inequality“But blood runs thicker, oh
We’re thick as thieves, you know”

On 30 March 2016, the very first of these articles was published. It was entitled “BREXIT: ‘THE NEVER ENDING STORY”, and considered the forthcoming Brexit referendum. In it I asked the questions:

“If we take the Conservatives……. will we see the party splinter into two factions leading to the creation of a new party, or defections to UKIP or the Liberal Democrats?”

Well, there have been a number of defection, with Labour and Reform, UKIPs predecessor, being the main beneficiaries.

As to the party splitting into factions, the foundations are in-place, and with Nigel Farage breaking cover this week, we have someone ready to light the touch paper.

Farage clearly think the Tories are in his debt: “We have been betrayed by a Conservative party that I gave considerable help to back in 2019,” Farage told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “I got rid of Mrs May by forming the Brexit party … and then I stood aside in 300 seats for Boris Johnson. And we were told that we would get control of our borders … I feel betrayed by them.”

Now its payback time, and it will fundamentally change the Tory party. Will those on the right defect to Reform, with One Nation Tories taking control of the party? Or, will a Farage led Reform do a reverse takeover of the Tory part, with One Nation Tories defecting to Labour or the LibDems?

There are two-points I feel can be made with some certainty:
1. Labour are now assured of an overwhelming majority as Reform will split the right-wing vote.

2. The Tory party will never be the same again.
Brexit came to define the Tories, and ultimately destroyed it.

Before continuing, let’s not forget this week’s first head-to-head between Starmer and Sunak.

By all accounts Sunak conducted himself in true populist fashion, continually talking over Starmer and “Repeat(ing) a lie often enough and it becomes the truth”.

‘If we take the Conservatives……. will we see the party splinter into two factions leading to the creation of a new party, or defections to UKIP or the Liberal Democrats?’  – 30 March 2016′

Sunak is now becoming a desperate fool, the £2000 tax increase is unverified. It is based on the a calculation made by the Tories of what Labour might spend if they choose high spending policies, which, as yet, are still to be announced.

Sunak worked on the basis that the answer is “Labour will make it worse by raising taxes by £2000”, irrespective of what the question was about.

Unfortunately for Sunak it appears that he lied to the country and broke the ministerial code in doing so. Both Starmer and the shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, rounded on Sunak in an increasingly bitter and personal war of words, saying the PM’s tactics during the debate showed he was dishonest under pressure.

Sunak then compounded the situation, saying the figures based on flaky worst-case scenarios had been signed off by Treasury officials, leading to an angry letter from the top civil servant in the Treasury saying he and his team completely disowned the £2,000 figure and he had warned the Conservative party not to drag them into the election in this way

After the Tories initial euphoria at landing a few decent punches in the debate, a new YouGov poll 24-hours put Reform within two points of the Tories, and Labour on 40%.

Sunak might have been better served explaining a report by the Resolution Foundation which shows that our next government will have a shortfall of up to £33bn in the public finances unless it is prepared to push through a fresh round of severe austerity measures.

‘Sunak is now becoming a desperate fool’

The report highlights that the intent of both main parties to reducing debt as a share of national income within five years is made problematic due to higher interest payments on debts, slower-than-expected productivity growth and the £10bn cost of compensation for the infected blood scandal.

By comparison the OBR, the Treasury’s tax and spending watchdog, estimates that the government is on course to meet its debt-to-GDP target with just £9bn to spare.

James Smith, the Resolution Foundation’s research director, said: “…..whoever wins the election could be confronting a fiscal hole of £12bn, if today’s uncertainties turn into bad news after the election. And if the next government wants to avoid a fresh round of austerity, that black hole could rise to over £33bn.”

The PMs week didn’t get any better when he decided to grace the D-Day anniversary with his presence, albeit briefly, as he rushed back to London to try to save his own political skin.

Apart from being a gift to Starmer, who got to look like the real statesman by staying on and being photographed with Emmanuel Macron, Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Olaf Scholz, it made the PM appear as if he wasn’t really bothered.

Rishi really is in the wrong job, he just hasn’t got any political acumen, or understanding of the electorate.

But then neither have the Tories if their attitude to donors is anything to go by. Enter stage-right Frank Hester who, you might recall, had previously said that Diane Abbott makes you “want to hate all black women” and said the MP “should be shot”.

