Snobbery is the confusion of social status with human worth. It is commonly encountered as superiority over lower social classes, or background, or educational level. Psychologists say it is a defence mechanism to mask feelings of inferiority or may be learnt behaviour from snobbish parents. But however it arises it is a vice, one that no-one should pander to and one we should all be vigilant against in ourselves. We laugh at its comic form as in the TV character Hyacinth Bucket but there is a pernicious and unfunny form that amounts to disdain, contempt even, for those judged less worthy.
Nigel Farage is a snob. This became plain when he wrote an article for Breitbart that was published on 1st August 2016 in which he said of the NEC that “many of its current crop are among the lowest grade of people I have ever met” and “come to London with sandwiches in their rucksacks”. The reference to bringing their own sandwiches is dripping with snobbery from a public schoolboy who did not go to university and who, I suspect, no matter how much he boasts of having been a city trader (courtesy of who you know connections not an objective, meritocratic admission test), has a chip on his shoulder about that. That those coming to London do so on their own dime and time is not mentioned. As to rucksacks they are fairly ubiquitous these days for leaving hands usefully free. Nigel may dine at his club in London but that is no justification for looking down on those who do not spend a four figure sum each year to be among other snobs.
The group at the top of the party do appear to be disdainful of ordinary members at times. But I think that in some instances it is less snobbery that affects them than group think. This is something that affects others of course. The leadership probably think their own psychology is different from ordinary people and so unwittingly fall prey to in-group versus out-group thinking. Since the senior membership are Farage appointees from his era they are still a snob’s choice with all that implies. Group think is bad enough but mixed with snobbery it is toxic.
Not a few commenters and authors on UKIP Daily accuse the party’s management as though they were fully self-conscious of what they were doing. But often they are simply acting like snobs or suffering from group think completely unaware of just how ordinary in that they are. They conspicuously lack humility, the only appropriate response should they ever become self-aware, and certainly the appropriate response to a series of lamentable political judgements this year. Ever met a humble snob? There is no such thing which is why we never see humble or apologetic senior management.
Nigel could justifiably stand down last year. He had the excuse of exhaustion and the mind concentrating and changing effect of what were judged to be credible threats against his children. But none of that excuses his destructive and snobbish remarks that created the braying mob that then mindlessly believed the NEC were not fit for purpose and contributed to UKIP’s woes for 12 long months.
Nigel called the people in the NEC “vain” – in contrast to his self-effacing modesty of course – and went on to say that political decisions should be made “by direct polling of its members”. Curious then that he voted for Henry Bolton (as he explained in his article last Saturday in the Telegraph) and not John Rees-Evans. Nigel went on to say “Do you trust the political class or the people? UKIP must trust its members”.
Fine words but Nigel does not trust members. In his Telegraph article he wrote “Be in no doubt that if the anti-Islam candidate Anne Marie Waters had won the party leadership, there would have been a mass walk-out of which I would have been a part.” It would seem that in August 2016, when he was saying UKIP must trust its members, it was manipulative flattery to encourage his followers to exact his revenge on the NEC for their independence of mind i.e. daring to question his judgement.
Of Anne Marie Waters he wrote “Intolerance of the sort she peddles has no place in UKIP”. But the intolerance he peddles does have a place – surprise, surprise. He is unware of how alike the two of them are. Both are fanatics within Winston Churchill’s definition of a fanatic: people who will not change their mind and won’t change the subject. Nearly four out of five voters rejected Anne Marie not because they do not see the problem with Islam but because they felt she is a person who will never change the subject. Nigel also cannot change the subject – previously opposition to the EU but lately just himself – and would be a poor leader for a party with a full spectrum of policies. One of them is a snob and the other probably a reverse snob. They complement and help define each other.
Fixation on one subject is a problem because there is a necessary hierarchy to achieving the party’s aims. Number one is still getting out of the EU for while in the EU we have no hope at all with 2) removing the left from our institutions (especially the Home Office and Dept of Education) without which we have no hope of 3) undoing the lie of multiculturalism, the lie being the moral equivalence of all cultures, their equal status, which is behind allowing parallel cultures to proliferate to the point that the UK too is acquiring no-go zones where the Queen’s writ does not run. Anne Marie wants to tackle 1), 2) and 3) in reverse order. Her previous attempt at that – Pegida UK of which she was part of its management team – failed dismally.
I hope Henry Bolton instructs Nigel to speak or write on the EU only and to make no further comment on members, Anne Marie, or “management structures” (that he put in place). He should enlist Nigel for the Out Now campaign but otherwise restrict him. As a high-profile figure Nigel has a responsibility to promote the party not denigrate it. But if Henry does not do this he will be sucked into the snobbery and group think. He will become the establishment man he is already suspected of being.