The Centre Right Newsletter (4)

With the local and mayoral elections, plus the Blackpool South Parliamentary by-election, out the way, I thought it was time for another newsletter.


There is no getting away from the fact that these were a bad set of results for the Conservatives.  There are times when one can get away with arguing that these are mid-term blues for a governing party but that does not wash when well into the fifth and final year of the Parliament.  A Labour majority – and probably a large one – looks much more likely than not.


Downing Street has picked up the analysis done by Professors Rawlings and Thrasher suggesting that Labour’s national equivalent vote share was just 7 percentage points ahead of the Conservatives, which could be hung Parliament territory.  From a Tory perspective, that looks optimistic.  On the same analysis, the Liberal Democrats were on 17 per cent and “others” on 23 per cent.  Neither score is likely to be replicated in a General Election.  Labour looks better placed to win over many of these voters.  It is also the case that the anti-Conservative vote is becoming more efficiently allocated, meaning that Labour will not need a big lead to win a majority.


A few weeks ago it was expected by some leading Tories that a bad set of results might have triggered an attempt to remove the Prime Minister.  That is not happening but we can already see that some figures from the Tory right are pinning the blame for the party’s plight on Rishi Sunak and his failure, as they see it, to be properly Conservative.  In other words, they want the party to move to the right.


As I argue in my piece on ConHome looking at the mayoral elections, the Conservatives have tested the argument about the benefits of moving to the right in London.  Against a vulnerable opponent, it did not go well.  In contrast, Andy Street may have lost in the West Midlands but only by the finest of margins.  His version of conservatism – practical, pro-business and optimistic – has much more potential appeal than was offered the people of London.


Inevitably, thoughts are going to turn increasingly to what the Conservative Party looks like after the General Election.  The party should learn the right lessons from last week’s results.


Best wishes, 

David Gauke