Farage versus Clegg: the most effective phoney takes it

In the 2010 election debates, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg came across “as fresh, engaging and dynamic”, writes the Daily Mail. But his debates with Ukip leader Nigel Farage, the second of which took place last week, “have been an utter humiliation” for the deputy prime minister.

“From immigration to Europe to out-of-touch politicians, Mr Farage trounced his opponent”. The Ukip leader is “addressing many of the issues ordinary people care about in a language they like and understand”. If David Cameron wants to “reconnect with voters”, he “must do the same”.

Yet, while Clegg and Farage are “poles apart”, notes The Daily Telegraph’s James Kirkup, the debates “have brought them closer together – at least in terms of style and presentation”.

Clegg “attempted some Farage-style passion and some demotic language”. And Farage’s attempts to backtrack from comments praising Putin and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad undermine his claim to be “the honest antidote to an epidemic of political spin”.

But the reality remains that “a politician whose greatest selling point is that he is outside the political system is becoming part of it”.

“An ex-stockbroker with a penchant for wearing fur-collared coats is hardly the most obvious leader of a people’s army against the establishment” in any case, says Will Hutton in The Guardian. But even if Farage is a “phoney”, he is clearly “an effective phoney”.

The Ukip leader scored a “bullseye” when he attacked “elites, establishments and lack of
democracy”. The only solution is for our political culture to be transformed.

“There needs to be accountability mechanisms and checks and balances – from the institutions of the EU to the boards of our great companies”. In short, “the establishment has to be turned inside out.”

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