daylight as quickly as possible.
For some observers, of course, the mere thought of Farage and Assange even sharing a postcode in any capacity is sufficient to render the locale a Chernobyl-style exclusion zone. To adapt Obi-Wan Kenobi on the destruction of Alderaan: I felt a great disturbance in Knightsbridge. It was as if millions of oligarchs and Saudis and the Candy brothers cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced. Still, one gets on with one’s day as best as one can.
Given Farage’s recent obsession with sexual assaults in Sweden, there has been some waspish speculation that he wished to speak to an alleged perpetrator thereof. If not, the meeting serves as a reminder that Farage doesn’t actually give a thousandth as much of a toss about women being sexually assaulted as he says.
If it wasn’t that, perhaps Farage and Assange discussed their mutually French-sounding surnames, which – obviously through no fault of their own – always feel slightly fancy, in that way that Americans say “Arndrea” and “Arna”. (In an amusing instance of affectation-upmanship, Assange claims his derives from an ancestor who was a Taiwanese pirate.) Or perhaps Nigel is acting as a conduit for communications between Julian and his would-be love interest and occasional embassy visitor Pamela Anderson, like the kid in The Go-Between who never has quite the right togs for the elevated milieu in which he suddenly finds himself.
Certainly, Farage is essaying insouciance poorly. “I never discuss where I go or who I see,” said Nigel, who only the other day tweeted a photo captioned “Dinner with the Donald”. You do read those stories of cults controlling their victims by telling them they have to repeat a certain mantra thousands of times a day. Perhaps that accounts for Nigel’s mentions of Trump, which are fast approaching blink-frequency.
And so to the US president, to whose assistance a WikiLeaks dump has once again sprung this week. In a curious case of synchronicity, Julian seems to provide whenever Trump needs him most, like the president’s personal vigilante (or vigilauntie, in the refined pronunciation). A floundering Sean Spicer is like the twatsignal to him. Thus any number of Trump intelligence controversies were this week obscured by WikiLeaks dropping the biggest ever leak of confidential documents on CIA hacking.
Alas, even this wasn’t enough to prevent Spicer from being flustered at being asked if Farage was at the Ecuadorian embassy on Trump business. Spicer doesn’t focus on matters “across the pond”, he gibbered, and can’t be expected to keep up with the movements of “random foreign leaders”. As non-denials go, it was fairly perforated.
Farage, meanwhile, used the interest generated by his visit to tell a TV interviewer that the one thing he and Trump have in common is that “we’re probably the two most vilified people in the west”. God, yes – it’s like Lindsay Lohan might say about Beyoncé: we’ve both taken so much stick.
Either way, you’ll note Farage does increasingly seek to present himself as an international man of mystery, whose birthday present from Brexit financier Arron Banks will probably be a silver cigarette case engraved with the legend “Trouble O Seven”. As Nigel once sighed wistfully of his sugar daddy Banks: “It’s refreshing to meet someone who knows how to enjoy life, as he certainly does in spades.”
As for Nigel’s personal Zarathustrian journey, he is certainly trying to live as his fantasy version of himself. “I want my life back,” was his perma-refrain on his most recent farewell tour from the Ukip leadership. But for all the tinny bravado, Farage seems to be held back – and, rather poignantly, only by himself. Consider Brexit, an outcome for which he fought for 25 years of his life, often in a highly isolated position with the establishment telling him it was hopeless. Yet Farage now feels so unworthy of his success that he speaks of the victory almost exclusively as a precursor to Trump, at whose feet he has worshipfully laid it. Or consider his personal life. After years fielding awkward questions about his marriage, he is now separated and now has some younger French woman living in his London house (a former waitress who he fashioned – the manner of a Eurosceptic Henry Higgins – into the head of a Brussels thinktank). Yet despite claiming to be “retired”, Farage seems to spend as much time as possible away from this house, instead of … well. The lexicography of the “alt-right” interests me about as much as the lexicography of Paul Merson. But if I stooped to knowing what a “beta cuck” was, I rather worry that I’d think Farage was one.
Perhaps the Ecuador embassy visit has something to do with last week’s diplomatic news – namely, that Banks and co have taken a five-year lease on a house in Washington DC, which they are calling the “alternative British embassy”. This is to be used as a US base for Nigel to anxiously await Trump’s summons.
It might seem anachronistic in the age of mobile phones, but the entire arrangement reminds me of that character in Woody Allen’s Play It Again, Sam – who is so panicked about missing the big phone call that he leaves needy details of his every movement: “Let me tell you where you can reach me, George. I’ll be at 362-9296 for a while; then I’ll be at 648-0024 for about 15 minutes; then I’ll be at 752-0420; and then I’ll be home, at 621-4598. Yeah, right George, bye-bye.” Another character remarks tartly: “There’s a phone booth on the corner. You want me to run downstairs and get the number? You’ll be passing it.” I am picturing Banks suggesting dinner in Georgetown, only for Nigel to say: “Better not … just in case Donald … [trails off weakly]”
Thinking of this house, I suppose it’s possible that Farage and Assange were discussing some kind of Trump-sanctioned Embassybnb arrangement, whereby Assange can get away for a bit of house arrest in another city – in this case, the “alternative British embassy” in Washington.
So: we have a three-bedroom house with four principals (Farage, Assange, Banks and his comms guy Andy Wigmore), and a supporting cast that includes Pamela Anderson and half the West Wing. As various TV satirists keep wondering rather ruefully: whither comic fiction in the malarially real age of Trump?