Is This Reform UK’s Most Shameless Candidate?

Farage’s excuses don’t wash.

by Simon Childs

1 July 2024

Steve Beatty. Reform UK
Steve Beatty. Reform UK

Reform UK may be about to complete phase one of its master plan to smash the next election by destroying the Tories in the current one, and this is despite the bizarre, scary and downright racist views of some of its candidates.

An incomplete rundown of these candidates would include: the one who said Britain should have taken Hitler up on his offer of neutrality; the one who got kicked out of the party after he compared Black people to baboons; and various candidates touting conspiracy theories who the party has defended.

Another of those whose views have been under scrutiny is Steve Beatty, Reform candidate for Didcot and Wantage.

Beatty was one of 41 Reform candidates who, the Times reported, was connected on Facebook with Gary Raikes, leader of the New British Union, a fascist party which takes after Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists. The Express then pointed out his hastily deleted Facebook posts touting conspiracy theories such as climate change being a “hoax”, the Covid pandemic being funded by the US, or, confusingly, that it didn’t really exist.

None of this attention seems to have fazed Beatty, however. A correspondent pointed Novara Media in the direction of his election Facebook account which was, as recently as last week, liking posts from Homeland, a tiny fascist political party – something also noticed by some anti-fascist sleuths who posted about it on social media.

One of the posts depicted Homeland members singing a version of “L’Amour Toujours”, a 25-year-old techno banger that has found new life across Europe as a far right, anti-migrant anthem.

Another post encouraged people to join the Homeland party, saying: “We have activists up and down the nation spreading the message and bringing more people into the party every day.”

Beatty’s account liked these posts on 24 June, with just over a week of the election to go, and after his views had already been reported in the media.

Another post liked by Beatty is about a Homeland organised litter pick, which said: “This is where community politics and making a better nation are born.”

Last year, Homeland split from Patriotic Alternative – a neo-Nazi party led by Mark Collett, a former BNP organiser and once the golden boy of the far-right. The party aims to Trojan horse its way to power by building the reputation of its activists locally and taking up positions in the communal organisations such as trade unions, NHS Trusts and allotment societies.

Novara Media reached out to Beatty to ask him to clarify his views on the Homeland party, but didn’t get a response. We also didn’t hear back from Reform.

Reform has refused to comment on Beatty to the media, but has blamed the company it paid to vet its candidates for a “stitch up”.

Another line of defence used by Reform figures when quizzed about the views of some of its candidates is that it is a young party – it will learn from experience.

The latter claim is not particularly convincing. While Reform is fairly new, Nigel Farage is hardly new to allegations of racists wearing his rosette.

Farage was leader of Ukip on and off for nearly a decade. In 2013, he ordered psychometric tests to route out potentially embarrassing candidates. One person who passed the test was Godfrey Bloom, then an MEP, who had railed against Britain giving aid to “bongo bongo land”.

And in 2016, the Times revealed a leaked dossier showing that Ukip knowingly allowed various dodgy candidates through its vetting processes. Among those was none other than… Beatty, who stood unsuccessfully for South Oxfordshire district council in 2015. He was approved by Ukip despite multiple English Defence League and Britain First posts on Facebook. Beatty told the Times that Ukip asked him to remove the posts and state that he did not agree with the policies of either group and that he was “completely intolerant of racist views”.

Simon Childs is a commissioning editor and reporter for Novara Media.

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