Tory collapse continues: has Reform UK’s chance finally arrived? Or is there still a vacuum in patriotic politics?

Ben Habib (above right) with his party leader Richard Tice. He achieved Reform UK’s highest ever vote yesterday at the Wellingborough parliamentary by-election.

Regular H&D readers will know that we have been very critical of Reform UK’s ideological and organisational failures. Their results in actual elections have consistently failed to match their opinion poll ratings. Lacking a serious activist base in most of the country, they have relied on hype from Nigel Farage and his friends on certain newspapers (and at the GB News channel).

Today’s parliamentary by-elections in Kingswood (near Bristol), and Wellingborough (in Northamptonshire), seem to have shown that Reform UK has at last started to attract real votes in real ballot boxes.

Whatever our differences with Reform UK on a wide range of issues, their Wellingborough candidate Ben Habib deserves considerable credit for his earlier activism in Ulster, where together with Baroness Hoey, TUV leader Jim Allister and others he showed genuine commitment and intelligence in exposing the true nature of Sunak’s treacherous border deal. The Conservative Party – and even some so-called Ulster Unionists – have shamefully betrayed the Union, whereas Ben Habib has striven genuinely to uphold it.

Though it might seem paradoxical, many H&D readers will therefore have welcomed the fact that Mr Habib this week polled the highest ever Reform UK vote – 13%.

Just two hours earlier in Kingswood, Reform UK’s candidate Rupert Lowe polled 10.8%, which at that point was itself easily the best vote ever achieved by the party since it emerged from the former Brexit Party.

Earlier this morning Rupert Lowe in Kingswood became the first Reform UK parliamentary candidate to poll above 10%.

While congratulating Reform UK on these much-improved results, we should bear in mind that if their opinion poll scores were anywhere near accurate, they ought to be polling at least 15% in Kingswood and closer to 20% in Wellingborough, in by-election circumstances that tend to favour “protest votes”, and with so many “right-wing” voters having deserted the Tories.

The old UKIP polled 14.8% in Kingswood in 2015. Of course, UKIP is now a joke fringe party. In this latest by-election they managed only 0.5%.

It was also a very disappointing night for the anti-Muslim party Britain First, whose candidate in Wellingborough, Alex Merola, finished 8th with only 1.6%.

Britain First and their supporters now have to ask themselves two questions.

Most fundamentally, they should question whether there is political space for another non-racial, civic nationalist party competing with the much more professional Reform UK. It’s certainly necessary to expose the fact that Reform UK is essentially a system party, committed to neo-Thatcherite “free market” capitalism, and with no serious solution to the catastrophe of multiracialism.

But that serious solution – that serious challenge – needs to go beyond civic nationalism, and cannot consist merely of Britain First’s Islam-obsession.

And secondly, even if one adopts a more cynical and limited view of political struggle, one has to question the basic competence of an avowedly anti-Muslim party which wasted its time and its donors’ money in Wellingborough, while failing to field a candidate in Rochdale, a constituency which would seem to offer a perfect audience for Britain First’s message.

Yet again, the remnants of the post-BNP British nationalist movement have shown themselves to be devoid of both political principle and strategic awareness.

We can and must do better. The present situation is a shameful betrayal of our heritage and our people’s future. Within the next year, there will almost certainly be a Labour government with Keir Starmer as Prime Minister. It is vital that there is a serious racial nationalist challenge to that government.

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