Nigel Farage’s racist Brexit Party failed to win its first MP in Peterborough last week—but it won nearly 10,000 votes.
A by-election in the city saw Labour cling onto the seat by just 683 votes. Labour’s Lisa Forbes won 10,484 votes while Brexit Party candidate Mike Greene got 9,801. The Tories were pushed into third place.
The Brexit Party immediately turned to racist stereotypes to explain its defeat. A “source” blamed Labour’s win on securing a “mainly Pakistani vote”.
This source apparently said, “Some of these houses had 14 people in them registered to vote. It would be interesting to see what proportion voted Labour.”
Many had predicted that Labour would lose. It had narrowly won the seat by 607 votes in 2017. Voters recalled Labour MP Fiona Onasanya after she was jailed for perverting the course of justice. And polls showed growing support for the Brexit Party. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn declared the result a “great win”. He said it showed “clear support for Labour’s programme to end austerity” and was a rejection of the Tories’ “disastrous handling of Brexit”.
It’s true that the vote was a humiliation for the Tories, whose vote fell by more than a quarter. Yet Labour’s vote share fell by over 17 percent. And the result won’t end the rows engulfing Labour over Brexit and Corbyn’s leadership.
It won’t mean the end of the racist Brexit Party either. It’s now preparing for the next general election, with British Chambers of Commerce boss John Longworth drawing up a manifesto. As Farage said after the Peterborough result, “Eight weeks ago the Brexit Party was launched. British politics has fundamentally changed. It’s no longer just two parties contesting.”
He said the party can win seats in the future.
“Voters are going to start to realise that if you vote Conservative you’re going to finish up with a Corbyn government,” he said. “Once that gets through we’ll begin to see tactical voting.”
Many Tories openly voted for the Brexit Party in last month’s European elections. Some left the Tories to join it. MP Crispin Blunt raised the prospect of reaching “some kind of electoral pact” with Farage’s party.
And the Tory leadership race is set to deliver a right wing, racist leader who is more closely aligned to Farage’s ideas. Anti?racists must keep campaigning to push back Farage, the Brexit Party and the racist Tories that feed him.