General election 2024

Tory voters want to punish their party – and themselves

For progressive onlookers abroad, the Labour landslide now projected next month will seem a cheerful counterweight to the EU parliamentary elections’ lurch rightwards and will represent a huge, refreshing popular shift in Britain to the left. Yet according to at least one recent poll, this perception would be statistically mistaken. Add the Conservative and Reform support together, and on the ground the British left and right are neck and neck. But never mind the numbers. The notion that an historically extraordinary Labour majority would betoken a renewed British enthusiasm for socialism is off the beam. Where is the emotion in this election? What few passions July’s contest stirs fester almost

Letters: the Tories’ fatal flaw

Major error Sir: Even as a former Tory voter, I acknowledge that the predicted scale of the Conservative electoral defeat would be a national tragedy. Starmer’s government needs to be kept in check by a robust opposition. There are many explanations for the Tory decline, but George Osborne’s Diary (15 June) gives some clues: his celebration of a ‘Middle England’ country fête having a tombola for Gaza rather than a worthy local cause, for instance. More tellingly, Osborne also celebrates John Major’s advice that the Conservatives ‘will never win while we remain in thrall to the hard right of our party’. The practical interpretation of this involves moving the Tories to

Portrait of the Week: Supermajorities, falling inflation and rammed cows

Home The electorate mulled over the words of Grant Shapps, the Defence Secretary: ‘You don’t want to have somebody receive a supermajority.’ A question that lodged in the election campaign was put by Beth Rigby of Sky News to Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, asking whether he had meant it when he said his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, would make a great prime minister; he replied: ‘I was certain we would lose the 2019 election.’ A few days later, Sir Keir told a phone-in questioner that serving in a Corbyn administration ‘didn’t cross my mind because I didn’t think we would win’. He evaded questions on council tax, taxing pensions

Rod Liddle

How to lose voters

During the 1983 general election, I campaigned every single day with great zeal and avidity. I knocked on quite literally thousands of doors enquiring of people if we, the Labour party, could count on their support on 9 June. I would start at 9 o’clock and finish 12 hours later, taking a break at about 7 p.m. because interrupting Coronation Street was considered a vote loser. The closest the party has to a geographical base are the poorer parts of our eastern seaboard I did all this with my hair spiked up in jagged tufts held in place by gallons of hairspray, and with a little bit of eyeliner and maybe

Katy Balls

Meet Surrey’s ‘M&S movers’

On a street in Camberley, Surrey, a pensioner stands in the doorway, rollers in her hair, staring with some bemusement at the Liberal Democrat canvasser in front of her. Her preparations for Ascot have been interrupted. ‘I definitely won’t be voting Conservative. I used to be a member, but you look around now and, no!’ she explains. Not that she thinks her vote will count for much: ‘My husband used to say you could put a blue rosette on a monkey and they would win round here. It is a very affluent area – there is a lethargic habit of voting Tory.’ The party may end up with dozens of

When was the first televised election debate?

TV clashes The concept of a televised election debate is often believed to have begun with the one held between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon before the 1960 US presidential election – an innovation not repeated until 1976. (The first televised election debate in the UK didn’t take place until the 2010 general election.) Yet its history can really be traced back to 4 November 1956 when, days before Americans were invited to choose between President Eisenhower and Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson II, the CBS News show Face the Nation held a half-hour debate between Eleanor Roosevelt, representing the Democrats, and Margaret Chase Smith, representing the Republicans. Remarkably, it

How to crack election jokes like a Greek

As the party of the lost and the party of the losers square up to each other, the next few weeks bid fair to raise tedium to an excruciating new level. Still, one can always rely on the c. 4,000 epigrams of the Greek Anthology (7th century bc – 6th century ad) to provide some light relief. ‘We arrived at Apelles’ for supper./ He’d stripped his garden bare./ It looked as if he was feeding his sheep,/ Instead of his friends gathered there,/ With radish and lettuce and chicory too,/ And leeks, mint and onions, and basil and rue./ And fearing we’d soon be presented/ with a nourishing helping of

Douglas Murray

The right must unite

I mentioned here recently that to my mind Boris Johnson bears a fairish similarity to Dr Faustus, as Christopher Marlowe portrayed him: selling his soul only to then waste his time in futile and silly gestures. The Conservative party is one of the only political parties whose leader seems to rather dislike its own voters Perhaps I can now add Rishi Sunak as another possible stand-in for that role. As Sunak announced a general election in the drenching rain last week, I was forced to ask again: ‘What was the point of all this? What was the point of rising up the ladder, of knifing his predecessor, of working, campaigning

Portrait of the Week: Sunak’s downpour, national service and the ‘triple lock plus’

Home Parliament was dissolved, leaving no MPs until the general election on 4 July. With hours to go, Diane Abbott had the Labour whip restored to her, and Lucy Allan MP was suspended from the Conservative party for endorsing the Reform UK candidate for Telford. Among bills that were lost was one prohibiting the sale of cigarettes to anyone born after 31 December 2008. Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, had provided an abiding memory by announcing the election standing in heavy rain in Downing Street and making a speech as though it weren’t raining. The Conservatives suddenly said that everyone should do a form of national service at the age of 18.

The deluge: Rishi Sunak’s election gamble

‘Only a Conservative government, led by me, will not put our hard-earned economic stability at risk,’ said Rishi Sunak as he announced a general election on the steps of Downing Street in the pouring rain. Upon these words, the Labour anthem ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ boomed out from the street. The din made the rest of his speech nearly inaudible. His suit jacket went from wet to soaking. ‘It’s bizarre,’ said one former minister. ‘How are we supposed to trust No. 10’s judgment when no one in the group even knows what an umbrella is?’  Sunak’s gamble is that while he can’t get a hearing in government, he might