For someone who has spent his whole life building up to the referendum, Nigel Farage has had a rather patchy campaign. On the one hand, he has performed reasonably well in his TV question time slot, exceeding the expectations of those in the Leave camp who were dismayed that ITV had signed up the Ukip leader to its referendum programme. But on the other, he has unveiled a poster that bears striking similarities to ones used by the Nazis and has been shunned by the official Leave campaign.
Today, the Ukip leader gave his final speech of a campaign that he has spent his political life pushing for. At one point, as he brandished a passport, he said ‘this is the last time in this campaign I’m going to do this’. He has finally got here.
Farage also argued, naturally, that Ukip would continue to have an important role in British politics after the referendum:
‘I think whatever happens tomorrow, I think that Ukip has an important role to play, firstly in the European Parliament… and I do think within this country posing a direct electoral threat in case there was any backtracking.’
Of course, if Britain does vote to leave the European Union this week, then Farage can forget about his patchy campaign as his life’s work is fulfilled. But if there is a Remain vote, Ukip could still play a big role in British politics by hoovering up furious Leave voters, particularly those in northern towns where the Labour MP campaigned for Remain. This is what the SNP managed to do so effectively, and there are some northern seats that Labour has taken for granted in the same way as it did with many of its Scottish seats. Ukip could, if it is a strong force, organised and disciplined like the SNP, have a serious impact on a number of constituencies after the referendum.
But is the party in the right place to do that? Farage and his colleagues seem to barely speak to one another these days, with Douglas Carswell and Suzanne Evans in particular ploughing their own furrows rather than working in step with the party leader. The SNP they are not - and their internal organisation seems to be lacking, too. Party sources argued after May’s elections that the party did best in the areas in which Farage had spent the least time campaigning, and the Leave campaign seems to have reached the same conclusion. So could the party do better with another leader in a post-Remain quest to grow? And is there anyone left who Farage hasn’t made a serious attempt to stop?