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Reform targets Labour ‘red wall’ voters

REFORM started targeting Labour “red wall” voters today as the hard-right party launched its reactionary election manifesto in Wales.

The party’s owner and leader Nigel Farage went to Merthyr Tydfil, once represented by Labour pioneer Keir Hardie, to tell voters that “Labour is not very different to the Conservatives … it is just more incompetent.”

And he restated his aim of being the main challenger to Labour for government by 2029, likely date of the next general election following July 4.

The nationalist party’s platform is anti-migrant, opposed to climate action and supportive of NHS privatisation while cutting foreign aid and leaving the European Court of Human Rights.

It aims to take advantage of muted enthusiasm for Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour in working-class communities by rekindling the Brexit divisions it skilfully exploited in 2019.

Reform’s increasing prominence in the general election comes as the Tory Party’s campaign looks on the verge of expiring.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps conceded today that a Conservative victory was “not the most likely outcome,” a highly unusual admission from a senior politician mid-campaign.

While Mr Shapps said a Tory win was still “possible” he agreed it was unlikely. “I think that’s the realistic position, isn’t it? I mean, I live in the real world,” he said.

Labour too seemed to be making it easier for Farage to pitch to their working-class supporters by reopening the issue of new trade agreements with the European Union.

Sir Keir claimed that there was “a better deal to be had” and that in government he would start new talks with Brussels on a deal.

Clearly that would prioritise business interests, since shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves and business secretary Jonathan Reynolds said they would hold a global investment summit with big companies within their first 100 days in office.

This can only reinforce Mr Farage’s demagogic claim, repeated today, that “Labour and the Conservative Party only ever listen to the giant, global corporates.

“I think the disconnect between the Labour and Conservative Westminster-based parties and the thoughts, hopes and aspirations of ordinary people are so far apart from where our politics is.

“There are no real, fundamental differences between these two parties,” Mr Farage added.  

Indeed, both want to privatise more of the NHS, but so too does Reform as it turns out.

“We want to have an absolutely radical rethink of the way in which our public services are run. And yes, that does include the National Health Service,” Mr Farage said.

“It’s been very difficult to have any conversation about the NHS without someone screaming you want to privatise it.

“All we want is an NHS that is free at the point of delivery that actually works and how we get there, frankly, I don’t think most people could give a damn about,” he elaborated.

Reform’s launch was undermined however by calculations by the Institute of Fiscal Studies showing the party’s sums didn’t add up and were out by tens of billions of pounds a year, and by the resignation of North West Essex candidate Grant StClair-Armstrong after he was revealed to have previously advocated voting for the fascist BNP. 

Another candidate, Ian Gribbin for Bexhill and Battle, was last week revealed as regretting that Britain had not given Hitler a free hand in WWII.

Reform’s rise in the polls has petrified the Tories most of all. A spokesman said today that “if you’re thinking about voting for Reform, and a generation under Labour scares you, there’s only one way to prevent it: vote Conservative.”

Tactical vote campaigners are also adding to the pressure on the beleaguered government, with the group Best for Britain making recommendations for what they regard as the best anti-Tory vote in over 450 constituencies.

The group’s targets include Rishi Sunak, his catastrophic predecessor Liz Truss, and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt.

Best for Britain, whose pro-Remain recommendations were often divisive and unhelpful in 2019, is backing Labour in 370 seats, the Liberal Democrats in 69, the Green Party in three, the Scottish National Party in seven and Plaid Cymru in two.

It believes that Mr Farage’s comeback can be stopped in its tracks in his Clacton constituency by voting Labour there.

And the latest detailed national poll, conducted by Survation, puts Labour ahead in 456 seats and the Tories in just 72.

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