Inside Nigel Farage’s early years from private school to winding up lefties

Sir Michael Palin suggests ‘someone could eat’ Nigel Farage in I’m A Celebrity

Nigel Farage has been captivating the nation on ITV’s I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here almost as much as he has dominated the political agenda in Britain for more than a decade. And now the show has sparked interest in the 59-year-old political heavyweight’s early life.

The politician turned GB News broadcaster was born in Farnborough, Kent the son of Barbara (née Stevens) and Guy Justus Oscar Farage.

His father was a stockbroker, a career Farage would follow early in his career as a City trader specialising in metals.

The young Farage would form his political views at school which to begin with were “blighted” by his parents’ divorce when he was five.

Express Politics takes a look at his early education and school years, and explores how this shaped the man we see today.

Where did Farage go to school?

The young Nigel Farage was first sent to Greenhayes School for Boys (Grammar School) in West Wickham in Kent near to his family’s home.

A troubled Farage wasn’t there long, however, and left the school before he was removed. He transferred his studies to Eden Park where the strict headmistress would kill wasps with her bare hands.

Farage claims in his autobiography to have been “good at everything” apart from maths. He says he excelled at cricket and later took up golf, representing the school in both sports.

Aged 10, he took the common entrance exam and went to the “terrifying” Dulwich College, an independent fee-paying school which was still at that point staffed by “tough” veterans from the Second World War.

Classmate Peter Petyt, with whom Farage launched a successful debating society, described his schoolmate as “entertaining and witty”. He said: “Quite a lot of the time he spoke without notes. We won virtually everything.”

“I suppose I was a bit of a wind-up merchant,” Farage said. “I always questioned authority.”

Farage’s early views

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Even at school there was a sign of the future politician emerging with his early views. The young Farage was a fan of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher but was particularly taken with political heavyweight of the 1960s and 1970s Enoch Powell.

Powell came to speak to the school and his opposition to Britain belonging to the European Economic Community (EEC) later European Union (EU) stuck with Farage for the rest of his life.

At that point Farage was a member of the Young Conservatives and active in politics. He was inspired to join the Conservatives in 1978 when Thatcher’s future education secretary Sir Keith Joseph was a guest speaker at Dulwich College about the perils of state ownership of industry. Farage signed up the day after.

Before that though his interest in politics had been sparked by reading John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty in the school library.

Early political controversy

Farage has become well known for provoking leftwing and woke politicians and institutions but not many people know that this started in his school days.

In 1981 an English teacher, Chloe Deakin, wrote to the school’s headmaster David Emms asking him to reconsider making Farage a prefect claiming he held “fascist” views.

The incident would have echoes years later when NatWest bank tried to cancel Farage’s bank account at Coutts because of his political views.

The letter claimed: “Another colleague, who teaches the boy, described his publicly professed racist and neo-fascist views; and he cited a particular incident in which Farage was so offensive to a boy in his set, that he had to be removed from the lesson. This master stated his view that this behaviour was precisely why the boy should not be made a prefect. Yet another colleague described how, at a Combined Cadet Force (CCF) camp organised by the college, Farage and others had marched through a quiet Sussex village very late at night shouting Hitler-youth songs.”

In his memoirs, Fighting Bull, the former UKIP leader referred to the row about him being made a prefect, but claims his teachers were hostile because he was a great admirer of Enoch Powell.

But Emms and his deputy Terry Walsh rejected the claims saying that Farage “was well-known for provoking people, especially left-wing English teachers who had no sense of humour.”

“It was naughtiness, not racism,” Emms told Channel 4 in 2013. “I didn’t probe too closely into that naughtiness, but the staff were fed up with his cheekiness and rudeness. They wanted me to expel him, but I saw his potential, made him a prefect, and I was proved right.”

Speaking about the incident to Channel 4 ten years ago, Farage admitted he was a “troublemaker” at school, saying: “I did say things that would offend deeply,” he says. “And there were certainly two or three members of the English staff I made arguments against, that I didn’t necessarily believe in. But any accusation I was ever involved in far right politics is utterly untrue.”

Asked about the claims he sang Hitler Youth Songs, the politician brushed them aside as “silly”, adding: “I don’t know any Hitler youth songs, in English or German.”

He went on to say: “Of course I said some ridiculous things, not necessarily racist things. It depends how you define it. You’ve got to remember that ever since 1968 up until the last couple of years, we’ve not been able in this country, intelligently to discuss immigration, to discuss integration, it’s all been a buried subject and that’s happened through academia, it’s happened through politics and the media.”

The whisky incident

One earlier incident that Farage recounts in his autobiography was when in his fourth year at Dulwich he and a group of friends pooled their money to buy half a bottle of Teacher’s whisky which the drank behind the cricket pavilion.

It all went wrong when later at morning assembly a fellow pupil named Winterbourne was taken ill clutching his stomach.

Farage confessed to the headteacher that he had also drunk the whisky, but claimed that was it was because it was a very cold morning, and he just had “a couple of nips”. He refused to say who had got the liquor in the first place.

His frends were all caned for the incident and Farage was expecting the same punishment. He recounted: “My arse twitched. My genitals bunched. My stomach whimpered.”

But the headteacher let him off saying: “You’re a bloody fool like the rest of them, but you’re the only one to own up.”

This would not be Farage’s only drink related incident at Dulwich. Having joined the Combined Cadet Force he was sent yomping at the South Downs with fellow pupils.

He and a friend were stationed temptingly outside a pub as ’emergency support’ and First Aid cover.

When it opened at 11am they went in and stayed until 5.30pm when they were picked up, at that point both violently ill.

Farage recalled: “We vomited principally on the upholstery, our kit and our clothes. Just occasionally and for variety, we vomited on other people’s kit and clothes.”

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