Arc of Prosperity

Scottish Independence within the EU – with a Scandinavian Slant

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The demise of the Tories?

In the latest YouGov poll, the contours of the United Kingdom’s political landscape have been outlined with remarkable clarity. The Conservatives find themselves adrift, polling at just 19%, while Labour stands dominant at 44%, and Reform UK, unexpectedly, captures a significant 15%. This shift suggests a tectonic realignment in the bedrock of British politics, prompting a critical question: Are the Tories on the brink of ceding their position as one of Westminster’s two major parties?

The significance of this scenario transcends mere inter-party rivalry, touching the essence of UK governance and its historical trajectory. Recall the aftermath of 1997; despite electoral defeat, the Conservatives managed to retain their crucial role as the main opposition. This not only ensured them substantial media visibility but also provided a platform to strategise their comeback. Their presence was crucial for their regeneration, beyond mere parliamentary formalities.

Putting this poll into Electoral Calculus’s seat predictor yields startling results. With the Conservatives plummeting to a mere 36 seats, Labour soaring to an overwhelming 524, the Liberal Democrats securing 49 and the SNP with 18, we’re poised on the brink of an unprecedented parliamentary configuration.

Labour’s projected landslide, while illustrating a significant mandate, also foreshadows potential internal conflicts. The broad spectrum of ideologies within the party could foster significant policy debates, particularly on divisive issues like defence, fiscal strategies and environmental policies.

For the Conservatives, losing their status as the official opposition would be akin to navigating uncharted waters, potentially resulting in diminished media coverage, parliamentary influence and public support. Drawing parallels with the post-1997 period, today’s political landscape, however, is reshaped by shifts in party loyalty, the divisive nature of Brexit and the impact of digital media. This could initiate a downward spiral, complicating any potential recovery.

The stakes extend beyond parliamentary titles; being the official opposition equates to being the government-in-waiting, essential for attracting financial backing vital for campaign efficacy and party operations. Hence, the prospect of losing this status represents a fundamental shift in political and financial support.

The Tories’ current predicament may echo past realignments in British politics, such as the early 20th century’s transition that saw Labour replacing the Liberals as a dominant force. This wasn’t merely a change of guard but a profound shift in the political and societal landscape.

The Conservative Party’s decline signifies not just an end but a transformation within the British political spectrum. Labour and the Liberal Democrats face the opportunity to redefine themselves and the broader political narrative.

Labour, in particular, must urgently reconsider the strategy of tactical triangulation, which becomes ineffective in a landscape where extreme positions undermine the appeal of moderate policies. The current political environment, shaped by identity rather than policy nuance, demands a new approach.

We all need to prepare ourselves for the death of the Conservative Party. As Ian Dunt elegantly puts it: “We’re in the final days now. The sky is blood-dimmed. Strange insects with impossible biology are carried in by the famine-breeze. The Conservative party is on the verge of extinction.”

This seismic shift in British politics has profound implications for the question of Scottish independence, too. How will the Scottish electorate react to a Tory-free England? Will it make independence seem less necessary, or will the new political set-up south of the border continue to feel alien to Scots?

One thought on “The demise of the Tories?

  • I think both you and Dunt are getting a little carried away. Even in the Canada 1993 example some are fond of highlighting, it only took the Canadian Tories 13 years to retake government, in 2006. They currently lead the opposition and have a 15-20 point lead over the Liberal government.

    The political realignment which saw Labour displace the old Liberals in the duopoly came about as a result of electoral reform which enfranchised millions of people for whom Labour was a more natural fit at the time. Without reform to break that duopoly open, the possibility of a political realignment is very low: the Tories will return like the vampires they are.

    It could still happen, but Labour doesn’t want to break the duopoly and they don’t want to risk accidentally causing a Tory-Liberal duopoly by forcing(or merely allowing) a Labour-Liberal duopoly. One of the great irony here is that Starmer has the power to reshape the Tory party he faces, by quietly conceding certain seats. He can make sure the Tories have fifty safe seats and give them to the Trussites or the closeted pro-Europeans. That is far more useful to him than another fifty elected paper candidates wandering the halls of Westminster because the government benches can’t hold them.


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