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An election defeat could save the Tories Infighting isn't always terminal

Rishi Sunak is no Jim Callaghan. Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Rishi Sunak is no Jim Callaghan. Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images


February 1, 2024   6 mins

In 1981, Neil Kinnock was attacked in the toilets at the Labour Party Conference. His assailant was a supporter of Tony Benn, eager to strike a blow for the radical Left; but as so often in the history of that tradition, he had underestimated the forces ranged against him. Kinnock, in his own words, “beat the shit out of him”, leaving “blood and vomit all over the place”. The same might have been said of the conference floor, where Benn and Denis Healey were bringing a seven-month struggle for the deputy leadership to a bitter end.

The chances are that Rishi Sunak won’t end up trading punches in the toilets with hostile MPs, but the atmosphere in the Conservative Party is taking on a familiar hue. Where once Labour was a byword for factionalism — with a dizzying array of Bennites, Tribunites and other “tendencies” — so the Tories today present a kaleidoscope of “New Conservatives”, “National Conservatives”, “Common Sense” Conservatives and self-styled “research groups”, all battling for control of the leadership. And where once a Social Democratic Party fought to “break the mould” of British politics, today the Right-wing Reform party proclaims a “realignment” intended to sweep the Conservatives from the electoral landscape. Over all this hangs the stench of electoral death, as the party contemplates defeat on the scale of 1983 or 1997.

But the Conservatives can still learn from Labour’s agonies in the Eighties. Then, Labour faced three interlocking crises. The first was electoral: from 1979 to 1992, Labour lost four general elections in a row — something that had never happened before in the democratic era. The fear was not simply that Labour was losing, but that its traditional electorate was disappearing. Deindustrialisation was shrinking the manual working class, trade-union membership was in freefall, while non-unionised workers seemed increasingly drawn to Thatcherism. The challenge for Labour was both to reclaim its old electorate and to build a new one, at a time of disruptive sociological change.

The second crisis was political, with the formation of a breakaway party by former Labour grandees. In David Owen, Shirley Williams, Bill Rodgers and Roy Jenkins, the SDP could boast the youngest foreign secretary in history, one of the most popular female politicians in the country, a skilled party organiser, and a former Chancellor, Home Secretary and President of the European Commission. Even under the pressures of First Past the Post, the SDP-Liberal Alliance won more than a quarter of the vote in 1983, coming only 2% behind Labour. In his first term, at least, the challenge for Kinnock was not to defeat the Conservatives. It was to stave off the threat from the Alliance.

The third problem was intellectual. Parties do not often rethink their core principles, but the questions being asked of Labour during this period were genuinely existential. Was socialism still relevant, in a world where workers were buying their own homes and filling them with consumer goods? Could one talk meaningfully about “working-class solidarity” when the long-term unemployed were so distanced from those in work? Was parliamentary socialism still possible, given the cultural and media power of the Right, or did industrial action pose a surer route to victory? From the hard-Left to the old-Right, there was universal agreement that Labour must change. What was so disruptive was the direction of change, and the principles on which it should be based.

For the Conservative Party today, the challenges are slightly different. Unlike Labour, modern Conservatives are accustomed to winning elections, but that makes the prospect of defeat all the more terrifying. Three-quarters of the parliamentary party, including all but six of the Cabinet, have no experience of opposition, yet the party has now trailed in the polls for more than two years. Those voters who remain loyal are heavily concentrated among the elderly. Labour leads in every cohort below the age of 65; and even the next oldest cohort, from 55-64, has the Conservatives at just 20%.

As for party competition, Reform cannot match the polling figures of the early Alliance, which peaked at more than 40%. Nor has it drawn heavyweight defections of the stature of Jenkins, Owen or Williams. But if Nigel Farage were to return to the leadership, it would boast a consummate campaigner with strong support among Conservative voters: Farage now polls more strongly among 2019 Conservatives than the current prime minister.

