Nigel Farage gave an interview to an American radio show today in which he was played a clip of me from the BBC’s Question Time recently, saying the following about Ukip: ‘I tried to find out what else Ukip stand for other than, “Let’s get out of Europe and send all foreigners home we don’t like.” And all I could find was, “End gay marriage, cut all taxes, ignore climate change and bring back handguns.” And I thought, are we serious? Is this a serious party?’
Farage snorted with derision: ‘Well, there is one of the high priests of the metropolitan liberal media elites who clearly does not understand how people feel. I don’t care if Piers Morgan is rude about me.’
Now, I happen to like Farage and I don’t care if he’s rude about me either. I think he brings colour and conviction to British politics, and I’d love to have a pint with him one day. But I still find his party’s rising success unsettling.
Ukip has arguments about Europe and immigration that are worth hearing and debating. Though when Farage rants about the perils of living next door to ‘Romanian people’, he strays dangerously close to nasty Little Englander racism for my liking.
But on almost every other issue, Ukip is a complete basket case.
And when it comes to things like gay rights and guns, an offensive, dangerous basket case. I leaned further towards him. ‘Feeling intimidated?’ Scholes emitted a withering chortle. ‘No!’
His fierce beady eyes then bored into mine without a trace of emotion.
And I experienced a momentary flicker of nervousness.
Like Mike Tyson, Scholes doesn’t need great height to wield terror. He’s a small but perfectly formed bundle of power, aggression and controlled fury.
‘What’s your view on the Arsenal team these days?’ I asked. ‘Weak as p***,’ he spat back. He may be right, but I suspect that by comparison with Mr Scholes, most things are as ‘ weak as p***’.
Later, Michael Owen walked in. He and I have feuded on Twitter for several years. I call him ‘Benchwarmer’ due to the frequency with which he spent the last few years of his career as a substitute. And he calls me ‘Large Undies’ for reasons I find baffling.
‘Benchwarmer!’ I cried. ‘You’re not actually going to call me that to my face?’ he exclaimed, indignantly. ‘Of course I am.’ ‘Well, I’m going to call you Large Undies then,’ he fired back. At which point we both burst out laughing at the absurdity of the conversation.
When we got on set, I made an announcement.
‘I’d just like to say what a great honour it is to be sitting here with a legend of the game.’ Owen’s cherubic face beamed with relieved delight. Then I slid my outstretched hand past his and on to former Arsenal hero Martin Keown – sitting the other side of him.
‘Great to see you, Martin.’ Benchwarmer looked crushed. Afterwards,