IT’S A bad day for the Conservative Party: Richard Tice has parked Reform UK’s tanks on what used to be the Conservative lawn. In his first press statement as leader he set out a compelling case for a low tax, light (but tight) regulation and a smaller government machine. This, of course, is what the Conservative Party used to believe in until it succumbed to ‘the Blob’ – Michael Gove’s wonderful description of the Whitehall machine.
Of course, the BBC (one of Reform UK’s major targets) won’t like this any more than they liked Brexit. Nor will the Blob. Nor, I suspect, will Ms Symonds, who seems to be the power behind the throne. Unfortunately for them, as they may recall from the Brexit campaigns, much of the country is likely to agree with the need for change. Let’s face it, the healthcare system failed completely in the face of a pretty benign virus, possibly bankrupting the country in the process. The Blob were complicit in this, having failed to plan adequately. Rather than address the problem, they incarcerated the country and created a climate of fear.
Now, the Blob will fight back. They will try to ignore Reform UK, ridicule the party and try to snuff them out. Being the Blob, and therefore convinced that they are always right (‘nanny knows best’) they will also persuade themselves that Reform UK are not a threat. This, of course, was the mindset that existed throughout the Brexit debates – and many of the Blob still struggle to understand that we’ve left the EU, let alone work to maximise the opportunities that we have.
They would do well to remember that for the Brexit Party leaving the EU was the first step of transforming the UK, returning it to a country, economy and government that worked for everyone, not just the elites of the City, Whitehall and Davos man. Changing the name is part of that process, not a new initiative. The Brexit voters came from a wide range of backgrounds with a wide range of political beliefs. The abuse and contempt hurled at them by the Blob may well have caused them to consider whether the government that they vote for and pay for represents their best interests. The point being that Reform UK already have a large supporter base, who have a track record of winning the arguments.
The tricky bit for Reform is working our which bits of the Blob to attack and in which order. A clear espousing of free market capitalism and a commitment to restoring all the civil liberties seized by Johnson’s government in the name of Covid is a sound start.
Once again the Tory party are going to have to decide whether they believe in the big state, in which case they are competing with Labour, or the individual. They eventually managed to fudge a compromise over the single issue Brexit and just about hold together, albeit at the cost of a flawed Brexit. But the attack is now much, much wider.
That isn’t good news for Labour either. Outside the Guardian and the universities, belief in socialism is pretty much extinct; it doesn’t work. Nor does the big state. If the Tories are forced to become the party of the big state, having missed the opportunity to be the party of the individual, Labour has nowhere to go. The next three years are going to be interesting. Unless you’re part of the Blob, in which case your worst nightmares may come true.