Ukip
Nigel FarageReuters

Here is the full transcript of IBTimes UK's exclusive interview with Nigel Farage in central London on 14 November 2014.

What do you make of the comments by people such as Lord Finkelstein, who say that you are a charismatic figurehead but not a 'details man'?

I must take Lord Finkelstein's advice, I must buy myself an anorak. I must jolly well make sure I never smile, never laugh, never involve any passion, humour, or commitment in my politics. I will read the European treaties, and next week I'll bore the pants off the British public. Thank you for the advice, Lord Finkelstein. Because that's how he does politics, that's how they do politics.

Who's 'they'?

The political class in this country. There is no conviction, there is no passion, there is no belief. For them politics is a career, it's not for me. I had a career. I did other things that I generally hope were more productive than not, and I got into this because I want to change things, because I'm sick to death of people like Lord Finkelstein running this country and doing it very badly.

Ok so let's talk Ukip policy. When will the manifesto come out, and will there be any surprises?

Bits of it have been coming out, and it's all been copied, so I'm now beginning to think we must hold back. One of our really big ideas was to have a sovereign wealth fund for some of the profits of shale gas, the kind of thing the Norwegians did brilliantly. And now, blow me down, George Osborne comes out with the idea.

I have laid out this morning [14 November] our health policy because there was a bit of an argument, a bit of a row going on, but I am now pretty determined to hold things back, until later on in the campaign, for fear that our common-sense approach will be picked up and copied by everybody.

You say you've laid out your health policy by advocating an NHS free at the point of delivery. But previously you came out in favour of an insurance-based system. Why the U-turn?

I think we're going to have to move towards an insurance-based system. That isn't saying this is what our policy should be, I'm saying I think the debate is going to shift, and is going to move. And as ever, you know, I challenge every orthodoxy, I have done since I was 15, I challenge every orthodoxy that is put in front of me.

Why did I say that [about insurance]? Because I wanted Ukip to have a proper debate about where we go. What was I thinking of? France.

Why France?

Because France has a more insurance-based approach to health, as does the Netherlands, and one's perception is they're doing in some ways better than we are with healthcare, so, I'm not going to take criticism for daring people to think differently.

I always do this, I always push the boundaries of debate on everything, and then we as a party make a decision. My views on this - not my views, my suggestions on this - that we should think down that route, have been thoroughly explored, and rejected.

We now have a policy. That is actually a very healthy way of delivering policy; what is unhealthy is to be like Andy Burnham and say 'no no no, we must never consider changing this model.' That led to [the crisis at] mid-Staffs.

Some would say you've shifted your health policy to suit your core working-class support...

We had no policy. We had no policy. We had no manifesto. There was no manifesto in 2012. I was suggesting to talk about health - let's think outside the box, let's explore all the options. And we have.

Ok, let's move on to the economy. Prior to the Scottish referendum, you said that leaving the UK would have a disastrous effect on Scotland's economy. But you could say the same about Britain and the EU, couldn't you?

No. Salmond had no alternative plan whatsoever, apart from bleating on about oil, which since then has been plummeting in terms of its price. The arguments about Britain and the EU are entirely different to Scotland and the UK, principally because we've now become the Eurozone's biggest export market in the world, by some margin,

But do you not accept that an EU exit would bring a short-term economic earthquake in the UK?

Are you saying they wouldn't sell Mercedes here? Are you saying that when I go to Waitrose I wouldn't be able to buy a bottle of French wine? Are you seriously suggesting that?

No, I'm not suggesting that. But surely there'd be ramifications, at least in the short term...

No. There'd be political problems that need to be dealt with, namely that we'd suddenly have a parliament that was sovereign again. That'd bring some problems because Westminster and the civil service would actually have to face up to the fact they now had real responsibility and power.

But economically, do you know, quite honestly, it'd make almost no difference at all. Why would it? We'd just go on doing business with each other. Every other part of the world buys and sells goods from each other, without the need for political union, so the converse is true.

This week I heard Tim Marshall, of Sky News, say that you don't have a foreign policy. What do you make of that?

Good old Tim, he's marvellous. We didn't support the war in Afghanistan, you're quite right Tim. We didn't support the war in Iraq, you're quite right Tim. We were apoplectic about bombing Libya, which struck us as being frankly cretinous, so you're quite right Tim.

