Conservative Party Faces Wipeout in Upcoming UK Election


As the United States celebrates Independence Day, the United Kingdom is heading to the polls for its first general election since 2019. The outcome appears all but certain: the ruling Conservative Party will suffer a crushing defeat.

At first glance, the result may not be surprising. Governments in power for extended periods often become exhausted, with cabinet officials retiring, policies growing stale, and voters tiring of the status quo. However, the scale of the impending disaster suggests something more profound is at play.

A recent poll found that only 42% of those who voted Conservative in 2019 would do so again. This is a stark contrast to the 2020 US presidential election, where Joe Biden’s supporters were more likely to back him again. So, what’s gone wrong with the British Conservatives?

The roots of this crisis can be traced back to Theresa May’s botched attempt at a snap election in 2017. The narrow margins in Parliament led to two years of gridlock on Brexit, with opposition parties and some Conservatives trying to weaken or nullify the effects of the 2016 referendum.

Boris Johnson, who succeeded May, called another snap election in 2019 on a promise to “Get Brexit Done.” He won a majority, but his platform, which included high taxes and redistributionist spending, violated small government principles. When Covid-19 struck, Johnson responded with strict lockdowns and massive government spending, further eroding the party’s reputation.

The subsequent leadership crisis, which saw Johnson and his staff violate lockdown protocols and potentially mislead Parliament, led to his downfall. His successor, Liz Truss, was also forced out after a financial crisis sparked by her tax-cutting proposals.

The current Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has failed to address key issues, including inflation and migration. His response to rising costs has been to claim that inflation is “back to normal,” a phrase he repeated six times in a recent parliamentary session. This has been met with skepticism, as workers’ wages have yet to keep pace with rising prices.

The Conservatives have also struggled to present a coherent vision on migration, with their Rwanda asylum seeker plan stalled by court delays. This has left them vulnerable to attacks from the right, led by Nigel Farage’s Reform UK party.

The party’s electoral fortunes have been further damaged by a series of scandals, including “Gamblegate,” in which Conservative officials are under investigation for using insider information to place bets on the election date. The image of Sunak getting soaked in the rain while announcing the general election has become a symbol of the party’s electoral woes.

As the Conservatives face the prospect of a crushing defeat, they must ask themselves whether they are doomed to follow the same path as the Liberal Party, which was decimated in the early 20th century. With Labour’s Keir Starmer having rehabilitated his party’s image on the economy and antisemitism, and Farage attacking from the right, the Conservatives are being squeezed from both directions.

With Starmer and Labour predicted to win a thumping majority, Conservatives exiled to the wilderness will likely spend years trying to redefine who they are and what they stand for. Initial soundings do not appear favorable.

But if they are to recover, they must listen to voters, address their concerns, and apologize for years of being out of touch with the electorate.

Christopher Jacobs
Christopher Jacobs
Chris Jacobs is founder and CEO of Juniper Research Group, and author of the book The Case Against Single Payer.

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