First they ignore you

We Have Reached The Attack Phase

“First they ignore you.

Then they ridicule you.

And then they attack you and want to burn you.

And then they build monuments to you.”

It was not as is often ascribed Mahatma Gandhi who originally said these words, but Nicholas Klein an American trade union activist who first said in a speech in 1918 referring to ignore, ridicule, attack and finally you win.

This is an accurate encapsulation of the evolution of a movement’s advancement in politics across the world.

First, They Ignore You

Reform UK, the upstart, common sense alternative to the tired status quo two party duopoly is moving through these growth phases as many have done before.

Prior to October 2023 Reform UK were ignored by the main stream press and their political opponents. Growth was steady, word of mouth, door by door, vote by vote. Reform UK were routinely ignored on the news, in the press, in debates. It felt to many within the party as if we were actively being censored, excluded intentionally for the conversation.

Throughout 2022 and 2023 dedicated Reform UK campaigners stuck doggedly to their task, promoting the Reform UK brand across the nation, day after day, door after door, with leaflets, street stalls, events and social media activities.

Progress was slow, but it was progress founded in commitment and dedication to a cause our campaigners believed in.

The two by elections in Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire represented a step change in Reform UK’s history. Both of these by elections were the first where the Reform UK vote share was the difference between the Tories winning and losing.

Then They Ridicule You

This in turn caused for the first time, for almost every Tory who made a TV appearance to start to mention Reform UK as a wasted vote, splitting the vote and using their age-old fear mantra of “Vote Reform, get Labour.”

The public however seem to have become wise to that Tory defence. Since the Tories moved left to occupy the centre left ground that they currently seem at home in, their threat of a Labour government has lost its power.

We already have a socialist government, growing liberalism since the demise of Margaret Thatcher in 1991 has morphed into full bloodied high tax, large state, high spending, fiscally irresponsible, open bordered, weak on law-and-order government that is deaf to the cries of a bewildered electorate.

Then They Attack You

We have now moved into phase three. The attacks on Reform UK have stated coming thick and fast.

This is a natural part of the process and a rite of passage for a growing political party. Every attack only makes us stronger.

When I look back, not only at what Reform UK have achieved so far, but what they have achieved it with, the progress is quite staggering.

The big three legacy parties operate on massive budgets, Tories on £40 million + annually, Labour on around £30 million and even the Lib Dems raise around £8 million each year.

Political parties cost a lot to run, to administer, to promote and to maintain. Reform UK have existed to date on around £1 million a year, peanuts when it comes to building a national party that will stand 632 candidates later this year in England, Scotland and Wales.

Reform UK have a small, tightknit leadership team and a compact head office staffed by overworked, underpaid incredibly loyal and dedicated people as well as many volunteers without whom the party would not exist. Reform UK are not yet a part of the establishment, they are somehow, punching way above their weight and they are doing so with scant resources.

Reform UK don’t yet have any heavyweight donors with deep pockets to help them on their way, every penny donated matters. (If you feel so inclined you can donate to Reform UK here) In truth, the party would not even exist if not for Richard Tice, party leader and the driving force behind where Reform UK are today.

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Attack Dogs are a Compliment

Think about that, there would be no viable alternative to the status quo uni-party if it wasn’t for the vision, commitment and let’s face it deep pockets of Richard. It irks me slightly when I occasionally hear people on social media wanting X or Y or Z to be the Reform UK leader. Reform UK have a leader, the man who gave life to the party, who kept us on life support in our infancy, who built from the ground up a massive, family of likeminded, common sense seeking patriots. He will be attacked; we will stand beside him.

Currently, some Reform UK candidates are facing scrutiny and rightfully so. As stated above, the physical process of finding, vetting and appointing 632 candidates is a huge one, while all the time the clock is ticking and a general election could be called at any moment.

Reform UK has a tiny staff attempting to interview, vet and appoint 632 candidates. This is a slow and cumbersome process. It is, with the best will in the world almost impossible to analyse every single thing a potential candidate has ever written online, on social media, to deep dive on their beliefs.

All parties struggle occasionally with their candidate selection process, just look at the recent Rochdale by election, both Labour and Green parties had to withdraw their candidates at the last moment. It is not possible to prevent candidates from going rogue if that is their intent and in the few instances where Reform UK have become aware of unsuitable candidates, they have deselected them.

I wouldn’t be surprised if activists with differing beliefs attempt to infiltrate not only Reform UK but all parties, let’s face it, it looks to have already happened at scale with Liberals infiltrating the Tory party!

The Plot: Nadine Dorries Amazon Ad

Candidates Need a Voice

I think the very nature of asking for candidate applications tends to attract the more passionate in society, which in itself brings with in challenges for a party’s leadership.

Politics is changing and in the last decade with the advent of social media, each political party has as many spokesmen and women on transmit as they have MPs or candidates. With a ‘broad church’ party like the Tories that results in mixed messaging and ultimately, standing for nothing instead of something. The only way to keep all those differing factions on side is to compromise on all elements of policy, resulting in achieving nothing, destroying everything and implementing a smoking and vaping ban as the sole measure of perceived success from a failing government with no ideas, beliefs or values.

The work and effort required to create a national political party to fight every seat in Great Britain cannot be underestimated. A deep dive analysis of every potential candidate would either tie up hundreds of people that Reform UK don’t have available or would cost many hundreds of thousands in software services to scrape and analyse the data, plus of course the manpower required to then process and action the data produced.

There isn’t an easy, affordable solution and as far as I am aware, the candidate suitability issues across all parties recently have stemmed from comments made online since each because a candidate, none were historical.

How to Police Wrongthink

In that instance, monitoring multiple social media accounts for 600+ candidates is a hugely costly undertaking and to what end? Is it the job of each political party to babysit their candidates and monitor their free speech?

Surely it is the job of the candidate to conduct themselves with the necessary integrity required to be a suitable candidate for any party?

The desire to prevent a candidate bringing a party into disrepute with ill-considered, unsuitable or even racist comments shouldn’t necessarily require those candidates to be censored ahead of publication, or the be monitored and nannied afterwards.

I am not my brother’s keeper, and nor is he mine. Within any party, the candidates are individuals under the party umbrella. The party brand and messaging is obviously critical to the parties progress and any rogue candidate jeopardises that messaging and detracts from the parties progress.

In summary, the Tories have little to lose by attacking Reform UK, from digging into their candidates and dishing any dirt they can find. It is I suppose a rite of passage and an inevitable part of making progress.

Let’s face it, if Reform UK didn’t matter then the Tories would not be investing so much into trying to discredit their candidates.

That said, it would be better for all if the candidates could cease providing the Tories with ammunition they desire.

Then They Build Monuments to You

We are, I suspect a while away from the monument phase of the cycle, but Reform UK are on their way. In time, if the current trajectory persists, you can expect to see marble busts of Richard Tice, Ben Habib, Ann Widdecombe, Dr David Bull and of course, should he return to the fray, Nigel Farage.

The general election and indeed the build up to it is going to be fascinating to watch and to be a part of.

A week is a long time in politics, a month is an eternity and six months is a lifetime. We may have a vote of no confidence after the local elections, followed by a June election, or Sunak may stumble on until the autumn. Either way, Reform UK will be there, with a candidate in every constituency, ready to defend your national sovereignty, your borders, to defend your standard of living and the old normal, the one we liked, I for one want it back.

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