Illiterate Mail on Sunday hack interviews Farage

Economist cover

The main story in today’s Mail on Sunday is an interview with Nigel Farage by the paper’s political editor, Simon Walters.  Farage indicates that he might stand again for Parliament, if the present investigation of allegedly illegal Tory election spending leads to a by-election in South Thanet, the Kent constituency where he polled 32.4% at last year’s general election.

Whether this means that Farage will stay in UKIP, or will go ahead with his long-planned breakaway to set up a new movement backed by Arron Banks’s money, remains to be seen.

Meanwhile we were distracted by a staggering display of political and historical illiteracy on the part of Mr Walters. The Mail on Sunday political editor writes:
“The front cover of this week’s Economist magazine shows Trump, Putin and Farage as militaristic 19th Century nationalists, strutting the world stage – in step. It’s a terrifying thought for many.”

The Economist cover was clearly a pastiche of this famous painting, 'The Spirit of '76'

The Economist cover was clearly a pastiche of this famous painting, ‘The Spirit of ’76’

H&D readers will be used to the Mail on Sunday‘s customary hysteria regarding nationalism, but this latest solecism is truly astonishing: it is perfectly obvious that the Economist cover is actually a pastiche of one of the most famous American historical paintings, Spirit of ’76, by Archibald Willard.  Far from displaying “militaristic 19th Century nationalists”, the painting depicts 18th century American revolutionaries (obviously viewed as heroic by the artist).

Even if Mr Walters is ignorant of art and history, surely he has seen the 1963 film The Great Escape, in which Spirit of ’76 is mimicked by Steve McQueen and two fellow POWs on the 4th of July.

 

Meanwhile the background figure on the Economist cover is another pastiche, this time depicting Marine Le Pen, leader of the French National Front, in the guise of Liberty Leading the People, the allegorical painting by Delacroix showing the Goddess of Liberty at the head of French revolutionaries in July 1830.

In other words all four of these figures whom Mr Walters and the Mail on Sunday clearly view as sinister – Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen – are actually being portrayed by positive (indeed heroic) artistic references!

 

Similarly, the Economist's portrayal of Marine Le Pen was a reference to this famous painting by Delacroix, 'Liberty Leading the People'.

Similarly, the Economist’s portrayal of Marine Le Pen was a reference to this famous painting by Delacroix, ‘Liberty Leading the People’.

 

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