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The Reform Party and the UK’s lurch towards fascism

I posted an earlier version of this a while back - inspired to do update following THAT discussion about all things ULEZ. 

The “manifesto”, in terms of transport, only mentions stopping HS2, but there’s plenty on the usual right-wing obsessions: Brexit, immigration, veterans and climate change.  I had another look because I worry about the ongoing decline of the two main political parties. 

If the Cons stay wedded to Brexit, then we will go into the next GE with all the widespread impoverishment Brexit has ushered in - not helped by Covid, Putin, etc. People generally vote according to their pockets.  I don’t get Labour’s current position on Europe either, but let’s see how that evolves, and even the Cons may also evolve, or even pivot, but time is already running out for them.

Several roads now lead to the horrors of a further lurch to the right in this country.  Let’s hope Labour get the GE landslide the polls are predicting - but we’re still at least a year out from the real campaigning beginning. 

A cycling angle? With the Reform Party and its ilk, Facebook Steve and Nextdoor Dave attain real political influence. It’s not spelt out in the manifesto, but you can see where this is probably heading and what it is likely to mean for cycling.  You can bet that this lot are very much "on the side of hard working drivers" etc. 

As you all know, Dave’s going to “sort the traffic” and no doubt show them lazy planners how it’s done: Steve thinks the Council are corrupt, the police blinkered and is, if he can fit it in to his busy schedule he’s going to “teach them Lycra’s a thing or two.” It won’t concern him that his Mondeo is 3 months out of MoT or that Mrs Steve sometimes drives the kids in it uninsured. 

As vulnerable road users, vulnerable people, we rely a great deal on the rule of law for protection. The rule of law means that we understand what the laws are, they are in general fair, and how they are applied and to whom is even-handed and consistent. 

The fascist position is broadly the opposite - it’s all off-the-cuff to support today’s particular agenda - that’s why the Iain Duncan-Smith “happy to see ULEZ infra vandalised” comment is, as an example, so very worrying.  In the Conservatives, here is a party happy to send signals to enable the mob to attack RNLI stations, beat up immigrants, shout at teachers, doctors etc. 

This right-wing stuff works by allowing/enabling significant privileged groups to to think of themselves as the downtrodden underdog and here is a way to fight back.  The pro Brexit campaign played on people’s ignorance, fears and prejudices exactly as this does. 

It’s all about freedom, innit, less regulation, less tax burden, and damn the climate.  There’s more polar bears now, so it’s fine.  Let’s have open-cast coal mining, lithium mining and fracking. The section on climate change stumbles around like a Friday night drunk, trying to explain he wasn't being racist to the barman - a denier position emerges, unsurprisingly.

In places, the mask really slips: “We must keep divisive woke ideologies such as Critical Race Theory (CRT) and gender ideology out of the classroom.” - to be honest, I don’t even know what those two are.

The standard enemies are put up - the civil service, the BBC.  Amid all the thrust and parry, there’s nothing  about making a better, more inclusive and cohesive world to live in; arts, sports and culture don’t feature in this barstool view of the world: a dullard’s grim vision.

Don’t be a member of the wrong sort of minority would be my advice, should any of this come to pass. 
 

https://www.reformparty.uk/reformisessential

If you're new please join in and if you have questions pop them below and the forum regulars will answer as best we can.

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364 comments

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Rich_cb replied to mdavidford | 2 weeks ago
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People were more enthusiastic for Labour than any other party in this election but they were less enthusiastic for the winning party then in any other post war election.

The fact that this lack of enthusiasm has been combined with an enormous majority simply exposes the failures of FPTP to produce representative government.

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mdavidford replied to Rich_cb | 2 weeks ago
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Well exactly. But it's much worse than the 33.7% makes it look. If you're talking about enthusiasm, you need to look not at share of the vote, but at either raw vote numbers or share of the electorate. And since turnout was also down to 60%, that means only about 20% of people were motivated to vote for them, which compares even less favourably with past results. And obviously even less for each of their opponents. Basically, there's not much enthusiasm for politicians generally (Reform included).

