‘Here is the total value of voting for Reform UK’

Let’s get the difficult bit out of the way. Child-friendly smartphones, taking back control of military housing, and closing the loophole that lets care home owners siphon the profits off-shore are all things I could vote for. And they’re all Reform UK promises for its first 100 days in office.

The far MORE difficult bit is that the party doesn’t yet have any policies, Nigel Farage has been making it up on TV as he goes along, and it’s as likely to form a government as it is to form a RuPaul tribute barbershop quartet and audition for X Factor.

But then Reform is a business, not a party. Its leader has imposed himself by dint of his share ownership, rather than any vote of members or his Parliamentary party. And it’s not certain Lee Anderson would vote for that soft southern ponce anyway.

It is this anti-democratic, debt-ridden enterprise now in with a shot at either moulding the Tory Party into its own image, or becoming the official Opposition itself. And with great responsibility comes great scrutiny. Snorkels on, everyone, and let’s dive in.

Nigel Farage pictured in yellow trousers

Those in yellow trousers will need to deflate their airbags
Ian Forsyth)

First off, there isn’t a manifesto. Perhaps one will appear, at some point, but for now all we know about Reform UK policies is a “working draft” on their website. It says this is how successful businesses operate. It’s open to comments and amendments, while at the same time calling this “our contract with you”. Businesses usually prefer contracts that can’t be amended on a whim, but still, let’s press on.

Reform says its pledges will cost £141bn a year, but it will save £156bn a year. This sum is so kooky Björk could release it as an experimental, slightly-out-there, B-side. The first promises include scrapping income tax for anyone earning under £20,000, scrapping 20p of fuel duty, and scrapping inheritance tax on properties under £2m.

According to tax consultants RSM just a £1,000 rise the income tax thresholds would cost £8bn, so just the first promise could be more than £60bn. Fuel duty raises £24bn and a 20p cut would be just under half of that. The FT has calculated that raising the inheritance threshold to just £500,000 would cost £6bn. The back of this fag packet tells us that they’ve spaffed at least £80bn in the first par.

But wait, there’s more! Scrap corporation tax for small businesses, reduce it for all businesses to 15%, abolish business rates on the high street, and ‘slash business red tape’ without quite specifying which bits. At the moment businesses pay between 19% and 25% in corporation tax, raising £20bn. Business rates bring in £22bn, half of which goes to local councils. And it’s the red tape which means the ingredients list on the side of the tub is accurate, the electrician gives you a certificate, and the taxi is insured. Take another £20bn out of the economy, make food ingredients an ambition, and business safety standards non-existent, and you can wipe another £20bn off when the customers evaporate or, worst-case scenario, die.

Nigel Farage eating chips

“What do you mean, it’s man-salt on these chips?”
Getty Images)

They want to leave the European Court of Human Rights on day one, and then think about a British Bill of Rights. In the interregnum, dear reader, you would have… zero rights. You would also have ‘”secure detention for all asylum seekers” in British overseas territories, each of which has already refused to do it. Retired doctors and nurses whose medical licences have lapsed will be enticed back to the NHS with a tax break, and if you can’t get an NHS appointment then the state will pay for you to go private, which Nigel has yet to work out COSTS MORE.

Page 8 – scrap net zero targets, which the majority of voters like, and bring in more floods and wildfires, which they don’t. Page 9 – recruit more police, just like the French (has Nigel read this?) and make them all ex-military (ah, he has). Page 11 – 10 new prisons, none near Nigel’s house. Page 12 – young offenders sent to military-style ‘training camps’, where wrong’uns marching up and down will not set off a single alarm bell.

Rather than Labour’s offer to tax private schools according to the fact they’re a business, Reform would give 20% tax relief on all fees. Violent pupils would be permanently excluded – those training camps WILL come in handy won’t they – the sick will be forced to leave their beds for face-to-face disability assessments, and all EU regulations that enable our businesses to trade with the marketplace on our doorstep would be scrapped.

If we cannot trade with the EU, we’d sell £50bn less stuff to them and we’d buy £80bn less back. No more tomatoes in January, no more German cars, and adieu to that gas from France. We’d be nourished and warmed instead by Nigel’s attempts to renegotiate our post-Brexit trade agreement. If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that he’s a negotiator without equal in European history.

Leader of the BREXIT party Nigel Farage waves the Union Jack flag as he arrives to speak during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on February 28, 2020, in Washington, District of Columbia. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

He achieved so little while saying so much

I could get behind a Ministry for Veterans, but there’s no clue of how it will be funded or how much. New reservoirs are dandy, until you’re asked which green and pleasant valley you’d like to flood. Making the public sector buy 75% of their food in the UK sounds great, until you realise that in the winter everyone would be eating turnips.

The best example of their lunacy is fishing. It’s a tiny part of the UK economy, landing £900m of fish a year, but Nigel wants to spend £2bn on it, while launching a fleet of fish police to patrol territorial waters around the globe and ensure ‘our’ fish aren’t caught by someone else. He has not said what this military force will do when ‘our’ fish, er, swim away. It’s Reform to a tee: spend a load of jingoistic cash on something that doesn’t matter much, militarise it, and call anyone who doesn’t comply unpatriotic. Those traitorous cod are at it again, Doris!

They’ll leave the World Health Organisation, scrap the BBC licence fee, bring back “countryside sports'”, end rule by the “out of touch elite” of which its ruling board is such a fine example, and increase stop and search “substantially”. So a quasi-military police force will frisk black boys every time they go down the street, while Sophie Raworth screams into YouTube, posh rich boys go fox hunting, and the next pandemic will simply stop at Dover because WE WON’T LET IT IN.


But let’s come up for air. We all know the above is irrelevant. Not only will Nigel be rewriting their official manifesto to make it more xenophobic, his colleagues are already leaking their dissatisfaction at his anti-democratic ego trip, the former Reform candidate in Clacton is still standing against him, and he has as much interest in being Prime Minister as he has in being a trans ally.

He doesn’t want the keys to the kingdom: just to disrupt the kingdom, to shout loudly from the sidelines like a parent at a Saturday morning match who intimidates everyone on the pitch. Give the man a ball and he’d not know where the goal was, because he was so busy hating everyone he forgot he needed a team. That’s why he’d bankrupt Britain, politically, economically, and morally.

The real price you’d pay for voting Reform is more Nigel; more of him in person, more people like him in whatever is left of the Conservative Party. Whatever a future Labour government does, it will have to answer Nigellish questions, address Nigelly objections.

In short, then, a vote for Nigel makes the whole world more like him, without him having to lift a finger to do any of the hard work, fix the country he so clearly hates, or make his sums actually add up to the extent that the Treasury, the Bank of England and the bond markets wouldn’t all have a coronary on day one. Nigel’s actual aim, and his manner of achieving it, are both hard to understand. In other words: he’s a bit of a Björk.