Brexit Party achieves some strong votes amid general Tory landslide

click here to view this week’s nationalist/populist election results

Overall the 2019 General Election was of course a triumph for Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his chief strategist Dominic Cummings, who took a big risk in setting out to destroy Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party rather than cooperate with it. A risk that has paid off.

Having won the European Parliamentary elections on 23rd May this year with 30.5% of the nationwide vote, electing 29 MEPs, Farage was trapped into an illogical, one-sided ‘deal’ where he stood down all Brexit Party candidates in Tory-held constituencies, while getting no reciprocal concessions even in constituencies where the Brexit Party could be seen as the main challenger.

This sent a fatally mixed message to pro-Leave voters: yes, the Tory Party could supposedly be trusted to deliver Brexit, at least to the extent that Farage didn’t want to split the vote even where the sitting Tory MP was a (former) Remainer. But in other constituencies the Tories could apparently not be trusted, even where their candidate was a hard Brexiteer!

In principle, the strategy didn’t add up; even though in practice Farage had little choice.

Tory strategist Dominic Cummings had a long-term plan to destroy Farage’s Brexit Party – and he succeeded.

And the electoral consequence is starkly obvious: the Brexit Party has zero MPs, a situation that would have astounded most pundits just a few months ago. Of the party’s 275 general election candidates, 165 lost their deposits after polling below 5%.

Alongside the strategic dilemma, Farage had another self-made problem. Seeking to avoid petty internal distractions that had disrupted and eventually destroyed UKIP, Farage decided to run the Brexit Party on a centrally directed ‘business’ model, rather than as a traditional constitutional party.

One consequence is that the Brexit Party has few if any genuine branches: its activists tend to be individuals who (together with a handful of friends and relatives) have a contractual relationship with party HQ. Typically in one northern constituency, the Brexit candidate came from outside the area; and though more than a hundred individuals had sent £25 each to register as Brexit Party supporters in this constituency, not one of them lifted a finger to campaign in the General Election!

Most national Brexit Party effort went into Hartlepool, where Farage’s fellow MEP Richard Tice (Brexit Party chairman) finished in a strong third place with 10,603 votes (25.8%). It seems that Farage and Tice fell out over strategy during the campaign, and by the end the party leader was no longer visiting Hartlepool.

Barnsley councillor Vicky Felton was elected for the Democrats & Veterans Party earlier this year but stood in the General Election for the Brexit Party

However the best results – very significantly – were in Barnsley, where the Brexit Party formed an alliance with a much smaller party which did have a genuine local activist base. Democrats & Veterans Party councillor Vicky Felton finished runner-up with 11,233 votes (30.4%) in Barnsley Central, while in Barnsley East, Brexit Party candidate Jim Ferguson (though not himself local) benefited from the D&V activist base and was another runner-up with 11,112 votes (29.2%).

Mrs Felton now describes herself as an independent councillor, though her husband Gavin Felton remains Democrats & Veterans Party chairman. Similarly Rebecca Rees-Evans, wife of D&V Party founder Jonathan Rees-Evans, was Brexit Party candidate in Cynon Valley, polling 10.1%.

In some formerly strong Brexit/UKIP areas, Farage’s challenge faded away as pro-Leave voters flocked to the Tories. Local councillor Alan Graves lost his deposit in Derby North with 4.1%. (This was one of many Tory gains from the Labour Party across the Midlands.) In next door Derby South the Brexit Party’s Tim Prosser did slightly better and at least got his deposit back with 5.8%. (He was helped by this not being a realistic Tory target.)

One striking feature of the Brexit Party’s results is that it tended to poll better on the Eastern than Western side of England, and didn’t build much on old BNP strongholds (with the partial exception of Barnsley).

For example: Brexit candidates took 8.6% in Burnley (peak BNP vote 11.3%); 7.5% in Oldham West & Royton (peak BNP vote 16.4%); 6.5% in Oldham East & Saddleworth (peak BNP vote 11.2%); 7.2% in Barking (peak BNP vote 16.9%); 3.3% in Dewsbury (peak BNP vote 13.1%); 5.9% in Stoke North (peak BNP vote 8.0%); and 6.6% in Dagenham & Rainham (peak BNP vote 11.2%).

There was a strong contrast between two constituencies scarred by Asian ‘grooming’ scandals in recent years: the Brexit Party polled 17.2% in Rotherham, but 8.2% in Rochdale – another example of Farage’s appeal tending to be stronger East of the Pennines.

For the reasons mentioned earlier, there were no Brexit Party candidates in some of the party’s former target seats in Eastern England, such as Thanet South or Boston & Skegness (both held by Tory MPs given a free run by Farage).

James Buckley: Brexit Party candidate disowned for ‘anti-semitism’ and ‘racism’

Several Brexit Party candidates were denounced by ‘anti-fascists’ for allegedly ‘anti-semitic’ or ‘racist’ social media posts. For example a few days before the election the Brexit Party disowned their own candidate James Buckley in Blackley & Broughton (a cross-border Manchester-Salford constituency) after his history of anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish activism was made public.

However Mr Buckley remained on the ballot paper as a Brexit Party candidate, as parties do not have the power to remove such labels after the close of nominations. He saved his deposit, finishing third with 2,736 votes (7.1%).

Another alleged ‘anti-semite’ disowned by their own party went on regardless to be elected as an MP. Neale Hanvey won Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath, officially as Scottish National Party candidate, despite having been thrown out of the SNP for online posts including sharing an ‘anti-semitic’ image of George Soros.

This is believed to be the first time ever that a candidate has been suspended from their own party during a campaign, yet gone on to win the seat. Mr Hanvey will sit as an independent in the new House of Commons.

Further analysis of the 2019 General Election’s consequences for our movement will follow on this site during the weekend, and in the January 2020 edition of H&D.

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