The rise of Farage spells the fall of the Union

Yesterday an opinion poll gave a result that was previously unthinkable. The vanity party of Nigel Farage, the hard right racist bloviator who has been a plook on the face of British politics since the 1990s, overtook the Tories as the second most favoured party in the Westminster general election. According to a YouGov poll, Labour is still far ahead on 37%, Reform is on 19%, and the Tories are trailing in third place on 18%.

This is a single poll, other polls continue to put the Conservatives ahead of Reform and even in this poll the Reform lead over the Tories is well within the margin of error, but it’s an alarming result nevertheless. The fact that Nigel Farage’s hard right wing English nationalist populist party is neck and neck with the governing Conservatives represents a seismic shift in the electoral landscape.

Nigel Farage is already crowing that his party is the real opposition to the Conservatives. Farage has made no secret of the fact that he wants to take over the Tories. On Friday Farage proclaimed himself the “real leader of the opposition” and demanded that he be included in next week’s leaders’ debate on the BBC with the Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems and the SNP, he also demanded a one on one debate with Keir Starmer on immigration.

Farage tells voters that Britain is broken, and so it is. Farage wants us to think that it’s immigrants who broke it, but the real reason it’s broken is because a bunch of absolute shysters whipped up fear and racism in a country battered by austerity, aggressively silenced opposition and lied their arses off to impose a Brexit that promised control but inevitably delivered chaos. Shyster number one was Farage himself, he turned the Tories into Ukip, but that wasn’t enough. The Tories allowed Farage to pull them further and further to the right over the years, and now they are being eaten alive by the far right authoritarian English nationalist populism which he embodies.

According to The Guardian Tory leadership hopefuls are already on the move for the leadership contest which will take place after 4 July. The paper reports that the early favourites for leader include former secretaries of state Priti Patel, Suella Braverman, Robert Jenrick, Kemi Badenoch, Penny Mordaunt and Grant Shapps. However depending on the magnitude of the Tory defeat some of them might lose their seats in the general election. It is notable that all those named are on the right of the party.

A Tory wipeout would be a glorious sight to behold, the epitome of political karma, were it not for two things. Firstly there’s the matter that the immediate short term beneficiary of the well deserved political demise of the Conservatives is the Labour party of Keir Starmer, a centre-right corporatist project that fully supports the Tories’ hard Brexit, denies Scotland its right to self-determination, wraps itself in the British flag, and denies that it is nationalist.

Starmer will almost certainly become the next Prime Minister, and will probably do so with a record majority, but he will rapidly become deeply unpopular as he will no longer be able to escape the consequences of his many lies. Starmer will not bring about the change that he is being elected to deliver, all we will get is the same arrogant and high handed contempt for the opposition parties and for peaceful protest that characterised Tory rule. His government will usher in a new era of austerity and continued decline.

This brings us to the second issue, the devastated Tories, whether or not they are taken over or merge with Farage’s party, will move even further to the right, whipping up hatred of immigrants of minorities and stoking up culture wars as they seek to capitalise on the rapidly growing unpopularity of Starmer’s government and turning themselves into the English version of Trump’s odious MAGA Republicans. When there is another general election that hard right authoritarian English nationalist party will be poised to sweep into power. It could even be led by Nigel Farage. That party could win an absolute majority on a minority of the popular vote because the very last thing that Starmer is going to do is to make meaningful reforms to the House of Commons, its unfair electoral system, and its inability to hold the Prime Minister to account. Starmer could end up with a landslide majority even though he wins fewer votes than Jeremy Corbyn did in 2019. The upshot of this insult to democracy is that we could even face the appalling prospect of Prime Minister Nigel Farage within a few years.

During the 2014 Scottish independence referendum campaign Better Together contemptuously dismissed as scaremongering by Yes campaigners the warning that we could end up with Boris Johnson as prime minister and be taken out of the European Union. Now the prospect that Farage could end up as leader of the Tory party or a merged Tory-Reform party is an all too real and sobering possibility.

What we know all too well is that where the Tories go, Labour is sure to follow. During the 2014 Scottish independence referendum campaign Better Together also claimed that Scotland would fall prey to political extremism if it became an independent country. Now we see that the real threat to Scotland from political extremism comes from a resentful English nationalism. You can be quite certain that independence supporting Scots will rank amongst the minorities that the Faragised Tory party will demonise and castigate, they already routinely defame independence supporters as anti-English racists. It is not at all beyond the bounds of possibility that they would seek to criminalise ‘separatism’.

The good news is that in a couple of years time the Scottish independence movement will be turbo-charged. The not so good news is that we are in for a rough few years in the intervening period and a British state that is moving further to the right will not make this easy for us. But history and demographic reality is on our side. The rise of Farage means the fall of the UK


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