Rishi Sunak is driving the Tories over the edge of an electoral cliff

‘As we gather here today, not only to pay tribute to those who showed such bravery that day … it is to listen to the echoes of their voices, to hear them, because they are calling us. ” So President Joe Biden told it softly to the international D-day commemoration ceremony at Omaha beach in Normandy on Thursday. But Rishi Sunak was not there to listen along with Britain’s wartime allies. Instead, he left France after taking part in Britain’s celebrations earlier in the day, returning to the UK to do an election interview with ITV, leaving the foreign secretary, Lord Cameron , to represent Britain instead.

This is a decisive moment of this general election campaign, because it tells us something fundamental about the man who was chosen by his party to lead the country a year and a half ago, who is seeking a mandate for the first time. from the electorate.

Just as liberal democracies face a growing threat once again – this time from enemies of freedom such as Vladimir Putin – the prime minister should be there with the leaders of the US, France and Germany to remember bravery the people who helped save Europe from fascism. 80 years ago. This is probably the last significant commemoration attended by D-day survivors. The Sunak did not understand his importance, or the snub that his failure to attend casts a dark shadow on his appeal to voters to trust him to continue leading the country.

Everywhere you look, there are signs that 14 years of Conservative government have changed Britain for the worse

The worst moment was a terrible campaign for the Conservatives. We welcome the fact that Sunak chose not to delay calling the election – the country needs the chance to judge a dark era. Everywhere you look, there are signs that 14 years of Conservative government have changed Britain for the worse: from rising levels of child poverty and Tory Chancellors deploying the tax-benefit system to redistribute from families poor with children to the richest; the chronic underfunding of the NHS which has led to ever larger waiting lists; with the laggard growth further suppressed by a hard Brexit. And in the first two weeks of campaigning, the Conservatives have revealed what they are: a party infected by the contagion that has run out of ideas to improve the country and therefore has to look for desperate attempts to make the headlines, as a scheme to ones. forcing hard-pressed 18-year-olds to give up one weekend in four to do compulsory community service, and resorting to bare-faced lies about Labour’s imaginary tax plans.

The polls suggest that this judgment will be a punishment for the Conservatives: if anything, Labour’s huge poll lead is widening. A huge win on the 4th of July is exactly what the Conservatives deserve. They have taken on an insurmountable set of circumstances – a global financial crisis, a pandemic and rising levels of conflict and insecurity – and bad political decisions have further dented Britain’s prospects. The party’s ideological obsession with Brexit played a central role in its decline. By holding a referendum to satisfy his party’s rightful demands, David Cameron fed the beast. It was through Brexit – first the campaign to leave the EU, then the internal party fighting to impose a hard Brexit on the country, then the 2019 election campaign – that the party shifted from conservatism towards populism, telling the voters that Brexit would be involved. solving all of Britain’s long-term structural issues instead of making people poorer. It was through Brexit that the party got Boris Johnson as prime minister, one of the worst leaders the country has ever seen. Brexit has consumed the Conservatives, leaving a party that doesn’t know what it stands for and has nothing to offer.

Nigel Farage’s decision to take the leadership of Reform UK and stand in Clacton will make defeating the Conservatives worse than it would have been otherwise; unlike in 2019, Reform is fielding candidates in Conservative-held seats and is likely to split the vote to the right, increasing Labour’s majority. If the Conservative defeat is as bad as some are predicting, Tory MPs will face an existential choice. They can begin to undo the damage Brexit has done not only to the country but to their party by trying to reconnect with voters who have lost confidence and rebuild a form of conservatism fit for the 2020s. Or they can continue down the path they have traveled since 2014 which has led them to where they are today, by trying to defeat Reform UK with anti-immigration rhetoric. In that way lies the electoral failure, but there is every chance that a hard right turnip from the parliamentary party and membership will push them in that direction, further alienating the electorate.

For those on the center left of British politics, the temptation might be “so what?” But a healthy democracy depends on the interaction between government and opposition: it would not be good, in the long term, for a Labor government with a large majority to escape serious scrutiny because the main opposition party has moved further to the right and wrecked. three internal divisions. It will be up to those Tories who believe they can one day become the party of government again by rebuilding the tradition of centrist conservatism to try to stop their party going off the rails in the meantime.

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