The Northern Echo has today an interview with one of my least-favourite persons, the egregious Nigel Farage - celebrating his recent visit to Newcastle upon Tyne in an article entitled: "Setting targets".
Generally speaking, I actually tend to write less about Farage than I should – in deference to the many active UKIP members, who have their hearts in the right place, and who deserve better than the lacklustre Party leadership with which they are saddled. My basic premise here is that if you have nothing good to say, then say nothing at all.
However, I should not resist commenting on Farage's plans (or lack of them) for the 2015 General Election, as revealed in the article. Says Farage to Northern Echo reporter Mark Tellentire, "The pace of change over the past two years has been so great, it is difficult for me to see exactly where we are going to be in 2015".
So far, that is fair enough but, if Farage has been qoted correctly, he then goes on to say: "But if the Conservative and Labour leaderships decide they will ignore Ukip's messages, then goodness knows what we can do".
In commenting on this, one could easy become prey to accusation of taking it out of context, but the thrust of his what he says fits with the way Farage thinks and thus the way UKIP behaves. The point, thus, is that any proper political party would be addressing its "messages" to the voting public, for it is they whom they need if they are to get a sniff of power and the insides of ministerial limousines.
But young Mr Farage speaks of Ukip's messages not to the people but, "to the Conservative and Labour leaderships". There, we get a brief glimpse into the very soul of UKIP – it is not a political party. It started off its life as a pressure group, and that – under the leadership of Farage – is what it remains today.
Sadly though, the Conservative and Labour leadership will decide to ignore Ukip's messages, and thence we get the highly revealing glimpse into Farage's soul: when they do, as they have always done, he doesn't know what to do.
Ten years ago when, every month, I used to sit across a desk from him, in our office in Strasbourg, he didn't know what to do - other than stand for any and every passing election. Now despite his publicity describing him as "Britain's most charismatic, plain-speaking politician", he still doesn't know what to do.
Coming to Newcastle, therefore, was not the right thing for Farage to do. He is not the first politician to have done so and foundered. But at least his predecessors had some ideas. He has none of any worth.
The only way he survives, of course, is because his political rivals are equally bereft. But the people of Newcastle – if they hold true to their political traditions – will be unimpressed. In olden days, he would have gone away empty-handed. That may still happen. The Northeast remains the only English region without a Ukip MEP.