Farage Luther

Farage — the Luther of the Democratic Reformation

Nigel Farage has led his Brexit Party to victory in the Euro Elections, and will send 28 MEPs to the European Parliament. While Labour (10 MEPs) and the Conservatives (3 MEPs) sounded muffled notes, Farage’s trumpet was clear and unmistakable: we voted to leave the EU; deliver on the result of the Referendum; leave the EU. Others can pore over (or manipulate) the stats for the Remain parties (and conjecture ad nauseam what this might mean in a general election), but if anything is clear it is that the old two-party system is shot to pieces. If the Conservatives don’t become the Conservative-Brexit Party (rather like they became the Conservative-Referendum Party), they will be annihilated. One could also plausibly argue that if Labour doesn’t become a fervent Remain party, they have no hope of winning a general election (though there are trade-offs and key variables to consider, not least of which is their leader). All parties agree that something needs to change, and all are further agreed that that change will not be delivered by Change UK (who are now endorsing the Liberal Democrats, thereby changing absolutely nothing).

The spirit of the Reformation broods: Nigel Farage hasn’t so much nailed his 95 theses to the door of Number 10; he has shoved his one-line thesis down the throats of the entire Establishment: the Government, the main political parties, the Times, the FT, the BBC, the BoE, the CBI, the IMF, the TUC, the OECD, the IFS, the ECB and the CofE.

All the best reformations have a slogan, and Nigel Farage’s is very simple. After the fashion of Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura of the 16th century, it is Solus Exitus or maybe Exeunt Omnes; Leave means Leave. It is a revolutionary cry, but because it lacks nuance and sophistication it is abhorred by the Bishops, theologians (for these are no longer the same thing) and Christian intellectuals. ‘Leave means Leave’ is the foundation of Farage orthodoxy against which all other statements (and policies, as he moves toward a general election) must be weighed. ‘Leave means Leave’ is the conceptual bedrock for the erection of a new cathedral of Eurosceptic theology. Faith and reason are not in conflict: the EU is not divinely instituted (as some aver), and to leave its boundaries (some may say clutches) is an expression of enlightenment.

The EU faces its own challenges as the cry for Reformation spreads all over Europe: there is no longer much respect for its immutable dogma, its secret conclaves, its high priests and its infallible emperor(s). The prophet Nigel is cleansing the temple after the fashion of Josiah, and, like all prophets, he is without honour in his home country: no peerage for him; no knighthood, no sinecure, not even a lowly MBE (contrast.. O, never mind). What Farage seeks to sanctify is common sense and the spirit of England founded on liberty. There he stands: he can do no other. He isn’t concerned with endless Reformation tensions or debates about or between the radical and the magisterial: he adheres to the straightforward conviction that he has been given a democratic revelation, and this speaks directly to the heart of the justified beleaver.

Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on Halloween, the eve of All Saints’ Day. The event sparked a religious and political upheaval throughout Europe which endures to this day. By curious coincidence Halloween is also the day on which the UK is now scheduled to leave the EU. Luther challenged the claim of the Pope of Rome to have absolute authority over the souls of individual Christian believers. Farage challenges the claim of the Treaty of Rome to have ongoing authority over the lives of individual beleavers. This is his protest and his principle. If we do not leave on Halloween, prepare for the conventional world of politics to be turned upside down, and for the spirit of the Reformation, if not democratic revolution, to rear its righteous head to lead the nation to its long promised salvation.