After the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election, one thing is very clear: the two-party political system has failed this country. Friday’s results showed just how much electoral trouble both the Conservatives and Labour are now in.
Labour almost lost their deposit, coming fourth, only just ahead of the Monster Raving Loony Party. That this could happen in Wales, a bastion of Labour support for a century, is extraordinary.
The Tories had the arrogance to field the same candidate whose recall by constituents for wrongdoing caused the by-election in the first place. It’s hardly surprising that he blew an 8,000-vote majority.
We are now into new territory, with four parties – Labour, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats (more properly named the Liberal Antidemocrats, since their new leader declared that she would not even accept a Leave vote in a second referendum) and the Brexit Party – appealing to different voters across the country. The first-past-the-post system is brutal and unpredictable in these circumstances: in June, the Tories came third, well behind the Brexit Party, because a vote for the Conservatives there meant a seat for Corbyn. It’s no wonder that even the most experienced political commentators have no idea which way it’s likely to go.
The simple fact is that the Conservatives – riven internally as they are – now have to deliver on Boris Johnson’s promise to leave with a proper Brexit on October 31. If not, they are finished in their current form, as the main governing party of the past 100 years.
It’s hard to see how the Tories could win a majority in a general election on their own. They are currently reliant on the DUP for their existence as a government, helped only by the shocking state of what was previously their main opposition.
The Labour Party is also in trouble: it is haemorrhaging support to the Liberals or the Brexit Party, and has succeeded in losing respected stalwarts like Frank Field and Chuka Umunna over the past year, with more defectors potentially to follow. The Scottish Tory party is at odds with London HQ. The Brexit Party can ensure that none of the 13 current Scottish Conservative MPs are returned at the next election.
The forthcoming election will inevitably become a battle of Leave versus Remain. If the Tories want to govern, pragmatic reality has to prevail over egos in No10.
We in the Brexit Party are already working hard to gain Brexit-supporting voters from other parties. If you look at our candidate announcements, you will see well known former Labour members and activists now standing as Brexit Party candidates. Labour seats in Wales, the Midlands and the North are very vulnerable. Just remember what happened to Labour in Scotland in 2015 when they lost 40 of 41 seats. They only recovered six of those lost in 2017. Were the Tories to fail to deliver on their October 31 promise, meanwhile, our phone would be red hot with Tory MPs trying to jump before their constituents pushed them.
We’re already leading the way with eye-catching policies that resonate across the electoral spectrum, based on common sense. It has been amusing to see the Tories copy us by also saying that massive investment is needed in the regions. But only we have said that we will pay for it by scrapping the absurd £100 billion HS2.
The Conservatives have lost the trust of millions of voters over their incompetent, untrustworthy handling of Brexit. How can we trust people in Cabinet who just a few months ago tried to sell the country down the river with Mrs May’s deal – the worst in history – that would have left us a vassal state? Some of these people have now been put in charge of no-deal preparations!
Can we trust a Prime Minister who voted for the terrible Withdrawal Treaty at the third time of asking, despite his written demolition of the same Treaty in the preceding weeks?
The way the next election is fought will depend on its timing. But voters are smart, and they will vote tactically to achieve their goal. Brecon has just shown this.
The Brexit Party will ensure that Brexiteers do not have to rely solely on the Conservatives for Brexit to be delivered. All is to play for.