The Conservative Party’s Jeremy Corbyn Moment
Looking across the water at the leadership election, it is hard not to draw some comparisons between the momentum behind Liz Truss and Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader in 2015.
The Conservative Party is having its Jeremy Corbyn moment. It feels important to say that this isn’t a defence of Rishi Sunak. If he defies the odds and manages to convince the patients that they need to take the medicine, I have no doubt that other problems rooted in his worldview will come to the surface.
In the wake of Ed Miliband’s election defeat to David Cameron in 2015, the Labour Party set out to choose a new leader with its new leadership election rules which allowed anything with a pulse to have an equal vote. After five years of Tory government and two election defeats, austerity turned to hysteria in the party and the left-wing membership chose the hard left Jeremy Corbyn.
The next four years saw Labour learning the same lesson they did after Michael Foot’s shambolic term ended in 1983, that the voters don’t want the most extreme version of a party’s political policies. You have to be realise you can’t have everything and must appeal to the centre.
Liz Truss is not in the centre. She is on the hard right of the Conservative Party and what appeals to Tory members is not going to appeal to the public at large. She isn’t popular across the UK but is popular with members because she is very clever in telling them what they want to hear. She is going to cut taxes, grow the economy by cutting red tape, increase defence spending, take a hard line on immigrants, protect the Good Friday Agreement with the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, and many more pieces of juicy red meat.
Rishi Sunak is doing a good job in trying to come across as the responsible candidate on the economy, but its not enough for the hardliners.
Another factor at play, as someone very experienced in politics and PR said to me – ”Rishi Sunak is the wrong colour for a lot of those Tory people.” In this day and age, we don’t like to think about race being a factor, but we shouldn’t be naïve. Dig a little deeper when you’re having a conversation in a pub with someone unpleasant, you’ll soon find that many people won’t vote for Fine Gael anymore because Leo Varadkar is gay.
Barring the polls being way off or Rishi mustering a miracle, the Conservatives will vote for Liz Truss to please themselves despite what the rest of the UK wants and needs.
In the next election, they will pay the price for it.