Reform UK

Will Nigel Farage’s latest political play have any effect?

Nigel Farage has revealed something he was crowing about for a year: he’s launching a Reform party which is just a rebranded Brexit Party. But, there’s a twist: it’s an anti-lockdown party. Oh goody.

The whole thing is obviously Farage crying for attention and all the usual “give me liberty or give me death” snowflakes (who by the way would probably have been locked up during the blitz for inciting panic) will latch onto it. As someone noted yesterday; there’s a substantial minority of people who disagree with lockdowns, and they now have a political home (pending the name change).

It would almost be entertaining if it wasn’t so deadly serious, that a new party is launching in the midst of a pandemic advocating anti-scientific snake oil salesman type solutions. Think about it, this will be a party that’s centrepiece will be “we think you are expendable on the alter of the market, vote for us”.

How will it position itself politically in Britain? It’s obviously going to try to fill the niche of some sort of culturally rightwing radical libertarian force with a dose of populist rhetoric thrown in; like the hardcore cranks in the Republican party.

There is a positive here: it could well split the right of centre vote. Just 5 points moving from the Tories (points Labour can’t shift at the moment) and that hands Labour the keys to No 10. Of course the polls have a habit of tightening during an election cycle but this could seriously do some damage to the Tories if it takes off and picks up those voters the Tories got through Brexit and culturally conservative rhetoric, fed up with the handling of the pandemic but unable to stomach going to (or back to) Labour. Or it could be a damp squib that doesn’t even appear in national polling and becomes another Farage branded skid mark on the British body politick.

The rightwing vote is at danger of splitting. You have Reform UK incoming, you have Reclaim supposedly here (haven’t heard anything) and of course a Tory party flirting with the radical right. An interesting time indeed. Question is, does Britain really have that much appetite for all these different flavours of the hard right?

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Toby Lipatti-Mesme

Insightful and innovative UK journalism and commentary, from Toby Lipatti-Mesme.