If, by some stroke of luck, politics doesn't work out for Nigel Farage, there is a career waiting for him on the stage. I don't think there anyone more convincing at playing role that is so far removed from his real character. Perpetual smile and pint, he portrays himself as Mr Ordinary fighting against the tyranny of the establishment. It's quite a skill. When you scratch beneath the surface of his tweed hat, he couldn't be less 'ordinary'. He is a privately-educated, ex-Tory, ex-City millionaire who has spent the last few decades earning a fortune for a job he rarely turns up to. He also presides over a party rife with contradictions. Here are just a few.
1. The NHS
Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall are on record saying that they support an insurance-based health service. But after an 'internal debate' they now back the current state-funded model. Jumping from insurance-funded to tax-funded is as bi-polar as you can get. One relies on individualism and limited state involvement and the other community and full state control. I can only presume that the 'internal debate' posed the question "What stance will get us the most votes?"
2. Rotherham child abuse
Ukip were very quick off the mark in voicing their anger over the Rotherham child-abuse scandal. In their 'objective' analysis, they blamed Muslims, political correctness and the 'failure of multi-culturalism'. It's quite surprising that their analysis has missed many of the other points raised by Alexis Jay in her independent report. Not once have they mentioned the impact of casual racism and snobbery (the opposite of political correctness) committed by white people. And I can't once remember Ukip voicing concern over child-abuse that has occurred elsewhere in the UK, or the continual cuts to services that seek to protect women's rights. Strange that.
Uki are factually wrong about almost every claim they make about EU immigration. Immigration brings a net economic benefit to our society, reduces crime levels, increases jobs and enriches us culturally. Despite the evidence, they blame immigrants for every conceivable problem this country faces. But never do we hear them talk about other drivers of the issues they seem to care about so much. We live in one of the most unequal countries in the developed world, with the worst social mobility in the OECD. I've never once heard Ukip mention those issues.
4. Kosher food
It's not the most ground-breaking contradiction but in 2013 Ukip passionately defended the right of Jews to produce Kosher meat. Last month they decided to support animal rights groups in a ban on the non-stun slaughter of animals. This would be admirable if they weren't whole heartedly against the fox hunting ban.
Of course, there are many other contradictions. Ukip have a kaleidoscope of views on gay marriage, they hate bureaucracy but want to introduce an immigration points system, they have back-tracked on WAG taxes and repatriation.
Generally, they are a party without morals or direction and it's difficult to understand what they stand for beyond a hatred of anything non-British. So how is it that they garner such swathes of support? Put simply, Nigel Farage is a very good salesman and he does what all good salesmen do. He targets people who are unhappy and makes them believe that he has the answer to their problems.
There are a few stages in the process. First he needs a willing bunch of impressionable, unhappy people. We have just come out of a recession, our country has mass inequality and low social mobility. Technological change and globalisation have left many people disorientated, without hope and unsure of their place in the world.
Next, he creates a target they can blame for their unhappiness - typically either immigrants or Muslims. By creating a tangible target who look, act and speak differently, he provides his supporters with an identity they desperately crave. Cue comments such as 'erosion of British values' and 'failure of multi-culturalism' to reinforce this identity.
He then turns blame into hatred by linking his targets to cherry-picked incidents. The Rotherham sex-abuse scandal is one extreme, congestion on the M4 another. The Rotherham example allowed him to create the idea that all sexual deviants are Muslims. There's nothing more divisive or galvanising than building a fear that you, your women or your property are under threat from a foreign force.
Finally, having drummed home the problem he talks about the solution. The 'establishment' have failed and will not do anything about it. Ukip, and himself, are the only ones who blame the targets (because they made them up as the problem) and are the only ones who can solve the problem.
By painting himself as a saviour he can get away with as many contradictions as he likes, which is why a catalogue of gaffs has not moved Ukip's poll position. His supporters don't care about anything other than immigrants or Muslims and their perceived threat on society.
It will be difficult to stop the Ukip charge especially as they begin to build a more moderate front. But we must continue to communicate their duplicity and present alternative solutions for people's unhappiness.