Nigel Farage is the most important British politician of the last decade and the most successful. His resignation leaves a hole in our political system. With enormous intelligence and chutzpah and a refreshingly unorthodox approach, he built Ukip up from nothing to become established as our third largest party and succeeded in his overriding ambition – to see the UK vote to leave the European Union. He is also extremely good company and likeable – unless you are one of those infants who screams ‘fascist!’ whenever his name is raised. Or if you are BBC PM’s presenter Eddie Mair, who – fatuously enough – seemed to suggest Farage was to blame for racist assaults taking place in the country.
What happens now to Ukip? Just look at those votes it already has, and the legion upon legion more waiting in the dispossessed Labour heartlands of the north and the midlands. The party now should surely aim itself squarely at Labour, at the people who voted 65-35 to Leave and whose MPs voted resolutely to Remain. Paul Nuttall is the best placed of its current leaders to attract that vote, I think. The political arena is changing beyond recognition; Labour is now the party for the affluent middle-class left. A canny campaign from Ukip could see it wiped out, north of the wash – much as has happened in Scotland.