The Labour party team’s performance at Conference this year showed them to be the synchronised swimmers of politics: incredibly well-choreographed, seamless and at times impossibly slick. Mark Carney’s endorsement for Rachel Reeves bid to be the UK’s next Chancellor probably goes down in history as one of the best political moves by a shadow chancellor in their pre-election campaign for Number 11.
But for the Conservatives, it couldn’t feel more different. After 13 years in power, the big ideas of Cameron and Osborne have given way to tired thinking and smaller policy grabs. Much of the airtime at Conservative conference this Autum was dominated by the frustrations the leadership – namely what they want to stop: HS2, smoking, “wokeism” and the transgender debate, migrant boats, and any meaningful commitments to delivering netzero. The Conservative’s big vision for the UK has gone missing.
What’s perhaps most interesting is that some of Rishi’s policy areas do in fact have national appeal – but he and his team are struggling to find a balance between preaching to the choir and shooing away the audience. His core vote will probably stay beside him at the next General Election, but he needs to build appeal with a broader vote.
But in many ways, it already feels too late and that Sunak’s attempt to reset the narrative at the Conservative party failed. In fact, the by-election in Tamworth last week will go down in history – Labour candidate Sarah Edwards won the seat by a margin of 1,316 votes – creating a 23.9% swing to Labour, and smashing the Conservative’s 42% Conservative majority, making it the second highest post-war by-election swing history.
Unless a political “force majeure” reverses Sunak’s political fortunes (not impossible, if we look at the international picture), he’s likely to be the Prime Minister that leads the Conservatives to a landslide defeat, and hands the keys to Number 10 to Keir Starmer.
It’s in this context that Cratus is continuing to support our clients to understand the “politics of now”, whilst helping them get ready for change in Government, and understand what political change could mean – be it a collation of parties, or a landslide Labour Government. Understanding the policies, priorities, and people leading and shaping power is now critical.
Our latest report looks in detail at the policies and priorities of each of main parties, off the back of the all-important political conference season.
For more information about what a change in Government could mean, and to discuss this in confidence with our team, please contact James Goldstone.