The fall of a political giant: Lia van Bekhoven on the decline of the British Tories

The fall of a political giant: Lia van Bekhoven on the decline of the British Tories
The fall of a political giant: Lia van Bekhoven on the decline of the British Tories

It was clear in advance that the Tories would lose. The main question was: how much will they lose?

“This has become the biggest loss for the Conservatives in a local election in forty years. Although I think the symbolism of a handful of results carries weight, such as the loss in London and especially in the West Midlands.

“That region, with Birmingham as the main city, was a model region for the party. The party was led by Andy Street, a moderate businessman and the face of a modern Conservative Party. He did not choose the populist path taken by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, which made him a presentable face and widely popular. It was Sunak’s hope that Street would hold on to his seat to compensate for the loss of hundreds of council seats. But Street narrowly lost. That is a blow that Sunak finds difficult to explain.

“Long story short, after this election it has dawned on the Conservative Party that the issue will be settled at the next general election, however long Sunak waits to call it – it must be within a year. Labor has been ahead in the polls for two years, most recently by 20 percent. Sunak has tried many times to turn the tide, without success. I suspect that Conservative politicians will argue in the coming days not to move the election forward. Sunak does exactly that, hoping something will happen anyway. But the longer you wait, the fewer remnants there are to build a new party.”

The same sound is heard in a commentary piece by former Minister of the Interior Suella Braverman TheTelegraph: ‘The Tories must change or they will be swept away.’

“The end of the Conservative party as we know it is nigh. It was the most successful party in the West for almost 350 years: no one has won so many elections and so dominantly. That’s not going to happen again. This is the beginning of the end for the Conservatives as a major national party.

“You just notice that British voters no longer like Sunak. Whatever he does or says, it doesn’t matter anymore. If Sunak were to say today that he had discovered a cure for cancer, the response would be: ‘What took you so long to do that?’

“By that I mean: it has nothing to do with Labour. That party is not going to win the next elections, the Conservatives are going to lose them. Labor does not have an attractive message or leader like in 1997, when Tony Blair wanted to radically change Britain – also because there was a pot of money for that at the time. Both conditions are now missing.”

Is it like The Guardian writes that ‘voters clearly wanted the Conservatives out, but it was unclear who they wanted in their place’? The Greens and Liberal Democrats also won.

“Precisely. Although you won’t see that in the parliamentary elections: Labor will win them. Why? Because Scotland will provide a lot of seats for that party. Voters there also vote tactically much more often than in local elections: not necessarily for the party that expresses their preference, but for the party that has the best chance of keeping the Conservatives out of government.”

What is Sunak’s position now?

“Some said beforehand that if Sunak lost one or two symbolic posts – which happened – then a new leader would have to come in. Everyone is now convinced that Sunak would be better off staying put. It seems everyone accepts that nothing more can be done. Everyone is already preparing for life as an opposition party after the next elections.”

The article is in Dutch

Tags: fall political giant Lia van Bekhoven decline British Tories


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