An election that no one wants

Is the general election this year one that no one wants? The Tories are in disarray and Labour would inherit no money in the bank to pay for its manifesto.

Is the general election this year one that no one wants? The Tories are in disarray and Labour would inherit no money in the bank to pay for its manifesto. It is now a given that the Tories will lose the next election but does the electorate want to vote in Labour or vote out the Tories?

The Tories are crashing and burning in the by-elections and polls. The key issues working against them are the failure of Rishi Sunak’s five aims when he came to power. The post-Brexit levelling up manifesto has failed leading to the real possibility of the party retreating back behind the red wall. Despite the rhetoric from Sunak about controlling immigration, numbers continued to rise. The NHS is blighted by endless strikes and rising waiting lists. And, whilst inflation has fallen, the economy has fallen into recession.

The likely implosion of the Tory vote at the general election has other implications including key Tory politicians losing their seats. The Tory vote is at risk of being split as voters could desert to the Reform Party. Also, a desperate Jeremy Hunt dishing out National Insurance tax cut to bribe voters may be seen as exactly that – Labour is looking the more competent party to run the country.

Rachel Reeves is turning the Labour Party into one that cannot be accused of over-spending – see the dropping of the £28 billion bill for net zero. But that has its downsides including a possible Labour Government having no headroom to invest while it focuses on reducing national debt – Rachel Reeves’ view is that it is the worst inheritance of any incoming government since the war. The Spring 2024 National Insurance cut has been acknowledged by Labour as partly wiping out any hope of the Labour Party having anything distinctive to offer voters for up to two years.

The Liberal Democrats may have made some gains at by-elections but lack credible national policies to be seen as anything other than a protest vote – still perceived as an anti-Brexit party. So their strategy is very much about breaking through the blue wall in the South West.

The key political issues facing both parties leading up to the election are immigration, cost of living (economy), and health (NHS). The failure of the Tories with these issues means that, for Labour to win enough votes to secure a majority, they have to be seen as competent – the Tory party will use the election to undermine this. Labour’s plan of going to the private sector does not address the elephant in the room of the unions in the NHS expecting the Labour Party to pay them off.

But there other dark shadows over both parties. Can the Northern red wall trust Labour to vote for them this time? Both parties are struggling to shake off their metropolitan image – stuck in their Westminster bubble without policies to address poor transport links and decaying NHS services in the West and North.

There is also the wider question of where the electorate are in general – has it moved more to the right and does Labour then need to move to the centre ground – which means that issues in the general election around freedom of speech and women’s rights may raise clear dividing lines between the two parties. This could open up new battle grounds in the election around schools and police.

With the councils going bankrupt, the economy in recession, an NHS failing due to strike action, the police failing with crime and extremism, Ukraine war using up any remaining funds in the armed forces, is there much that Labour can offer the electorate that can turn the country around, or does it risk getting mired in political issues like the Israel/Palestine conflict that make it also look like a divided party?

The current two party system may no longer offer the electorate an effective choice as both parties do not seem to be able to present the ‘big tent’ party that Blair held together – Cameron failed on this when he used the Brexit referendum to solve the EU divide within his own party. The risk of metropolitan elite in the Labour Party disenfranchising traditional labour voters and the threat of Reform to the Tory party may lead to voters simply not voting. We will get a Labour government – but as a vote against the failed Tory government. Has the two party system in the UK expired as a working model for running the country?

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