“Compare and contrast” has always been a good start when trying to analyse a new phenomenon. Thankfully we have two ‘new’ parties which we can compare with each other.
I’ve been putting ‘new’ in quotation marks because neither party is actually ‘new’. ChUK-TIG, as we know, was formed by elected LabCon MPs who left their Parties because they were against the way their leaders, Ms May and Mr Corbyn, were handling Brexit. It was not a new Party created by political outsiders, by people who had no connections to the political establishment, by people who saw their interests being trampled on. It is best described as a top-down Party, with ‘leaders’ desperately looking for ‘followers’.
Similarly TBP is not strictly ‘new’ because the Leader, Mr Farage, is certainly not a newcomer. The way TBP has burgeoned however is certainly new: there is an undisputed leader, but he followed, if you wish, the clamour and demands of ordinary people who saw their votes betrayed by the old parties whom they’d trustingly voted into office.
Here are their websites: ChUK-TIG and TBP – go have a look yourselves. Comparing them is certainly illuminating. The ChUK-TIG’s slogan is: ‘Politics is broken. Let’s change it’. It sounds hypocritical, coming from precisely the same people who did their best to break politics by their incessant fight against Brexit, their promises at the 2017 GE notwithstanding.
We have not forgotten that and how these former Con and Lab MPs disrespected us voters by pushing Remain. They were not the only ones, but at least the Remain MPs in Lab and Con do not have the gall to say that only they can change the politics they themselves have broken.
The slogan of TBP is “Democracy is under threat, join us to start the fightback.” That, to my mind, is a precise description of the state of our Nation and, in contrast, does not ask people to ‘follow’ the same old politicians who’ve created the mess, but to become active themselves.
I’m an old hand at looking at the MSM, at how they report, at what they do and especially don’t write about. The contrasting ways they’ve reported on those two new parties is quite interesting and also rather illuminating.
The immediate success of TBP in the polls seems to have stunned the MSM. While there are the usual write-ups on Nigel Farage, the usual, tired old smears included, so far there have been no sneers at TBP generally. “Slick and professional” is the consensus.
Now compare that with reports on the ChUK-TIGs. First there was the ‘difficulty’ with their logo which was rejected by the Electoral Commission.Then there was the shambles of their candidate selection. Savour this headline: “Euro poll candidates shambles is not our fault, says Change UK” (paywalled link). Of course it’s never the fault of those professional, elected politicians – nothing ever is! Surely a sign of how that ‘new’ Party will operate: blame the underlings when things go wrong.
Here’s another sign – when things go wrong, shell out money from the punters and ‘re-brand’ – after a few weeks only as official ‘Party’:
“Britain’s newest political party has hired a branding agency to brush up its image after weeks of confusion about its name, logo and plans. Change UK, formed when 11 MPs jumped ship from Labour and the Conservatives in February, has recruited The&Partnership, which has run advertising campaigns for Toyota, Lexus, Argos, the Prince’s Trust and The Times. Insiders say the party, which is currently led by the former Tory MP Heidi Allen, is to ditch its original name, The Independent Group, and also the nickname “Tiggers”. This had been used by Allen to describe activist members at the party’s European elections launch last week. (paywalled link)
“Chuka Umunna said Change UK would seek to become more professional by bringing in more staff and publishing a European elections manifesto this week. It will include policies that go beyond opposition to Brexit, the party’s focus.” (paywalled link)
Professional politicians wanting to become ‘more professional’ – now I’ve heard everything! Are the reporters secretly delighted at the ChUK-TIG mess? It looks like it, doesn’t it …
Pollsters and pundits have also pointed out that the ChUK-TIGs are now near the bottom of the polls for the EP elections. It must remain Chuka Umunna’s secret why they refused to form an alliance with the other Remain Parties, especially the LibDems who had offered. It’s not a sign of political nous to reject an alliance which would have bundled the Remain votes.
Meanwhile, over at TBP, there’s just one aim, one focus: to force the Establishment parties to get us Out. Nigel Farage has now got Lab in TBP’s sight. While Lab MPs are furious that Corbyn still won’t allow the EP election manifesto to state that Lab demands a 2nd referendum (here), the DM reports that:
“The new Brexit Party leader has vowed to give Labour a ‘nasty surprise’ in the European elections as he turns it against them for ‘abandoning their voters’. Nigel Farage told The Mail on Sunday he ‘absolutely, absolutely’ blames Jeremy Corbyn’s party as much as the Tories for the delay to Britain’s departure from the EU, ‘in fact more so in some ways’.” (link)
At the end of that report there’s a significant quote:
“Leaked internal Labour polling seen by this newspaper says: ‘The Brexit situation is extremely fluid and is hitting the Tories harder on competence and ability to deliver on Brexit than it is specifically hitting Labour, but there is also strong evidence of a wide “plague on your houses” Brexit-related negativity about both main parties at present.This looks to be having more of an effect in depressing turnout than any significant switching of votes at this stage.’ (link)
The last sentence looks like a bit of wishful thinking by Lab, but they need to reassure their Labbies (if we can have Tiggers we can have Labbies and Connies, yes?) and keep them on board. In general though Lab is now also worried about TBP.
Over in Con-Land they’ve seen the enemy and are fighting back. Sort of. While some Tories are still belly-aching about getting rid of May and the Scottish Tories are now also staring into the abyss (link), Tory ‘enforcers’ have now brought out the cudgels:
“Tory bosses have threatened to kick MPs and grassroots activists out of the party if they back Nigel Farage in the EU elections — as two opinion polls show support for the party in freefall and sources predicted that MPs could jump ship to the Brexit Party.” (paywalled link)
That’ll work all right – not! Robin Harris concludes his scathing critique of the Tory Party (sadly paywalled) thus:
“But unless the party now wholeheartedly fights for Brexit, there will be no more Conservatism – because whenever the party calls for support, the response will simply be: “What’s the point?” (link, paywalled)
All those Connies who ask themselves that question will probably give their vote in the EP elections to TBP – and Tory ‘High Command’ have only got themselves to blame.
In the absence of Brexit News the – mostly Remain – MSM these last few days have concentrated on two items: the death-by-suicide of the Tory Party and the rise of TBP, with here and there the odd chuckle about ChUK-TIG.
They haven’t yet found a way of dealing with the phenomenon that is TBP. I think it’s because TBP is genuinely new. There’s one thing which sets them apart from all the old parties, ChUK-TIGs included: it is not tribal. And that is indeed something new in our political landscape.