Why the Nigel Farage Dover story matters

Lockdown snitches are now weaponising the police against people they dislike.

Paddy Hannam


Nigel Farage recently made a trip to Dover to report on what he sees to be a ‘scandal’: the apparent ferrying of illegal immigrants across the Channel by the UK border force. Migrants regularly attempt the Channel crossing, often in dinghies or other small craft. These are then intercepted by the authorities, and the people on board are transported ashore for processing.

Making a video about illegal immigration would not be everyone’s choice for a lockdown outing. But one reaction to Farage’s video has revealed something far more concerning than what that video itself reports. According to Farage, he was subsequently visited at his home by two policemen who came to ‘advise on essential travel’, at the sociable time of 10pm. The officers said they had received a complaint about his trip to Dover.

Now, the public has been advised that we may not leave our homes without what the College of Policing ominously calls ‘a reasonable excuse’. But going to work, if that work cannot be done from home, is considered fine. A politician and commentator going to report on what he sees to be an important political issue seems to fit within the guidelines. That he was not directly commissioned to make such a report, or indeed that he does not derive any financial profit from it, seems irrelevant. It was hardly a leisure activity, so it must have been work-related.

But let us assume for a moment that Farage did, in fact, go against the guidance. We would still be faced with the deeply uncomfortable prospect of a man being visited by police after criticising the action – or inaction – of the government, all because one of his fellow citizens snitched. This is the sort of story we are more used to hearing from dictatorial states. It should worry any lover of liberty. Here we are confronted with the censorious and authoritarian potential of the lockdown policy.

Not all blame can be foisted upon the government. It has not ordered the police to intimidate potential lockdown-breakers, or to clear public spaces – the coppers have gone about doing this on their own steam. But the lack of clarity from the government over what it considers to be reasonable activity has resulted in police overreach, undermining our rights. What makes the situation worse is that there are members of the public who are all too prepared to aid in such illiberal practices.

What kind of jobsworth sits at home watching Farage’s video and decides to call the police? I can imagine the wry smile as they dialled 101. ‘Hello, officer, I need to report on someone. Their crime? Going for a drive.’ In lieu of dealing with actual crime, the police are apparently offering a new service. You can now get at your political enemies by telling the authorities they have broken the lockdown.

Holding the authorities to account is essential, whether or not one agrees with an individual’s specific analysis of a particular policy. In fact, this is probably more important now than ever. This is why the Farage story matters.

Paddy Hannam is a writer. Follow him on Twitter: @paddyhannam

Picture by: YouTube.

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Michael Morgan

5th June 2020 at 12:41 pm

We’ve been trying to get the police to deal with black drug dealers using our estate for a couple of years now. The dealers come from round the corner in a nice terraced house and drive expensive cars unless they do dealing then they change to older cars that can be used and changed easily. All this evident to the residents. A few weeks ago the police were here looking over communal garden fences to see if there was any illicit socialising. Incredible is all I can say!

Marvin Jones

11th May 2020 at 3:48 pm

Having the reputation for being the best country on the planet for migrants, asylum seekers, illegals and the worst criminals in the world, this government openly and blatantly are presiding over open door, open borders and unlimited illegal and bogus migration claims. Once in under this phoney regime of ours, they are safe for life and on eternally provided with the comforts of life without ever paying anything back. Nigel, we are with you.

Rael Lowe

8th May 2020 at 2:04 pm

“A politician and commentator going to report on what he sees to be an important political issue seems to fit within the guidelines”
Farage is not a politician. You need to explain the term ‘commentator’ more clearly, are we not all commentators? So can we all go out and make silly videos? Yet another wishy washy article on Spiked. Clearly NF is just playing the attention seeking, racist yob that he is. He’d have been p***ed of if the police hadn’t visited him. He certainly is a well know figure and with that ‘celebrity’ comes intense scrutiny. Had the police NOT visited him then they would have been under scrutiny for NOT doing so. Double jeopardy.

Anthony Christie

8th May 2020 at 10:31 pm

‘Attention seeking racist yob” are you for real? Please leave the comment section for the grown-ups.

Rael Lowe

8th May 2020 at 11:09 pm

Oooh, the grown up has spoken, best go to bed……. have you any idea how pompous you sound?

Anthony Christie

9th May 2020 at 8:58 am

I didn’t mean to make you feel “p***ed of”. People who haven’t got over Brexit and like calling other people names like “racist” (and who can’t spell) are usually happier reading the Guardian and leaving comments there.

