The Newport West by election was a warning. There was writing on the wall at Peterborough. Now there is Brecon and Radnorshire as a final warning that psephological numeracy matters, the FPTP system is crumbling, and tactical voting is an essential route to power. Brexiteers deserve better than a shambolic ego-driven approach to the realisation of British independence.
I get a lot of stick here from Faragistas. They keep telling me their man walks on water, and I should get off his case/back and indeed the fence in order back him to the hilt, and how dare I point out glaring flaws in his character.
Way back in the days of the Bercow fiasco in the 2010 election, had Nigel struck a deal with the Independent anti-Bercow candidate Patrick Philips, the chances are he would’ve won the seat. That would’ve throttled the unpleasant Little Man’s Speakership, caused a constitutional crisis, broken UKIP’s electoral duck, and thrust Farage to the centre of British politics.
But in a typical act of blustering bravado, he blew it.
In the 2015 election, UKIP again won no seats. But Cameron agreed to an EU referendum.
On the evening of the poll, before the results were known, for some reason Nigel chose to say he thought Leave had lost. He was wrong.
During the 2017 general election, Farage stood his UKIPpers to one side in order to let Theresa May have a free run against Corbyn. I wrote at the time:
‘I said to UKIP insiders from the off that I could not get my head around their strategy. I still can’t: it was always evident that, over time, Farage’s creation (for that’s what it is) had stolen more and more votes from Labour. Those converts were desperate for change – why on Earth would they leak back to a jubilant Tory Party practically on the verge of reintroducing crucifixion for benefit cheats? The Kippers are going to find it an uphill job to get those Labour supporters back’.
So it has proved. Ever afterwards, I was shut out of UKIP. Shortly thereafter, Nigel Farage underwent an operation to remove his own UKIP gland, before buggering off to Australia on a lecture tour. For several crucial months, Brexit was blatantly undermined. But Mr Farage was nowhere to be seen.
When he did finally return earlier this year, it was to launch another anti-EU Party that was only ever going to split the Brexit vote. Nigel had, quite clearly, learned nothing while in the Antipodes; from Day One, he did his best to alienate Labour Leavers, the rump of UKIP, and the media. The last of these thoroughly deserved what he gave them, but his behaviour was crass and did him no favours. He did not need alliances and favours, he bragged: there would be a general election, and The Brexit Party would achieve power on its on.
TBP did indeed romp home to win the euros, but that was never going to be reflected in a general election. When the Tories surprised him by electing Boris Johnson leader, rather than see BoJo as a man he should support, Wolfie Farage continued his huff-and-puff routine.
Shortly before all this, last February The Slog started banging on about Groundforce tactical voting and the collapse of the two-Party system. I wrote:
‘if Farage2 decides to fight only those seats that voted Leave in 2016 (and signs a real pact with ERG Leave Tories to give them a free run in their constituencies) then it could be anyone’s election.’
In June, Farage’s TBP fought a by-election in Peterborough – a seat where 61% of the electorate voted Leave in 2016. It lost.
Last night, there was another by election in Brecon and Radnorshire. Unlike Farage’s Army, the LibDems have a long history (back to 1963) of fighting local politics via an efficient machine, and being prepared to do deals that help tactical voters. Neither Plaid Cymru nor the Greens fielded candidates, to give “Remain” a better chance.
The full results are as follows, including my highlights in red:
These are the lessons to be learned by all Parties, but especially those who genuinely want a clean Brexit: not a Hard Brexit (there is no such thing) just a clean Brexit, in which all the the apron strings to the sinking mother ship have been cut:
- The turnout was 60%. TBP failed to convince the cynical, desperate and disillusioned in Brecon that they were worth turning up for. The Party’s narrow positioning invites that response. That is entirely down to the leader.
- Jane Dodds won with 43%. Had there been an electoral deal by the Tories with TBP, she would probably have lost. Both Farage and Johnson need to think hard about whether they can do this job on their own.
- The once ever-growing UKIP now polls less than Lily the Pink. The time and effort of a large number of hardworking people is being completely wasted thanks to the vengeful ego of Nigel Farage.
- Labour’s performance was a joke. Had Farage been less caustic about Labour Leavers (“they’re an utterly lost cause”) many would’ve pitched up to stop the LibDems. Brexit needs more than Labour abstentions, it needs Labour voters.
- Anyone still in any doubt about the inevitability of Labour defeat at the next general election is completely off with the fairies. But as almost all of them are Remainers, this is to be expected.
- For We the People, it is time to wake up and finally realise that the anti-Brexit axis is driven by an ideology that cares not a fig for citizen democracy, and rejoices in the idea of defeating majorities. However, they’re happy to exploit a voting system they despise, and infinitely better organised than either Brexiteers in general or the Brexit Party in particular.
- Last but not least, the idea that a Brexit Party (outnumbered by over four to one by the victors in Brecon) can win a bloc of Westminster seats unaided at the next general election is utterly infantile, and needs to be scotched.
CNN this morning gleefully declared that Boris Johnson’s Administration “is hanging by a thread”. Those pushing a United Front Against Brexit are cock-a-hoop. Both the Fed and the ECB are shorting the Pound in an effort to create catastrophe from the desire for independence.
Those Brits who want freedom rather than vassilisation at the hands of neoliberal autocrats really do need to stand up and be counted. But the absolute minimum they should be entitled to expect is a United Front Against Autocracy, and clarification about where their vote will be best cast.
Those who deny it to them will not be well remembered by history.