Underpinning both these problems is an intellectual dilemma. What is the Conservative Party for? And what, if anything, does it seek to conserve? Under First Past the Post, parties have to construct broad coalitions to be electorally competitive. At its best, that is a source of strength, expanding the range of ideas on which a party can draw and bringing different interests into partnership. At its worst, it generates unstable compounds that can explode at any moment. While Labour struggles to hold together Fabians, Left liberals, ethical socialists, trade unionists and social democrats, those jostling within the Conservative coalition have ranged from free traders to protectionists, libertarians to moral conservatives, Atlanticists to Empire loyalists, and institutionalists to radical populists. The surprise, perhaps, is not that such fissile materials sometimes combust, but that they do not do so more often.

For most of the 20th century, Conservatives could rely on two gravitational forces to keep their centrifugal tendencies in check. The first was a shared hostility to socialism. At a time when the Cold War dominated political alignment, fear of a common enemy was a potent unifying force. The party was also anchored in a set of common institutions: the Church of England, the professions and the institutions of the party itself, which boasted more than two million members at its peak. It was no accident that the party lost coherence after the fall of the Berlin Wall, as its own institutions shrivelled, and as it became either detached from or hostile to the institutions of state and civil society. The effect was to leave the party both socially and intellectually unmoored.

More recently, in 2019, the party could deploy two unifying forces: the desire to “Get Brexit Done”; and a determination to keep Jeremy Corbyn out of office. Neither exerts much power today. Britain has left the EU, and Labour is almost neurotically averse to reopening the question. Those Brexit questions which remain live are as likely to divide Conservatives as to unite them: notably, the status of retained EU law; the future of immigration policy; and the Northern Ireland border. As for Corbyn, he is no longer even a Labour MP. The current Labour leadership defines itself as much against Corbyn as against the Conservatives, and attempts to present Keir Starmer as a secret revolutionary have gained little traction with the public.

As its unifying elements weaken, other forces are driving the party apart. A tradition that once prided itself on its suspicion of “ideology” increasingly demands “true Conservatism” from its leaders, while disagreeing furiously on what that might be. Loyal newspapers that once catered to millions have become more sectarian as their readerships have shrunk, while new TV stations offer rich rewards for rebels and mavericks. The moderate, pragmatic MP who votes loyally with her party is unlikely to follow Nadine Dorries, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Lee Anderson and Esther McVey into the presenter’s chair at GB News or Talk TV.

All this puts a premium on skilled party management, yet there is little in Sunak’s past that has prepared him for this task. Jim Callaghan, who led a government with no majority at all for two years, had spent 30 years in Parliament, including 20 years on Labour’s national executive and a period as party chair. He had held four great offices of state and began his career as a trade-union official. By contrast, Sunak only entered Parliament in 2015, spent his short ministerial career at the Treasury and previously worked at a hedge fund. In a party that has disposed of four prime ministers in six years, even a majority of 60 has strained his powers of party management. Nor have the party’s strategists served him well, for the fashion for seeking “wedge issues” and “dividing lines” has inflamed divisions within the party, rather than establishing clear blue water with the opposition.

Yet as Labour’s experience demonstrates, division need not be terminal; and the Conservatives enjoy a number of structural advantages that were denied to Labour in the Eighties. That includes a largely sympathetic press and a donor base that can outspend their opponents even at the nadir of the party’s fortunes. The Right is in the ascendant across much of the West, and may soon take back the presidency of the United States. And in an age of short political careers, the Tory factions have no equivalent to Benn, Jenkins or Healey — household names with careers stretching back decades. The heavens do not tremble at the thunder of Sir Simon Clarke; nor do the mountains smoke at the voice of Robert Jenrick. That makes the party’s factions more volatile, but also less deeply entrenched.

Moreover, for a party accustomed to government, opposition may also have a galvanising effect. A Labour government would confront a grim inheritance: a public sector on fire, a financial crisis in local government, a stagnant economy and a perilous international situation — perhaps made more difficult by the return of Donald Trump. If there are good elections for the Conservatives to lose, 2024 may be one of them.

