Why I'm voting for Nigel Farage's Reform Party in the election

Donna Hart says she believes Reform would tackle issues within the NHS and bring down immigration.

As part of its election coverage, Yahoo News is speaking to voters around the country on the issues that will sway their vote. Read more from our election 'Your Voice' series here as we get closer to polling day on 4 July.

Donna (inset) plans to vote for reform UK in the upcoming election. (PA)
Donna (inset) plans to vote for Reform UK in the upcoming election. (PA)

Dental practice manager Donna Hart and her partner Mark work hard to provide for their five children, but they still struggle to make ends meet.

Sky-high gas and electric bills cost the couple £3,000 last year, and Donna admits that she missed the last payment as she needed to pay for food shopping.

As well as covering the basics, another added cost for the Hart family, who live in Birmingham, is private medical insurance. Donna pays £18 per month for them to access a private GP, something she said is a result of the NHS being "on its knees".

“The final straw was when my son had had surgery and the wound had gone green and septic, but I couldn’t get a GP appointment," she explains. "It was ridiculous and made me think the only answer was to pay to access better medical care.”

Hart says the insurance gives her peace of mind as her daughter Hannah, 14, has chronic asthma that has seen her admitted to hospital in the past. Indeed, the challenges facing the NHS is one of the reasons she will be voting for Reform UK, which says it is aiming for ‘zero waiting lists’.

“We need to urgently tackle NHS waiting times,” Donna says. “It’s not just doctors and hospitals, it’s dentists too. The dental practice where I work is one of the few NHS ones left, the only one within a 150-mile radius. People are clinging onto their NHS dentist if they have one – we have a family who travel all the way down from Scotland to get an appointment.”

Economists at the Institute for Fiscal Studies have dismissed Reform’s proposed policy of spending £17bn to cut NHS waiting lists to zero as simply not achievable.

Hart has five children – Hannah, 14, Aaron, 13, Teddy, 12, Beau, 10, and Strawberry, four – and she worries about the air pollution affecting their health. Hannah in particular is affected by them living near the M6 as her asthma is triggered by air pollution.

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Birmingham has one of the highest rates of air pollution in the country and is in the top 10 for the most people admitted to hospital and dying from respiratory conditions.

But Hart says measures such as the Tory government's banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 in favour of electric vehicles and the congestion charge brought in by Birmingham council don’t take into account the cost-of-living struggles people face.

“The Tories are too focused on rich people. They are not here for working class families like mine. I get some help through benefits but it’s just not enough. The strain on us is immense," she says.

"Most people can’t afford to buy an electric vehicle but we do need to tackle air pollution as it’s literally killing people. Hannah’s quality of life is badly affected by her asthma and she finds it hard to exercise because of it. I don’t want Hannah to lose her life to asthma caused by air pollution.”

Donna supports Asthma + Lung UK’s calls for all political parties to adopt a cleaner air travel fund if they win the election, which will help people switch to an electric vehicle, or to fund public transport. The charity says the West Midlands that would see the greatest improvement in levels of air pollutant nitrogen oxide if it was brought in.

Labour haven’t made specific pledges around air pollution though they have vowed to invest in clean energy by making the UK a world leader in floating offshore wind. The Liberal Democrats have promised to tackle air pollution by investing in rail, buses, trams and electric vehicles.

The Green Party are more outspoken on the issue, vying for votes by promising to reduce carbon emissions through a public awareness campaign, strengthening the Climate Change Act and encouraging local areas to focus on climate emergency mitigation.

But Hart disagrees with the party's policy that encourages ‘small families’. She says: "Children are a blessing and we should get support and backing for raising the next generation."

Nigel Farage has repeatedly placed immigration at the centre of Reform’s election campaign, often conflating the issue with the small boats crisis. Their manifesto - dubbed a contract by Reform - states: “Record mass immigration has damaged our country. The small boats crisis threatens our security.”

According to government figures, in 2023, asylum seekers and refugees made up around 11% of immigrants to the UK – with an even smaller number of successful asylum applications granted.

However, Reform’s message resonates with Hart, who says: “Immigration is a massive problem. We are spending millions every year on housing for refugees. Too many people think if you vote Reform UK you’re racist but that’s not the case.

“Anyone who is fleeing persecution, should get help, but they don’t have to all come to Great Britain. People come here because we are a soft touch and give too many handouts. Why not go to France or Germany?”

In 2023, there were 67,337 asylum applications in the UK. In the EU, Germany (243, 000), France (156,000), Spain (117,000), Austria (112,000) and Italy (84,000).

In recent years, net migration has increased markedly. And while latest figures showed a slight decline, some economists argue this could negatively impact frontline services, such as social care and NHS, which are already struggling with workforce pressures and years of underfunding.

Hart is also concerned that immigration issues are adding to NHS pressures, saying: “We can just about deal with people born and raised here, we don’t have the resources to help people coming over in boats too.”

Donna is staunch in her support of Reform UK but thinks it is unlikely they will win. Asked if she had to pick between Labour and the Conservatives her answer is quick: “I’d rather spoil my ballot card.”

She says: “Labour’s policy is never going to work and the Conservatives don’t give a c**p about anyone. I’m not voting for me, I’m voting for my kids who need a future with access to healthcare and the opportunities they deserve.”

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