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More Reform UK Candidates Caught Sharing Conspiracy Theories, Racist Memes and Marxist Conservatism

One Reform candidate defended himself by suggesting that his social profile makes clear that his retweets and likes “are not endorsements”

Reform Leader Nigel Farage has a pint with Chairman Richard Tice in Clacton on Sea where Farage is standing as a candidate. Photo: Mark Thomas / Alamy
Reform Leader Nigel Farage has a pint with Chairman Richard Tice in Clacton on Sea where Farage is standing as a candidate this election. Photo: Mark Thomas / Alamy

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Several more Reform UK candidates have been caught sharing social media content that is racist, promotes conspiracy theories and fringe far-right ideas.

The discovery comes less than three weeks after a Byline Times report led to the party – which insists it isn’t far-right – confirming it had dropped Andrew Raw, its candidate for Darlington, after he was accused of sharing “extreme racism and hateful ideology”.

At that time, it was thought Raw was at least the 11th candidate Reform has had to bin since the party gained its first MP, following Lee Anderson’s defection from the Conservative Party in March.

Farage brushing himself off after having the a milkshake chucked on him in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, on June 4. Photo: PA Images / Alamy

It also comes as the party faced another election set-back in recent days when – hours before nominations closed – Tom Wellings, the Reform candidate for the new seat of Stone, Great Wryly and Penkridge in Staffordshire, quit and put out a statement endorsing former cabinet minister Sir Gavin Williamson.

Before nominations closed there had been speculation that as many as six Conservative MPs and other candidates may defect to Reform after Nigel Farage announced on 3 June that he was standing in Clacton and becoming the leader of the party. However, that never happened.

Reform chair Richard Tice has since accused the Conservatives of “dirty tricks” and challenged Williamson to say “whether money, jobs or a safe seat was offered to Wellings to do this”. Wellings said he was concerned his candidacy risked splitting the vote in the seat, handing victory to Labour.

Reform Chair Richard Tice, seen above in Clacton last week, has accused the Conservatives of ‘dirty tricks’. Photo: Martin Suker / Alamy

Sean Matthews, the Reform candidate for Louth and Horncastle, is the latest member of the party whose social media judgement has been called into question.

In February, he retweeted a photo of Keir Starmer with the caption “owned by muslims”. The account that posted the original tweet wrote, “If you vote for this man you will get the Islamification of Great Britain”.

Matthews also regularly shares climate change denial content on X. Posts he shared included one claiming that “CO2 is irrelevant” to the planet’s warming, that there is “no definitive proof that CO2 is responsible for any of the slight warming of the global climate” and a post describing “the man-made global warming scam”. Reform UK’s manifesto opposes Net Zero. 

Byline Times has previously reported on several other instances of climate change denialism from Reform UK candidates.

In August 2023, the party received a £10,000 donation from the disgraced financier Crispin Odey who has previously invested heavily in a Brazilian agribusiness that received numerous fines for aggressive deforestation. The party has also received £1,578,000 from Jeremy Hosking, including a donation of £15,000 in July 2023. According to Open Democracy, Hosking’s company had at least $134 million in investments in fossil fuel companies in 2022.

Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the LSE’s Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, previously told Byline Times that “the material on the Reform UK website is demonstrably false and it’s not just the result of incompetence, it’s disinformation, it’s deliberate misinformation about climate impacts”.

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Conspiracy theories among Reform candidates extend beyond climate change denial. Byline Times previously reported on the prevalence of the ideology of the “freedom movement” which states there is a global plot by the World Economic Forum and WHO to enforce lockdowns, insect eating and major restrictions on movement.

One politico with a penchant for this kind of conspiracy theorising is Rowland O’Connor, the party’s candidate for North Cornwall. He regularly shares conspiracy theories on X including false claims that 17 million people have died from the Covid vaccine. Research by the UKHSA and Cambridge University suggests that Covid vaccines saved more than 100,000 lives in England alone.

Another post suggested that the snap election means people should avoid London in case of “false flag attacks” – a theory that states the government organises terror attacks for political gain. He also shared a post supporting a theory that the population is being subjected to “military grade hypnosis” and a link to “a video endorsing a Scientology theory of the hidden ‘third party’ supposedly causing every conflict in the world.

O’Connor also retweeted a post praising a speech at CPAC Hungary which espoused the Great Replacement Theory. It originates in the writings of French fascist author Renaud Camus which alleges that there is a deliberate plot by a global elite to replace white populations with non-white ones through migration.

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The X account of Adam Wood, Reform candidate for Rawmarsh and Conisborough, reveals a worldview that many in Reform denounce, socialism, and regularly retweets The Communist Party of Great Britain Marxist Leninist.

Wood’s tweets show a mixture of anti-immigration politics and social conservatism and anti-capitalism.

In October 2023, he posted: “The likes of William Morris and the early socialists understand the conservation of culture and history […] more than any sorry excuse of modern day conservatives”.

Wood also retweeted quotes from thinkers who mixed far-right and far-left thought including a quote from the French ethnonationalist philosopher Alain de Benoist which critiqued pro-immigration anti-capitalists and pro-capitalists with anti-immigrant views.

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And a post selectively quoting from fascist writer Wyndam Lewis which said: “You… stand for the small trader against the chain-store; for the peasant against the usurer; for the nation, great or small, against the super-state; for personal business against Big Business; for the craftsman against the Machine…”

Missing from the tweet is the full phrase, taken from Lewis’ speech praising Oswald Mosely, “You as a Fascist stand for the small trader against the chain-store; for the peasant against the usurer”.

Wood told Byline Times: “If it is intact related to the support of the British Union of fascists then I wholeheartedly denounce that person/quote and apologise if it came across as an endorsement”.

He added: “The quote I retweeted had no mention of fascism or Oswald Mosley so I had assumed it was an independent quote. I should have done more research, but the words used in it in isolation were nothing related to that. Quotes in isolation are not endorsements of the overall message it was a portion of and I have made it clear retweets/likes are not endorsements.”

Wood also expressed support on X for the far-right AFD in Germany and for Jordan Bardella, the party president of the Rassemblement National in France.

Commenting on Wood’s social media posts Alexander Reid Ross, author of The Fascist Creep and Geopolitics and Far Right Ideology told Byline Times “it certainly is reminiscent of the 1980s National Front and Third Position people like Patrick Harrington and Nick Griffin. Those are the ideas of ‘distributivism’ and a kind of folkish distribution of organic farms for community consumption to restore ‘geopolitical autarky’ and reproduce a class composition that includes a sweep from farmers to industrial workers to small shops without the difficulties and complexities of finance or corporations.”

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Ross added that, “Adam Wood’s twitter feed sort of sits in the back of the class and daydreams about the good old days of late-19th Century socialism when ‘England was England,’ rather than paying attention to the changes and adaptations that have taken place since then—or the reasons that those transformations happened […] basically, we wind up with a very confused wistfulness captured by an equally confused political ambiguity promoted by Farage, which offers the vague suggestion of an alternative to the present system through a retreat into [an idealised past]”.

Wood also critiqued Lee Anderson, in March 2023, before he joined Reform. Anderson had said that people “complaining about poverty is bollocks they don’t know what poverty is”. Wood posted that Anderson was “horrible and no ally”.

Wood told Byline Times: “Regarding my views on that Lee Anderson position, I do still stand by them. However, I have listened to things he has said and done since I do support. We as humans are open to change out opinion, and despite mine still being somewhat negative of Lee, I accept he may not be as bad as I originally viewed.”


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