Artillery Row

Is this the end of Farage’s political career?

If Nigel Farage manages to buy talkRADIO, it would rule him out of frontline politics

The Telegraph reports that Nigel Farage is trying to buy talkRADIO from Rupert Murdoch. This news fits a recent pattern in British media. As off-the-record Downing Street briefings keep mentioning conservative figures in relation to jobs like the head of Ofcom and the chairman of the BBC, it seems those on the right have sensed now is the moment to gain some influence in the broadcasting world against a perceived left-wing bias.

After BBC executives cancelled The Andrew Neil Show, cancelled his late-night show This Week, and reduced his contribution to Politics Live, Neil has been made Chairman of GB News, a new TV channel dedicated to “robust, balanced debate” from “a range of perspectives” set to be launched in the near future. Rupert Murdoch, who owns Fox News, is also planning to start a rival TV news station and has begun hiring staff. According to Kelvin MacKenzie, (who has perhaps jokingly suggested he is going to apply for the BBC Chairman job) the media mogul recently summoned staff from his newly launched Times Radio and gave them “a whack” for being too “woke” and losing conservative and Brexiteer listeners.

But Nigel Farage’s attempt to buy talkRADIO has run into a few problems. I hear Murdoch is happy to sell the station but Farage’s suggested arrangement is putting off potential funders. Apparently Farage wants money to buy the station but does not want to cede any control: the company would be run and controlled almost entirely by himself and Brexit Party Chair, Richard Tice, leaving potential investors (or should that be donors?) with little to no influence over content or policy. Those who have spoken to them also believe Farage and Tice would receive too much financial upside should it be a success, considering they are proposing to put little or none of their own money in.

The other issue is Farage’s status as a politician. If the former UKIP and Brexit Party leader is successful in buying the station, it would effectively end his political career. Ofcom could easily refuse the station a license if Farage took over, unless he renounced his role as the head of the Brexit Party. Rules state that a political party itself cannot hold a broadcast license but it would be hard to see the Quango accepting there is a distinction between the leader of a political party and the party itself, especially since the Brexit Party’s own structure is pretty autocratic.

As the actor Laurence Fox is trying to create a mainstream party attacking the Tories from the right it looks like the old UKIP leader, who changed politics so much over the last twenty years, is happy to retire from frontline politics for the foreseeable future.

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