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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Mark Mulvihill, Reform UK Brighton Pavilion MP Candidate : GENERAL ELECTION 2024

Jade Montana

ByJade Montana

Jul 3, 2024

An unexpected twist in the 2024 general election has been the rise of the Nigel Farage-led Reform UK party. Reform has been standing candidates in almost every constituency, with Mark Mulvihill standing for Brighton Pavilion. Mulvihill has experience working as an Associate Ambulance Practitioner and has spoken widely on mental health and immigration being key issues in this election. The Badger sat down with Mulvihill to talk all things Reform, Farage, and improving student services. 

What made you want to shift from being an AAP to politics? And why specifically Reform UK?

Reform is what most closely aligns to what I believe, they’re by no means perfect but they are the only party that genuinely believes in what I do. They are the only party I believe will fix the NHS; other parties want to throw money at the situation, but Reform will get the waiting lists down. Two years, no waiting lists – that can’t be a bad thing. 

Across the country we are seeing a lack of trust between voters and politicians. Given that Reform UK is such a newly rebranded party, why should voters trust Reform to enact their manifesto pledges?

We’ve had the establishment constantly for decades. The only way to trust us is to vote for us, put us to the test, and you can vote us out if you don’t see reform. I want to see health services improve, and the only way we can change these services is to give us a chance and vote for us. 

The Reform UK party and manifesto has been labelled patriotic, nationalist etc. with the Union Jack flags, and ‘no-nonsense’ immigration policies. But how can the party separate ‘British pride and nationalism’ with labels of ‘extremist nationalism’?

A lot of the candidates within Reform UK are patriotic, but I don’t think it has an awful lot to do with the party being labelled extreme. I do think it shows how the country has lost its way. 

Brighton has a loud and proud LGBTQ+ community, however, one of the policies in the Reform manifesto is to ban transgender ideology in primary and secondary schools. Have you spoken to any part of the LGBTQ+ community in Brighton about this policy? And how do you plan to sell it to these groups?

Brighton has about 22% of its population identifying as LGBTQ+. I’ve not spoken to all 22%, but I have spoken to a small number of them who are supportive of the party. They supported the policy in primary schools and agreed that there is a time and place to talk about things like that [transgender ideology] and it’s not when children are climbing around and that…

School is supposed to be about learning and having fun; let’s set the foundations so students are learning how to build a future and a career and leave these other conversations to when they’re older and they can make the decisions themselves.

Do you think that this policy will affect how you do in the polls in Brighton given the high support for LGBTQ+ values?

I’m hoping it won’t! Brighton is loud and colourful, and why should that change? It is about changing the issues within Brighton, it is about bringing the best about the place, not targeting certain groups. 

The Reform UK manifesto also wants to ban gender questioning, pronoun swapping, and social transitioning within schools. Is this not a restriction on the human rights of young people in school?

I don’t think it is. We are all about free speech, we should be able to say all sorts of things.  Reform UK wants to scrap the ‘Human Rights Act’ and have a ‘Bill of Rights’ instead, so the conversations could be freely had but at an appropriate age and when students are more mature. These will be free conversations to be had.

So, would this ‘Bill of Rights’ give a specific age where individuals ‘earn’ the right to freely decide on their gender? 

I’m not too sure about that. I could pick a number out of a hat but I’m honestly not sure. 

On this issue of healthcare, Reform has mentioned using part of the private sector to help solve the waiting list crisis in the NHS. Labour have mentioned similar plans of talking with the private sector. Are you in agreement with Labour on using the private sector? And how do you avoid this overstretching the private sector as well as the already overstretched NHS? 

One of the differences is that Labour wants to bring parts of the private sector into the NHS, we just want to use the private sector, and once we’ve got to where we want to be, we say goodbye. It is using the private sector to get the waiting lists down and repair the NHS so we don’t need to rely on it again. 

I don’t think it will add strain as [the private sector] is run differently to the NHS. It is organised much better and has much tighter purse-strings. Both sectors have their own issues in their own ways. Capacity should still be expanding in the NHS to solve waiting lists, but should use the private sector in the short term whilst training takes time. 

What do you say to those who feel betrayed by Brexit or who are angry with where a post-Brexit UK is now? 

It goes back to the main two parties. Nothing has actually been achieved. Everybody’s idea of Brexit is different. It is not about ignoring our neighbours, it is about using NATO rather than European systems. It’s not that we don’t want anybody immigrating but the numbers need to be controlled. If we don’t control our numbers, nothing will be controlled, whether this is the NHS, dentistry, housing…

There have recently been different outpouring of comments about the party being racist. Is this an issue of Nigel Farage bringing the party down? How is the party trying to combat these labels? 

I don’t think it’s an issue with Farage or the party. It’s because we are a new party that has shaken the establishment. Because we are new it’s about trying to get media attention on us, but it has happened in the wrong light. The media are used to the main two parties, so they damage those that are new. Every party has racists or extremists, but Nigel is right in distancing the party from those people.

Judge me on my merit and my views and what I stand for. Nigel Farage might be the leader of the party but he’s not me and doesn’t have my views or my ideas. So that is down to the public to judge me on.

Farage has been associated with Trump quite closely in America and there have been rumours or assumptions that he is supported by Putin. Is this a party-wide view? Do you also associate with these people?

I think Nigel does align quite a bit with Trump. When it comes to America it is difficult because if you look at Trump, some of the ideas are good, again with Biden, some ideas are good. Trump is far more extreme than Nigel, and I don’t like to think that we would ever get to that point. 

A way in which Reform is different is that we want referendums on all big decisions, whereas with Trump I think it is far more ‘I want this done and it’s getting done’. 

Lots of people are labelling Reform UK as ‘the new Conservative party’. Do you agree with that statement? 

I do agree with that. When you look back to Thatcher and their Conservative values then to now, Conservatives have become much more liberal and socialist. Whilst Reform has some socialist values, it is far more Conservative than the current Conservative party. 

Reform commits to banning postal voting except for the elderly, disabled or those who cannot leave home. Many students need to postal vote due to being away from their constituency, and many parties would be losing out on these votes. Is it viable to ban postal voting nationwide given the vast amounts of people that postal vote?

There are a few reasons why Reform [wants to do that]; the biggest one is the unreliability of the post. For instance, [there are cases of] postal votes that do not arrive until after the election. The postal service needs to continue for postal votes to continue. Postal votes do play a vital part, but whilst the postal service is how it is, it is unreliable for postal votes. 

The manifesto commits to banning postal votes. Is this a part of the manifesto you therefore disagree with? 

Yeah, I think it needs reform and it to go out as a referendum. My views on it are different. Technology is going to evolve and voting systems will evolve. 

What could you offer students in Brighton specifically to build a close relationship with them as MP?

Putting their safety first. Brighton has knife crime figures almost similar to London. I have been looking back over the last fourteen years trying to find what Caroline Lucas has done to improve this… but I’m still looking! I want to put systems in place that protect students against knife crime to ensure their physical safety is protected here in Brighton.

What priorities do you have for students if you were to become Brighton Pavilion MP?

I have made some pledges that I have in place if I were to be elected specifically for Brighton.

  1. Mental health
  2. Homelessness
  3. Cost of rents
  4. NHS in general: dentistry, GP, corridor waiting

Image taken by Who Should I Vote For?

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