Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party, has been enjoying himself in British politics lately. Over the weekend, it was disclosed that a left-wing local council had taken some children away from the care of foster parents because those foster parents were members of UKIP. Farage condemned the council, as did the rest of the political world.
Even better, on Monday it emerged that a deputy chairman of the Conservative Party was advocating an electoral pact with UKIP, agreeing not to put up candidates against each other. Farage again condemned the idea, while being flattered by the attention. It appears that people in British politics are scared of taking on UKIP.
But in the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the liberal group, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe, is giving no ground to Farage. In a debate last week about the European Union's budget for 2014-20, the UKIP leader condemned the EU's administrative spending and civil servants' salaries. Verhofstadt responded that the biggest waste of money in the EU was paying Farage. He pointed out that Farage is a member of the fisheries committee, but has not attended a single meeting in the past two-and-a-half years.
The normally unflappable UKIP leader looked strangely discomfited as the rest of the chamber laughed and jeered. A video clip of the exchange has been winning some hits on the internet. Perhaps the UK Conservatives would change their policy of appeasement if they saw a copy.
Farage shows no sign of changing his behaviour. The fisheries committee met yesterday (28 November). He did not grace it with a visit.