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The bell-end equilibrium

 So farewell then, Nigel Farage. With the fishing industry in ruins, the Union at its shakiest in 300 years  and the country an international joke there are no more worlds left to conquer, the golf club bar bore ne plus ultra is, for the eighty-fifth time this century, retiring. No longer for Nige the thrill of talking bollocks to aggrieved old men, instead he'll be concentrating on his side gig, hawking "investment advice" to the sort of people who think that shouting "Gordon Brown sold our gold" is an argument-clincher on Twitter. And, to be completely honest, good luck to him. A spiv who's spent his entire life fleecing the gullible, it's only fitting that that's how he continues. Anyone whose grasp of economics is so shaky that they're prepared to take advice from a man who deliberately tanked an entire economy for the sake of his own enrichment pretty much deserves what's coming to them.

His legacy is only really worth covering in passing. Brexit is, if that's the side of the fence you're on, a pretty massive achievement, but seeing as I still regard it as a catastrophic act of self-harm, I'd rather not dwell on it. Rather, what he's bequeathed to this country is a coarsening of public discourse, a sort of Top Gear jingoism. The current Conservative party, with its inability to apologise for even the most colossal of errors, where people don't resign when they've broken the law, where it's more important to double down on your own position rather than listen to another, is a direct result of Faragism. He's popularised lying, fed mistrust and stoked grievances. It is fervently to be hoped that he doesn't let the door hit him on the arse on the way out.

However, he's done us one massive favour. He's shown us who many of us actually are. Those of of who came of age politically in the Blair years, who enjoyed cheap education and a lengthy economic boom could, were we not paying attention, have kidded ourselves that this was an open and inclusive country. Thanks to Nigel, there's no way we can think ourselves that any more. He's helped to lay the size of the task bare, so, in a sense, deserves our thanks, not that he'd see it that way. He'd accuse me of sneering at the good honest people of this country, of being elitist, as if he wasn't a public schoolboy investment banker cosplaying lower middle class. That was his peculiar genius, to marginalise decency, to taint compassion. Good fucking riddance.

But, as though there were some sort of law of physics which insists there's got to be one honking racist posho in public life at any one time (a bell-end equilibrium, if you will), as Farage departs, so the more than faintly ludicrous Laurence Fox announces that he's running for Mayor of London.

What the actual...

It's easy to laugh at Laurence Fox, so I will. A third rate actor hitherto most famous for being one of Billie Piper's biggest regrets (and this is a woman who married Chris Evans when she was about ten) he became something of a hero for the perpetually aggrieved when he appeared on the Beeb's superannuated shout-fest Question Time and yelled at a woman that definitely wasn't doing a racism when he definitely was being a great big entitled racist. Mystifyingly he's parlayed that unedifying appearance into what is presumably a lucrative grift (I mean, you'd hope so for his sake, as the acting jobs have definitely dried up a touch, and his, ahem "music career" has yet to take the world by storm) being a general culture war wanker, railing against "wokery", lockdowns and whatever else is getting the arseholes on the alt-right hot under their collars this week. Launching his Reclaim party, described as "Ukip for culture" Fox has become the new lightning rod for people who are tired of being called racist when they're being racist, and has fitted seamlessly into the whole hate-mongering industry with terrifying ease (I know, imagine posh people finding fascism to their liking, eh?). 

He'll get his arse kicked in the Mayoral contest of course, but then, that's not the point. Farage never made it to Parliament, didn't matter. Fox is bankrolled by people whose best interests are served by keeping people angry about statues and lockdowns, rather than noting precisely how big the inequality gap is growing, or how much money is being shovelled off-shore. The end game of the culture war is that it's a forever war, and that we're all too tired arguing about no platforming at Universities to agitate for fairer taxation. It's how Farage served before, and how Fox will serve now. The bell-end is dead, all hail the bell-end.

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