Nigel Farage denies he's Britain's Trump - but his campaign feels the same

Nigel Farage is a supporter of the former President. Credit: PA

It's Thursday evening in a Blackpool hotel - described by one of Nigel Farage's supporters as s*** Mar-a-Lago - and the Reform UK leader is waiting to make his entrance.

It is a carefully choreographed routine. Eminem's 'Without Me' rings out in the hall, which is filled with 600 Farage supporters.

The question in the lyrics - 'Guess who's back? Back again?' - is answered immediately as the Reform UK leader begins his walk onto the stage as if a boxer heading to the ring.

The song is once again in Spotify's top 40 charts, a rise perhaps driven by Farage using it at his rallies.

It plays its part in this moment of rehearsed political theatre.

Farage reaches the stage, singing a few lyrics himself and dancing a little, before gesturing to individual members of the audience.

A smile beams across his face and those who have come to see him are clearly delighted with their political hero.

His speech mixes comedy with polemic.

He seems to enjoy the spotlight and pauses knowingly at points waiting for applause or laughter, which quickly comes.

He also presents himself as a type of martyr in his political fight.

"I'm living on four and a half hours sleep," he says somewhat proudly.

Earlier that afternoon, he had been watching the England vs Denmark game in a local pub, wearing an England shirt that had been purchased only earlier that day.

A video posted on his social media feed shows fans amassing around him at the bar. On the television in the background, Morten Hjulmand celebrates after scoring the equaliser.

Nobody seems to notice, such is the fascination with this politician.

But along with the campaign stunts and genuine light-hearted interactions, he speaks a language many find offensive.

At his Blackpool rally, he talks of the "invasion" of people into the country, attacks "globalist" politicians, and suggests that British culture is based on "Judeo-Christian values".

But this audience clearly is not offended - again and again interrupting him to applaud.

One person shouts: "I love you Nigel!"

Over a year and a half ago, I saw another crowd waiting with anticipation for their political hero.

He too came on stage to music, danced a little, pointed to the various members of the audience and then began a speech that mixed humour with politics that split opinion.

But this time I was in Miami, Florida, and Donald Trump was addressing a crowd of thousands, donned in American flags and MAGA hats.

It is no surprise that Farage is such a supporter of the former president - the crowd in Blackpool felt similar to the crowd in Miami.

They were both made up of people who feel they have not been listened to and are fiercely loyal to the person they see as their representative.

Farage has told ITV News he does not see himself as Britain's Trump.

But he added his American bedfellow had watched the then-MEP's European speeches before he ran for president. And it's obvious to see why Farage and Trump are natural allies.

They are both the stars of their political campaigns and the future of their message depends on their success.

But in many ways, Trump's mission is simpler.

He just has to persuade people to vote for him alone on election day.

Farage, meanwhile, will not only have to get his supporters to vote for often obscure candidates in constituencies up and down the country, but to also persuade enough people to back him personally to win a seat in parliament.

If he fails for an eighth time to become an MP, even if Reform UK win millions of votes, his influence may quickly wane.

Win a seat for himself, along with the support of significant parts of the public, and he could be one of the most powerful politicians on the right.

As he left the stage in Blackpool, the strain of the dual campaign became obvious.

He apologised to the audience for not being able to stay longer saying "I'd like to have a pint with each of you" but that he had to rush off for more campaigning the next day.

Filling rooms of passionate supporters is an impressive feat in an election campaign many are finding uninspiring.

But, as Farage and Trump both know, success on polling day is all that really matters.

The candidates for the Clacton constituency are:

  • Matthew Bensilum (Liberal Democrats)

  • Nigel Farage (Reform UK)

  • Craig Jamieson (Climate Party)

  • Tony Mack (Independent)

  • Natasha Osben (Green Party)

  • Jovan Owusu-Nepaul (Labour Party)

  • Tasos Papanastasiou (Heritage Party)

  • Andrew Pemberton (UKIP – NO to Illegal Immigration)

  • Giles Watling (The Conservative Party Candidate)

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