We don't believe in a series of endless foreign civil wars, and I believe our influence on the debate in Syria was crucial/ I think back-benchers changed their view, being terrified, once again, by being outflanked by Ukip. Our role in stopping us arming the very people who morphed into Isis was quite important.

So what is your policy regarding Isis?

I've laid out absolutely that bombing Iraq is absolutely mindless. If we're serious about Isis, and we're going to have to be, we have to face two very unpalatable truths. The first is Mr Assad and Mr Putin, whatever we think of them, are actually on our side on this one, that's not an easy...

What do you think of Assad and Putin?

Well I've always said I wouldn't want to live in modern-day Russia. I think he [Putin] is a bit of gangster.

Anyway, the second unpalatable truth is the only way it can be dealt with is on a big, pan, regional level. You have to deal with [terrorism] in Nigeria, in Kenya, in Syria, Iraq, Algeria, simultaneously. There has to be a complete pan-regional approach, the boots on the ground have to be provided by those countries, and it all has to be done at the same time.

If we were then asked to provide knowledge and expertise and help, then I think we could do.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin Ukraine
Russia's President Vladimir Putin.Reuters

So you're not in favour of an isolationist policy?

Of course not. I am opposed to an endless series of ludicrous foreign military entanglements without any clear end game in sight. And that's what our political classes have now been supporting for far too long.

Moving back to domestic matters - how draconian would you be on immigration?

We'd end the open door, define that as you wish to. If you think that us becoming like 190 other countries in the world is draconian, you can put it in those terms. I think it's a common-sense approach.

And how would you deal with those immigrants already living in the UK?

I never believed in retrospective changes to the law, whether they're about migration or tax.

Do you have a specific number of immigrants in mind?

We did it in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, and it was about net 30,000 a year. That's how we used to operate, we knew exactly where we were, it was very straightforward, and a number in that region is sensible.

The fact that it's now eight times that, and going up rapidly, strikes me as not being very responsible or sensible.

And what do you think about Cameron's latest remarks on British jihadists?

What did he say?

That British jihadists should be made stateless, and forbidden from returning home for two years.

Oh, sorry, that. He's just copying my line. I said that six weeks ago, that we didn't want those people back and he's now, it would appear, copying that line but in a complicated, convoluted way, which is classic.

Are the major parties obsessed with economic growth?

If you're budget deficit financing, to the tune of £100bn a year, it would be very disappointing if there wasn't any growth. Keynes was right about that. The question is: is what we're producing sustainable growth, and what are the long-term implications of building up a budget deficit to this level.

It seems that this focus on economic growth is reflected in the outlook of society as a whole. Has Britain lost its soul?

I think that we have become obsessed with an obsessed with an increase in our GDP, and it's actually not very hard to do that if you have uncontrolled immigration, and massively rising populations.

How are you feeling about the Rochester by-election?

I'm confident, but not complacent.

It seems very likely that Ukip will win there. What are you actually looking to achieve there, besides the victory? What sort of message do you want to send out?

That we're winners. In our key seats, you vote Ukip, you get Ukip. Not this rubbish about whose vote we're going to split. Actually, our key seats, you vote Ukip, you get Ukip. The implications of that for the general election next year are very significant.

If, or when, you win Rochester, can we expect more defectors?

My priority is to win Rochester. I would be surprised, in the wake of Rochester, if more people didn't come.

Farage Reckless Carswell
Nigel Farage with Ukip's two high-profile defectors, Mark Reckless [l] and Douglas CarswellReuters

So is there anyone you're targeting?

There may well be, but I'm not going to share that with you.

Ok, moving on... a new poll today says you're growing rapidly in Wales...

We're so surprised, we're surprised at the speed of the growth. Sometimes Ukip is like having a tiger by the tail, you're just not quite sure, but our progress in wales is just astonishing. I think it's to do with Labour, with all the devolved powers in Cardiff, they haven't done very well. Plus Plaid Cymru's very weak.

It [the Welsh poll] just shows what a complicated country we live in. And fascinating.

How angry where you about the government's refusal to invite you to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday?

It is an extraordinary snub to nearly 4.5 million people.

Are the major parties scared of you?

It's a closed shop. Why did the school governor have to resign in Whitby? Why did the foster parents have their kids taken away? It's all about the same gang, it's all about trying to pretend Ukip doesn't exist. But as Ghandi said: "first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they attack you, then you win."

Why don't people want to accept Ukip exist?

