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Nigel Farage Praises Andrew Tate: A Worry for Young Listeners
Nigel Farage speaks in Boston, Lincolnshire, on 27 June. Photograph: Martin Pope/Zuma Press Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

In an election with few surprises, a shocking development is Nigel Farage’s sudden surge in popularity among young people. Recent data indicates that the Reform leader, who usually evokes images of Thatcher-era politics with his pinstripes, tweeds, and cigars, is outperforming Labour on TikTok. Early June figures showed that Farage was ahead of Labour in views-per-video by 30% and more than double against the Tories. A YouGov survey on June 18 revealed that Farage’s popularity among 18- to 24-year-olds far exceeds that of the Conservatives, with Reform marking its highest polling numbers since emerging as the Brexit party in 2018.

It might seem surprising that Farage, who has made controversial remarks about Muslims and hiring diversity, resonates with a group often criticized for “woke” politics. But his success ties back to his strategic engagement with younger voters, particularly young men, by aligning himself with figures like Andrew Tate, a controversial influencer. Appearing on the Strike It Big podcast hosted by two 25-year-olds, Farage called Tate an “important voice” for the “emasculated.”

Farage’s nearly 800,000 TikTok followers consume content that’s generally not traditional political fare. Instead of campaign speeches or clips from parliamentary questions, his TikTok feed features him rapping Eminem’s “Without Me” and making playful comments like “Lovely melons!” while inspecting fruit at a campaign event. You might imagine a 60-year-old man more at home in an exclusive club than on TikTok, but Farage’s embrace of Tate and his turn to video demonstrate a modern approach to communicating his message.

After achieving Brexit and disrupting British politics by attracting older voters away from mainstream parties, Farage now seeks a new audience. He’s found appeal among younger voters who feel economic and societal shifts, including the rise of feminism and racial equality advocacy, are challenging their world. A recent poll showed that Gen Z males were more likely than baby boomers to criticize feminism, with one in five holding a favorable view of Tate.

Farage has skillfully tapped into the harmony between his populist politics and Tate’s critique of “woke culture.” Tate advocates for male dominance through the pursuit of wealth and status, positioning himself against feminism. Despite his casual misogyny and notorious wealth, Tate has an unusually large following: a 2022 analysis found his videos had amassed 11.6 billion views. This broad appeal is grim considering he amassed his fortune through a webcam pornography empire and faces charges of rape and human trafficking in Romania, which he denies.

Dismissing Tate overlooks why his message has such strong demand. Young men mainly encounter Tate through short video clips where he offers fitness and financial advice, diverging from the explicit misogyny he’s known for. When discussing gender, Tate often portrays men as downtrodden, encouraging them to reclaim strength rather than directly fostering resentment towards women. By wrapping his derogatory views in humor, Tate frames his critics as humorless opponents of free speech.

This approach aligns well with Farage’s career, which thrives on converting disaffected individuals into right-wing supporters. It’s somewhat surprising that Farage took so long to pivot to young men. Populist parties in Europe often attract younger voters, a trend seen with France’s National Rally. By teaming up with online misogynists, Farage intensifies the gender divide in the electorate. Young men who align with his support of Tate are likely to embrace other elements of grievance politics from populist figures.

While online feminism has been a powerful recruitment tool for the left, online misogyny or “redpill” culture is increasingly drawing men to the right. Labeling their concerns as illegitimate or branding them as “part of the problem” merely reinforces the notion that society disregards them.

Source: The Guardian, Center for Countering Digital Hate