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Rich_cb replied to mdavidford | 2 weeks ago
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I don't think we've ever had a parliamentary majority on this scale delivered by such a low vote share before.

The scale of victory in seats is quite removed from the share of the vote.

Reform got about 40% of Labour's votes yet their reward was a handful of seats.

The system is what the system is and there'll certainly be no appetite for reform of the voting system in this parliament.

I hope this will be the nadir for FPTP though, it's clearly no longer fit for purpose.

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mdavidford replied to Rich_cb | 2 weeks ago
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All true, but an argument about the inadequacy of FPTP is a sidetrack from the original question of a lack of enthusiasm for Labour. They're both valid cases, but mixing the two together muddies the waters.

Lowest share of vote for governing party delivering honking majority demonstrates brokenness of FPTP.

Lowest share of electorate demonstrates lack of enthusiasm for them (or anyone else).

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Rich_cb replied to mdavidford | 2 weeks ago
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I'd agree that they can be considered separately but in this context the lack of enthusiasm for the Labour government juxtaposes perfectly with the super majority that very same government enjoys.

Under a different system a political party that failed to garner enthusiasm would be forced into consensus and coalition building, better representing the votes cast.

Under FPTP Starker can now essentially rule by decree.

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chrisonabike replied to Rich_cb | 2 weeks ago
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Rich_cb wrote:

Under a different system a political party that failed to garner enthusiasm would be forced into consensus and coalition building, better representing the votes cast.

Under FPTP Starker can now essentially rule by decree.

I'll put this down to disappointment but ... Remind me how previous governments with majorities haven't been able to "rule by decree"? Or have I missed something and we've been living in Switzerland?

An "enthusiasm"- based system sounds like reality TV...

Living in Scotland I have seen there certainly can be some pros to a more "coalition-biased" system. I can't see the turkeys voting for Christmas (particularly with the likes of Reform demanding change...) but I do think PR at the very least would be a good idea.

The real problem comes when people simply disengage from the system. But that is a two-way street - people's expectations of getting exactly the changes they want, right now, may be an issue...

Also "supermajority" isn't really "a thing" in the UK (yet), but you know that's just pedantry.

https://fullfact.org/election-2024/supermajority-parliament-explained/

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Rich_cb replied to chrisonabike | 2 weeks ago
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Small majorities mean that you need consensus in your own party/group. When that isn't achievable, see Theresa May & John Major, the cabinet are limited as to the policies they can introduce.

The same holds true for a formal coalition, see Cameron/Clegg.

Large majorities usually means the cabinet can impose policies despite opposition from their own party, the larger the majority the more 'by decree' it becomes.

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mdavidford replied to Rich_cb | 2 weeks ago
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That works in theory, but not always in practice. Often, having a fragile majority can encourage even critical backbenchers to be more compliant, for fear of the potential danger of causing trouble, whereas those with large majorities can end up getting distracted by trying to manage their diverse and fractious coalitions.

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Rich_cb replied to mdavidford | 2 weeks ago
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I can't think of any small minorities in recent memory that have behaved in that way!

You will get factions in a large majority but they can mostly be ignored, see Corbyn et al under Blair/Brown. They repeatedly defied the whip and created mischief but the cabinet just ploughed on regardless.

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chrisonabike replied to Rich_cb | 2 weeks ago
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Rich_cb wrote:

Large majorities usually means the cabinet can impose policies despite opposition from their own party, the larger the majority the more 'by decree' it becomes.

Well ... yeah? The thing is we vote for a candidate but in practice for a party's policies (at best...) Lack of PR can be an issue here - but your representative is still not going to set their own policy agenda (unless your MP is the PM).

If you (mostly) like the policies then I imagine you'll favour a government which can enact them - rather than one that eg. could only "get Brexit done" in principle. If you don't, you'll probably be worried about "rule by decree".

