Nigel Farage: I’d do a deal with Labour

In this week’s cover story, New Statesman editor Jason Cowley interviews Nigel Farage, the leader of Ukip, who reveals that he is prepared to do a deal with any party – even Labour.

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The New Statesman editor Jason Cowley interviews Nigel Farage in this week's issue. The full interview and quickfire Q+A will be available to read in the magazine, which is out on the newsstand this Friday.

In the interview, Farage reveals:

 

Ukip would do a deal with the Labour party

JC: Would you go into coalition with Labour?

NF: I’d do a deal with the Devil if he got me what I wanted.

JC: If Miliband said to you, “Look, Nigel, can I have your eight to ten MPs in the coalition and we give you an in-out referendum?” would that be enough?

NF: That would depend when the referendum was, and the terms.

JC: But you’re not ruling it out.

NF: Of course not.

 

The kind of coalition he would prefer for Ukip

JC: So there could be a Ukip-Labour-Lib Dem rainbow coalition.

NF: Sounds extremely unlikely.

JC: Or a Ukip-Labour coalition.

NF: Why coalition? There are other ways of doing things.

JC: Tell me how. Confidence and supply?

NF: Absolutely.

JC: Would that suit you better?

NF: To be honest, the way I look at it now, I can’t see Ukip wilfully going into formal coalition with anybody.

JC: But you support Labour on confidence and supply . . .

NF: Confidence motions and primary legislation of certain kinds, yes

JC: . . . you’d be comfortable supporting Labour?

NF: I’d be very comfortable supporting anybody that gave me an opportunity to get my country back.

 

Left and right is irrelevant

NF: There is no left and right any more. Left and right is irrelevant, it’s irrelevant . . .  We need big change. We’ve got to get back control of our country. We’re in deep denial about how we’ve given away control of almost everything, and when you get back control of your country you get proper democracy. You get back proper debate. I mean, who is debating employment legislation at the next election? Nobody. Why? We don’t make the law any more. In the Seventies we scarcely talked about anything else.

 

He doesn't see himself as on the right

JC: David Davis and Andrew Mitchell would say that Ukip is part of the conservative family.

NF: It’s painful to listen to. It just shows you why they’re doing so badly. Look at those blimmin’ figures.

JC: So you’re not part of the “small c” conservative family?

NF: God no!

JC: You call yourself a radical.

NF: Yes. Because I want change.

JC: But not a conservative.

NF: And the word radical in its own proper meaning.

 

Ukip has peaked when it comes to winning Tory votes

NF: One gets the feeling that, at about the 30 per cent mark, barring more embarrassments from Brussels or whatever it may be, we are nearing the tribal base of the Conservative vote . . . The Conservatives are down to their middle-class core now, you know, wouldn't matter who the leader was, they feel Conservative and they feel Conservative because they've got some assets and a reasonably good life, and they see that as their tribal means of [identity] . . . that will probably erode as the years go by because the age profile of that dynamic is pretty alarming for the Conservative party. 

 

Ukip is pursuing the Labour vote

NF: I’m coming after Labour voters . . . old Labour voters and non voters . . . Everybody thought that people's tribal allegiance to Labour was as strong, if not stronger, than the tribal allegiance to the Conservative party. What we're actually finding is, they don't even recognise the tribe. They just don't. You know, the middle class, the middle class person who doesn't think about politics very much, but is concerned about where school fees are coming from or whatever it may be, that middle class person still thinks of the political spectrum that the Conservatives are more on their side than the other one. Increasingly what we're finding is the people that come from the Labour side of the equation don't think anyone's on their side.

 

Ukip voters are those "who get up earliest in the morning"

 

NF: The people who get up earliest in the morning have the highest propensity to vote Ukip. I'm being absolutely serious about that. A lot of these people are in jobs where they're driving, or working on building sites, or running a small carpentry business, or whatever they're doing, they tend to be people whose political backgrounds from their parents and grandparents would be red and blue. There'd be bits of both. A lot of them haven't voted for anybody since the early-to-mid Nineties. For some Major was the last vote, for some Blair was the last vote. So that's the other aspect of our vote, and that's the one thing we have in common with Salmond, that we're beginning to bring people back into politics. And that's very interesting. 

I would say from Birmingham northwards, from Birmingham to Hadrian's Wall, if you vote Tory, you'll get Labour. If you vote for the challenger party, you might just get a few Ukips elected.

 

The Labour MPs he admires

JC: Whom do you admire from Labour?

NF: [Coughs] Can’t name most of them. Don’t know who they are. I mean, they’re just so bland it’s not true.

JC: Alan Johnson?

NF: Yeah, but he’s out now, isn’t he? Whenever I’ve met him, I’ve liked him. Jon Cruddas is somebody who I think gets it; I think he understands what the Labour Party ought to be . . . Again, if I meet someone like [Douglas] Alexander, I mean, he almost can’t bear being in the room [with me], I’m so lower-order compared to him. But people like Jon Cruddas, they want to talk to you; they can see politics is changing. And Kate Hoey is wonderful, obviously.

 

The Tory MPs he admires

JC: Who’s your favourite Tory? Is there anyone you admire in the cabinet?

NF: If you’d asked me six months ago, I’d have said Douglas Carswell. [Laughs] Well, I have to be slightly fond of Philip Hollobone, because he and I were in the same year at school together . . .  I have admiration for Iain Duncan Smith, someone who was almost crushed publicly by politics, went away, studied a subject, and came back with real passion and conviction, and I respect that and admire that. Socially, I enjoy David Davis' company. [laughs] Share a glass with him, and it's quite fun.

 

How Michael Gove helped him out of a "legal tangle"

NF: I've always admired Michael Gove, who did me a big favour once that he didn't need to. I've always thought he was profoundly decent.

JC: What did he do?

NF: Oh, he was at the Times, and I got myself into a bit of a legal tangle, and he mediated and, at a time when I didn't quite know what I was doing, I thought he was a profoundly decent person. And I like Michael Gove for this reason. If you sit down with the people really running the show these days, and you were over dinner to throw an opinion at them that was a bit out of left-field for them, they'll just swat it away like a bluebottle. People like Gove, when you do that, say "OK, why do you think that?" He's open-minded.
 

To read the full interview and quickfire Q+A with Nigel Farage, purchase a copy of the magazine or subscribe on iPad or iPhone.