Can Sunak’s right-wing war on ‘woke’, migrants and the environment save the Tories?

That’s the question The Guardian recently asked me, and here’s my answer:

Mediocre fiction is full of caricatured villains whose selfishness means they don’t care about people who aren’t like them and whose myopia mean they are happy to damn the future. They are great plot fodder for middlebrow fiction, but sadly Sunak seems to think they should also be a role model for being prime minister.

Talking up culture wars, claiming to be tough on immigration and finding excuses for pollution is unlikely to work for him, however, as it misunderstands why the Conservatives are polling at the levels of support Labour sunk to under Michael Foot in 1983.

It is, after all, the Liberal Democrats – not the rightwing populists of Reform – who have taken four seats off the government with record-breaking swings in byelections this parliament. The message from voters to Lib Dem canvassers in those contests was very consistent. It was about the NHS and the cost of living, about sewage and failing public services. It was about being fed up with the Conservatives, their lockdown parties and their failures on the mainstream issues.

That’s borne out by pollsters too. The cost of living and the NHS are consistently the top-rated issues. Even Conservative voters want the most polluting vehicles to pay higher taxes and Conservatives are more supportive of the 2050 net zero target than voters in general.

A government punching down on vulnerable people or trashing green policies isn’t what voters in those four byelection wins were looking for. That is a political route to failure.

Perhaps not surprisingly, John Redwood‘s answer was rather different, though the Conservative councillor asked the same question is not exactly gushing in praise for the Prime Minister.

UPDATE: New polling backs up this view: “Three quarters of people think government spending too much time on ‘woke’ issues“.

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One response to “Can Sunak’s right-wing war on ‘woke’, migrants and the environment save the Tories?”

  1. Interesting comments re Rejoin, disappointingly I haven’t seen anything on conference agenda on updating the LD position to at the very least say we should rejoin SM and CU.

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