The tricky thing is that where more "politics" is needed (eg. coalitions) this can look like exactly the "back room deals" and "lack of accountability" that people may be concerned about. I think the Bute House agreements were good on balance due to the active travel / environmental portions mainly. Others clearly feel this was terrible because they might not have been enthusiastic about those but the gender parts were beyond the pale - they "certainly didn't vote for that"!

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Rich_cb replied to chrisonabike | 2 weeks ago
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The problem arises when policies are enacted that weren't even mentioned in the manifestos.

Labour's manifesto was notoriously light on detail this time round so nobody really knows what Starmer has in store.

I'm secretly hopeful for significant NHS reform but given Labour's position on private education I don't think I'm going to get anything that I might actually be able to support.

Time will tell though.

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hawkinspeter replied to Rich_cb | 2 weeks ago
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Rich_cb wrote:

The problem arises when policies are enacted that weren't even mentioned in the manifestos. Labour's manifesto was notoriously light on detail this time round so nobody really knows what Starmer has in store. I'm secretly hopeful for significant NHS reform but given Labour's position on private education I don't think I'm going to get anything that I might actually be able to support. Time will tell though.

It's a darn sight better than having two unelected prime ministers that weren't even mentioned in the manifestos...

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Sriracha replied to hawkinspeter | 2 weeks ago
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hawkinspeter wrote:

It's a darn sight better than having two unelected prime ministers that weren't even mentioned in the manifestos...

You seem to be confusing ours for a presidential system. The only people who voted for Starmer were the good people of Holborn and St Pancras

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hawkinspeter replied to Sriracha | 2 weeks ago
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Sriracha wrote:
hawkinspeter wrote:

It's a darn sight better than having two unelected prime ministers that weren't even mentioned in the manifestos...

You seem to be confusing ours for a presidential system. The only people who voted for Starmer were the good people of Holborn and St Pancras

In a general election, a lot of people vote for the party that they want in power rather than just specifically for their local MP, although the ballot sheet does only list MPs.

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Rich_cb replied to hawkinspeter | 2 weeks ago
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We don't elect Prime Ministers.

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hawkinspeter replied to Rich_cb | 2 weeks ago
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Rich_cb wrote:

We don't elect Prime Ministers.

You're technically correct (the best kind of correct).

People do vote for Prime Ministers and/or parties though.

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Rich_cb replied to hawkinspeter | 2 weeks ago
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Firstly, kudos for the quote.

People do vote for a party based on the leader but that doesn't change the way the system actually works.

Whilst I think it is technically possible to have an unelected Prime Minister we haven't had one in a rather long time.

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hawkinspeter replied to Rich_cb | 2 weeks ago
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Rich_cb wrote:

Firstly, kudos for the quote. People do vote for a party based on the leader but that doesn't change the way the system actually works. Whilst I think it is technically possible to have an unelected Prime Minister we haven't had one in a rather long time.

Arguably, we've only ever had unelected Prime Ministers though they were elected MPs.

The major issue I had with the last couple of PMs was that the general public had no say in their promotions and there was no suggestion at the previous general election that they would be handed the keys of power. Well, that and their abysmal performances and general evilness.

At least with Johnson, a lot of people voted with the belief that he would be a better choice for Prime Minister than Corbyn (not something that I agree with, but I don't often hold popular opinions).

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Rich_cb replied to hawkinspeter | 2 weeks ago
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I was referring to the possibility of having a prime minister who is not even an elected MP. We've seen it several times in recent years with other ministeries and, I believe, it is also possible with the Prime Minister.

I would also agree that government stability is a key advantage of FPTP, although not, in my opinion, enough of an advantage to outweigh its failings.

Wales uses a hybrid system of FPTP and PR which seems to work well and retains much of the advantage of each system whilst being a tad less intuitive than either.

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ktache replied to Rich_cb | 2 weeks ago
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It's possible, though unlikely. It's unlikelyness that got Churchill the role.

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Rich_cb replied to ktache | 2 weeks ago
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Didn't know that.

Every day's a school day!

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Rendel Harris replied to ktache | 2 weeks ago
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ktache wrote:

It's possible, though unlikely. It's unlikelyness that got Churchill the role.

