Why Nigel Farage is the REAL winner from Le Pen's victory in France - Kelvin MacKenzie

Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage
Kelvin Mackenzie

By Kelvin Mackenzie

Published: 01/07/2024

- 18:08

Updated: 02/07/2024

- 10:01

Kelvin Mackenzie is the former editor of the Sun

There will be a skip in the step of Nigel Farage this morning as he reflects on the astonishing triumph of the Right in the first round of the French General Election France and how it might play out for him.

Without being carried away the Reform leader might well be thinking; That tide might sweep across the Channel. And it might be here by Thursday.

I remember back on the eve of the General Election in 1997 I was running a cable TV station from the 17th floor of Canary Wharf skyscraper. It was called Live TV which was all Topless Darts, the Bouncing Weather Dwarf, and Tiffany’s Big City Tips. All upmarket stuff.

My boss was showing Prime Minister John Major round the joint. I pointed out the window and told Major; ‘’ If you look very hard into the far distance you can just about see a Tory voter.’’ Major didn’t laugh.

A few weeks later the Tories went down to the biggest electoral defeat in their history. The same will happen on Thursday, but this time there will be a twist.

Although Starmer will be the comfortable winner, much of the attention will go to Farage as I expect him to do better than the polls suggest.

France has a different voting system to us. Basically, the percentage of the votes is translated into seats. In the first round the Right received 34.5%, the Left coalition got 29% and Macron was destroyed with just 20%. Macron is done for.

For Marine’s Le Pen’s man to become Prime Minister her National Rally party must get 289 out of 577 seats next Sunday. That is a tough ask but France, like the UK, is all over the place with the country torn apart by the influx of immigrants and an unstable finances.

Farage could be our Le Pen. Although the reality is that it was her father who created the party and that was five decades ago. These things take time. Nigel has been cutting a lone furrow these last 30 years.

But, without a shadow of doubt, he must be regarded as the most consequential political figure in the UK of this century. Don’t take my word for it. That phrase was used about him by Times columnist Trevor Phillips, who you will remember was the head of the Commission for Racial Equality.

My bet is that uniquely the French election will affect ours. In any normal period most ordinary people wouldn’t give a stuff about who runs France.

But the collision of elections in two European nations means there is a heightened sense of political change in the air. And if a nation just 22 miles from us at the narrowest point and having the same problems as us votes for a political earthquake then I suspect we will follow.

Last Friday night I caught the last 10-15 minutes of the BBC Question Time special where Farage was being questioned by the audience. I must say he was compelling. Assured. Confident, without being arrogant.

He had different answers and different phrases from the professional politicians. Incredibly none of that audience clapped any of the answers or when he finished. The BBC have been accused of rigging the audience to keep Reformers out.

I don’t buy that. I believe that audience members who agreed with Farage would be scared of being seen to clap on national television for fear of being accused by either colleagues, family or neighbours of being racists.

But I would like to reassure that audience that voting booths don’t have televisions and that’s why Reform will do better than the polls. As I have said before they would do even better had it been called Farage’s Reform on the ballot sheet as it would have been a name everybody could recognise.

There is clearly a moment of change in politics and Labour will be the short-term winner. When they turn out to be a disaster (already Starmer’s net approval is -19 making him the most unpopular opposition leader to be elected on record) expect Reform not the Tories to be the beneficiaries.

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