Belfast Telegraph

Lindy McDowell: I’m a Remainer but, whisper it, I can’t help liking Nigel Farage

Renegade: Nigel Farage
Renegade: Nigel Farage
The George Best statue
A restaurant from Jamie Oliver's chain Jamie’s Italian

By Lindy McDowell

I have a confession to make. One which, I know, that will alarm and offend and probably even disgust many of my fellow Remainers. Like them I think leaving the EU is very much a bad idea. It is a bad idea for the UK as a whole and will (in my opinion anyway) be even more damaging still for Northern Ireland.

Whatever the faults of the EU - and I admit there are major faults - I think we'd be better off trying to resolve them from within.

I feel sorry for oul' Theresa who I think was always on a hiding to nothing. And I really don't like Boris or Jacob or any other of those self-serving Brexiteers slavering like vultures over the keys to Number 10. I can't stand Jezza either. Or his wannabe replacement Tom Watson.

But here's the thing.

Despite the fact that I don't like his message, his politics or the company he keeps, I do... here it comes, brace yourself... I do sort of like Nigel Farage.

Yes, I know this is the one thing which media commentators today must never, ever admit to.

And okay, maybe "like" is going a bit too far.

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But, put it like this - I do see what people see in him. Farage for all his many faults appeals to exactly the sort of people all those named above claim to care about deeply and to represent.

Except that they don't.

Farage appeals to the sceptical, mostly northern working-class who are alternatively ignored by their political patronisers down south, or are collectively dismissed as elderly, white, male bigots. Racists. Thickos. Oiks.

This is what political discourse now comes down to. We don't listen anymore to others who don't share our view - we don't try to understand them. We just call them names and assign to them the basest of motives.

The 17.5 million people who voted for Brexit are thus condemned as one homogeneous mass of swivel-eyed racism. What Hillary dubbed the Deplorables.

Never in my lifetime, I think, has such a large popular vote been so dismissed with so very little rational debate or analysis as to why all those people would have voted 'out'.

No wonder then, they've turned to Farage.

It's rightly been pointed out that part of his success has been down to the fact that almost alone among political parties out there, his is a simple, single-issue message. Brexit. End of.

But also working in his favour surely, is that he's less of a poseur than so many people in politics these days.

He doesn't artfully mess up the hair and play the toff-buffoon like Boris. Or just play the throwback-toff like Rees-Mogg. He isn't po-faced and pompous like the entire Labour front bench.

He even occasionally looks like he's enjoying himself.

He has that distinct face that is part Simpson's cartoon endlessly broken into that cheery (although sometimes, admittedly, manic) grin.

He's not adverse to a pint down the pub. He clowns around a bit. He seems to have a sense of humour.

Above all he doesn't squirm at the sight of his working-class followers the way so many on the Left do.

He bounces back from attack by milkshake and Marr, the grin undiminished.

As one commentator says there is indeed about him, "something odd around the edges".

Farage is a renegade. But he still has enough of "man of the people" about him to attract the voters.

He has no real policies other than Out. He is very unlikely ever to be PM. He is a political conundrum.

On the one hand he garners a massive working-class following. On the other he is very definitely Man Most Hated by a whole swathe of what is commonly regarded as the political elite - by lefties, by Tory HQ and by the majority of the commentariat.

It occurs to me these things might not be unrelated.

Celeb chef Jamie put too many eggs in one basket

If Jamie Oliver was a foodstuff, he'd be a hamburger. You can find him just about anywhere in the world.

If you were in Outer Mongolia right now I'm pretty certain if you turned on the TV he'd be there, with subtitles in Mongolian, explaining how with four simple ingredients you can knock up a nutritious pasta dish that, you know, takes it to another level and is, oh my days, just joyous.

There would be Jamie looking ecstatic as he slurps a bit of sauce from a spoon. Which, I suppose, is how you and I would look too if we could also hear the distant kerching of a few more grand being deposited in the bank account.

This week, though, it all went avocado pear-shaped for Mr Oliver.

His restaurant chain went down the kitchen sink to the tune of millions. Over 1,000 people lost their jobs. Unlike Jamie they don't have the book deals and TV profits, the very large mansion and the outsize ego to fall back upon. That said, I do feel some sympathy for the man.

He built up the Oliver empire himself with little more than a talent for talking up his own cookery and showing how it's done.

For a time he lost the run of himself I think, hobnobbing in Number 10, preaching to the rest of us.

But he did rid the world of Turkey Twizzlers. Even if he obviously overstretched on the restaurant chain operation.

Chefs especially, you think, would remember that old lesson about not putting too many eggs in one basket.

I’ve already got a hubby to drive me mad

I like the story about the scientists at Queen's University who are working on a car that responds to your emotions. Even if this also worries me. The technology will respond to stress and even offer to switch to self-drive mode. "I'll drive, you're too uptight." You wouldn't take it from a passenger so why would you take it from your Corsa? As for nagging me to put on the indicator... change gear... watch where you're reversing you idiot!! I've already got a husband for all that.

Let’s be honest, the statue of Best is worst

About the kindest thing you can say about the George Best statue is that it isn't a great likeness. Some reports say fans are "divided over it". I have yet to hear from anyone who thinks it's a grand job. I've even had an email from a friend in America who has used bad words to describe it. It's been compared to the Ronaldo statue and the Mo Farah effort which are both equally awful. To paraphrase an old saying you could sum up all three bronze tributes as - Ronaldo woeful, Mo worse, George worst.

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