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Reform UK’s Invisible Candidates: Who Are They Hiding?

Absent from hustings, media interviews, and social media, why are Nigel Farage’s Reform champions quite so elusive?

A campaign leaflet from the right-wing Reform UK party for the General Election is one of many that keeps its candidate well hidden. Photo: UrbanImages / Alamy

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The Reform UK candidate near me probably would not call himself a local. That is entirely fair, as London is a hugely metropolitan city. What might be more of an issue should he be elected is the fact that he lives a 38 hour walk to his hopeful constituency. 

Mark Matlock wants to make “big changes to London”. But it would involve getting from his South Cotswolds home to South London, Brixton, to do so.  

There is precious little information available about Mark Matlock, I discovered on a recent flick through candidates in nearby seats. 

His profile photo is almost perfectly airbrushed. The only video on his site is of Nigel Farage. I can see no evidence of hustings appearances or media interviews. (He has not responded to a request for comment as yet – but we will include it if he does). 

Why so shy? When I noticed dear Mark’s curious absence, I began to notice similar trends in other constituencies. 

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But first I asked other candidates if they’d seen or heard from him. 

Green party candidate Shao-Lan Yuen told Byline Times: “I haven’t seen or heard from the Reform UK candidate for Clapham and Brixton Hill constituency.  He wasn’t at the hustings.” 

“I’ve heard suspicions that the image on his leaflets are AI generated.”

Independent Jon Key added there was “no sign of him.” 

“I did email Mark, as well as all the other candidates.  I heard back from a few, but not from Mark…He doesn’t live in the constituency,” he tells me. 

Kay added: “It has been very quiet in general, in fact…I have only seen three posters in a 76,000 person constituency.  This is what happens with first past the post, I guess.”

Mark Matlock is a local compared to some Bristolians’ Reform candidates though. (Update: 8th July, both Byline Times and Private Eye have now confirmed Matlock is a real person. He appears to be an antiques dealer originally from Guernsey).

Council records show that the Reform candidate for Bristol South, for example, lives in…Gibraltar. It would be a three hour flight to his seat should he somehow win the support of the radical South West city.

The Reform candidate for Leeds North East likewise has almost no digital footprint. There is seemingly no video, just a couple of pictures. One constituent tells me: “He’s not been to hustings, but the few videos I have found don’t have him in [either].”

They accept that joke candidate Count Binface is a pseudonym, but at least he’s been visible. 

Social media sleuths have also been trying to figure out who South Dorset candidate Morgan Young is. “There is still no sign of Reform UK Party Ltd’s candidate Morgan Tara Young just two days before the general election. No photo, no bio, no social media,” BrexitBuster wrote on X

Public council records show that the coastal candidate lives just a seven hour journey away, in South Derbyshire. (We have of course contacted Ms Young and will add any response.)

Comedian Kim Blythe even did a viral TikTok video about the complete lack of information about her local Reform UK candidate, Helen Burns. 

Some Reform UK leaflets keep their candidates rather under wraps. Credit: Kim Blythe

She told viewers: “I’m convinced that a candidate in that area does not exist…Look at various websites, and every other candidate in that area has a picture, apart from camera shy Helen. Is she too busy stopping the boats to take a picture?” 

Some Reform UK leaflets fail to include any photos or personal information about the local candidates.  

Reform UK are only fighting to actually win in 20 or so seats (whatever the leadership says). There are perhaps six in which the party stands a real chance, chief among them Nigel Farage’s seat in Clacton but also Lee Anderson in Ashfield and ousted leader Richard Tice in Boston & Skegness. 

And while Reform UK might have put up an almost-full slate of 609 candidates in Britain, the desperate rush to get names in amid the snap election has led some of their wannabe MPs to stand in seats many hundreds of miles from their homes. 

But that doesn’t explain – or indeed prove – how so many appear to have such diminutive online presences.  

Keen for some data on this, Byline Times analysed Democracy Club figures on whether candidates have contact details, or profiles on various social networks. 

Comparing Candidates’ Socials: Reform vs Conservatives and All Candidates 

With thanks to Democracy Club for gathering the raw data. 

Analysis: Does the candidate have a published…

1. Facebook Page URL

2. Facebook Personal URL

3. Email address? 

4. Homepage URL

5. Instagram URL

6. LinkedIn URL

7. TikTok URL

8. Twitter/X Username

9. Wikipedia URL

Is it the Nigel Farage show, or does the shyness say something else about the party? Voters will decide. 

Reform UK did not respond to a request for comment. 

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Josiah Mortimer also writes the On the Ground column, exclusive to the print edition of Byline Times.

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