Nigel Farage is interviewed in Kelham Hall, home to Newark and Sherwood District Council. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Farage to stand for selection in South Thanet

Ukip leader plans to run in Tory-held constituency where his party currently polls first. 

Nigel Farage has long made it clear that he intends to stand for parliament next year, while so far refusing to say where. But the FT has the news that the Ukip leader is on the candidate selection list for Tory-held South Thanet. Ahead of a hustings meeting on 26 August, the local party secretary tells the paper: "It is the worst-kept secret in town. We now have two names on the list and one of them is Mr Farage. Whether he will get selected or not is another matter . . . although I’d be surprised if he doesn’t."

Farage's choice doesn't come as a surprise. The constituency lies in his native Kent (where he has previously pledged to stand), and a recent Lord Ashcroft poll put Ukip in first place. In the May local elections, the party won seven out of eight seats on the county council, leaving the Tories without a single representative. 

The current MP is the pro-European Laura Sandys (elected in 2010 with a majority of 7,617), who recently announced her decision to stand down at the general election last November. In her place the Tories have selected Craig Mackinlay, a former Ukip leader and deputy leader. 

Farage finished fourth when he stood in the seat in 2005, and only managed third place when he ran in John Bercow's Buckingham constituency in 2010, but he has good reason to believe he can improve on both of those performances this time round. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Grandpa was ill and wasn’t keen on climbing the volcano – but we forced him up all the same

I squinted. Apart from a gleam of turquoise, the view was of one big cloud. Slowly the words started to form in my head. Just. Like. Scotland.

At first, Grandpa was sceptical about the volcano. “I used to be into that kind of thing,” he said, “but not now.” He did not mention that he was 88.

The guidebook to Indonesia – which he disdained – described how, once you got to the crater, the mist would rise to reveal a shimmering lake. His fellow travellers, my sister and I, often joked about our family’s tendency to declare everything to be “just like Scotland”. This was a living, breathing volcano. It would be nothing like Scotland.

But as Grandpa reminisced about his childhood in the Dutch East Indies, he began to warm to the idea. We set off at 7am and drove past villages with muddled terracotta roofs and rice paddies spread across the valleys like glimmering tables. We talked excitedly about our adventure. Then it began to rain. “Perhaps it will blow over,” I said to my sister, as the view from the windows turned into smears.

Our driver stopped at a car park. With remarkable efficiency, he opened the doors for us and drove away. The rain was like gunfire.

To get to the crater, we had to climb into an open-sided minibus where we sat shivering in our wet summer clothes. Grandpa coughed. It was a nasty cough, which seemed to be getting worse; we had been trying to persuade him to go to a pharmacy for days. Instead, we had persuaded him up a cold and wet mountain.

Five minutes passed, and the minibus didn’t budge. Then another bedraggled family squeezed in. I thought of all the would-be volcano tourists curled up in their hotels.

“Look,” I said to the attendant. “My grandfather is not well. Can we please start?”

He shook his head. “Not till all seats are full.” We exchanged a glance with the other family and paid for the empty seats. The driver set off immediately.

The minibus charged up a road through the jungle, bouncing from puddle to puddle. Grandpa pulled out his iPhone and took a selfie.

The summit was even colder, wetter, rainier and more unpleasant. We paid a small fortune to borrow an umbrella and splashed towards the lake. My sister stopped by a fence.

“Where is it?” I said.

“I think . . . this is it,” she replied.

I squinted. Apart from a gleam of turquoise, the view was of one big cloud. Slowly the words started to form in my head. Just. Like. Scotland.

I thought remorsefully of the guidebook, how I’d put my sightseeing greed before my grandfather’s health. Then I noticed the sign: “Danger! Do not approach the sulphur if you have breathing problems.”

Grandpa, still coughing, was holding the umbrella. He beckoned me to join him. I didn’t know it then, but when we made it back to the car, he would be the first to warm up and spend the journey back telling us stories of surviving the war.

But at that moment, in the dreich rain, he gave me some advice I won’t forget.

“If anyone tells you to go and see a volcano,” he said, “you can tell them to fuck off.” 

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

This article first appeared in the 23 March 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Trump's permanent revolution