Reform UK 2024 is so UKIP 2015: the press should stop treating the result as something it is not

I was shocked to see that Nigel Farage’s ‘Reform UK’ party came second in 120 constituencies. They got the third-highest vote share on 12.6 per cent of the votes, and even got an MP. All of this against a backdrop of the winning party gaining a vote-share only in the 30’s. 

Oh no, wait a sec – that was UKIP (UK Independence Party) in 2015!

This time his party came second in just 98 out of 650 seats. They got 14.3 per cent of the votes and managed to get five MPs: four extra MPs, an extra 1.7 per cent of the vote share, coming second in 22 fewer seats than in 2015.

So can we please stop pretending Farage and Reform are somehow new?

Can we please not treat Thursday’s result as some unprecedented event for them – it’s broadly the same result as they got in 2015.

Same leader, same voters, just a different colour badge.

Yes, it’s concerning how many people buy into his divisive, populist rhetoric, and no, that can’t be ignored. But this isn’t new. It’s not the start of something momentous. 

For some perspective: if anything, we can take heart from the fact that the combined right-wing vote (Tory + UKIP/Reform) has fallen from 49.5 per cent in 2015 to 38 per cent in 2024. 

We can take heart from the fact that 91 per cent of the British electorate did NOT vote for Farage, despite the disproportionate coverage he receives across the media, and he and his colleagues fronting their own TV channel.

Don’t get me wrong – we mustn’t underestimate the damage he can do. But please can the press stop making out this result as something that it’s not.

Same rhetoric, different badge. That’s it.

Editor: In 2015, UKIP’s one MP was Conservative defector Douglas Carswell. In 2017, their share of the vote collapsed post the Brexit referendum. UKIP received fewer than 600,000 votes and won no seats. In 2019, the Brexit party did not stand in seats which had been won by the Conservative Party in 2017. They also stood in a number of seats mainly in London, Scotland and the North East. They did not win any seats.