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Fifty Years a Conservative, but I’ll now vote for Reform UK


I was against joining the European Community from the start and was greatly influenced by those towering Parliamentary intellects Enoch Powell from the Conservative Right and Tony Benn from the Labour left. You couldn’t find two politicians more diametrically opposed on almost every subject than Powell and Benn, but they were united in condemning the decision to cede a significant chunk of Parliamentary sovereignty to an unelected and undemocratic foreign entity which, at that time, was wholly unaccountable to the British electorate. Despite the strength of their arguments, and those of others, Conservative Prime Minister Ted Heath took the UK into the European Community (misleading dubbed the “Common Market”) in 1973 on humiliating and economically disadvantageous terms, even accepting the late demands of the French (who else?) for a Common Fisheries Policy. Not to put too finer point on it, Heath lied to the British people on the full implications of joining this organisation, claiming it was a trading entity only with no implications for sovereignty, conveniently forgetting the statements in the Treaty of Rome (1958) with regard to ever closer union.

Harold Wilson’s successor Labour government promised to renegotiate the terms of entry and thereafter put the matter to an In-Out Referendum. Wilson was true to his word and the Referendum was held on 5th June 1975. I voted Leave, but unfortunately, the vote was overwhelmingly for Remain (67.23%).

Over the years the Common Market morphed through various treaties from the European Community (“Common Market”) to the European Union, a fully fledged sovereign entity that has all the legal and practical characteristics of a independent state, in fact the superstate envisaged by the founding members.

You may legitimately ask why, if I was so anti-EU, did I stay as an activist in the Conservative Party. My view at the time was, firstly, to try to win the arguments from within, and secondly, I thought that only the Conservative Party with its significant core of euro-scepticism would ever agree to a second In-Out EU Referendum. That’s how it turned out, but it only happened because of the herculean efforts of Nigel Farage, UKIP and, later, the Brexit Party.

I campaigned for Leave throughout the 2016 Referendum. Through running a Saturday “Leave stall” on Mostyn Street, Llandudno for several weeks I had no doubt that the vote would go our way. Our victory was, however, almost turned to ash in our mouths through, firstly, the incompetence and deceit of Theresa May’s Brexit negotiations which, if forced through, would have resulted in our becoming a vassal state of the EU and, secondly, the concerted effort of the Remainiacs in and out of Parliament to set aside the Referendum result and the democratic vote of 17 million people.

Like him or loath him, it was Boris Johnson who “got Brexit done” despite its many flaws, particularly with regard to Northern Ireland. It is, however, after this high point that things started to go badly wrong. Instead of pressing on with his 80 seat majority Johnson didn’t grasp the Brexit opportunities that were there for the taking. In fairness, the pandemic struck in March 2020, Johnson almost died of Covid, and the whole of society was dislocated and plunged into uncertainty. It will be one of the great “what ifs” of UK history to wonder how Johnson and the country would have performed without the pandemic. However, we are where we are.

Under the post-pandemic leadership of Johnson and Sunak (Truss doesn’t count) the Conservatives have become a European-style social-democratic party, wedded to tax and spend, to social engineering, and intent on controlling every aspect of our lives through an ever expanding nanny state and its zealotry for net zero. They seem to have forgotten that it is only through capitalism and entrepreneurship that nations and societies prosper. They have failed to take many of the vast opportunities offered by Brexit and, as such, have left the door ajar to an in-coming Labour government to cuddle-up to the EU and rejoin the bloated monstrosity by stealth.

I campaigned and voted for Leave for the sole purpose of regaining our sovereignty from an unelected, unaccountable and undemocratic socio-political construct that was committed to an ineluctable process ending in a federal super state of which we would be just a part. Regaining our sovereignty would mean that all other things that ordinarily should be in the purview of an independent nation-state would follow, such as control of our international relationships, control of our trade policy, control of our defence policy, control of our social and welfare policy, control of our boarders and the concomitant control of immigration, and so on.

Many of the criticisms of the Brexit movement related to the prominence given by the media to the demands for the control of immigration. As such, we, the ordinary people, were described as flat-cap wearing, whippet-owning, uneducated, unsophisticated, uncivilised, xenophobic racist bigots who, by the way, ate children. Speaking as one such, what we could see and experience, if others could not, was that uncontrolled immigration put intolerable pressure on the NHS, on GP and dentist practices, on housing, on schools, on transport, on wages, in fact on every aspect of life. The problem of uncontrolled immigration was seen as resulting from our membership of the EU and the rights of all EU citizens to live and work in Britain. We not unreasonably thought and expected that if we left the EU and regained control of our borders and immigration policy we could bring the process under control and take the pressure off our nation’s essential services. This objective isn’t racist.

The Conservatives have failed in so many ways since winning the general election of 2019, but even allowing for the effects of the pandemic their greatest failure has arguably been their unwillingness to control legal immigration. Not only have they not controlled legal immigration they have deliberately expanded it to the point where a net 745,000 immigrants settled in Britain last year. Since 2019 net migration was 1.488 million. For context, this is significantly more than the population of Birmingham. Where is the additional housing, school places, health services, transport, etc., to accommodate this influx? What does this mean for the whole of our welfare and social services provision?

Then there’s illegal immigration. I don’t for one minute underestimate the difficulty, complexity and dangers of stopping the small boats. However, a government is elected to deal with difficult problems, but this government can’t even agree within itself how the problem can be solved. We have the nonsense of the Rwanda Bill where the government is pressing on with legislation which its own law officers say parts are illegal, which the presiding judge of the ECHR has said is illegal, which the internal Wets of the One Nation group have in any event neutered, where the House of Lords is intent on emasculating it further and, no doubt, human rights lawyers who feed off the dripping roast of illegal migration are itching to exploit it if it’s ever enacted.

A first step must be to leave the EHCR, to remove the power of veto of a foreign court over our domestic legislation. Unfortunately, again, the Wets in the Conservative Party (who’d be more at home with the LibDems) won’t countenance this being, apparently, unconcerned that an organisation established immediately after WW2 with the most noble of intentions in response to the horrors visited on the people of Europe by Nazi Germany is no longer fit for its intended purpose due to the unaccountable, uncontrolled and inevitable mission-creep of its lawyers and judges. Voting rights for prisoners was not, I suspect, in the minds of those who established the ECHR.

The Conservative Party I have supported for over fifty years is dead. It survives in name only. It is no longer a party of the centre-right, of entrepreneurship and aspiration, of self-reliance, of personal responsibility, of law and order, of defence of the realm, and of unequivocal support for our people and country. It’s time for change, and whilst the prospect of a Labour government fills me with foreboding, it’s no longer sufficient reason to support the Conservatives to keep out Labour. That won’t wash any more.

There is a legitimate need in the UK for a centre-right party as counter-weight to the socialist centre-left and left as now represented through the homogeneity of the Conservatives, Labour and the LibDems. I believe that Reform UK is that party as it best represents my long-held political beliefs, and we share the same aspirations for our country and its people.

As we know, our electoral systems militates against an insurgent party such as Reform UK, and even with 10%+ of the popular vote it is unlikely to win any seats at the next general election. However, we shouldn’t be dismayed as a start has to be made and the achievements of Nigel Farage, UKIP and the Brexit Party should inspire us to take on the failed system in the knowledge that it can, in due course, be reformed. This is why at the next general election I shall vote for Reform UK.