The British populist politician has reb-randed his party and will now devote his energy to addressing Co-vid-19, by backing the controversial Great Barr-ington Declaration advocating herd immunity.
Just like Batman, in a crisis, Britain summons Nigel Farage. Dubbed by his ally Donald Trump “The King of Europe,” he has a new mission. He is rebranding the Brexit Party to “Reform UK.” And like it’s previous iteration, they are a one-trick pony. Nigel is getting into the murky and well-funded Covid-19 trenches. It’s driven by Boris Johnson’s new lockdown, scheduled to run until at least December 2, forcing pubs, restaurants, gyms, non-essential shops and places of worship to close. Furlough will be renewed to give people a partial income. The same measures were put in place back in March. Not only have Boris and his ministers had seven months to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, they’ve also spent £12 billion on a track and trace system. Consultants employed by the government are earning £7,000 per day and the Department of Health and Social Care stated: “Every pound spent is contributing towards our efforts to keep people safe.” Clearly, it’s failed. Hospital admissions have begun to double and the number of deaths in England show a similar pattern. The graphs have an upward trend, that is only getting steeper. Enter: Nigel, stage right.
Farage said: “We must learn to live with the virus not hide in fear of it. Lockdowns don’t work: in fact, they cause more harm than good.” Critics have already predictably piled in, accusing Farage of being a “shameless opportunist”. He is, of course, loved and hated in equal measures. In certain communities, he’s royalty. In others, he needs police protection and was once famously doused in a milkshake by a truculent remainer. He has millions of followers on social media and has authored three books. His opinions feature heavily in the British media, and even in American circles now. He drove UKIP to win more than 12.6 percent of the votes in the 2015 general election. But he’s never been elected to the House of Commons; his political career is limited to being a former member of the European Parliament. Yet still, from that position he managed to completely change the face of British politics. He manufactured Brexit. He forced David Cameron to hold a referendum. He pressured Theresa May out of office. He pushed Boris Johnson into taking a tough line in EU negotiations. All of the last three PMs have eventually been forced to dance to his tune, despite regularly dismissing him as a loudmouth irrelevance. Farage has charisma, he speaks with passion and conviction. He makes issues clear and concise and, oddly for a politician, doesn’t seem to be trying to win votes, instead to win minds. People respond to that and there are many “closet” Farage fans, who wouldn’t admit so openly.
Many have also lost faith in the government, Covid-19 has tested public faith to the max and a large proportion have found the response unsatisfactory. There are different rules for different areas of the country, no one is clear on where to get a test, lots are unsure if they can go on holiday. Are care homes safe? What about universities? No answer from the authorities is definitive. The Health Secretary says one thing, the Chief Medical Officer frames it another way. Boris disagrees with them both. Insider information leaks out that contradicts the PM, who then gets an adviser to overrule the leak. On and on it goes. But Farage burns through all of that. He joins the dots and makes it linear.
That’s why he’ll no doubt have millions behind him with his new venture, as he offers them a clear and simple vision. The key point, though, is there is a difference between saying and doing. Farage doesn’t have the burden of operating the system and trying to prevent the death toll rising any higher. He is promoting “herd immunity” as advocated by the controversial “Great Barrington Declar-ation.” This would mean the general population go about their business as normal while those who are vulnerable remain isolated. The declaration has been signed by more than 15,000 scientists but has been largely dismissed by governments and the WHO. Many have pointed out that Farage originally ridiculed the idea back in March on Twitter, but the science and the situation has moved on a great deal since then. So it could be he feels it’s time to do something else, or more likely he’s leveraging the situation to his advantage.
Boris is in a lose-lose. His new lockdown might work, but he’ll never remove the scars of incompetence from how his government has handled this entire affair. And if the lockdown doesn’t work, Farage will be there, saying “I told you so.” Farage is keeping it simple on the surface – he’s anti-lockdown and fighting the establishment on behalf of the proud citizens of Britain. But underneath, he’s calculating how to manipulate the government.