By Harold Stone
Nigel Farage dominated Tuesday’s EU referendum debate. Some of us booed him, but that didn’t stop him getting massive applause.
“Obama is the most anti-British president America has ever had,” was met with cheers from the audience.
“In Brussels,” he continued, “they’re hell-bent on building a European army.”
At this point Nick Clegg intervened, raising his voice to be heard over the crowd,
“The much bigger danger than this fantasy fear of a European army is Vladimir Putin. What does Vladimir Putin want?”
This is where Nigel Farage took a deep breath, his eyes rolled back into his head, and he morphed into Tiny Trump:
“Stop lying. Stop lying to people about this. You lied in fourteen, and you’re lying again. They want a European army, and that’s a fact.”
A few minutes later, when Tiny Trump was invited to speak again, he opened with this:
“Well once again Nick is telling you a complete pack of lies about Norway and their deal. But he’s good at that. He’s done it for a living, for years. [applause] What I would say, I mean. We’re being told – Wouldn’t it be dreadful to be like Norway? How ghastly. Can you imagine being rich? And independent? And happy?”
These are the sort of short and punchy accusations you will recognise if you listen to Donald Trump. Here is an example of Donald in action:
“This guy’s a liar. You have a combination of factors. He can’t do it for obvious reasons, and he can’t do it, because he doesn’t know how to tell the truth.”
This style of speech – with its short, sharp, combative soundbites – is difficult to transcribe. It’s the way people talk when they’re angry, and people tend to be incoherent when they’re angry.
And that, I think, is your simple answer to why people are flocking to America’s Donald Trump and our Tiny Trump. People are angry, and they want to hear people voicing this anger, not politicians explaining things.
A friend and I hung around after the debate to watch the politicians sign letters and pose for selfies. As Tiny Trump was escorted by his henchmen into a big black Land Rover, I turned to a passer-by and said, “check it out, it’s Nigel Farage”.
Their reaction? “Ah great man, great man. The only man up for the job.”
This is not something a lot of us – Guardian readers, London Economic readers – want to hear. It makes us feel uncomfortable.
But we need to start taking Tiny Trump seriously. Not as a serious thinker, but as a serious threat to our freedoms and prosperity.
I despise Farage and everything he stands for, but just mocking and ignoring him won’t stop family and friends voting for him. And they are voting for him. It’s not funny anymore.