The Voters Panel: 'We will vote Reform - even if it puts Sir Keir Starmer in Number 10'

February 28, 2024

When Sky News launched The Voters Panel 24 hours ago, there was one party who stood apart from the rest - Reform.

Our online congregation - 2019 Tory voters working out their political home in this year's general election - seemed less sure where other, bigger parties were planting their ideological flags.

In contrast, many members of our panel knew everything about what this 2024 post-Farage update of the 2019 Brexit Party stands for: its big picture policies, its characters, its aims, its vibe.

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In many ways this is remarkable. The party doesn't have the global pulling power of Nigel Farage working full-time to support it. It does not automatically command much coverage in newspapers, radio or TV outside of GB News.

It has had a tricky time in by-elections. It hasn't fought a general election before. And the name, Reform, would not automatically stand out on a ballot paper.

Yet, whether members of The Voters Panel found them attractive or repellent, it had clearly cut through, and for many on the panel, it represented more than just the sum of policies.

"I think the thing that stands out about Reform for me is that they want to bring back and get Britain great," said Alison, 65, a panel member from Lewes.

At the other end of the spectrum, Joshua - who is set to switch to Labour from Tory in 2019 - said: "I hope Richard Tice and Nigel Farage go back to being fringe people with fringe ideas, which they are, and stop feeling and being made to feel by others like they are some sort of kingmakers with the best, strongest ideas in politics.

"They are odd people with sad, angry ideas that need to go away and I hope they do to help us come to our senses and have a more normal political situation, with a better chance of solving the country's problems."

According to the Sky News The Voters Panel, the Reform Party is the second biggest alternative destination to the Conservatives after Labour. In some polls of Tory voters, they are the most likely alternative.

The hope inside Conservative headquarters is that when warned voting Reform would put Sir Keir Starmer in Downing Street, some will peel away and back the Tories.

However, The Voters Panel showed that members had already given thought to this issue.

Four of the six online panel members who will, or are considering, voting Reform have already concluded that they will do so regardless of whether it puts Sir Keir in power.

Alison said: "If voting reform means that Labour becomes our next parliament, our next government, then I don't mind that because I want the Conservatives to get a message that ordinary people like me aren't happy with the way they have run the country, especially in the last 10 years."

Rob, 49, from Chichester, said: "I'm absolutely aware that voting for Reform means that the Conservatives are less likely to form the next government. And it may well open the door to Labour.

"But I feel that may have to be a price worth paying if we are ever to get any real change in this country."

Meanwhile, Kelly said that Reform would be her pick over the Tories because of the stance on tax.

"Some people might say that the Reform vote is a protest vote, but for me it isn't," she said. "It absolutely isn't. It's a legitimate vote and it's a vote that they've had for [quite] a while now.

"The things that really speak out for me are lower taxes. Lower taxes in general are all going to be welcomed as long as we can afford it.

"And I'm sure that they won't do what Conservatives have done and crash the economy again. I think lower taxes in the right areas will be really beneficial for me and my family."

If even half of the voters that currently back Reform stick with this view, Rishi Sunak's path to Number 10 looks even trickier.

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