Sunday, 3 January 2016

UKIP: May Contain Loose Nuts.

The forthcoming referendum, which is very likely to be held in late 2017, will have to be a vote by the people against the establishment if we are to leave. That the media attempt to couch a referendum within the context of party politics misses the point entirely; politicians will have the same vote as the rest of us in a poll that is not about electing a political party.

It's for this reason this blog has largely ignored UKIP since May 2015; if the leavers are to win the referendum then party political baggage has to be left at the door regardless of the party allegiances.

However Farage has made it clear that he wishes to take a prominent role in the referendum so his UKIP party protestations are going to have an effect on the outcome. This is especially so when the BBC will undoubtedly use him for interviews, thus adopting the same tactic as it did in the 1975 referendum when only clearly diversive leavers were interviewed, such as Tony Benn and Enoch Powell. This tactic allows the BBC to claim they've upheld impartiality while discreetly undermining the anti-EU position.

So it becomes essential that the leave movement doesn't come across as diversive or lay itself open as an object of ridicule. Thus it is with some depression that we see this morning that Farage claims that he was subjected to an assassination attempt:
Nigel Farage fears he has been the victim of an assassination attempt after his car was sabotaged, causing a terrifying motorway crash.

The Ukip leader careered off a French road after a wheel on his Volvo came loose while he was driving from Brussels back to his home in Kent.

When the police arrived at the scene, they told him that the nuts on all of the wheels had been deliberately unscrewed...
The story was the prominent story on the Daily Mail website first thing this morning, but it gives an indication how little they take the claims seriously that the story dropped much further down the website by mid-morning.

The story also appears to have been given little credence by other media outlets as well - the BBC news has led with flooding stories throughout its television output. It would be tempting to regard this as anti-UKIP bias but a party leader of the country's "fourth party" facing a genuine assassination attempt would have led the media agenda. But it has not.

More likely the story hasn't been taken seriously because Farage's claims have a number of significant questions hanging over it. Why, for example, has Farage:
  • ...decided to take no further action, despite "the mechanics were absolutely certain of [foul play]". This after Farage has received "death threats"
  •  ...only published the story now, not at the time in October 2015?
That Farage believes loose wheel nuts is an assassination attempt is revealing regarding his priorities and overlooks other possible causes. Loose wheel nuts on a car would tend to lead to a "knocking" noise before it becomes a danger, so there would be significant vibrations which would become more acute and apparent under braking. A visit to a local garage would be normal under these circumstances surely? For reassurance if nothing else.

There are a number of reasons wheel nuts could potentially fail. For example a car can go in for a service and the wheel nuts haven't been tightened properly - garages can be hit and miss in quality of customer service. Even among professionals at the pinnacle of elite sport can prove that they can cock up when it comes to loose wheel nuts.

Another explanation perhaps unlikely, though not impossible, is the potential that persons were attempting to steal the alloy wheels early on but were disturbed during the process leaving the wheel nuts loose.

However more interesting is to note that in 2010 Volvo issued a recall regarding wheel nuts which applied to Farage's Volvo V70 (click to enlarge):
"It has been identified that the standard wheel securing bolts may not have undergone the correct hardening process. This will result in corrosion, a noise and/or vibration. If this condition is not rectified, there is a possibility that the wheel may become loose and detach".
It's interesting that Farage's claim has emerged on the first Sunday of new year - a day of the week traditionally associated with political stories - rather than October last year when it apparently happened. Cynically the timing might not be unexpected, particularly with a party which is clearly fundamentally split and an attempt to shore up his position by trying to define the new year narrative.

Further questions emerge that if Farage has had indeed death threats in the past, as he claims, then why was he driving himself?

Facing death threats mean surely hiring a chauffeur would be a logical option. Not only does it provide a witness but hiring a chauffeur has other benefits. It allows politicians to work during long road trips, it absolves politicians of responsibility during an accident especially if it's politically sensitive and anti-terrorist driver training is virtually compulsory for chauffeurs to top political and business figures in Europe. Surely a priority if facing death threats.

Predictably, in light of Farage's comments, UKIP supporters are making hay on social media with claims reinforcing an invidious belief that the EU is "evil" trying to kill eurosceptics rather than dealing with the issue that the UK's membership is entirely voluntary by Parliament. Our problem lies at home.

Even on a very basic level the EU won't try to kill Farage for the same reason the IRA didn't try to kill Ian Paisley. The IRA were canny enough to appreciate that Paisley was the ultimate recruitment sergeant for their movement. The same applies to Farage.

Thus comments in today's article have simply left the leave campaign open to ridicule, inevitably picked up by social media as mere hyperbole. But Farage's hyperbole is nothing new as we saw with his comments on immigration regarding M4 traffic.

It's clear we either support Farage or we support Brexit - the two are mutually exclusive.

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