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Perhaps we ought to remind ourselves that Farage’s parties are rubbish in first past the post elections

August 3rd, 2019

Following the Brexit party’ flop in the Brecon and Radnorshire by elections the leader for life, Nigel Farage, has this afternoon published the above tweet with the faces of self first group of candidates to be selected by his party for a possible coming general election.

In all his years in politics whether with UKIP and now with the Brexit party Farage has struggled to win under the first past the post system. In his UKIP days Farage tried and failed seven times himself to become an MP. The only success he has had in getting someone at Westminster was persuading Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless to defect from the Tory Party and join UKIP in in 2014 resigning their seats and then successfully defending them in the following by-elections.

At GE2015 only Carswell retained his seat but not so long afterwards fell out with Farage, quit UKIP and did not stand at GE17.

In the aftermath of of the party success in the May 23rd euros the Brexit Party got close in Peterborough when a 30.9% vote share was enough to get LAB across the line. We had the usual excuses about postal votes but how much effort Farage’s party put into this aspect of the campaign?

On Thursday in the seat of Brecon and Radnorshire the Brexit party slipped to third place with just 10.5% of the vote suggesting that it momentum is waning.

An idea of Farage’s view of campaigning on the day consisted of a plane flying repeatedly over the constituency pulling a banner. This had been the plan in Buckingham at GE2010 when as UKIP’s candidate he was hoping to oust John  Bercow. Unfortunately the plane, with Farage in it, crashed.

This is all about the grunt work of knocking on doors building up databases and having effective get out the vote operations on the day. The basis of that is good data based on solid voter contact in the preceding weeks.

I always thought when Carswell defected to UKIP that he would bring with him that level of know how which could have transformed UKIP. Whatever reason that didn’t happen.

All of this does not mean that the Brexit Party is not going to have an impact at a general election but it is mainly to to split the pro Brexit vote rather than to win MPs. The Tories, though are learning fast and their impede the Brexit Party effort on Thursday saw BREX only pick up half the votes that the only poll of the campaign suggested it would get a couple of weeks earlier.

Mike Smithson