It’s not until I sit through An Entertaining Evening With Nigel Farage in Melbourne that I realise he’s not just a seven-times failed UK parliamentary candidate, but a bona fide YouTube star. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without YouTube,” Farage tells his audience of young men. Men who, when I ask, what do you think of Nigel Farage, say: “He’s an absolute legend.” Or: “He’s the dog’s bollocks.”
How did you come across him, I ask, Alex, a programmer who lives locally? “On YouTube. I was watching a Jordan Peterson video. He was recommended to me.”
I watch the speeches. They have titles like “Who the Hell [sic] You Think You Are? Nigel Farage throws egg in Eurocrat faces.” And “Can’t Barrage the Farrage [sic].” They’ve been viewed millions upon millions of times.
Richard Corbett, the leader of the Labour party in the European parliament, explains how it works. “Farage turns up once a month and often what he talks about has absolutely nothing to do with what’s being discussed. You think, what’s going on? And then you realise it’s got nothing to do with the parliament. It’s just for his social media output. Sometimes he doesn’t even hang around for the answers. Two minutes later, he’s back on the Eurostar and gone.” (Statistics for voting and attendances show Farage is ranked 738th out of 751 MEPs for productivity.)