England, Wales and Scotland section of International Socialist Alternative

Nigel Farage is no ‘man of the people’, he is a man of the millionaires

Nigel Farage’s return has seen him posing as a defender of the “little man”, but what he really represents is a mix of right-wing, anti-worker policies and vicious racism. We need a bold anti-racist movement that exposes Farage and his lies. But we also must take aim at the Tories and Labour, whose big business programme has created a vacuum for him to fill. The only way to truly stop Farage is through mass, united working-class struggle and a new left party.

By Jack Yarlett

Farage’s recent announcement that he will be taking the leadership of Reform UK has given the party a significant boost in the polls, and further increased its profile in the run up to the General Election. Reform’s rise has, according to some polls, replaced the Tories as the second party in this election, pushing them into third place. Some might celebrate the further intensified historic implosion of the Tories, but there is nothing to celebrate about Reform’s rise.

Reform and Farage offer nothing positive for the working class, and nothing approaching any solutions to the multiple crises we face. Instead, they offer an extremely dangerous mixture of right-wing austerity economics, a sharpened version of the racist ‘culture wars’ already on offer from the Tories and echoed by Labour, along with blatant climate change denial.

Farage himself is a career politician, keen to play-act as a ‘man of the people’. Fond of having his photo taken in pubs enjoying a pint and a cigarette in an attempt to appear normal and relatable, he uses populist rhetoric about standing up for the ‘little man’ against an imagined ‘woke elite’. He has also cynically adopted ‘radical’ language, calling for a “revolt” and promising to stand up to the “giant global corporates”.

The reality of course is that Farage himself is of the elite – privately educated at Dulwich College, the son of a City of London Stockbroker, himself a former stockbroker before moving into politics. He has a net worth of millions, with nothing in common with the so-called “little man”.

Attacking the NHS

Reform UK can style itself as an alternative to the two-party system all it wants, but even a quick glance at their policies shows them up to be another right-wing party run by and for millionaires. They stand for tax cuts for the already super-wealthy. These policies, which include a £70bn handout to big business in tax cuts, would mean a round of austerity which would put 14 years of Tory rule to shame.

Farage’s appraoch on the NHS has been to hint much more explicitly at his desire for full privatisation. Reform’s manifesto pledges a drastic further expansion of the private sector into the NHS and tax cuts on private healthcare companies. This is framed as a way of providing resources to shorten waiting lists and improve care. Farage also poses the problems of the NHS as being due to “population increase”. But it is actually the already-existing model of backdoor privatisation which has bled our health service dry!

Racist attacks on migrants mean a race to the bottom

The main plank of Reform UK is fearmongering about immigration and pledging to introduce a raft of measures for reducing the number of people entering the UK, deporting migrants and attacking the rights of migrant workers living in the UK. As with all propaganda about the danger of “uncontrolled immigration”, this acts as a convenient divide and rule tactic for the ruling class. By scapegoating a vulnerable section of the working class for problems like unaffordable housing, low pay and underresourced health services, the bosses, profiteers and landlords are let off the hook.

Whatever happens after this election, the trade union and workers movement must organise to oppose attacks on migrants by building maximum solidarity in action between workers of all backgrounds as it prepares to resist a pro-capitalist Starmer government. This is important not just to prevent the misery that such policies would cause to those targeted by them, but also because they ultimately represent an attack on all workers. Attacks on migrant workers mean a race to the bottom for all of us.

Disillusionment with the establishment parties is exactly what provides fertile soil for Farage’s politics to grow. In a few weeks, we will have a Labour Party in power which has jettisoned any pretense of supporting workers and of being anything other than another party for the bosses.

Starmer’s government will be seized on by the likes of Reform, who are already looking to position themselves as the next party of opposition. Farage’s populist rhetoric could easily begin to fill a vacuum opening up due to disappointment with a Labour government which simply continues anti-worker, pro-big business policies. This has been the case repeatedly, as it was when the racist BNP profited from Tony Blair’s abandonment of the working class under the 2000s New Labour government. The European elections, which saw record results for right-wing and far-right parties also confirms this dangerous trend.

A new left party is the only solution

Relying on supporting the ‘lesser evil’ in each election will not prevent the rise of the right. Only a new left party of working-class struggle can undercut the support for Reform UK by boldly proposing a socialist programme to take the wealth and big companies out of the hands of the millionaires, bringing them into democratic public ownership so that they can be used for the common good. This would provide the real answers to the problems that Reform UK seeks to exploit while exposing them for the real representatives of the “elite” that they are.

We say:

  • No to racism, scapegoating and attacks on migrants. End deportations and open safe routes for all. For the right to work, unionise and strike.
  • No to misogyny, transphobia, and Islamophobia. For mass protests this Pride season to stamp out all forms of oppression.
  • Nationalise mail, rail and the utility companies. For clean and affordable water, electricity and public transport
  • We need a new left party, run by and for workers – not for the bosses!
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