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Antony Antoniou – Reform UK Northampton North
Prospective Parliamentary Candidate
(PPC) 2024 General Election

The Rise of Reform UK

The Rise of Reform UK

The Party the Tories Fear – A New Political Force Shaking Up British Politics

In the ever-evolving landscape of British politics, a new force has emerged that is sending shockwaves through the Conservative Party. Reform UK, a small populist political party set up by the renowned Nigel Farage but led by the lesser-known businessman Richard Tice, has been making waves with its unexpectedly strong performances in recent by-elections.

The by-election results in Kingswood and Wellingborough, where Reform UK secured 10.4% and a remarkable 13.3% of the vote respectively, have caught the attention of the Tories. So much so, that Tice even met with the rebel Conservative MP Lee Anderson, who lost the whip, fueling speculation about potential defections.

An Unconventional Structure with Farage at the Helm

What sets Reform UK apart from traditional political parties is its unconventional structure as a private limited company. This unique setup was born out of Farage’s frustrations with the internal power struggles and infighting that plagued his former party, UKIP.

By establishing Reform UK as a limited company with a share structure, Farage has ensured that he maintains a firm grip on the party’s direction. Out of the 15 shares issued, Farage holds a majority of eight, while Tice possesses five. This arrangement effectively grants Farage, as the honorary president, the power to make major decisions and even potentially return as the leader if he so desires.

However, there are ongoing discussions within Reform UK about transitioning into a more democratized party after the next general election, aligning it with the structures of the Conservative Party and Labour.

A Populist Manifesto Targeting Disaffected Tories

Reform UK’s recently unveiled “Contract with the People” serves as a de facto manifesto, promising sweeping changes that are sure to resonate with disaffected Conservative voters. At its core, the manifesto proposes a series of dramatic tax cuts, including raising the income tax thresholds to £20,000 for basic rate taxpayers and £70,000 for higher rate taxpayers. Additionally, it calls for slashing inheritance tax and corporation tax rates.

On the contentious issue of immigration, Reform UK’s stance is uncompromising. The party advocates withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights and implementing a blanket ban on the settlement of illegal migrants in the UK, with a commitment to returning all intercepted boats to France.

Tice’s pitch is clear: Reform UK represents the true conservative values that the Tory party has abandoned, appealing directly to those who feel disenfranchised by the current administration’s perceived shift towards more centrist policies.

Targeting Tory Voters in UKIP Strongholds

While Reform UK plans to field candidates in every constituency across Great Britain (excluding Northern Ireland), their strategy appears to be centered around targeting disaffected Conservative voters, particularly in areas where UKIP previously performed well.

Analysis by the think tank More in Common suggests that a staggering 59% of Reform UK’s support is coming from former Tory voters who backed the Conservatives in 2019. In contrast, only 5% of their support is derived from former Labour supporters.

This data highlights the party’s potential to capitalize on the dissatisfaction felt by a significant portion of the Conservative base, posing a direct threat to the Tories’ traditional strongholds.

A Tory Identity Crisis: Shift Right or Alienate Moderates?

The rise of Reform UK has exacerbated the Conservative Party’s ongoing identity crisis, with divergent factions offering contrasting solutions to counter the populist threat.

On one side, right-wing Tory MPs are urging Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to shift the party’s policies further to the right on issues like immigration and tax cuts. Their reasoning is that by mirroring Reform UK’s stance, the Conservatives can win back disaffected voters and neutralize the populist challenge.

However, a more moderate faction within the party fears that such a lurch to the right could alienate their traditional base of centrist and “One Nation” Conservative supporters, particularly in the Tory heartlands of the Shires, the South East, and the South West. There is a concern that by embracing Reform UK’s hardline policies, the Conservatives risk driving these moderate voters towards Labour or the Liberal Democrats, potentially jeopardizing their hold on historically safe seats.

Sunak’s apparent indecision and mixed messaging on key issues reflect the party’s internal struggle to find a coherent identity and response to the Reform UK phenomenon.

The Farage Factor: A Potential Game-Changer

While Reform UK’s current performance has raised concerns within the Conservative ranks, pollsters suggest that the involvement of Nigel Farage as the party’s leader could amplify the threat to unprecedented levels.

Estimates indicate that if Farage were to return from his self-imposed “honorary president” role and assume the leadership of Reform UK, the party’s vote share could soar to between 15% and 20% nationally.

Farage’s mastery of political theater and his ability to capture the public imagination have been key factors in his previous successes with UKIP and the Brexit Party. His potential involvement with Reform UK adds an element of unpredictability and could further destabilize the Tories’ electoral prospects.

Echoes of the Past, but with Higher Stakes

While the rise of Reform UK shares similarities with the previous surge of UKIP, which also posed a threat to the Conservative Party’s electoral dominance, the current political landscape lends a greater sense of urgency to the Tory predicament.

In 2015, when UKIP was at its peak, David Cameron’s promise of an EU referendum had temporarily placated many Eurosceptic voters, providing the Conservatives with a reprieve. However, Rishi Sunak currently lacks a clear policy solution to address the concerns of Reform UK’s supporters, leaving the party vulnerable.

Furthermore, the Conservative Party’s dismal polling numbers – trailing far behind Labour and potentially facing the loss of up to 150 seats in the next general election – amplify the stakes. A significant portion of the Tory vote appears to be leaking towards Reform UK, and there is no easy solution to stem the bleeding.

The prospect of the Conservative Party, historically the most dominant force in British politics, being reduced to a rump of 140 MPs or fewer in the aftermath of the next election is a real possibility. Such a scenario could trigger a fundamental realignment of the party, forcing it to adopt a more populist, Reform UK-style platform in a bid to regain relevance and electoral success.

The impact of Reform UK on the future direction of British politics is profound, with the potential to reshape the ideological landscape and redefine the meaning of conservatism in the UK.

As the next general election looms on the horizon, the rise of this populist force has injected an unprecedented level of uncertainty into the political discourse. The ability of the Conservative Party to navigate this challenge will not only determine its own fate but could also have far-reaching implications for the nation’s trajectory in the years to come.


• Reform UK is a new populist political party set up by Nigel Farage and led by Richard Tice

• It has an unconventional structure as a private limited company, with Farage holding majority shares

• Reform UK’s “Contract with the People” proposes sweeping tax cuts and hardline immigration policies

• It is targeting disaffected Conservative voters, with 59% of its support coming from former Tories

• Reform UK’s rise has caused an identity crisis in the Conservative Party

• Some Tories want to shift right to win back voters, others fear alienating moderate supporters

• If Farage became leader, Reform UK’s vote share could rise to 15-20%

• Echoes UKIP’s rise, but Tories in weaker position trailing Labour

• Potential for Tory wipeout and fundamental realignment as a populist party

• Reform UK’s impact could reshape British politics and redefine conservatism

Reform UK has grown through the support and desperation of the British public, who are sick to death with the ‘terrible twins’ who have controlled British politics for decades.

Reform recently broke double-digit results and the trajectory is upwards, which has alarmed the Conservatives to such a degree, that they are increasingly directing their attention to Reform. Ultimately, this is the dawn of a new age, with new ideas and motivated people who are determined to make significant changes for the better.

For details of everything that Reform UK stands for read the Contract to the People.

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Philip Brown
Philip Brown
2 months ago

Reform is the party to vote for, I really hope that the public understand this in time for the election.