• Development Intelligence

Labour are worse off and the Tories better off than you might imagine

If you are a devotee of current media/commentariat thinking, then the title of this blog post will have baffled you. Surely, the Tories are in chaos, warring amongst themselves, the red wall draining through their fingers, crises everywhere, and Starmer is looking on – solid, calm, grown up, like the next PM?

Well just to remind you of the recent greatest hits of media/commentariat wisdom:

2015 - Cameron can’t win a majority. Wrong

2016 - Britain won’t vote Leave. Wrong

2016 - Trump can’t win. Wrong.

2017-19 - There will be a second referendum. Wrong.

2017-19 - Corbyn can win. Wrong.

2019 - Boris won’t be PM. Wrong.

2019 - Brexit can’t “get done”. Wrong.

2020 - Boris will mismanage Covid. Wrong.

2020 - Biden will be great. Wrong.

2021 - Vaccinations won’t come in time. Wrong.

We could go on and on but you get the point. The media/commentariat has consistently been wrong for years now. (Why is an interesting question: in brief, because unconscious bias has crept in. The Establishment view for many decades until the 1990s was biased to the Tories. But not since then. The media/commentariat is now of a solidly liberal Left mindset. This is one of the most profound and unreported political cultural changes during our adult lifetimes and is significantly affecting things. But we digress.)

We put it to you, dear reader, that the Labour side has just had a massive setback this summer and the Tories actually have a significantly increased chance of winning the next General Election. How so?

Why Labour’s lost out

In short, Labour has lost its easy target of ‘toxic Boris’, but has got to keep ‘dullard Keir’, demonstrably not a vote winner. If things had panned out differently over the last few months, then:

a) Boris could have survived all the plotting and still been in power at the time of the next General Election, blagging and bluffing his way from further crisis to crisis, becoming ever more unpopular with every passing month. A dream scenario for Labour.

b) On the flip side, Starmer could have been fined by Durham Police, resigned, and a new vote winning leader could have won the ensuing leadership contest, the next Blair to Starmer’s inner Kinnock?

But no. Labour is saddled with Sir Dreary Dull who in poll after poll, focus group after focus group, just cannot break through to the wider voting public, despite the Tories offering an empty goal mouth for almost a year and frankly even helping Starmer try to score along the way! (Remember, in Opposition at this point in the electoral cycle, Cameron was 20+ points clear and Blair 40+ points ahead. Starmer is nowhere).

Why the Tories have a renewed chance

The Tories’ one historic superpower is reinventing themselves: from Lefty Heath to Righty Thatcher to progressive Hague to ‘clear blue water’ IDS/Howard to modernising Cameron. And from chaotic Boris to…well what exactly?

By the time the sword finally fell – and blimey it took it’s time – Boris had become a vote loser for the Tories. But he was always going to be the last person to recognise that and so he needed to be pushed. And pushed he finally was.

This means Truss will have the ability to have a fresh start:

  • An inevitable honeymoon period, albeit surrounded by various crises

  • The cost of living lockdown crisis easing by late 2023, according to the IFS

  • 2024 pre-election tax cuts

  • The exact timing of the next General Election of her choice

We do not know yet what Truss and ‘Trussonomics’ will bring. Is she Theresa May 2.0 (please God, no!) or the new Thatcher, rowing against the political establishment’s groupthink to forge a new way ahead? We all feared the former in June but has she shown some political mettle over the summer? Will the ‘red wall’ buy into her? Will we all be wearing ‘pussybow collars’ before we know it?

No one can prophesy two years ahead – just look at the last few years, “events, dear boy, events” as MacMillan once said – but writing off the Tories now is absolutely foolhardy. Strap in for the ride…