Should I vote for reform?

A few weeks ago I asked readers whether I should vote Tory. The question now is: should I vote for the reform? The debate in my head is no longer about who will form the next government – ​​that’s over, it’s Labor – but about who small Conservatives would prefer to see as the opposition.

It is not inconceivable that the Tories will have fewer seats than the Lib Dems and fewer votes than the Reform party on July 4. In that case, their historical claim to be the monopoly party of the center right is dead.

Last week, life plunged into a boring election. Rishi had a good debate but Nigel Farage stole the show by taking back control of Reform and announcing a bid for Clacton-on-Sea. Then Sunak skipped D-Day. He has my sympathies: I hate long ceremonies and once invented a car crash to get out of a wedding. But his early departure seemed designed to infuriate the Tory base, to remind them how unsophisticated and unempathetic Rishi really is. Blair’s heirs have professionalised British politics into amateurism.

To make matters worse, the Prime Minister has used his last days in office to parachute comrades and allies into safe seats. Fortunately, many of them will lose. Unfortunately, enough could be gained to ensure that the parliamentary constituency that survives the July massacre will be dominated by Liberals who think the Tories went down in flames because they hadn’t spent enough, taxed enough or had enough immigrants had let in.

It’s this stupidity, so predictable, that makes you want to get rid of them in one fell swoop.

I feel like a toothless person without culottes eyeing a row of juicy heads: to the guillotine, thump, thump, thump!

But the point is: conservatives are not revolutionaries, we are monarchists. We like peace and order, to look carefully before we jump. Then what is this thing called reformation?

Most polls indicate a rise in support, but to varying degrees. Savanta estimates them at only 11 percent; YouGov is two points behind the Tories in seventeenth place; Redfield & Wilton says it is leading the way among men and the elderly. If a crossover in the polls is possible, it must happen quickly – because this is the week of the manifesto, which will dominate the headlines.

Farage depends on a free media for publicity. He thrives on controversy. Reminded by Laura Kuenssberg that one of his advisors has a fraud conviction, he said he believes in forgiveness and sticking with his friends (bravo).

During last Friday’s seven-person debate – where Penny Mordaunt’s hairstyle resembled a bird of prey in mid-flight – he answered the immigration question with a precise and disturbing set of figures.

Labor and the Tories’ decision to run super-controlled presidential campaigns now looks like a gamble when faced with a Teflon entertainer who could sell a used car to Arthur Daley – and the triumph of personality belies Reform’s problems.

First of all, the party is nothing without Nigel. Critics call it a shell company, owned by Farage but until recently dependent on Richard Tice’s money: in mid-May it was reported that Tice had been responsible for around 80 percent of declared financing in the form of loans and donations since 2021.

This helps explain the disappointing performance in midterm elections; The reforms lacked the volunteers or infrastructure needed to compete, and lacked the galvanizing issue of Brexit.

It is torn by quarrels. When Farage announced he was running for Clacton, Reform’s current candidate, Tony Mack, dutifully stepped aside. The last time I saw Mack he was sitting on top of the Reform bus waving at punters. Days later, he announced he would run as an independent candidate instead. He shared a post on Facebook denouncing “sneaky f*****s disguising themselves as good people”.

I met a lot of nice, nice reformers in Clacton. I also met some racists, plus Tommy Robinson fans. Over the past decade, UKIP/Brexit Party/Reform has played an important, uncredited role in defusing the far right by channeling anger into legitimate politics – but a party defined by a desire for sovereignty will always be a be a magnet for deplorable people. could well be the theme that brings Reform’s honeymoon to an end.

Journalists have already tracked down candidates who said asylum seekers are natural liars or compare black people to monkeys. In defense of the reforms, bigots have been quickly sidelined – and the Green Party, which is hardly right-wing, has also been forced to take action against candidates accused of anti-Semitism.

Meanwhile, if Blue Wall voters find the reform illiberal, Red Wall voters might have been surprised to hear Nigel during the debate calling for a new funding structure for the NHS. The party’s website suggests this means expanding private sector capacity rather than selling off departments to Tesco, but the populist right has often struggled to reconcile a poor man’s cultural values ​​with the economics of a rich man – and Farage is a Thatcher dissident through and through. Labour’s lines of attack write themselves.

In short, those considering replacing the Tories with Reform are trading a party with history, experience and breadth for a one-man band that is completely unacceptable to core parts of the electorate (and catnip to Scottish nationalists).

Nevertheless, the prospect that the reforms will gain seats, however slightly, is changing the way people think about the future of the British right. I suspect this will not lead to a mass defection to the reforms, but to a reconciliation between the reforms and the conservatives, creating a hybrid movement that shifts politics decisively towards the populism we see on the continent.

The legacy of Brexit is that we are becoming politically more European. One day Prime Minister Miriam Cates will elevate Nigel Farage to the Lords.

Achieving this long-term realignment is much more interesting than the current election. I’m not impressed by the thought of Starmer winning. Despite some mild hysteria, no one believes he is a socialist, and there is nothing the Tories say Labor could do that the Tories haven’t already done in historic numbers.

That is why the party label is being discredited. Millions of us will vote candidate by candidate, sifting through individual voting records or statements – hardcore Tories, Reform or the Social Democratic Party – to select the MP we would prefer as the British Conservative movement is rebuilt after the deluge.

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