Nigel Farage tends to stick to one line on foreign affairs: no more foreign wars. On the Sunday Politics today, the Ukip leader claimed that the migrant crisis and tragedies in the Mediterranean are the fault of countries such as Britain and France who bombed Libya in 2011:
‘Actually, it was the European response that caused this problem in the first place — the fanaticism of Sarkozy and Cameron to bomb Libya and what they’ve done is to completely destabilize Libya; to turn it into a country with much savagery; to turn it into a place where for Christians the situation is now virtually impossible and we ought to be honest and say have we directly caused this problem.’
When Andrew Neil pointed out to Farage that there were migrants heading across the Mediterranean before the bombing, Farage again said that Western invention had ‘destablised’ the country:
‘There were no migrants coming across from Libya in these quantities before we bombed the country, got rid of Gaddafi — however bad he may have been — and destablised the whole situation, of that I have no doubt. But I am the one person that has said that I do think, especially for Christians in that part of the world, they have almost nowhere to go. I have not got a problem for us offering refugee status to some Christians from those countries.’
Farage makes frequent use of these dog whistle tactics — he is again attacking the BBC in today’s Mail on Sunday —to distance himself from the other parties but they don’t appear to be helping the party’s popularity lately. Ukip’s vote share in opinion polls has dropped to around 10-12 per cent from 15-20. but Farage denied that the Ukip vote is collapsing. He instead blamed the media who have been ‘talking down Ukip’s chances’ and argued that the opposite is true. ‘We’re seeing not just the Ukip vote holding rock solid but evidence of it beginning to firm,’ he said. ‘The one thing the polls are really missing here is that a large lump of the Ukip vote are people who didn’t vote for anybody in the last election.’
Over the final three weeks of the campaign, Farage also revealed that the party’s strategy is to appeal to ‘old Labour’ voters who are unhappy with Ed Miliband’s refusal to offer an EU referendum. He also took a hint from the Tories and attacked Miliband for being weak. ‘Having seen the dynamics between Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, it’s pretty clear to me in that relationship who would wear the trousers,’ he said.