Wins give Nigel Farage platform at heart of politics

Wins give Nigel Farage platform at heart of politics
Wins give Nigel Farage platform at heart of politics

So Nigel Farage is finally heading to Westminster to take a seat on the green benches.

After seven failed attempts the Reform UK leader has won his place in Parliament, persuading the people of Clacton to put him there after changing his mind mid-campaign and throwing his hat in the electoral ring.

And while his party might not have matched the initial expectations of the exit poll which predicted a total tally of 13 seats, there will be three others alongside Mr Farage, pacing the corridors of power bearing the light blue of Reform UK.

The party’s hailing it as a breakthrough moment, and there’s no doubting its significance.

Firstly, because a parliamentary seat gives Mr Farage a new platform at the heart of British politics.

When he was a member of the European Parliament he used his position to amplify his message, largely centred on criticising the very institutions he was elected to.

Don’t expect him to be quiet in Westminster. Nigel Farage certainly knows how to disrupt.

Secondly the party sees this as a stepping stone to something more.

Chairman Richard Tice, the former party leader who stepped aside when Mr Farage took the helm, has long had a two-election strategy with the first – this one – meant to create a base of support they could build on by the time of the next.

During his victory speech in Clacton, Mr Farage said his aim was to build a “mass movement” to challenge the next general election “properly”.

He’s described a “gap on the centre right of British politics” that he plans to fill.

But while the party outperformed even their own initial expectations this time round, they acknowledge it wasn’t without issue.

The latter stages of Reform UK’s election campaign were plagued with controversy over alleged racist and homophobic comments by party campaigners.

They had to drop candidates over offensive remarks.

They’ve blamed the speed at which they had to recruit candidates and failures in vetting. Today Nigel Farage acknowledged he had to “professionalise and democratise” the party, saying he would “get rid” of some “idiots” who’d been let in.

The young party’s rapid rise stretched it and exposed cracks.

But it attracted huge support and had a big impact on the election.

As well as winning four seats, it came second in many others, largely at the expense of the Conservatives. That is already weighing heavily on Tory minds as they start to consider their own party’s future direction.

Much of what happens next might depend on how the Tories respond, as well as whether Reform UK can put the structures in place to withstand the extra scrutiny that comes with electoral success.

But this result will only fuel Reform UK’s ambition.

In the early hours of this morning I asked Nigel Farage whether he had his eyes set on Downing Street in five years’ time, and he replied: “whatever happens, happens”.

It might seem like an awfully long shot, but what is clear is that the man who once promised a political earthquake has once again seriously shaken things up.

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