This month's GQ Magazine is now on sale, featuring a lengthy profile of Nigel Farage, written by yours truly. They don't put articles on their website, so you will have to buy the magazine. But here's a short taster in which Nigel F recounts his experience of getting cancer at the age of 22 and he promises to resign the UKIP leadership if the party gets fewer than 10 MEPs on June 4th...
At the age of 21, things started to go wrong for Farage. He was seriously injured after being run over by a car and spent four months in hospital. But worse was to come. Less than six months later he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of testicular cancer. “It was an horrendous experience,” he recounts. “There was an overwhelming feeling of it being so unfair. I hadn’t done any of the things I had wanted to do.” After the operation he was told by doctors that the cancer had spread to his stomach and lungs, with the clear implication that there was no hope of recovery. Two days later he had a Cat Scan and was given the all clear. “Those two days were like torture,” he says, his voice riven with emotion. For the next six months he had to go to London Bridge hospital twice a week for blood tests to see if, as he puts it, he was “allowed to leave the building or not.” He describes it as “psychologically worse” than having chemotherapy. But he emerged from the experience with a determination to seize the day, rather than worry about the future. It explains a lot. He’s known as one of life’s bon viveurs and is quite open about his love for – and over indulgence in - good wine and good food. “No one who’s been through what I went through could ever say that it is out of their mind totally. I’m very much a fatalist. Life’s for the living. You’ve got to follow your heart and I won’t pretend that didn’t shape my decision to leave business and enter politics.” ....******
... Most political pundits think 2004 was a high watermark for UKIP and that they will be lucky to be left with enough MEPs to fill a telephone box in June. If that happens, Farage says he will walk the plank without having to be ordered to do so. “If we win fewer than ten seats, that’s a failure and I will resign,” he says with the refreshing candour which mainstream party politicians find so difficult to emulate. “Quite clearly, if we do badly, then I’ve tried my hardest, and that’s that. It will be time for someone else to do it.” By even talking that way in advance of the elections, a psychoanalyst might draw the conclusion that he’s had enough and may well quit anyway. There’s an air of resignation in his voice when he says, “I have tried to change the party, to modernize it, change the attitude and outlook,” but he knows also that the knives are out for him in his own party come what may. Even if they achieve a higher vote share and more MEPs than they currently have, there are plenty of people within UKIP who would gladly see the back of Farage.
...“If we do badly in June, and that means curtains for me. It won’t just be UKIP that has a problem. It will be the whole anti EU movement that has a problem.” He believes there is a clear and present danger that UKIP might then indeed be taken over by the authoritarian right, rendering less of a political party and more of a narrow political sect. “It could set us back by over a decade,” he warns. It’s hardly a war cry, but it demonstrates what’s at stake both for him personally and the Eurosceptic movement in general on June 4th.