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April 12, 2014 / politicsbitesize

You can’t keep a (good) man down

Nigel-Faragev2If you didn’t see last night’s episode of Have I Got News for You it is worth a watch (Fri 11th April 2014). On Paul Merton’s team was Nigel Farage, whose appearance on the show won’t have done his popularity any harm. As he no doubt expected he was the butt of many jokes, but he laughed along and Tweeted before the programme aired that it was, ‘lots of fun as always’.

His sense of humour was tested early on as the panel played a jovial game of ‘fruitcake or loony’, wherein a few members and supporters of his party were shown and given one of the labels. He joined in with the game when he buzzed in to suggest that the treasurer of his party, Stuart Wheeler, was neither, but that he would ‘have to go for fruitcake’.

The ridiculing of UKIP was highlighted by Farage when the Odd One Out Round compared gay marriage, sheep, Alan Titchmarsh and Noah. He openly stated that as his party was the butt of all the jokes this evening, the connection was the comment made by David Silvester, ex-UKIP councillor in Henley-on-Thames, about gay marriage and the floods.  Despite his light-hearted response to the game, Farage went on to say, ‘I am not saying that I agree with him but…’ wherein he stalled slightly, which raised a bout of uncomfortable laughter from the studio audience.

According to the Independent, the programme got a mixed reception on Twitter and some viewers were angry that he appeared at all But in a truly democratic society everyone has the right to be heard. As Evelyn Beatrice Hall attributed to Voltaire, we may ‘disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it’.

Thanks to his ability to laugh at himself, as demonstrated by his appearance on the BBC comedy programme, Nigel Farage comes across as a reasonable and ordinary man. This will only serve to bolster his charismatic and personable demeanour and raise the profile of his party. In fact, YouGov statistics today show that in the polls UKIP are on 14%, with the Conservatives on 32%, Labour on 38%, and the LibDems only managing 8%. But just below the surface of the satirical jokes in the show is the more serious point that a large number of UKIP members and supporters hold beliefs that can be considered racist and homophobic. Nigel Farage was careful not to fully endorse some of these views, but…

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