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Reform chief’s attack on Bridgen is a cowardly own goal


JUST when electoral prospects couldn’t look bleaker for the British right, it has become clear that those willing to cancel Andrew Bridgen for his legitimate concerns go beyond the confines of the Tory elite. This includes Richard Tice, the leader of Reform UK, the often-touted viable alternative to the Conservative Party on the right.

A recent statement by Tice makes it disappointingly blatant how limited such an ‘alternative’ actually is. Following the faux-controversy over Bridgen’s tweet concerning vaccines in conjunction with the Holocaust, Tice stated that Bridgen wouldn’t be allowed to become a member of Reform UK, on the grounds that Bridgen ‘frankly got it wrong with regard to his approach to vaccines’.

It is already bad enough that Bridgen – a reliable genuine conservative in Parliament, fighting for noble causes and his constituents for nearly 13 years – was thrown out of his party on the say-so of cynical careerists on the one hand, and of a disgraced and seemingly unemployable former Health Secretary (who perhaps uncoincidentally co-authored his Lockdown Diaries book with Tice’s partner Isabel Oakeshott) on the other. It’s made much worse by how the supposed opposition to their right on this, whose whole schtick is that the Tories are now ‘Con-socialists’, are perfectly happy to adopt the socialistic notion of ‘repressive tolerance’ of their electoral rivals.

Beyond that, it opens a different can of worms in relation to what kind of effective opposition Reform UK would be. Mainly, it sets a worrying precedent for the party in future similar controversies. Regardless of anyone’s individual views on the Covid-19 vaccine and its alleged harms, if that is the litmus test for Tice and Co for how beyond the pale someone’s views may be for his particular organisation (especially for someone as impressive in stature and in deeds as Bridgen), it bodes very ill.

What will happen for instance when a similar controversy comes to pass against a prominent Reform UK member or activist for views on mass immigration, crime or the diversity, inclusion and equity cult undermining Western civilisation at the moment? Undoubtedly legitimate extremists and fringe voices should be given the cold shoulder by Reform UK, in order to be electorally viable. But Bridgen isn’t of them, nor are his views particularly radical in some circles, especially conservative ones.

Besides, it’s hard to know who this rhetoric is meant to appeal to. Much of the left, already against Reform UK because of its Farage/UKIP connections and their own tribal loyalties, won’t be interested or care. Much of the right, whether they support Bridgen and his views or not, won’t appreciate such a cowardly move. In short, Tice has not only failed to win anyone over with his gesture, but has alienated his right-wing base within Reform UK and without.

It was probably because of this that Reform UK sent out a panicky statement highlighting Tice’s concerns about excess deaths and how he and the party defends the people’s ‘right to choose’, which probably wasn’t fooling anyone at that point.

This would be bad enough on its own, but it is part of a consistent pattern of behaviour from Tice which makes this incident into something more troubling.

In June last year Tice defended Wimbledon’s ridiculous decision to ban Russian and Belarusian tennis players because of the Ukraine war. Supporting such a notion would be crazy on its own but his accompanying statement was chilling: ‘Russian people need to feel the consequences of their leaders’ actions on their behalf.’ Not only did this feed into the disgusting levels of Russophobia against a people who aren’t able to protest against the war in their home country even if they wanted to, but it was alarming in its discriminatory nature – targeting Russians instead of an ethnic or religious minority doesn’t make it any less wrong or prejudiced.

All of this adds up to a completely unimpressive opposition party against the Conservatives. It doesn’t help that the overall image of the party is not compelling, calling opponents ‘socialists’ over economics and ignoring culture almost entirely. This is bad news, given that culture is something of which has been shown is as, if not more, important as economics to British voters more broadly. As the Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles noted, ‘if you lower taxes, but completely gut the culture, that’s not a good trade’.

At a recent Bow Group event featuring Anne Widdecombe as the main speaker, Bridgen turned up to offer some words. He conceded that he was one of the few remaining socially conservative MPs in Parliament. With Tice’s denunciation, it is clear that this extends to general political representatives in the United Kingdom as well. 

Editor’s note: On January 19 Richard Tice was the first political party leader in the UK to demand an inquiry into excess deaths.

His statement read:

In recent months, both at meetings and on my Sunday shows on Talk TV, you may have heard me talk about the worrying issue of excess death numbers compared with the five-year average in the UK.

Over 100 more people are dying per day than normal; this is in the context of some 1,650 people who sadly pass away every day across the year. This is clearly due to a range of factors.

To determine what those factors are, I have been calling for a proper, independent analysis of these deaths so that we can understand what urgent steps we may take to mitigate this.

I have been consistently clear that within this analysis, we need to urgently look at any impact that Covid vaccine side effects may be having. Indeed, I discussed that very thing just two weeks ago with a world leading oncologist on my show, who is concerned about the impact of the booster on certain cancers, based on what he is seeing with some of his patients.

We have to look at the data across all these areas for the unintended consequences.

The majority of well-qualified medics and scientists are robust in their view that the vaccines are safe and effective, but there is a growing group of eminent and well-qualified experts who are very concerned about some of the emerging data. Be in no doubt that I share their concerns.

Like most of us, I am not an expert in this area, but we must have the courage to look independently at the data and then take difficult decisions if needs be.

The British people are made of tough stuff and for as long as I’m the leader of Reform UK, our default position will always be to protect their right to choose. Our role in this as a political party is to fight to give as much independent, unfiltered information as possible; to do everything we can to facilitate an informed choice. In my view this is the credible approach.

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Edward Howard
Edward Howard
Edward Howard is a freelance writer and journalist, who has written for various outlets, including WhatCulture, BackBench, Trident Media and is currently the Editor-At-Large for Politicalite.

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