I WENT to Erdington to volunteer with the Reform Party campaign for last Thursday’s by-election. Labour’s Paulette Hamilton held the Red Wall seat with a slim 3,266-vote majority. The turnout, at 27 per cent, was the 12th-lowest on record since 1945.
Reform is of course the rebranded Brexit Party, led by Richard Tice and David Bull, and aims to give the electorate a truly conservative alternative to the Tories alongside a populist appeal to working-class voters who should be fed up with Labour’s metropolitan elite leadership.
The poll should have been important not only for its timing (post-Partygate) but also because Birmingham serves as a political barometer for the rest of the country, but the media pushed everything else aside for the Ukraine crisis. So it was to the youthful Reform UK’s candidate and campaign team’s credit that they beat the Lib Dems and the Greens to come fourth after the Tories and the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate – a decent result considering they are the newest kid on the block.
Reform Party candidate Jack Brookes is only 23 and comes from the area. That someone his age would want to run for office let alone be remotely interested in politics is not just impressive but a sign of the serious new times. In my early twenties the only parties I had a clue about involved vodka shots and I didn’t care too much about how laws were made, unless they concerned what time you had to vacate the pub.
Arriving in Erdington and instructed to convene at a working men’s club to be introduced to our candidate, we were met with a large banner and speeches, setting out Reform’s campaign promises – lower taxes, zero NHS waiting lists within 18 months, cheaper energy bills and controlling illegal immigration.
Co-ordinating it all were a bevy of youngsters including one who is still at school. A coterie of strategists and organisers included a former Tory activist in his early twenties and Alex Wilson, the Parliamentary candidate for Cheshire and Amersham election last summer. We went off in cars in different directions to canvass.
The mood on the doorsteps was mixed. I found a warm reception from every immigrant (of Eastern European, African and Asian backgrounds), whereas colder, more disapproving reactions came from the older people (mostly women) who answered. One middle-aged man had a lot to say about how their town had degenerated under Labour’s local leadership. They were fed up with criminals in the area not being prosecuted and reoffending, only for the courts to turn a blind eye to petty crime – his car had been vandalised recently and he felt that ex-offenders inhabiting HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) across the street brought down the neighbourhood. Indeed crime is rampant, an incident occurring on polling day when a band of thugs ram-raided a jewellery store only a few miles away and one of them came running down the street brandishing an axe in broad daylight.
https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/ladypool-road-ram-raid-three-23283014 GB News picked up the story and ran footage of the axe-wielding raider here. https://www.gbnews.uk/news/watch-the-staggering-moment-gang-of-armed-raiders-smash-truck-through-jewellers-in-birmingham/239567
Finishing one bout of leafleting on a stroll along the high street, we passed the TUSC stand, and some Labour activists who went for Matt, our 18-year-old organiser, since he was wearing a suit. After knocking on doors in the cold, thankfully there was plenty of gin on hand in the party house. We even went clubbing in central Birmingham, along the canal side where the bars and restaurants were heaving and nobody was wearing a mask. You wouldn’t have known by looking at the crowds of punters standing cheek by jowl that there had ever been a pandemic.
Was it all worth it?
What the electorate have yet to realise is that a vote for Labour or the Conservatives will not bring about meaningful change. The Conservatives don’t deserve to win the next General Election but if the balance of power shifts towards Labour, we can expect climate lockdowns and even greater numbers of illegal migrants landing on British shores. I wondered whether the people of Erdington have yet understood how little the Westminster elite – and that includes Labour – care how much their green agenda hurts almost everyone except the mega-wealthy, or how deeply out of touch with ordinary folk the main parties are.
Ian Bishop, still in his 20s and Reform candidate for Billesley in the May local elections and PPC for Birmingham Selly Oak, thinks that ‘Reform can be accomplished only when attitudes are changed’. We can’t depend on the MSM to lead that. People need to wake up before it is too late. Reform’s youngsters, keen and able as they are, can’t do it on their own.