But if the party wishes to restore its intellectual vitality, it will need to face some uncomfortable truths. If the tax bill has risen under five Conservative leaders drawn from across the party spectrum, that is not because they lacked conviction or were secret socialists. A party that wishes to cut taxation must wrestle honestly with the dilemmas of an ageing population, a stagnant economy, a surging bill for social care and pensions, and growing pressure on the defence budget. If younger voters are abandoning the Conservative Party, that is not because they have been brainwashed by their teachers or indoctrinated on TikTok. It is because Conservatism has offered them little but mockery at a time of decaying wages and an impossible housing market.

As the once-great Liberal Party could affirm, parties do not have a divine right to survive. Those that cannot contain their divisions, that look inwards rather than out, and that blame the electorate for their own misfortunes are rarely rewarded at the polls. Like Labour in 1979, the Conservatives may soon be out of office. Unless they learn the lessons of the Eighties, it could be some time before they return.


Robert Saunders is a Reader in Modern British History at Queen Mary University and author of Yes to Europe!

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j watson
j watson
5 months ago

Good article.
What’s also repeatedly striking is how many Tory and Right Wing supporters fail to see the inherent contradictions in their philosophies that at some point they must honestly face. Some of this is simply unawareness. Some is a failure and unwillingness to engage with complexity. Some is the result of deliberate action by malign influence.

Most disappointing though is the abject failure to grapple with key deficiencies in UK economic and business culture – chronic under investment.

Anthony Sutcliffe
Anthony Sutcliffe
5 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Chronic underinvestment is surely the problem in our economy. What do you think the solution should be? It’s a vast question in a sense as there are many causes
but at the risk of asking you to spend an entire afternoon writing the answer(!) how do you think it should be addressed?

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
5 months ago

Start with skills training and education, with the focus on skills.
Anecdote building on the ST undercover story last week … I teach at major university in London. This year’s flagship UG programme (faculty level) has 135 students. Ten of them are Britons.

Alan Tonkyn
Alan Tonkyn
5 months ago
Reply to  Susan Grabston

Our universities have ceased to be part of the education of our nation. They have become, in large part, businesses educating foreigners.

j watson
j watson
5 months ago

Some elements are fairly straightforward – stability, good skill and training culture, well educated workforce, good infrastructure – on the latter the transport networks in far too many of our Cities (London aside) is dreadful and not a patch on other comparator Countries and a reason UK econ so London-centric and skewed.

However the biggest opportunity is in accessing private investment capital from the £2.5 trillion pension market in Uk. Needs legislation to change incentives to invest that wealth more often in UK and in job creation industries. It’s a shocking missed opportunity of last 14yrs during which we’ve repeatedly lost and given away National assets to boot

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
5 months ago
Reply to  j watson

The middle class is currently sitting on somewhere between ÂŁ3-5 trillion in unearned property wealth which, as it is passed on to the next generation, is creating a class division wider than that the country experienced under Queen Victoria. This is entirely a consequence of the fiscal and monetary policies of successive governments of both stripes.
On top of that we have the depredation of the state by the professional classes that live off it: the unfunded pensions and other perks; the ÂŁ600 per hour lawyer’s fees and all the rest of it.
So long as we live in a financial system which taxes productive activity in order to reward the rent-seeking of the metropolitan class then none of the piecemeal remedies you propose will have any impact at all. To achieve prosperity you need to create an environment where small businesses can grow to become large ones. That no longer exists in this country.

Damon Hager
Damon Hager
5 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Chronic underinvestment, excessive and complex taxation, excessive regulation.
All this could be addressed, perhaps, if we had far more businesspeople in parliament, and far fewer lawyers and PPE graduates.
Meanwhile, a bit more rational spending on defence, and a bit less irrational spending on Green cr@p, would also be worth considering.
The next time Rishi Sunak – or, let’s face it, Keir Starmer – phones me, I’ll be sure to mention all this.