The Tories, clearly unconcerned by Hesters racist and misogynistic language, accepted a further £5m donation from his healthcare tech company, the Phoenix Partnership, bringing the total donated to >£15m in a year, equating to more than 40% of the total national spending limit for each party in the general election.

‘it made the PM appear as if he wasn’t really bothered’

Frank, it would appear has a considerable track record of racism and misogynistic language. He allegedly said a woman was attractive for a black woman. Whilst another former staffer claimed: “He was going on a trip to China and he would pull his eyes and say, ‘when are we next going to China?’ in front of Chinese colleagues. You felt like you couldn’t say anything,”

This sort of racism makes a mockery of those who fought in WW2. D-Day was about defeating the axis of evil; Japan, Italy, and Germany, three authoritarian fascist states, where racism and racial superiority underpinned their beliefs.

The irony is that 60-million people gave their lives in WW2, and eighty years later we are seeing a resurgence in authoritarianism and far-right fascism, albeit known as populism today, in France, Italy, Germany, Hungary, the US and Russia. I wonder if, or when, the UK will join that list?

Which brings me rather neatly to the main event, Nigel Farage, and his U-turn on standing for Reform in Clacton after ving given two press conferences the previous week in which he said he wouldn’t.

“Changing your mind is sometimes a strength,” he said. Presumably that means he is open to new Brexit referendum, given all those having second thoughts about Brexit?

Ever the old soldier, Farage said he had decided to stand because he owed it to the little people. A statement that is complete self-serving rubbish, Farage only ever does what he thinks will get him the most attention. Also, he clearly sees an opportunity to finish the Tories off.

I had thought of considering what voters find appealing in him. But, then I remembered that I had written this in “Election 3, What Next for Democracy? Trump and Farage are no different, although Trump is clearly the leader and Farage the acolyte.

‘Ever the old soldier, Farage said he had decided to stand because he owed it to the little people’

Farage greatest skills are inducing panic in Tory MPs and beguiling right-wing media. Voters should be very frightened of him, his professed admiration for Vladimir Putin, sycophantic following of Trump and relationships with some Europe’s nastiest far-right should serve as a warning to everyone.

The Tories, in moving further right, have made it easier for Farage and Reform. They have legitimised their ideas, bringing them into mainstream and making them politically acceptable, whereas previously they were madness.

Populism is inherently negative, based on telling the electorate what is wrong rather than how it can be fixed, always requiring 1a scapegoat, immigrants being ideal. In a way, it is designed to give people and outlet for their frustrations.

It isn’t new, there are numerous 20th century examples of authoritarian politicians doing the same; Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao, et al

As with Trump, Farage has immediately tried to control the narrative, and in the same disruptive fashion, shouting louder for longer.

When he announced his decision to stand for parliament, his speech contained a series of misinformation and half-truths about immigration numbers, the impact of immigration on housing, claims against Muslim MP’s, the economic impact of Brexit, and Kier Starmer defending migrants when he was a barrister.

Still when did the truth get in the way of a good story? And, it isn’t likely that his supporters are going to factcheck anything. It just read meat thrown to rabid dogs.

And this is just the sort of madness that has terrified the Tories into moving further right, trying to attract the rabid dogs.

‘And this is just the sort of madness that has terrified the Tories into moving further right, trying to attract the rabid dogs’

In “Election #3”, I said, “Farage is competent, perhaps the best, or maybe, most natural politician in the UK, an effective communicator, who understands the power of propaganda.”

This partly explains his influence over right-wing, socially conservative voters. The Tories realise that some of their supporters agree with Farage’s views, and this following makes a difference, he effectively gifted Johnson the 2019 election

Most election campaigns see parties make promises they cannot keep, but Farage takes this a step further, making brazen assertions “feel true” to target voters, even though they have no basis in fact. For example, he will possibly use the number of migrants coming across the Channel in small boats – about 10,000 so far this year – to mock the Tory claim that their Brexit deal allowed the UK to “take back control” of its borders. We have already seen blatant racism in his claims that Muslims lack British values.

The main role of Reform in this general election isn’t going to be winning seats, but helping the Conservatives lose theirs. Farage views Sir Keir Starmer’s victory as necessary for his “reverse takeover” of the Tories.

What worries me is that Farage’s hardline nationalism resonates so well with people who feel insecure about their role in society, whose ambitions have been thwarted, who feel ignored by politicians and who blame their unhappiness on immigration.

