Richard tice

Road to Reform: is Richard Tice’s party a threat to the Tories?

When I meet Richard Tice, the leader of the Reform party, in St Ermin’s Hotel in Westminster, he is sporting an upside-down Union Jack lapel badge on an otherwise immaculate navy suit, looking like the quintessential Tory he hopes to displace. There was a time when the Tories were complacent about challengers on their right. When David Cameron became Tory leader, he dismissed complaints that he was not Conservative enough. Who else would his critics vote for? Would they really join the ‘fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists’ of Ukip? In the end, Nigel Farage was an opponent supremely capable of stealing his voters and turning British politics upside down. Is

The Tice is right: is Reform about to break through?

History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes, said Mark Twain. Right now the commentariat is looking for something that will rhyme with the famous Battle of Knutsford Heath of 8 April 1997. In that face-off, Neil Hamilton and his formidable wife Christine were ranged against the white-suited ‘anti-corruption’ independent candidate Martin Bell. Though the Hamiltons gave as good as they got for the cameras, Bell had the last laugh by comfortably winning the formerly impregnable Tory seat of Tatton in the general election held a month or so later. With a by-election now looming in Shropshire North following the sleaze scandal that engulfed departing Tory MP Owen Paterson, leftish

Richard Tice is a rebel without a cause

The vaccines make you magnetic, didn’t you know? And Covid is a form of biological warfare, released by the Chinese to weaken the West. New 5G technology is melting people’s brains and the Bank of England is owned by the Rothschilds. I am listening to three delegates from Reform UK’s first party conference, held in parallel to the Tories’ much larger jamboree just down the road. They are outside chaining cigarettes and they’re fired up. At last, they feel they can talk about this stuff without being shut down. I nod along. I’m not a scientist, I explain, and I don’t really know how central banks work. But why, I ask,

The failure of the right

Sometimes things that don’t happen are as important as those that do. In the Sherlock Holmes story Silver Blaze, about the theft of a racehorse, the failure of a dog to bark is the central fact that allows the crime to be solved. Holmes mentions this ‘curious incident of the dog in the night-time’ to a Scotland Yard detective who is puzzled and tells him: ‘The dog did nothing in the night-time.’ Holmes replies: ‘That was the curious incident.’ There is a strong case for regarding the failure of a dog to bark as the central fact of British political life today. As I recently noted on this site, the

Could Richard Tice win Hartlepool for the Tories?

The Hartlepool by-election is a big moment in British politics. If Labour retains the seat, it will take a lot of heat off Keir Starmer, whose rocky patch as leader continues. If the Tories win, it would likely be politically fatal for the Labour leader. He would either continue on, wounded almost certainly beyond repair, or Labour would get rid of him and replace him with someone much worse. In terms of red wall dominance, the Tories taking Peter Mandelson’s old seat would be highly symbolic as well. Therefore, the prize at stake here for the Conservatives is huge. Capture Hartlepool and the next general election looks to be theirs

Why Farage’s successor is ignoring the culture war

The departure of Nigel Farage from the stage does not necessarily mark the end of the ‘revolt on the right’ that has so shaken up British politics over the past decade. Followers of the fortunes of the Brexit party, which has now morphed into Reform UK, will know that Richard Tice has been the coming man for many months. Today Farage’s newly-appointed successor as party leader (the party doesn’t, as yet, do internal elections) sets out the ground on which he has chosen to take on the political establishment — for which one should read ‘nibble away at the Tory vote share’. And Tice has chosen to ignore the fashionable notion

Why Reform UK’s Scotland launch was a flop

Scots may be getting vaccinated against Covid, but they already have the highest rate of immunity to the appeal of Nigel Farage to be found anywhere in the UK. So it was not a particular surprise that Farage today stayed away from the launch of the Scottish offshoot of his new entity, Reform UK. Instead it was left to party chairman Richard Tice to unveil the identity of the leader of Reform UK, Scotland. The sitting MSP Michelle Ballantyne, who stood unsuccessfully for the leadership of the Scottish Conservatives less than a year ago before going independent, has become the Scottish leader of Reform UK, without needing to win a single

How Farage plans to shake up British politics

Right-wing protest politics has just catastrophically over-reached in America, but it is suddenly back in business in Britain. Its dominant figure, Nigel Farage, has a new political start-up and is sounding rather pleased about it. Earlier this week the Electoral Commission finally — after more than eight weeks of humming and hawing — gave him permission to rebrand the mothballed Brexit party as Reform UK. ‘It is excellent news that the Electoral Commission has approved our name change application. The need for Reform in this country is greater than ever,’ tweeted the new Reform UK leader (an unelected post, naturally). Given that the Brexit party has not only been in

What will Farage’s sidekick do next? An interview with Richard Tice

Richard Tice is tall and lean, has a hint of Imran Khan around the eyes, and the ladies on reception in the office building where we meet seem to like him. Were Jilly Cooper to write a political novel then he would be its hero rather than anti-hero. Tice was, after all, the clean-cut one in the ‘Bad Boys of Brexit’, a band whose line up was completed by Arron Banks, Andy Wigmore and Nigel Farage. Tice is the chairman of the Farage-led Brexit party, a title he is finding irksome this afternoon as he would much rather by now be chairman of Reform UK, the new identity he and

Richard Tice, not Nigel Farage, should terrify the Tories

The terms of the Covid debate have changed markedly since Nigel Farage decided to re-enter the political arena after Boris Johnson’s second English lockdown. Even with multiple vaccines coming on stream, we can still not rule out a third lockdown — but we can be pretty darned sure there won’t be a fourth. It’s not the end of the beginning, but the beginning of the end. So Farage and his chief lieutenant Richard Tice can no longer depend on anti-lockdown fervour alone to give them a flying start, despite the rebellious mood of Tory MPs. Could they, therefore, decide that discretion is the better part of valour and call the whole thing off, especially if there