Andrew S
Andrew S
5 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Investment increases the productive capacity of the country or a business but the word has been captured by politicians to refer to any expenditure they think you might like.
One way of increasing investment would be to cut out all low paid immigration because it is that which allows businesses and the publ;ic sector to avoid investing in machines, IT or just better procedures. They do not need to re-invent themselves in any way because they can just tap into very low paid labour.
What comments seem to misunderstand is that the policies of the Conservative Party over the years since Thatcher have not been accidental. The leftwardness and big state is what their leaders wanted and their members went along with it. Voters were again taken in by their anger sink campaigning strategy; this entails mild criticisms of the things you know your support base does not like (inflation, EU, immigration, high tax, poor education and policing) and then persuades them the CP is the answer. Also they stress how dreadful the others would be.
The reality is there is almost no difference between what Major, Cameron or Sunak have done compared with (say) Starmer. Only Johnson did one thing which was to deliver half a Brexit when his own party MPs didn’t want it.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
5 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Chronic underinvestment arises because politicians are not businessmen and don’t recognise that investment involves expenditure that might be wasted and involves risk. If the risks of such investment are increased by bureaucracy and red tape and the rewards are siphoned off in excessive taxation to be distributed to those who take no risk then there will be chronic underinvestment.

Politicians and much of the public assume that investment is something obvious and straightforward because they see the results of successful investment and don’t focus on the unsuccessful investments that sink without trace or if they do then with the benefits of hindsight they simply assume the investment decisions were faulty.

Incentivise investment and it will happen. Instead the politicians promote immigration as the solution which might promote GDP but not per capita wealth and prosperity that can only arise through innovation and investment.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
5 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Good response to j watson’s oversimplification. Lack of understanding of complexities indeed!

j watson
j watson
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Of course my point was in reference to the absence of any mention of this issue in the Article- underlining the paucity of real reflection on the Right. The Right being most interested in scapegoats and blaming the already vulnerable.
Brevity then limited some initial signposting of what’s needed but you’ll see I’ve chipped in above in response.

The point about how Pension wealth is invested has complexity but it’s in here one starts to lift the lid on why the UK can have a successful financial sector yet chronic under-investment elsewhere. It’s worth reading up on what Aus, NZ and few others do to alter some of the incentives. And furthermore, and far be it from me to teach Right leaning folks how to suck eggs, in the US folks tend to take interest in where and how their pension wealth has been invested. Surely that was where the Right wanted to take the property owning democracy next?

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
5 months ago
Reply to  j watson

And furthermore, and far be it from me to teach Right leaning folks how to suck eggs, in the US folks tend to take interest in where and how their pension wealth has been invested.

If straw men were soldiers you could rule the world. Please try to be a little less smug.

j watson
j watson
5 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Not sure ‘smug’ quite the right adjective HB. ‘Pained’ a better descriptor I think. Not especially aided of course by your de rigeur’ ‘play the man not the ball’ response. I guess I take solace that you will have read the point conveyed and just perhaps ponder how it can so much of our pension wealth is invested elsewhere rather than here.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
5 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Also Hunt thinks that productivity is something that the public sector must do better.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
5 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Investment is greatly encouraged by the 35% rise in corporation tax. Sunak is so odd: weak yet terribly stubborn.

j watson
j watson
5 months ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

It’s not out of the ordinary compared to other comparator countries and generally not the main reason cited for lack of longer term investment. Criticism though on how it might be spent to boost skills, training and the workforce needed for the future certainly more oft cited.
Stability is the main thing though for any business. 8 years of Brexit psychodrama hardly helped has it.

0 0
0 0
5 months ago

Modern politicians are often big in all things small and small in all things big, Rishi is no acceptation, and so is Keir as well.

Rob N
Rob N
5 months ago

It will be painful but I (previously a Tory activist) look forward to the total destruction of the Conservative Party. They have, probably, contributed more to our national decay and destruction than Blair.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
5 months ago
Reply to  Rob N

