One wonders what proportion of Nigel Farage’s apparent popularity derives from his so frequently being snapped in the course of enjoying a cigarette.
Incidentally, it is with specific purpose that I emphasise the word ‘enjoying’.
It is a truth widely forgotten in these puritannical times that the smoke derived from burning even half-decent tobacco is soft, smooth and sweet and that this, along with a subtle but enduring narcotic buzz, makes the whole experience one, largely, to be enjoyed.
No? Then you never smoked. Everyone who ever has – quitters included (unless they gave up that creepy Allen Carr way, so whenever they see or smell or talk about cigs they suddenly come across like a Stepford Wife) – knows better.
Where were we? Oh yes, Farage, and his cunning political tabs.
Not, it should be stressed, that it is here suggested the UKIP leader is anything other than a bona fide smoker. I’ve seen him puffing away in newspapers and bulletins, quite clearly enjoying himself.
Rather, he has been shrewd enough to twig that the single best thing he can do to distance himself from the Westminster elite in the minds of potential voters is be seen regularly enjoying cigarettes.
For example – speaking as a regular, albeit moderate, smoker – I can today reveal that this, and this alone, in my eyes, is Farage’s major redeeming feature.
Indeed, were it not for the fact I find every single one of his stated views on every single issue (other than the pub smoking ban) utterly idiotic and frequently reprehensible it is theoretically possible he could count on my wholehearted support come election time.
One can only imagine that other smoking or non-hypnotised former smoking voters who hold a less scathing view of his thinking might be far more happy to give him an X.
After all, when was the last time you saw a senior Tory or Labour or Lib Dem figure enjoying a cigarette?
You’ll have seen them pouring scorn on smokers. You’ll have seen them announcing punitive tax rises on tobacco. You’ll have seen them voting into law a purge of smokers from public houses (which means now all bar synthetic chain pubs smell of wee and stale carpet).
Look and listen today, you’ll even find them discussing a ban on smoking in ALL public places.
But enjoying a cigarette? Never? Not like Nige. He’s one of us.