To date there has only been a deafening silence from his press team to the questions I have asked, writes Donnachadh McCarthy
After a year of attacks on the government’s climate plans by the UK’s right-wing press, Nigel Farage has decided to play the role of their political mouthpiece again with a campaign weirdly called “Vote Power, Not Poverty”.
Launched with a blitz in the Daily Mail, and echoed across right-wing media, his first public event was to be a rally in Bolton. But when the Bolton Wanderers venue understood its purpose, they exercised their free-market rights and declined the event. A second venue subsequently cancelled too.
Farage is already whining his climate-destruction debate is a victim of cancel-culture. “Join us in protecting our right to discuss and debate,” he says to his followers.
But when I asked him some basic questions about his campaign, his team did not answer. I asked:
1. What question does Nigel Farage wish to put to a referendum? It does not have to be the exact wording, but I would be grateful for clarification on exactly what the campaign wants answered in the referendum?
2. How would investing billions in exploiting shale gas in the UK bring down consumer bills, when gas produced in the UK is sold at global market prices? Do you support the nationalisation of shale gas, a ban on its export and a state-imposed pricing policy, to stop it being sold at market prices?
3. Current costs for new UK wind and solar are at about £60 MWh and as they are the market’s cheapest, they are helping keep consumer costs down, as gas prices soar to over £200 MWh. How would the referendum impact this?
4. If Farage and other UKIP MEPs had succeeded in blocking EU energy efficiency (net zero) regulations, UK consumers would be currently paying far more for running their lighting, heating, washing machines, cars and electronics. So how can Farage claim he is in favour of reducing bills for UK consumers by a vague all-embracing attack on “net zero”?
5. Does Farage still support removal of the above inherited and adopted EU net-zero energy efficiency regulations for heating, cars and electrical goods by the UK government?
To date there has only been a deafening silence from his press team.
Moreover, their website is fairly sparse. The only real concrete proposal is to advocate for the UK to reverse the government’s ban on fracking for fossil-fuel gas, following the earthquakes caused by previous drilling.
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I have only encountered Farage in person twice. I debated him years ago on Radio5 Live, when he was objecting to EU net-zero lighting efficiency regulations, without which most UK homeowners would be paying up to ten times more for lighting and emitting far more CO2. And recently I debated with him on GB News where he was opposing measures to make cycling safer.
It is crucial we do not assume that Farage is independently a massive political force in UK politics. His power rests solely on coverage from the Brexit-backing, climate-protection-hating, right-wing media barons. Without them he would be nothing.
Having defended or praised (in 2014) Putin for years prior to his Ukrainian invasion, it seems to me that Farage’s latest populist foray seeks to enable the fossil fuel corporations to further trash Britain and the wider world.
We must not now allow them to cause even more grave damage by destroying climate protections. Our collective existence literally depends on it.