Rael Lowe

11th May 2020 at 11:00 am

You just can’t help yourself. First pomposity, then intellectual snobbery (spelling). Clearly I am too dim to comment on these pages. Brexit? where did that come from? You are making assumptions about how I voted in the referendum. Disliking NF’s views/attitude AND voting remain, was allowed, or was it not?

Rael Lowe

11th May 2020 at 11:01 am

Disliking NF’s views/attitude AND voting ‘remain’, was allowed, or was it not?
Should read leave!

Marvin Jones

11th May 2020 at 3:42 pm

Anthony, he is probably a migrant himself, filling his boots on benefits, this and willing his kind to come and do the same.

Marvin Jones

11th May 2020 at 3:39 pm

AND! it seems that you would much prefer to remain totally ignorant about the ultra mass “Illegal” migrants flooding into this country. Or, possibly, enjoying this occurrence.

Michael Lake

7th May 2020 at 1:04 pm

I watched a YouTube blogger yesterday, that follows the underhand tactics of the West Yorkshire Police.
On this particular one, was a old chap that suffers from COPD that has his own YouTube radio blog.
He was going to try and report on a rumour that one or two mosques were still having prayer meetings, and some in a park where their mosques have been forced to close.
Two West Yorkshire Police constables turned up at his house, politely threatening him if he goes, and even using the chaps COPD as ammunition to enforce what they were doing. Why is it that nothing can be investigated or reported on this particular religions followers?
It’s political correctness going into dictatorship!

Jonathan Marshall

7th May 2020 at 3:00 pm

And your point is…?

Jonathan Palmer

7th May 2020 at 10:59 am

Nigel has wonderful political instincts; they only desert him when standing for the House of Commons.

Jonathan Marshall

7th May 2020 at 10:18 am

Mark Steyn accurately describes Britain as “the land where everything is policed – except crime”
A few months ago if you’d been burgled or robbed the plod wouldn’t have been interested, beyond giving you a Crime Number. Now they come round two-by-two if you’ve been for a drive.

Ray Hall

7th May 2020 at 1:10 pm

Not quite correct in detail . I got burgled . I was stabbed during the burglary . The police got the burglar promptly. They got the case to court promptly.The court delayed and delayed The burglar got a Supervision Order. I believe that it would be unwise and obscene to give my opinion on the CPS.
Rule Britannia !

Marvin Jones

11th May 2020 at 3:51 pm

England! The Shangri- La for the scum of the earth.

Steve Roberts

7th May 2020 at 9:03 am

There have been thousands of fines and arrests by the police acting, as state agents, on behalf of cross party agreed draconian laws, now one could take the view that this is a few overzealous coppers , the few bad apples attitude, but frankly that is political naivety and a lack of understanding how differentially the state and its agents act in times of social crises, in this case one unecessarily imposed by the state.
There have been endless social media video’s and articles , on Spiked too , for many weeks denouncing this authoritarianism resulting from this irrational mad path the government has taken us down. And yet Hannam writes “…Not all blame can be foisted upon the government” quite odd .
So why does the Farage story matter, certainly any more than the thousands of others, well it doesn’t except Farage is involved. Speaking of which, in this time of crisis, the destruction of the economy, the ripping apart of the social fabric etc where has he been? Like many leading figures they have either passively accepted this madness “critical with no illusions ” of course or been totally absent, no leadership, no opposition to what has been done, no denouncing of the most draconian authoritarianism. Oh well lets have a jaunt to Dover and bang on about immigrants.

Stephen Hero

7th May 2020 at 12:25 pm

Where has Nigel been?

Broadcasting five days a week on the radio, providing sensible commentary, where none would exist.

Where is the rest of the electronic and dead tree media? Apart from echoing every single state sponsored edict?

Politics is not much to do with the shenanigans of the political parties, but far more the fight against the all pervading and permanent state, established as it is by rent seekers drunk on our taxes, and motivated only by increasing its remit and hence more of our taxes.

The parties come and go, but the state just grows like topsy.

Hugh Connor

7th May 2020 at 8:55 am

It’s not the College of Policing that calls it a “reasonable excuse”, ominously or otherwise. That is the exact expression used in s.6 of the Regulations.

I find it hard to tell whether this piece is primarily intended to decry the partisan tell-tale who complained about Farage’s actions or the police actions thereafter. It seems a stretch to describe as overreach their making enquiries about a complaint made to them, especially in circumstances the writer reasonably describes as uncertain given the unclear definition of “reasonable excuse”. Who it is that we should be careful to hold to account in this case, or why, is unclear to me.

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