Reform’s overreach

Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage is unafraid of saying something unpopular if he believes it to be right. In this, he can be distinguished from many leading politicians in this election campaign, much of which is being conducted on the basis of half-truths and the obfuscation of economic reality.

But the Reform UK leader has overreached himself in the eyes of many Conservatives who might have been tempted to vote for his party with his ill-judged analysis of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In a Panorama interview last week, he said the “ever-eastward expansion of Nato and the European Union” had provoked Vladimir Putin. In an article for the Sunday Telegraph, he denied supporting the Russian leader but was not about to apologise for “telling the truth”.

However, the implication that a country seeking a Western-focused future can be construed as having brought its fate upon itself because of the assailant’s paranoia is an odd argument to be advanced by a champion of national sovereignty. The Russian bear may well have been poked, but history has taught us that despotic dictators cannot be appeased.

After all, was Russia provoked into invading Georgia, or bombing cities in Syria or annexing Crimea? Mr Farage said that, unlike many Western leaders, he “saw it coming a decade ago, warned that it was coming and am one of the few political figures who has been consistently right and honest about Russia’s Ukraine war.”

There is more than an element of braggadocio about this statement that will give pause to many would-be Reform backers ahead of next Thursday’s poll, assuming they have not already voted by post.