Whilst there numbers have increased post the GFC due to austerity and the cost-of-living crisis, these people doesn’t represent a majority in Britain, and never has done.

Even the Brexit referendum was unrepresentative of the electorate. Leave’s triumph was based on clever marketing creating a disparate coalition that transcended traditional party lines – affluent middle-class southern Tories; disaffected “red wall” Labour voters in the north and Midlands. Even then, the official Vote Leave campaign knew that Farage was toxic and that the cause would be lost if he, and not Boris Johnson, were its figurehead.

Farage’s appeal is more limited than he cares to admit. In the marginal constituencies that turned to Johnson in 2019, the majority will switch back to Labour. The variable in those battleground seats is ex-Tory voters who are wary of Starmer and haven’t decided yet what to do on 4 July. They tend to be older, white, non-graduates, anxious about immigration and crime, who are likely to switch to Reform, meaning that Labour’s list of winnable seats increases.

Sunak had gambled that with Farage on the sidelines he could hang on to these votes, which explains his desperation to get someone, anyone, deported to Rwanda, and election pledges such as national service, pensioners pensions, and spurious university degrees.

‘Sunak was playing damage-limitation, conceding electoral defeat, while striving to save sufficient Conservative MPs so that the party might be viable in opposition’

In effect, Sunak was playing damage-limitation, conceding electoral defeat, while striving to save sufficient Conservative MPs so that the party might be viable in opposition, with enough momentum to only be out-of-office for a single term.

Not only has Sunak been out-manoeuvred, he has left the country wanting. Farage is an astute campaigner and effective communicator, but he is not interested in responsible government.

The Tories have legitimised Farage’s brand of malevolent provocateur politics, and as a result, it is hard to see how they can lay claim to represent a broad swath of the British cultural mainstream.

Sunak’s concessions are only the latest in a series of climb-downs from Tory leaders in their ongoing desperation to appease Farage. As Chamberlain found with Hitler, give these people an inch and they take a mile. As with Chamberlain in Munich, they should have learned from Brexit. Theresa May offered the eurosceptics most of what they wanted and it wasn’t enough. Johnson gave them the rest. Not enough. Now the meddling judges from the ECHR need to be vanquished; migrants repelled, as they continue to mine the blame and bitterness extracted from the seams of social and economic discontent cynically exploited for Brexit.

Sunak could have restored the old Conservative party by honouring the pledge he delivered on the threshold of No 10; to govern with “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level”. Or at least sustained the effort. Now it is far too late. Instead, he’s been drawn into desperate political games he is clearly unsuited to.

Once again the Tories have surrendered to Farage, giving him the chance to bring the party down. Farage doesn’t want to govern he just wants to cause chaos, which is, in effect, his route to power.

“I got no emotions for anybody else
You better understand
I’m in love with myself, myself
My beautiful self”

Wow, what a week for Sunak – reload and try the other foot!

‘This really is the most bizarre election campaign.

The PM has been out-manoeuvred by Farage. Sunak’s desperate tack to the right has served only to make Reform’s extremism appear more mainstream. That has given credibility to their nastiness, and left the Tories totally bereft of ideas.

By comparison Starmer’s “steady as she goes” approach, with the constant theme of change looks like political genius. But then, the bar is at an all-time low!

Tonight’s 7-way debate looks set-up to be a bun fight. Farage will be Farage, and shout longer, louder, and over everyone else. The only hope is Penny Mourdant brings the sword from the coronation with her and does for him!

I have to admit to being surprised Farage didn’t turn-up at the D-Day events. Whilst clearly such an insignificant “gob” wasn’t on the invite list, I had expected him to stand on the prow of a boat with a megaphone, playing the old soldier role he so loves, like a cross between El Cid and Arthur Scargill.

The scene is now set; Sunak will continue to make mistakes, Farage will dominate the headlines, and Labour will win.

Lyrically, we start with the Libertines and “What Became of the Likely Lads?” We finish with Sex Pistols and “No Feeling”. I suspect Farage was the sort of “blokey” public school twat that liked punk, probably 2-yrs too late, when, in reality punks hated blokey” public school twats like him. Enjoy! Philip.



Philip Gilbert 2Philip Gilbert is a city-based corporate financier, and former investment banker.

Philip is a great believer in meritocracy, and in the belief that if you want something enough you can make it happen. These beliefs were formed in his formative years, of the late 1970s and 80s

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