There should be an electoral pact in Clacton to stop Farage

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June 11, 2024
*There should be an electoral pact in Clacton to stop Farage*
*Opinion piece by John Stevens, Rejoin EU Party candidate in Kensington & Bayswater – for immediate publication*
In the General Election of 2010, when I was already in that most despised category of politician that Nigel Farage now also graces, ex-MEP, I ran against him in the constituency of Buckingham, held by John Bercow. Farage had chosen this seat because the convention that the Speaker is not contested by the main parties seemed to offer him a good chance of winning, which would have greatly increased the pressure for a further shift towards anti-Europeanism, already entrenched by the exchange-rate mechanism crisis and the failure of Tony Blair to make, and win, the case for joining the euro. For those willing to see, the building blocks of Brexit were already being put in place.
Farage lost, not just to Bercow, who won comfortably, but to my explicitly pro-European spoiler campaign, fronted in part by a friend in a dolphin suit, which pushed him into third place. I felt confident then the new Prime Minister, David Cameron, would need no further proof that UKIP was not a force to be feared and so further appeased. Unfortunately, he thought otherwise. Now Farage is again running in a seat where he has a good chance of winning. Indeed probably a better one than in 2010, after the Brexit referendum and all that followed, which has set the stakes even higher. For if he is elected this time, he could pose a real threat to our democracy itself.
The Brexit he championed is so far the most substantial of the twin revolts underway within all Western societies by both some of the greatest losers, and some of the greatest winners, from the neo-liberal political, economic and cultural orthodoxy of the past 40 years. The losers, elements of the growing underclass, of the increasingly squeezed middle class, of the young without inherited wealth, of the old without adequate health and welfare, of the left-behind regions and communities and of the ignored and denigrated followers of traditional faiths and values, provided the votes. Ones of pure protest, for there was no programme. The winners, elements of the old rich and the new super-rich, provided the funding. They had, and have, a programme: to diminish democracy and the rule of law so as to prevent these institutions – especially ones with international reach like the EU – from supporting a more substantial revolt by the losers against their plutocratic privileges.
The US is the state whose institutions carry the greatest international reach and where these twin revolts, in Donald Trump’s current campaign to become not so much America’s next President, as her first dictator, are now most obvious and threatening. Farage and his fellow-travellers within the Conservative Party have long been intimately connected to those Republicans now enabling this sinister endeavour. They share the same sort of supporters, electoral and financial, and employ the same tactics of serial untruth and contempt for constitutional norms. Their omerta to Trump of ritually re-telling the lie that he won the last presidential election matches exactly the Conservatives’ omerta to Farage of ritually re-telling the lie that Brexit has merit. And Farage’s ambition is to take over the Conservative Party, just as Trump has taken over the Republican Party. An ambition which will be greatly advanced if he becomes an MP on July 4th and massively amplified if Trump becomes President on November 5th.
The rise of neo-nationalist parties show there are similar revolts underway in the EU. However, the guard-rails for democracy and the rule of law are stronger there than in the US and the UK. Partly, the reasons for this are technical: the supranational power of the European Single Market and the euro, balanced by the national power of the European Council derived from proportional voting systems. They are also political: these parties now concentrate on issues like immigration, trade protection and security, which can only be addressed effectively at a European level and so no longer seek to dismantle the EU, but to use it to implement their policies. They are becoming European nationalists. But the most important are cultural: the still-long shadow of a dark past. Our happier history causes us, by comparison, to be too complacent.
Still, despite Trump, democracy and the rule of law is probably less endangered in the US than in the UK. Modern America is not the late Roman Republic. It has enormous economic strength and a written constitution imposing limits on absolutism. Britain has neither. Brexit, and now Farage’s drive to complete that divorce by destroying mainstream Conservatism, threatens to politicise the split in our national identity which has existed since the end of Empire, between affinity to America, or to Europe. This could be very dangerous, as the valid historical parallel with our profound and protracted crisis of the 17th century – when England was torn between emulating absolutist, Catholic France and oligarchic, Protestant Holland – warns.
This General Election must mark the end of the nation’s evasion of Brexit. We must admit it has been a monumental mistake which must be reversed. The deep divisions and deprivations in our society which caused the 2016 referendum result can only be addressed by re-joining the EU, as full members, with all this would entail, for only that will bring sufficient growth. Conservatives must be a part of this admission and reversal, for only that will marginalise Farage. To highlight these points, in the General Election, I will be standing for the Rejoin EU Party.
But not in Clacton, where such an effort could risk helping Farage. Still, he could be stopped. Even his best polling performance shows him winning no more than 37% of the vote. Polling also shows that only the Conservative candidate can defeat him. So the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green candidates should publicly request their supporters to vote tactically, for the Conservative. In this one constituency, these parties could thereby drop their current shameful silence on Brexit and show a finer face. In this one constituency, they could give us a glimpse of a really positive “New Politics”, to set against the very negative kind presently so confidently promised by Reform.
*To arrange interviews, contact John Stevens c/o the Rejoin EU Party at admin@therejoineuparty.com <admin@therejoineuparty.com>. Visit * therejoineuparty.com/general-election-2024/candidates/kensington-john-stevens/
*Visit our website at www.therejoineuparty.com <www.therejoineuparty.com/>, follow the party on Twitter at @rejoinp and **read our 2024 General Election manifesto at therejoineuparty.com/manifesto-2024 <therejoineuparty.com/manifesto-2024>*
*The Rejoin EU party is campaigning to re-join the EU because we believe re-joining is the only way to solve the multiple problems Brexit has created. Brexit is broken and it’s breaking our country too. All the promises on which Brexit was sold to the electorate in 2016 were nonsense. Far from reducing red tape and providing £350m a week for the NHS, Brexit makes trading with the crucial European market more complex, difficult and expensive and threatens to reduce funding for public services. If you agree Brexit is making our country poorer, less tolerant and less united, join us and send a message to Westminster that you want your EU membership back, with all its freedoms and benefits.*

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