All hail Nigel Farage, the most talented politician in the world

It’s the political upset of a generation, and he did more than anyone to make it happen. But beyond Brexit, Nigel Farage has completely reshaped British politics from their post-war order. With UKIP, he’s managed to do what continental European populists are still trying to figure out: how to build a populist movement that’s not toxic and draws from the working-class bases of both sides of the party divide. With Labour increasingly disconnected from its working-class base, UKIP, or something like it, looks increasingly likely to replace Labour as British politics’ second party, as Labour replaced the Whigs after World War I.

Farage is also one of the most talented speech givers and debaters around. It’s impossible not to listen to his infamous “damp rag” speech, or his post-Brexit speech in the European Parliament, without shiver and glee. During the campaign, his crucial TV performances struck the perfect notes of populist righteousness without crankishness. And apparently, he’s pretty good sharing a pint at the pub, too. Those are the basic skills of the politician: the blocking and tackling, the basic technique. I use the analogy advisedly. In sports, you often get folks with great technique, and others with great strategic understanding. It’s the ones who have both who become the hall-of-famers.