It seems appropriate at the present time to recall that fifty years ago, Monsieur Sartre declared Paul Nuttalls the ‘most complete human being of our age’.
And why not? Here is a man who, besides being king of the Kippers and an MEP, was once an elite athlete stabled at the fabled Prenton Park; who earned, from a little place called Hope, the degree of doctor of philosophy; who sat, with undisguised pride, on the board of ‘one of the largest private sector training organisations’ in great, great Britain.
Nuttall’s vastness encompasses, as it must, a number of contradictions: he is at once both insurgent and legislator, pro-life and pro-death penalty, a believer in divine providence as well as market forces. He is that rarest of things: a Scouse brute who dresses for the grouse shoot. He is Bald Major, fulminating bravely against the root cause of England’s hunger, but has had his raw porcine features buried deep in Herr Jensen’s trough for years. He also owns two primary residences, sixty-five miles apart, and at any given moment is bilocated in both of them.
Nuttall contains multitudes, and thanks to the #PaulNuttallFacts that are inundating Twitter, we all have the pleasure of knowing as much. The former Tory and ‘poundshop Nigel Farage’ wants to accelerate the privatisation of the NHS; dismisses climate change as a ‘hair-brained theory’ and ‘money-led scam’; rants against ‘PC mind-benders’ who dare to oppose misogyny and homophobia; traffics in the xenophobia and Islamophobia that are common currency among members of his party; and is currently under investigation by the European Parliament for alleged misuse of funds. We can easily imagine how such a man would inspire ‘over-enthusiasm’ in his employees.
During Nuttall’s by-election campaign in Stoke Central, it emerged that he had lied on his website about losing ‘close personal friends’ in the Hillsborough disaster. His claim to have been present himself in the Leppings Lane Stand as the tragedy unfolded was also regarded with suspicion by, among others, the Hillsborough Families Support Group. Instead of accepting responsibility for the concoction of these sick fantasies, Nuttall decided to adduce a supporting statement from his father (it began as follows: ‘I am and always have been the father of Paul Nuttall…’) and lashed out at the prosecutors of what he perceived was a ‘cruel and almost evil smear campaign’ against him. Then, he wept.
Perhaps the coup de grâce for Nuttall’s chances of victory came on February 10, when he failed on local radio to name the six towns that were amalgamated to form the city of Stoke-on-Trent. One is left to wonder what on Earth constituents in Stoke Central must do to land a representative who isn’t utterly contemptuous of them. For nearly seven years they suffered a ‘third-rate posh historian’ and favourite of the Prince of Darkness whose only connection to The Potteries will be the ‘fine porcelain’ he inherits on the death of his life-peer father. And Tristram Hunt’s successor in what has been called the ‘capital of Brexit’ happens to have been a militant Remainer as recently as September last year (‘Soft Brexit, Hard Brexit/Massive pile of S***/Sloppy Brexit, Messy Brexit/Quit, Quit, Quit’).
A week before polling day, at the London headquarters of Bloomberg, there had occurred an ‘intervention’ that seemed tailor-made to seriously undermine Labour’s prospects of holding both Stoke and Copeland. The sallow cadaver of Tony Blair, returned from Malebolge or Astana or some such pit, had the cheek to warn with dead-eyed seriousness against taking a course of action on the basis of ‘imperfect knowledge’. Knowing that a ‘central principle’ of electoral success is party unity, that ‘people will not vote for a divided party’, this former Labour leader blamed the ‘debilitated’ Labour Party for facilitating Brexit. If there had been any doubt as to the thrust of the attack or the reasons for its curious timing, Mandelson exploded it four days later, telling the Jewish Chronicle that ‘I work every single day in some small way to bring forward the end of [Jeremy Corbyn’s] tenure in office.’ All this must have heightened the excitement of Paul Nuttall and UKIP.
But of course, more than 90% of the electorate in Stoke Central acted on Thursday to confirm what all of us have suspected for some time: that Nuttall is a loser. He is the slimiest of hucksters and a dim-witted reactionary who, besides being chauvinistic, opportunistic and thoroughly unscrupulous, can’t hold a candle to The Nigel and isn’t even a proper Scouser.
If this clod hadn’t already authored his own, uncharacteristically self-aware political epitaph (‘I’m not going anywhere’), then the following would have had to do instead:
His name was Nuttall, and the elements
So mix’d in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world ‘This was a con-man!’