Bring on the bloodbath

Rishi Sunak thoroughly deserves the electoral kicking this election is sure to bring.

Tom Slater

Tom Slater

Topics Politics UK

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So British prime minister Rishi Sunak has finally called an election. After squatting in No10 Downing Street for 575 days, with no mandate of his own from the public, he is finally giving the country its say. Good. It’s high time he went to the electorate. Plus, I can’t have been the only one who couldn’t have taken another minute of Westminster Village journalists gossiping on air and on social media about possible election dates like giddy schoolchildren. (It’s going to be 4 July, by the way.)

Why now? Well, why not, seems to be the thinking. The Conservatives are a whopping 20 points behind in the polls, a deficit no sitting government has ever overcome. Sunak has hit John Major levels of unpopularity. He hasn’t stopped the boats – his signature pledge. His dismal, drizzly press conference in Downing Street earlier today couldn’t have looked worse for him if Labour had scripted it. Some bore was even blasting D:Ream’s New Labour victory anthem from outside the gates. Still, it seems that Sunak and Co judged that, for them and their party, Things Can Only Get Worse. They might as well just pull the plaster off.

Rishi Sunak’s rise to lead the Conservatives in 2022 proved that the party had essentially given up on the populist, Brexity energy that had briefly rejuvenated it – that had handed it a tremendous majority in 2019. After Covid and Ukraine and that strange period when someone allowed Liz Truss to be prime minister, what was needed was a technocrat who could steady the economic ship and stop the party’s precipitous fall in the polls, Sunak and his allies told us. Just 18 months later and all Sunak has done is remind us that the supposed ‘adults in the room’ have no idea what voters want and no idea what they themselves are doing. That he thought today’s inflation figures would be a crumb of comfort for a cash-strapped nation shows just how out of touch he is. Prices are still more than 20 per cent higher than they were in mid-2021. ‘I know you’re all much poorer now, but you could be even poorer’ is hardly the message electoral upsets are won on.

The Tories thoroughly deserve the electoral kicking that appears to be coming their way. In 2019, they were handed a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reshape their party in the image of Britain’s forgotten working classes, who had just voted for Brexit and taken a chance on Boris Johnson to ensure their vote was implemented. Instead, the Conservatives have just reverted to backstabbing, technocratic type, all while failing to grasp the new political and cultural fault lines. A Labour Party, ‘under new management’, but still in hock to extreme environmentalism and gender ideology, made it all too easy for the Tories to appear like the common-sense alternative to a liberal-left that has truly gone off the rails. And yet all they seem to have achieved is to slightly slow down the irresistible march of eco-austerity and identity politics.

But don’t confuse the collapse of the Tories for a vindication of Labour. Keir Starmer’s project is entirely parasitic off of Tory woes. No one outside SW1 is the least bit excited about him. Not least because he seems to have no settled views beyond wanting to be prime minister. 2019 Tory voters might be abandoning the party, but only a sliver of them are heading for the Labour column. The recent local elections suggested an electorate that is demoralised, with Labour’s ‘historic’ swing in the Blackpool South by-election obscuring a historically low turnout. I dare say this General Election will have a similarly lifeless character. While voters are clearly fed up with the Tories, few think a change in government will produce any real change in the country. After an all-too-brief interlude in which party politics was actually interesting – with big, burning issues of democracy and freedom and sovereignty at stake – we are back to two troupes of technocrats dancing on the head of a pin.

That’s not to say there’s nothing to fear with Labour. The party and its metropolitan, upper-middle-class base are more genuinely wedded to all the worst ideas of our time. Their plans to ‘decarbonise’ the electricity grid by 2030, to introduce an identitarian Race Equality Act and to revive gender self-ID by the backdoor are three grim cases in point. It seems there is no deranged, divisive, elitist policy Labour is not bang up for. But voters may understandably strain to notice much difference, given the Tories’ (at best) listless opposition to greenism and wokeism and the many zealots within their own ranks.

‘Now is the moment for Britain to choose its future’, said a soaked Rishi Sunak earlier this evening. Does anyone really believe this? Does he? We seem damned to another electoral cycle in which there isn’t much at stake beyond the respective fortunes of the two main parties. In which big ideas are anathema to the business of politics. In which ordinary people and their desire for a more democratic way of life aren’t really part of the equation. Still, we should relish any opportunity to shake the electoral snow globe. To send a message to our pathetic political class, even if that is via a protest vote, a spoiled ballot or sitting it out entirely. The people of Britain are crying out for a different, better future – not to mention enlightened leadership in these dangerous geopolitical times. We just await a party, a movement or a politician capable of delivering a genuine alternative.

Tom Slater is editor of spiked. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Slater_

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Politics UK


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