It may not seem like it to the outside world, but as far as Westminster is concerned, the general election campaign has already begun.
Labor leader Keir Starmer has now put together the team that will lead his party to polling day, while Rishi Sunak will put the finishing touches to his own frontline lineup later in the year.
Speak to any MP and it won’t be long before the conversation turns to when the Prime Minister is expected to visit the country (May next year is becoming increasingly popular) and what chances the Tories have of winning another term when he does at all .
The bad news for Sunak is that all available evidence suggests he is heading for defeat, regardless of when the election takes place.
New polls from think tank More in Common this week showed the scale of the Everest-like challenge facing the prime minister.
A staggering three quarters of all voters – including almost half of those who supported the Conservatives in 2019 – say they want a change of government.
Luke Tryl, More in Common’s UK director, said: “These figures are really, really stark. I was quite surprised when I saw her.
“Many people don’t believe that the last 13 years of Conservative government have been good for the country.
“We know that when there is a ‘time for change’ sentiment in the electorate, it is very difficult to take action.”
He added: “People think the country doesn’t work, it’s too expensive and they’re exhausted, which is a pretty hopeless context for an election that is difficult for both parties, but especially for the government.”
Perhaps just as worrying for No 10 is that Sunak’s luster appears to have completely faded as his year in office approaches.
“Part of the reason it’s so difficult is because a lot of people have just switched off,” Tryl told HuffPost UK.
“You feel like they’ve screwed up and now they have to leave.” The only way [to victory] For them, it’s that this time next year things will feel much better materially.
“I think this scenario was more plausible six months ago when there were more people doing this [Sunak] was clearly a competent man and we must give him a chance. But what has happened since has left a feeling for him personally.”
“You feel like they screwed up and now they have to go.”
That was a reference to the litany of problems facing the government, from crumbling concrete in schools to rising interest rates, high inflation and Sunak’s failure to “stop the boats”.
The prime minister’s personal wealth remains a major concern for Tory strategists, despite his efforts to convince voters he feels their pain.
A woman in a More in Common focus group said: “I think it’s hard to have such a rich man leading your country when the people in your country are falling apart. I feel like it makes him very disjointed.
“He can’t help being so rich, but it’s the kind of vibe I get from my friends and the people around me [which] is that he doesn’t really know what’s wrong with us, he’s so far away from us. When a man like that tries to help, he doesn’t really know how to help.”
A man in the same focus group said: “I don’t think he’s done enough. I can see him trying to do things. He talks a lot, but not really much about the action.”
A word cloud of what respondents said when asked to describe Britain in just a few words showed the most popular answers were “broken”, “difficult”, “chaotic” and “expensive”.
These are not good answers for a party that has been in power for 13 years.
The British electorate is fed up.
Tory attempts to fuel a culture war by creating so-called “wedge” issues with Labor – such as the environment and “woke” culture – also appear destined to backfire.
Climate change is third on the list of issues voters care about most, behind the cost of living crisis and the NHS, and ahead of immigration.
Tryl said: “We don’t have as polarized an electorate on climate change as other issues like migration, and it’s hard to see how you can make a wedge out of the climate issue.”
Calls from the likes of Conservative deputy leader Lee Anderson for the UK to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights have also failed to resonate with the public, with just 28% supporting the idea.
According to Tryl, many voters are comparing it to the campaign to leave the EU – and not in a good way.
“People are saying much more often that we should remain a member [of the ECHR]”And a lot of that has to do with the fact that the idea of ’Brexit 2.0′ horrifies many people,” he said.
“They don’t want to go back to the Brexit years and all that wrangling. They just want the government to focus on making things better.”
Meanwhile, barely one in four voters – 27% – believe that tackling woke culture is one of the most important issues in the run-up to the election.
Voters in the southern Blue Wall, who reluctantly backed Boris Johnson in 2019, have now thrown their weight behind Labor, while in the Red Wall the change in opinion is even more pronounced.
Tryl said: “There has been a profound and dramatic swing against the Conservatives within the Red Wall group since the last election. Labor has opened a very large divide with this group for the first time since 2015.
“There is a real feeling that the current Conservative Party is struggling to engage with them. They feel the leadership is not listening to their concerns, but also feel let down when it comes to things like alignment and the promise of Brexit.”
Wherever he looks, there are few signs of optimism for Rishi Sunak. The Wahlberg he has to climb gets steeper every day.
Source : www.huffingtonpost.co.uk