By Thomas Foster
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How can we push back after Nigel Farage and Reform UK’s general election gains?

A racist, far right party has grabbed over 15 percent—around four million votes
Issue 2913
Anti-racist campaigners protest Reform UK in Clacton (Photo: Guy Smallman)

Anti-racists campaign against Nigel Farage and Reform UK in Clacton (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Anti-racists face an urgent challenge after Reform UK broke through in the general election. The racist, far right party won five seats at the general election—including Nigel Farage in Clacton, Essex.

It shows Britain is not immune to the political shocks in the rest of Europe, where far right and racist forces have broken through in elections. 

Farage won 21,225 votes—46 percent—compared to Tory incumbent Giles Watling’s 12,820 votes—27.9 percent.

Reform UK chair, business tycoon Richard Tice, won in Boston and Skegness. Lee Anderson, who defected to Reform UK after being suspended from the Tory party over racist remarks, won in Ashfield. Corporate executive Rupert Lowe took Great Yarmouth. James McMurdock won South Basildon and East Thurrock from the Tories after a recount. 

There will be four MPs in parliament who will take every opportunity to spread racist lies, scapegoat migrants and spew hatred. They will boost fascists on the ground, such as Nazi Tommy Robinson who plans to march in London on Saturday 27 July.

Anderson successfully defended his seat against a Labour challenge, winning 17,062—42.8 percent—versus Labour’s 11,554—29 percent. 

Tice gained his seat from the Tories, winning 15,520 votes—38.4 percent—compared to the Tories 13,510 votes—33.4 percent. 

In Great Yarmouth, it was another gain from the Tories, with Reform UK on 14,385 votes—35.3 percent. Labour came second with 12,959 votes—31.8 percent—and the Tories were pushed into third.

Who is to blame for the result? The Tories and the Labour Party. The mainstream parties have enabled and bent to racism for years. It’s Tory racism and Labour pandering to it that’s allowed Reform UK to grow.

In Llanelli in West Wales, racist and far right forces organised a successful campaign to stop refugees being housed in a hotel last summer. The Labour Party refused to take on the racism and pandered to it, fearing it would lose votes. 

Labour’s Nia Griffith clung on with 12,751 votes, Reform UK came second with 11, 247—and far right Ukip got another 600 votes. 

Reform’s gains will strengthen the hand of the Tories who argue the party needs to shift even further rightwards. Andrea Leadsom, who was a Tory health minister under Rishi Sunak but stood down at this election, said Reform UK showed “we’ve not been conservative enough”.

Labour will bend even further to racism and push through attacks on migrants and refugees. And, as the Labour government offers little to ordinary people, the more Reform UK can tap into the disillusionment with mainstream politics.

Farage described the result as “a revolt against the establishment” and that his “plan was to build a national movement to challenge Labour”. He has previously said this election was just a springboard to “challenge the general election properly in 2029”.

But the left must not despair. For example, the Palestine movement has brought millions of people onto the streets for a different set of politics. It’s one that directs anger towards the system and the people at the top, and fed into strong votes for independent candidates in several constituencies. 

But the left can’t be complacent either. Stand Up To Racism (SUTR), which campaigned in Clacton, has called a counter-protest against Tommy Robinson in central London on 27 July.

A big turnout on that day will boost the anti-racist movement to take on all the threats we face—state racism from a new Labour government, Farage and Reform UK and fascists who’ll seek to grow in the atmosphere. 

Go to standuptoracism.org.uk for more details


Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) has been campaigning in Clacton against Reform UK, against Nazi candidates, and to kick racism out of the election. The campaign group’s co-convenor, Weyman Bennett, spoke to Socialist Worker. 

I have been covering elections in my work as an anti-fascist and anti-racist campaigner since the election that brought Tony Blair to office in 1997. This general election is the most racist election I have seen.

Tory Enoch Powell was dismissed from the shadow cabinet for his racist Rivers of Blood speech in 1968. Nigel Farage claims him as his hero.

Now the same racist rhetoric is used as common discourse by mainstream politicians. The racism being spouted—exposed so blatantly in Channel 4’s expose, but far from an anomaly—is not a victimless crime.

Women will have their hijabs ripped off. Black people, refugees and migrants will be subjected to attacks and abuse in the street.

This rhetoric demonises and dehumanises the most destitute and defenceless people in society. And it has been even echoed by Keir Starmer’s parroting of the “stop the boats” slogan rather than backing the demand for safe passage and legal routes.

Official Reform UK campaign representatives who faced up the campaign handed the evidence over of the party’s breach of the law—racism in Britain is supposedly a crime. To call for the shooting of human beings on the shores of Britain is a violent hate crime.

Fascist Tommy Robinson—who is calling on racists, far right and fascist thugs to “take over Trafalgar Square” on 27 July—has tried to build his new movement around a claim of ‘two-tier policing’. But the real “two tier policing” in Britain is failure to act against racism and violence openly whipped up by politicians and parties such as Reform UK.

This is in stark contrast to the racist violent policing of black people exposed during the Black Lives Matter movement. It continues to produce very necessary campaigns for justice, whether for Child Q, Chris Kaba or Sheku Bayoh.

If you want to see the reality of migration in Britain—the real face of migrants—it’s those who built our houses, work in our hospitals and care homes, and drive our buses. 

Divide and rule scapegoating racist politics are used time and time again by those in power when they face a crisis. We have seen what is happening across Europe—in France and Germany where the fascists are growing in power.

We cannot allow these forces to gain any foothold, either electorally or on the streets—we cannot let this happen here.


Where did Reform UK do well? 

There was a surge in support for Reform UK in what had been strong Brexit supporting areas of north east England, where Reform UK outpolled the Tories in a number of seats.

In Houghton and Sunderland South, Labour won 18,837 votes (47 percent) and Reform UK second won 11,668 (29 percent) and Tories won 5,514 votes (14 percent).

In Blyth and Ashington, Labour won 20,030 votes (50 percent) and Reform UK won 10,857 votes (27 percent).

In Sunderland Central, Labour won 16,852 votes (42 percent) and Reform UK won 10,779 votes (27 percent).

All three of these seats were also seats where the Brexit Party—the previous name of Reform UK before it rebranded—did well in 2019. It was a similar story in other northern “Red Wall” seats, such as Blackpool South, Barnsley North and Gateshead Central and Whickham, with Reform UK coming second to Labour.

Labour lost the “Red Wall” seat of Bishop Auckland, north east England, in 2019 but recovered it in this general election. However, it would have lost to a combined Tory-Reform UK vote. The result was Labour winning 42 percent of the vote, the Tories 25 percent, Reform UK 23 percent of the vote.

In South Wales, Labour won the Vale of Glamorgan seat from the Tories. But it was the result of a Tory-Reform UK splitting of the right vote—as Labour’s vote share in the seat actually decreased from the 2019 general election. 

Labour won 39 percent of the vote—down from 43 percent, the Tories won 30 percent and Reform UK won 15 percent.

In Wales overall, Reform UK took 17 percent of the vote share and were the second largest party in 13 out of 32 seats.

 

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