Because we're challenging the orthodoxy. Just as there was an orthodoxy that Hitler was a very nice man, and, after the Sudetenland, he wasn't a nice man, but containable.

When you get orthodoxies, and as I know from my days in the markets, when the bullish consensus goes over 80% the market's going down. And it's a bit like that in politics. We've got a consensus, a closed shop. Nobody else is to be allowed in. But that isn't sustainable.

Labour leader Ed Miliband seems to be in crisis – will you play on that over the next six months?

No, I don't need to. He's doing it for us.

What's your view on him?

To meet the chap and have a cup of coffee with him, he's a very sincere guy, but he's a product of his upbringing and his life.

Which is?

Disconnected from ordinary people. A very unusual upbringing, never had a job, although that's not untypical in politics these days. Doesn't understand the thoughts, hopes and aspirations of ordinary people.

Farage Ukip Labour
Ukip have regularly attacked Labour in recent weeksReuters

So you wouldn't go into coalition with him?

I don't suppose to go into coalition with anybody.

The Bentley looks very tempting, if that's the ministerial car they're offering, but I'm not sure that's what I'm in politics for. There are other ways to support the biggest party than going into a pure coalition.

So you're saying you wouldn't go into coalition if it was offered?

I'm not saying anything. I'm saying we're fighting May 7th next year to do as well as we possibly can, and thereafter we'll examine the possibilities. But I don't regard being in coalition as my ambition on May 7th next year.

What is that ambition?

To get enough MPs into Westminster to hold the balance of power.

Would you do a deal with the Tories in seats where you had little chance of winning, to lever Labour out?

You can't do minus percentages, can you?

Ok... so what about your own party? Is there a chance of schisms between the libertarianism represented by Douglas Carswill, and the core working-class voters?

You'll get different shades of opinion within any political party, but I don't think anybody that votes for us wants the strengths of government to be extended. I don't think it's as inconsistent... you're right, in the sense we're bringing people from left and right together, but I don't think the inconsistencies are quite as stark as some might try and paint.

I think actually that left and right are disappearing in British politics. The concepts are changing.

Will we have people within ukip arguing for different approaches? of course we will.

How will you reconcile those differences?

As I've always done, by being completely relaxed. I face this every week in Brussels and Strasbourg: MEPs who want to vote differently to the party line. I have the option of whipping them in, saying 'no, you can't do that', or I can say 'look, we're grown-ups. We have different views on abortion, we have different views on GM crops, or whatever it is.'

Provided the party has a core, a set of core beliefs and goals it wishes to achieve, beyond that I'm pretty liberal about this.

Does Ukip have a women problem?

Well that certainly isn't happening in Rochester. The second thing is, there's actually some evidence that's quite strong that men are more prone to rolling the dice, and taking risks earlier than women, who are actually naturally more conservative, perhaps even sensible, than men.

Women take a little bit longer to look at a new product and decide whether it's worth buying or not. Men tend to jump in a little bit more quickly.

We had all this rubbish in [the by-election in] Heywood and Middleton, that's where your question comes from. But I would remind you that the poll that showed the deep disparity between male and female voters was the same poll that put Labour 20 points ahead.

Nigel Farage
It has been suggested that Ukip appeals to men but has yet to gain a foothold among Britain's female electorateReuters

You say women are naturally conservative... is that the sort of message that's going to appeal to women in the 21st century?

The opinion polling proves it, that women look at a new product and they are naturally a bit more sceptical than men. That's what the polling shows. I've done focus group works on this, that actually proves that.

What about the views of your suppoed ally, Janus Korwen-Mikke [the Polish MEP who said women only pretend to say no to sex]

I've never met him.

It's been reported that he's your ally in Brussels....

Is he? I've never met him. Tell me more, I'm very interested. I've never met him, so why are you asking me about that?

I've never met him. I haven't heard the quotes, I've never met the chap, and I don't want to meet the chap particularly.

Ok, let's leave that then. Which MPs strike you as particularly impressive at present?

Douglas Carswill.

Beyond Ukip...

Jacob Rees-Mogg is massively impressive, and when Labour changes at some point in the future, I think people like John Cruddas will have quite a big role to play.

Could we see them becoming Ukippers in future?

Who's to say what'll happen in the future? There could be a realignment of British politics at some time in the future. Do I like and support people from other parties? Yes, absolutely.