Politics with endurance is hard work

Jun 24, 2024By Pete North


In which our Pete again spells out the difference between a flash in the pan, and what it takes to build a party that can endure for 100 years... Surely at some point, Reform will invite him to help them get a grip on party basics?

I don't buy this. A few weeks ago, Reform was in the doldrums, and it was already looking like the moment had passed to salvage it. Tice and Habib don't really understand what it takes to build a movement. They thought it was just a matter of getting on the airwaves. But then along comes Farage and its fortunes changed. 

But all the hope and energy is invested in just one man, and none of the necessary work to turn Reform into a sustainable, coherent movement will be done. There will be no policy work, no strategy, no message discipline, no internal coordination, zero cooperation, and endless internal bickering to the point where at least half the senior figures fall out with Farage and resign. History repeats, leopards do not change their spots. 

Consequently, it will nurture no new talent, it will neglect any serious vetting, making all the same mistakes Ukip made, and will end up limping from one embarrassment to the next, with Tice, Habib and Farage all contradicting each other, and Farage will run his mouth once to often without thinking.

He's sailing close to the wind with his Ukraine remarks. He might be essentially correct but his lack of attention to detail will be his undoing. If it isn't this, it will be something else. I'm all for plain speaking, but you should at least try to avoid walking into ambushes. 

What you get from all this is a disorganised mess of a party that cannot withstand the departure of its leader, and it implodes as fast as Ukip did. 

Y'know, if I were Nigel Farage, I'd be hoping to lose Clacton. He is unassailable outside parliament, and he doesn't have the vulnerability of random unvetted colleagues. His outsider status is the source of his power. But once he's in their circus, they'll know exactly how to deal with him. They will collectively unperson him, the speaker will overlook him, and they'll swamp him with formalities. The Tories will will pull the faux outrage routine as much as Labour. They'll turn him into an Andrew Bridgen figure, out on his own. He will acquire a certain anti-prestige, in the same vein as Galloway and Powell, but they will be able to contain him, not least since Reform is unable to convert its polling into seats.

Had they done the groundwork, and identified their most winnable seats, concentrated their ground game there, and made damn sure they have first rate candidates, they might have been able to make a go of it, but that's too much like movement-building. If they hadn't started this process already, we can safely assume they won't now.

I appreciate the game plan for many is to simply destroy the Tory party in the vague hope that something better will replace it, but this replacement isn't just going to fall out of the sky. It has to be built, attending to the fundamentals that make for a successful movement that can withstand the departure of its leader. 

With that in mind, I'm just not all that enthusiastic about "getting onboard" a bus to nowhere that will probably break down somewhere in the wilderness. If the aim is to destroy the Tories, they seem to be doing a pretty good job unaided. I would rather the energy and resources were invested in a vehicle with coherent aims. A failure to do the groundwork now means that we're back at square one when Farage gets too bored/tired/old/sick.

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