The Centre Right Newsletter (3)


Welcome to the latest edition of The Centre Right Newsletter.


So far 2024 has proven to be a very difficult year for the Government.  Having started the year 18 points behind (on average) in the opinion polls, the Conservatives would have been hoping to start to close the gap.  Instead, Labour’s average poll lead has widened to 20 points.


Tory morale is not high and this week may see difficult news economically (the inflation and growth numbers may prove to be disappointing) and politically (two by-election defeats are widely expected).


There are times when the debate on the right of British politics is about who should take the blame for an election defeat for the Conservatives that many see as inevitable.  I wrote about this for the New Statesman Simon Clarke is scapegoating Rishi Sunak for the coming Tory defeat and it is certainly the case that many on the right are keen to articulate their criticisms of Rishi Sunak so that he becomes the fall guy.


Certainly he has made mistakes – failing to vote for the Standards & Privileges Committee report on Boris Johnson or dropping, for example – but it should not be forgotten that the two periods of time when the Conservative vote fell dramatically were during the Partygate scandal and the aftermath of the Truss/Kwarteng mini-budget.  Rewriting recent history won’t help the Conservatives understand what has gone wrong.


If we want to understand why the Conservatives are doing so badly, it is well worth reading Why are young people deserting conservatism in Britain but nowhere else? by John Burn-Murdoch for the Financial Times (he summarises it on X/Twitter).  He sets out the data showing how badly the Conservatives are doing with younger voters and that this abject performance is an outlier for centre right parties across the developed world.  Burn-Murdoch concludes that this is partly about pessimism about economic prospects (particularly in owning a home) and partly about the disconnect on values between the Conservatives and young people that has grown since the Brexit referendum.


Another column worth highlighting was How Starmer could steal ultimate Tory mantle? (The Times) by Danny Finkelstein.  Danny warns that the Labour Party could become the natural party of government if the Conservatives adopt an approach to politics that has been more common in Labour over the last century – “an excessively ideological view, a dogma with which reality never quite accords, dreams that cannot easily be fulfilled, an impatience with compromise, a purism that demands the impossible of its leaders”. 


Finally, it is hard to ignore the US presidential election. Donald Trump is very evidently a threat to the security of the West and to democracy and yet some senior Conservatives are arguing that a Trump victory would be good news for the UK.  I wrote about this for ConHome David Gauke: For both moral and patriotic reasons, Trump is beyond the pale.


Thank you for reading.  And if you know of others who share our beliefs in centre right values, encourage them to buy The Case for Centre Right and sign up to this newsletter by visiting The Case for the Centre Right.


Best wishes, 

David Gauke