Ridiculous nonsense. Blair is the fons et origo of all the problems which now beset us. The Tory party – of which, by the way, I am not a member – has merely retreated into the postures of cynicism and indifference inherited from Disraeli and Macmillan, when it should have fought from conviction in the manner of Peel and Thatcher.
Thanks to this repellent mistake, it has incubated the various Blairo-Marxist vipers now sinking their fangs into the country.
However, to imagine that the correct response to such a state of affairs is to take Britain back from the Tory-wet monkey and give it once again to the socialist organ grinder – and thanks to FPTP this is the only choice – then you have gone stark mad, in common with the ruck of formerly Conservative activists.
Why not recall some basic principles in tandem with a few facts? First, we are faced not with a choice but with an alternative. Second, the alternative is usually between evils so why squeal about this one? Third, Labour is always worse, because it reflects Tory developments, such that if the Tories decay then Labour rots. The drift of policy emanating from Labour carries the faecal stench of the hard left.
Do you really want that for our country? Really?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
5 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

People generally vote against governments, not for oppositions. You are unable to name a single achievement worth anything of the incoherent rabble now in office. At least Labour are a left of centre party that actually generally believe the things they say. The Tories have tripled immigration – gross million and net 700,000 over anything Blair managed. I would say cynical at best, disgusting deceitful liars to the 2019 electorate at worst.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
5 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Believe the things they say? Starmer contradicts himself every five minutes. But the emerging theme from their policy prescription shows commitment, certainly – to hard left ideas. Better corrupt imbeciles than doctrinaire socialist malice.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
5 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

At least Labour are a left of centre party that actually generally believe the things they say.

That may be so. Unfortunately, though, they are led by a cynical careerist who believes in nothing at all – as his record at the DPP and as an enabler of Corbyn unarguably illustrate. Quite apart from that, the current Labour front bench is almost certainly the weakest intellectually in the party’s history. Do you really want David Lammy conducting our foreign policy?

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
5 months ago

For the Conservative party to succeed in the future, or even to continue in existence, it needs to have a strong electoral coalition, binding together differing opinions in pragmatic political unity.

This currently seems to be quite impossible to form, or to hold together as the Party now is.

We have seen the existing fault lines negate even an 80-seat majority, preventing the party from doing anything at all, so then what hope is there?

I cannot see a way forward for the Conservative party in the future. Although I have always supported them, I don’t feel particularly sorry about this, since I think they have brought it upon themselves.

It’s time for a replacement party.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
5 months ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

The only replacement you will get is – in all likelihood – a liberal party of some kind. Finish the Tories now and the last prospects of any right wing revival are condemned – thanks to demographic, institutional and generational change.

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
5 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Could be right, I agree.

But I’m still happy to drop them, because they can’t come back from where they are (deep into Blairite Labour territory). If they can’t do it with an 80 seat majority, they never will.

Sorry. Too many betrayals. Better they go.

Dominic English
Dominic English
5 months ago

Nothing can save the Tories. They are finished. Not even their ill thought through Rwanda scheme. An entertaining look at the nonsense here. https://open.substack.com/pub/lowstatus/p/out-of-africa?r=evzeq&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web

SIMON WOLF
SIMON WOLF
5 months ago

There are big differences between Labour in the 1980’s and the Tories now.Labour splits were based on genuine beliefs .Nearly all the leading Labour politicians were conviction politicians.The 2 big splits were over Defence and Europe.
In contrast there is no sense that most of todays leading Tory politicians believe in anything except their career.This started to be clear during the referendum when the 2 Tory politicians chosen to do the tv debates Boris and Leadsom had both been remainers 3 years before.Boris and Leadsom only embraced Brexit as career moves because they thought it would help them to become party leader.
The current Cabinet is full of snake oil sales people.
Anyone know what do Sunak,Shapps,Cleverly,Hunt ,Dowden,Barclay,,Donelan etc actually believe in?