Churchill was a sitting MP when he became Prime Minister. The last PM to be appointed when not an MP was Alec Douglas-Home in 1964, but that was only for two weeks while he renounced his peerage and won a hastily-arranged by-election. The last PM to serve full terms when not an MP was the Marquess of Salisbury, whose last government was 1895-1902.

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ktache replied to Rendel Harris | 2 weeks ago
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But he was up against Lord Halifax, and it was him that couldn't be prime minister because Halifax was the lord.

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Rendel Harris replied to ktache | 2 weeks ago
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ktache wrote:

But he was up against Lord Halifax, and it was him that couldn't be prime minister because Halifax was the lord.

Respectfully, that's not actually the case: Halifax had massive support with the King, the House of Lords and the Conservative party all backing him as their choice of PM to replace Chamberlain, with Labour also indicating that he was an acceptable choice to them. It was agreed that in view of the national emergency the convention that the PM should be an MP (and it was, and still is, only a convention, not a law) could safely be ignored. It was Halifax himself who turned down the invitation from Chamberlain to succeed him because he thought that Churchill could do a better job (and he thought he could have more influence as deputy PM than as PM with Churchill as his deputy, as he knew that whatever position Churchill was given he would try to run the show anyway). Also he simply couldn't face it, in fact the thought of becoming PM made him feel physically ill. It was put around by Halifax and his supporters that he had turned the job down because he thought it wasn't appropriate for him to be PM without being an MP but that was rather a face-saving measure that looked better than simply saying he didn't fancy the job.

Of course it is highly unlikely that a non-MP would be offered the job now, particularly as Labour, the Conservatives and the LDs all have it written into their constitution that only MPs can stand for the party leadership. I did read during the election campaign that the Tories had a plan in place if they had won the majority but Sunak had lost his seat for him to remain as PM and, as with Alec Douglas-Home as I previously mentioned, for a Tory MP in a safe constituency to give up their seat for a by-election to allow Sunak swiftly to return to the Commons. That was just a "reliable sources say" report though, don't know how true it was or whether they would have put it into action if they'd had the chance.

 

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ktache replied to Rendel Harris | 2 weeks ago
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A fine response Rendal, I was being a bit too concise, unlike your full explanation.

There's a wonderful bit in The World at War on it.

ITV used to make exceptional documentaries.

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Rendel Harris replied to ktache | 2 weeks ago
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ktache wrote:

There's a wonderful bit in The World at War on it.

ITV used to make exceptional documentaries.

That used to be shown on a continuous loop on the History Channel on Freeview, one episode each day, at a time (a while ago now I'm pleased to say) when I was quite seriously ill and confined to barracks for an extended period; I must've watched the whole thing start to finish at least four times and learned more from it than any other series I've ever seen, marvellous.

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chrisonabike replied to ktache | 2 weeks ago
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Came here for the cycling, stayed for the politics and history!

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David9694 replied to chrisonabike | 2 weeks ago
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chrisonabike wrote:

Came here for the cycling, stayed for the politics and history!

fair enough, but remember there is a cycling connection with the potential rise of right-wing/ gammon politics, which is the natural home of all things anti-cycling.  

Pleased to hear today that France has not succumbed. 

 

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chrisonabike replied to David9694 | 2 weeks ago
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David9694 wrote:

fair enough, but remember there is a cycling connection with the potential rise of right-wing/ gammon politics, which is the natural home of all things anti-cycling.  

Pleased to hear today that France has not succumbed.

I though Mussolini famously made the bicycles run on time though?

You can of course do all kind of actions using a bicycle.

It's an interesting tool in that it is private transport, but with (from where the UK stands) distributed benefits.  Of course I guess it's possible the likes of GM or Amazon could possibly create a (e)bicycle monopoly or effectively take over the cycle infra...

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lonpfrb replied to David9694 | 1 week ago
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Not forgetting the Reform plan to ignore Nett Zero.
No environment, no cycle..

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