What went wrong for the Conservatives?

by | Jul 5, 2024 | Politics

5 hours agoBy Ione Wells, Political correspondent ReutersThe Conservative Party had become accustomed to almost being the Manchester City of politics.A blue, winning machine for so long that some of its key players could barely remember anything else.But their streak – that delivered Tory prime ministers in four elections in a row – has been brought to a dramatic end.Many Tories, both winners and losers, are almost speechless and still processing it.One told me they were simply “not coherent”.A post-mortem on what went wrong with their tactics and leadership, and where to go next, is now beginning.When I speak to Conservatives, several themes come up repeatedly.Some feel Labour’s policy offering was not drastically different to theirs, but think the choice became more about perceptions of “competence”. They have had five leaders, and prime ministers, in less than 10 years.Seismic events, from Brexit to Covid to multiple leadership contests, splintered the party into ideological factions. Some Tories spent more energy plotting to take each other down than their opposition – and never really patched things up.Scandals rocked the party in a whack-a-mole fashion, from lockdown parties to sexual misconduct allegations to a mini-budget that contributed to raising interest rates. An election betting saga was the cherry on top.When I asked former Chief Whip Sir Mark Spencer during the campaign if the party had a conduct problem, he mentioned that other parties also had to suspend MPs for poor behaviour – which is true – but conceded this had become too regular.Then there was the undoubted desire for change – a word Labour deployed in its campaign.The cost of living, NHS waiting lists, and small boats were all issues voters raised on the doorstep – and felt had been getting worse, not better.Nigel Farage’s late return to the fray meant the latter theme became a particular thorn in Tory sides, with some right-leaning voters who switched to Reform UK wanting tougher immigration policies and lower taxes.Rhetoric and policies attempting to win them back alienated some more centrist Tories who abandoned the party for Labour or the Liberal Democrats, leaving the Tories pincered in between.This was a more comfortable switch for some centrists who didn’t feel they could vote Labour under Jeremy Corbyn.Did these circumstances mean defeat was inevitable? Most Tories I’ve spoken to describe the result as “not unexpected”, but some feel the scale of it could have been mitigated.There were avoidable gaffes – like Rishi Sunak leaving D-day commemorations early.While Boris Johnson was prone to gaffes too, some of his fans felt Mr Sunak didn’t charm voters back in the same way. The former prime minister still yielded chants of ‘Boris! Boris!’ at an eleventh-hour rally to try to energise the campaign.There is still a lingering bafflement among some about why Mr Sunak decided to call the election in July.Their campaign guru, Isaac Levido, had argued for a later date – hoping by then there w …

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[mwai_chat context=”Let’s have a discussion about this article:nn5 hours agoBy Ione Wells, Political correspondent ReutersThe Conservative Party had become accustomed to almost being the Manchester City of politics.A blue, winning machine for so long that some of its key players could barely remember anything else.But their streak – that delivered Tory prime ministers in four elections in a row – has been brought to a dramatic end.Many Tories, both winners and losers, are almost speechless and still processing it.One told me they were simply “not coherent”.A post-mortem on what went wrong with their tactics and leadership, and where to go next, is now beginning.When I speak to Conservatives, several themes come up repeatedly.Some feel Labour’s policy offering was not drastically different to theirs, but think the choice became more about perceptions of “competence”. They have had five leaders, and prime ministers, in less than 10 years.Seismic events, from Brexit to Covid to multiple leadership contests, splintered the party into ideological factions. Some Tories spent more energy plotting to take each other down than their opposition – and never really patched things up.Scandals rocked the party in a whack-a-mole fashion, from lockdown parties to sexual misconduct allegations to a mini-budget that contributed to raising interest rates. An election betting saga was the cherry on top.When I asked former Chief Whip Sir Mark Spencer during the campaign if the party had a conduct problem, he mentioned that other parties also had to suspend MPs for poor behaviour – which is true – but conceded this had become too regular.Then there was the undoubted desire for change – a word Labour deployed in its campaign.The cost of living, NHS waiting lists, and small boats were all issues voters raised on the doorstep – and felt had been getting worse, not better.Nigel Farage’s late return to the fray meant the latter theme became a particular thorn in Tory sides, with some right-leaning voters who switched to Reform UK wanting tougher immigration policies and lower taxes.Rhetoric and policies attempting to win them back alienated some more centrist Tories who abandoned the party for Labour or the Liberal Democrats, leaving the Tories pincered in between.This was a more comfortable switch for some centrists who didn’t feel they could vote Labour under Jeremy Corbyn.Did these circumstances mean defeat was inevitable? Most Tories I’ve spoken to describe the result as “not unexpected”, but some feel the scale of it could have been mitigated.There were avoidable gaffes – like Rishi Sunak leaving D-day commemorations early.While Boris Johnson was prone to gaffes too, some of his fans felt Mr Sunak didn’t charm voters back in the same way. The former prime minister still yielded chants of ‘Boris! Boris!’ at an eleventh-hour rally to try to energise the campaign.There is still a lingering bafflement among some about why Mr Sunak decided to call the election in July.Their campaign guru, Isaac Levido, had argued for a later date – hoping by then there w …nnDiscussion:nn” ai_name=”RocketNews AI: ” start_sentence=”Can I tell you more about this article?” text_input_placeholder=”Type ‘Yes'”]
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