James Wood
James Wood
5 months ago

The conservative party is losing, and it deserves to lose. The only question at the coming election is whether Labour gets a significant majority or destroys the Tories completely as an electoral force.
The party’s fundamental issue is its inability to wrestle with the legacy of its own policies, to recognise what has worked and what has failed. Instead it has become a deflated Thatcherite tribute act, arguing for ‘lower taxes’ and ‘deregulation’ while failing to recognise either the UK’s current strategic situation or that the policy challenges of 2024 are different to 1984.
The UK – as has been mentioned – chronically under-invests in its own economy. This is seen both through direct subsidies (e.g. high levels of low-skilled immigration) and government ommissions (continued cutting of capital budgets rather than revenue spending). A government determined to fix this might recognise that capital spending is now essential in a host of areas – Power Generation, Transportation, Housing & Water – and that revenue spending must be held down to allow this to happen. Instead the Tory party continues to pretend that ‘tax cuts grow the economy’ – ignoring the truth that not all tax cuts are created equal, and not every tax cut is more likely to produce growth than every government spending programme. A sensible, grown-up party would be having this conversation. Instead we watch Hunt posturing about cutting a tax paid by around 5% of estates, which will generate no economic growth and overwhelmingly benefit those who are already doing well. It is the triumph of electoralism over government.
The Housing crisis must also be reckoned with, and while immigration is a cause of this it is not the sole cause, given that Baby Boomers and Millenials are the two largest population cohorts in this country’s history. More houses must be built, in places where people want to live and can work. Yet we see conservative MPs railing against building homes next to Tube stations, further denying young & aspirational voters the opportunity to get on the housing ladder. We cannot then be surprised when those people do not settle down, have children & become more conservative because the party has systematically denied them the opportunities to do so.
Council Housing must also return, both in recognition that in the most economically active areas the lowest skilled jobs will rarely pay sufficiently to allow such people the necessary opportunities in life, and because it provides a route for younger professionals to save money for a few years before they buy a home. This allows social mixing and ensures council estates do not become so-called ‘sink estates’ as the residents demand that they are maintained. Yet rather than acknowledge this the Conservatives would rather spend billions of pounds subsidising landlords, often to rent out properties the taxpayer paid to construct. The financial logic – that such homes are also government assets that provide a return for the taxpayer – is also ignored. In this it is obvious that Mrs Thatcher’s sell-off (and more crucially, failure to replace) council homes was woefully short-sighted – yet this appears to be unsayable in the modern conservative party.
Lastly, a truly conservative party would care about conserving the rule of law, our constitution and our international reputation. Yet government after government has trashed these things in pursuit of short-term political gain. Of course the prime minster does not have the power to suspend parliament because it might vote for something he does not like – parliament is sovereign, we do not elect a president. Those that make the law must follow it – and be punished if they break it, even if they are the leaders of our country. We are not an oligarchy, and the powerful are not above the law. And we have always been a country that keeps our word, and that makes agreements internationally in good faith. Yet we now have a government that has in the last few years signed agreements it had no intention of making, shut down the safe & legal routes for people to take refuge in this country despite this being a treaty obligation, and threatened to remove us from an international statute we wrote because it might hamper the power of the government of the day. It is shameful behaviour, and shows no desired to conserve anything other than today’s leaders political power.
I am a higher-rate taxpayer in the South East, about to marry & have children who will be brought up in a good area and go to good schools. And there is no way on earth I would vote for the Conservative Party, and the same is true for my friends & acquaintances in similar situations. While I have no great enthusiasm for Labour, they at least seem willing to tackle some of the problems above.
If the conservatives cannot do better on the most important issues our country faces than they are currently doing, they will likely cease to exist. And they will deserve to.

Karen Arnold
Karen Arnold
5 months ago
Reply to  James Wood

I wish we had at least one politician who would stand up and all of the above, then perhaps there would be someone I could vote for.

William Davies
William Davies
5 months ago
Reply to  James Wood

This is a rather long and confused analysis, dependent on several factoids. You seem to imply that the Conservatives sold off all council housing. There were over 4.4M council houses remaining in 1997 when New Labour took control. When New Labour were deposed in 2010, there were over 2M fewer such houses. Some were sold off, while others were sold off to housing associations and the rents thus jacked up. 100 thousand council houses were simply demolished on New Labour’s watch. Council houses are only a national asset if their upkeep is maintained. For much of their history, this was not the case.

