• Toby Irwin

Is there appetite for 'Reform'?

It seemed unlikely at many points, but even Nigel Farage conceded that Boris Johnson's Brexit deal was a success in his books. However, in doing so he cut himself from his own voter base. With Brexit delivered, what now would the Brexit Party do? Why, rebrand of course! Step forth, Reform UK, Farage's new political party. Well, new in name only, since it has been renamed from the previous Brexit Party.

I think there is a tendency in mainstream politics to discount Farage simply for being himself, instead of actually attempting to discredit the actual policies upon which they stand. The media clearly tripped over itself, failing miserably, regarding Brexit. They would be unwise to make the same mistake again. So what is it that Mr Farage seeks to reform? Well, according to their website there are a number of institutions.

The first is the House of Lords. In this regard, Mr Farage's aims are simple: abolition. Further, there is aims to change the way we vote, with the first past the post system being replaced by proportional representation. Looking at his previous forays into politics this is an unsurprising move. For instance, in the 2015 election leading UKIP, Farage managed to gain 12.6% of the votes while only getting one seat in Clacton. By contrast, the SNP barely reached 5% of the UK vote share, yet won 56 seats. Other areas the party has its crosshairs set upon include the BBC, immigration policy and law and order. For what it's worth, I would almost be tempted to say they should throw the NHS in there for some 'reform', but alas the holy grail must remain unscathed for any chance of election.

It has been a traditional approach to see any rise of a Farage party to be synonymous with skirmishes with the Tories, since the policies have traditionally been most in line here: suggesting a battle for voters. However, just like Brexit, many of these areas are ones that draw support from across the spectrum. Who's to say those on the Left would not be sympathetic to a reform on the voting system, or better yet, the House of Lords?

What might prove even more pivotal, however, are two forces. The first is the ability of the Tories, under Mr Johnson's leadership, to steer their ship into such waters as to lap up much of the fervent support that Reform UK might generate. The second is the general stamina of the country. This might sound odd, and it probably is, but are we all just too knackered for a new party? I mean, we aren't the US, do we really have another five years of sabre-rattling in us? I remain unconvinced, but I stand to be corrected.

At the time of writing, Toby Irwin is a final year student at the University of St Andrews. He is studying International Relations (MA, Hons).