We Can Ignore Farage and his Anti-Lockdown Party – Conservative Article
Nigel Farage has recently taken the task of completely rebranding the Brexit Party. Its new name is now the Reform Party. His core issue at the moment is being anti-lockdown. However, in my opinion, this is just a desperate bid to stay relevant to UK politics. It is a poor attempt at developing a party, and even worse, his core issue will be solved soon without requiring a political shakeup.
With Farage’s campaign of leaving the EU now fulfilled, it is clear he does not know what to do next. Right now Farage’s traditional anti-immigration and anti-EU rhetoric will not resonate with the British people. People have moved on, more pressing issues like health have been brought to the front of people’s minds.
Trying to reflect this shift in his strategy, Farage has now focused his party on the most pressing health issue at the moment: Lockdowns. However, the angle he is going for misses the mark of what the majority of the British public feels. He is pitching his party based on his personal opinions on a singular issue, rather than going for a credible gap in the market.
As explained on his party’s new website, Farage’s preferred method for dealing with COVID is using the strategy known as the Great Barrington Declaration. This strategy would target resources at those most at risk and allow the rest of the population to relax into normal life whilst still practising simple hygiene measures. Farage is advocating for living with the virus.
Now, this article won’t debate whether that would have been a better way to tackle the pandemic or not, that’s another discussion. Regardless, it is clear that the majority of the British public does not take Farage’s view.
According to YouGov, 85% of Britons supported the introduction of the third national lockdown. While this is a small drop compared to the 93% support in March 2020, it does not represent such a catastrophic drop that would warrant the rise of an anti-lockdown party. To me, this is a massive misread of the national mood. People simply aren’t against lockdowns.
This isn’t likely to change anytime soon either. The government has so far rolled out a successful vaccination program and is set to vaccinate all the vulnerable groups within their timeframe. This will translate to a slow reopening, and thus the need for an anti-lockdown position will be irrelevant. There will be no need to campaign on an issue that will be shortly resolved.
And while this is not Farage’s only policy – he does raise possible areas for reform – it is his headline policy. This is the policy his party will live or die by. It is effectively yet another single-issue party. The issue of reform is not being pushed by Farage currently, it is being anti-lockdown.
Farage’s latest attempt is more of a pressure group masquerading as a party. While his previous two had credible support, I don’t think he will be lucky a third time. He is targeting a very narrow market.
The May council elections will be the first test for Farage’s party. But this is several months ahead, and while we will not be completely free of lockdown life by then, the government will have likely relaxed some of the restrictions by then. There might be some protest against the government in May, but I don’t think Farage will be as successful as he hopes to be. It won’t be enough to take his party forward at any rate.
To me, Farage is desperately trying to recapture the lost magic of previous success. The problem of being a single-issue party is that if you pick an opinion that strongly goes against the majority, then you have no hope. People are likely to laugh at you.
While it could be argued people laughed at UKIP before it went mainstream, Farage does not have to time to grow this into a mainstream issue. It will be solved long before then. This shows another problem of being a single-issue party, once the issue you campaign on has been solved, your entire party is useless. You’re forced to start again.
Farage himself proved this; the successful leaving of the EU made both UKIP and the Brexit Party irrelevant to UK Politics. No one cares what either thinks anymore because their primary reason for existence has gone.
Instead, Farage should be trying to establish a party with core principles and motives, not jumping on the next hot button issue.
Farage is simply trying to stay relevant but has picked the worst issue to do it with. He should recognise that he has had success getting his ideas across and call it quits, or develop a more meaningful party.
Written by Senior Conservative Writer, Kieran Burt
Point of Information
You’re Underestimating Him Again, Aren’t You? – A Liberal Response
I was slightly taken aback by Kieran’s article when I first read it. Simply shrugging off Farage as if he isn’t relevant anymore. Half of me wishes to believe what you say is true, but we have to accept that Farage is certainly still relevant.
I also find it funny to be sitting here having recently written an article on Trump’s patriot party arguing they will be relevant, even if that effect is ‘positive’ for Democrats. Although you disagreed with me there, I do agree that Farage’s new Reform party will fail. That does not mean Farage will disappear.
Farage is the second most heard of politician and the second most popular amongst older men according to YouGov. His pub persona really speaks to well… pub-like personas. He’s one of the people, although the reality is that he is anything but that. A man with that much recognition cannot be claimed as irrelevant.
Nothing is more blatant about his power than over the summer, practically igniting the immigrant crisis. There was no story there yet Farage created one. If you had a moral compass you should be glad that the French Navy is saving people’s lives. You should also know that it is the UK’s refugee policy that forces these situations. Yet, Nigel Farage spun it into something that became incredibly ugly.
I wish Farage would just go away. We need to forget him and never bring him into a political conversation. This is because his basic political arguments are always incredibly flawed. However, people are infatuated with him. They either love him or love to attack him. Either way, that keeps in the media and keeps the man relevant. We shouldn’t underestimate him again.
Written by Senior Liberal writer, Max Anderson
Farage Remains Influential – A Labour Response
I largely agree with Kieran here. Farage is ultimately a populist who seems to latch onto any possible political capital, so far with quite considerable success. He remains one of the most influential politicians in Britain. But with this anti-lockdown stance, he seems unlikely to make any big gains. As Kieran notes, there is overwhelming public support for lockdowns, despite having spent most of the last year in one.
Realistically, the only feasible result if Farage successfully pressured the government on the issue is a quick easing of lockdown, like last summer. Pressure is already building on Boris Johnson from his backbenchers and business leaders to ease restrictions quickly. However, after a deadly second wave, he seems to be committed to a ‘data, not dates’ approach, and a slow easing of lockdown. So, even here Farage seems unlikely to win much ground, and he has chosen the wrong issue here.
But, he remains someone with a serious amount of influence, as demonstrated by the moral panic he created last summer over boat crossings across the channel. Farage is not going anywhere anytime soon (unfortunately).
Written by Deputy Chief Labour Writer, Brian Byrne