You worry greatly about the UK breaking international agreements about refugees and immigrants, yet the fact remains that these agreements were never designed to allow for hundreds of thousands of new arrivals every year. In the 1990s, net immigration into the UK was in the tens of thousands (and thus feasible), but now it is a three quarters of a million people per annum. How can housing and development of infrastructure keep pace with that? There is a lot of duplicity and self-delusion within the entire political class. The cognitive dissonance of many (particularly centrist) politicians is astonishing. How the Lib Dems can press for unlimited immigration, and yet forbid new housing developments and infrastructure (including reservoirs), is symptomatic of a broader problem of incompetence, cowardice and stupidity among our self-proclaimed rulers and failed technocrats. Presumably they expect the large numbers of new arrivals to be housed instead in the apparently capacious space between Layla Moran’s ears?

Starmer’s Labour tries to be all things to all people to get elected, but they too will be revealed as charlatans, unable to make tough decisions.

James Wood
James Wood
5 months ago
Reply to  William Davies

Yes, the problems with Council Housing cover both Conservative and Labour governments. But the current conservative government have been in power for 14 years and have not only done nothing so solve the problem, but have made it significantly worse through their underfunding of local government and forced sell-offs of council estates to allow Councils to maintain cashflow, exchanging long-term pain for short-term gain.
On international agreements it is your analysis that is confused, as you fail to differentiate between illegal migration (tens of thousands in small boats due to the complete closure of safe & legal routes) and legal migration (hundreds of thousands, because the government refuses to have an honest debate about the economic needs of the country).
All of which elides the point – the Tories are in government and have been for over a decade. And they have done absolutely nothing with that, except watch the country stagnate and shrug.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
5 months ago
Reply to  James Wood

You aren’t much of a conservative, I’d say. Your views being essentially identical to many in the Liberal or Labour parties. I would agree with you on some of this. But on your support of people traffickers (which is what it amounts to) I certainly do not. The whole asylum system is a complete scam – rather made clear that France accepts a far lower proportion of claims than we do. “Safe and legal routes” would simply add to the numbers already crossing the channel, as should be stunningly obvious. Why would the people smugglers care – there is almost an inexhaustible demand from Africa and poorer Asian countries.

The rising powers of the world, China, India, Saudi even Japan – do not allow a vast swarm of people with absolutely no cultural connection with their countries. It is utterly idiotic that we are allowing a gross million and net 700,000 such people, per annum, with no infrastructure plan – we never achieve the housing targets even without this – and certainly no chance at all of integrating such numbers. This is transforming our country radically and without the consent of the vast majority of the population – of all races. Whatever that is it most certainly isn’t “conservative”.

James Wood
James Wood
5 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

You’re correct, I’m not. That’s the point. I’m a top-rate taxpayer, soon to be married with children in my mid 30s. And I wouldn’t go near the Conservatives, because they’ve been working against my economic interests for the last decade. The Tories are pursuing an almost entirely retiree voter base due to their fear of losing a handful of seats to Reform, blinded to the big picture – that in 20 years all of those voters will be dead, and nobody is currently replacing them. If that trend continues, in 20 years the Conservative Party will have ceased to exist.
As for immigration – of course we need a sensible conversation about numbers. But the Conservatives – in government for the last 14 years – have never wanted to have it, or to invest the money in education and housing that would be necessary to reverse it. That’s the problem.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
5 months ago

A lot can change in a month. I agree, the conservatives need to agree on a narrative. I think dumping global warming could get it done. Hold onto power by bastardizing what they believe won’t do. Course the other side of the coin is electorates get what they vote for. What does the British electorate deserve?

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
5 months ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

Bret.

To say “the conservatives need to agree on a narrative” is like saying “Iran just needs to embrace the Jews”. It’s not going to happen old lad. 120 of their MPs are Left wing liberal progressives.

It’s over. Time for a replacement.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
5 months ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

Frying pan into the fire sound good? Something the best change is no change. The electorate needs to tell them what they want.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
5 months ago

You dont think the rise in civil service and other bureaucracy has something to do with the problem? 400 HR staff for the Cabinet alone? 25% rise in civil service numbers? The quangos, increasing every year? It has to be cut back. The Tories did the opposite, and Labour is unlikely to be lean and mean either.