‘We’re coming for Labour’: Reform’s small seat count conceals size of its threat

‘We’re coming for Labour’: Reform’s small seat count conceals size of its threat

The Guardian reports:

Shortly after 3.30am on Friday, as Nigel Farage was finally elected to Westminster at the eighth time of asking, the Reform UK leader stood to deliver a speech that was fully intended to interrupt Labour’s euphoric celebrations elsewhere.

Having played a large part in the implosion of Conservative support, Reform would now be targeting Labour voters, the new member for Clacton said. “We’re coming for Labour – be in no doubt about that.”

Vowing to build a “mass national movement” that could mount a “proper” general election challenge in 2029, Farage said: “This is just the first step of something that is going to stun all of you.”

This result was remarkable enough. Though the shocking initial exit poll prediction of 13 seats for the populist hard-right party did not, in the end, come to pass, its final tally of five seats still represents a big advance. Founded only in 2018 as the Brexit party, it had never previously won a Westminster seat at any election.

And if that headline figure remains small, it conceals a much more significant breadth of support in a wide range of seats, Conservative and Labour, right across the country. Nationally, Reform won more than 4m votes, over 600,000 more than the Liberal Democrats who returned 71 MPs thanks in part to their sophisticated ground campaign and targeted tactical voting. The Green party won four parliamentary seats on under 2m votes, less than half the tally of Reform.

Inevitably, Farage told a press conference in Westminster on Friday that Reform would be lobbying to abolish first past the post, an electoral system that he said was “not fit for purpose – and we will campaign with anyone and everyone to change this electoral system”.

Drilling into the constituency results reveals the scale of the potential threat Reform could pose in future. The party came second in no fewer than 103 seats, of which 93 were claimed by Labour.

As Farage noted in his acceptance speech, this was achieved without a significant party infrastructure and with only four weeks of real momentum, after his personal decision to throw his hat into the ring turbocharged Reform’s campaign in early June.

That large latent vote means that to Keir Starmer’s government the insurgent rightwingers could pose almost as great a threat as the badly wounded Conservative party that will form the official opposition. [Continue reading…]

The Guardian reports:

Labour has lost four seats to pro-Gaza independent candidates and been run close by several others, as the impact of the Middle East crisis dented an otherwise jubilant night for Keir Starmer’s party.

Jonathan Ashworth, the party’s shadow Cabinet Office minister, was one of the highest profile political casualties of the rise in support for pro-Palestinian candidates in urban areas with high Muslim populations.

Ashworth lost his Leicester South seat to the independent Shockat Adam, who said: “This is for Gaza,” after winning by just under 1,000 votes.

In Blackburn, the constituency once held by the former home secretary Jack Straw, Labour’s Kate Hollern lost by 132 votes to the independent Adnan Hussain. In Dewsbury and Batley, Heather Iqbal, a former adviser to the shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, lost by nearly 7,000 votes to Iqbal Mohamed. And in Birmingham Perry Barr, the former Labour MP Khalid Mahmood lost to the independent Ayoub Khan.

In several other seats, high-profile Labour MPs were also run close by independent candidates, including in Ilford, where the shadow health secretary, Wes Streeting, won by only 528 votes more than his closest rival, Leanne Mohamad. [Continue reading…]

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