The week the UK changes

The first General Election of the decade is upon us. And the Tories are facing judgement day.

The week the UK changes

There has never been a change of government in the time my daughters have been alive. The eldest is in secondary school, and she’s only ever lived under a Tory administration. Admittedly, there’s been a fair number of administrations in that time — five in fact — as the Conservative tendency towards regicide has gone into overdrive.

That looks set to change on Friday. Unless the opinion polls are more wrong than they’ve ever been, we’ll wake up (I'm much too old to stay up to see the results overnight) on the 5th well on the way to a Labour government for the first time since 2010.

The past dogs the Tories

From the very start, I think politicians and pundits alike have under-estimated two factors:

  • How much of the 2019 Tory vote was actually an “oh, shit, not Jeremy Corbyn” vote. When Cornyn went away, replaced by the determinedly bland Starmer, that fear evaporates.
  • How much the general public Just Want The Tories Gone. We’re not so very far from a situation where a lettuce in a suit could beat the Tory party.

The double whammy of feeling taxed into oblivion while our public services rumble has made precisely nobody feel good, and the behaviour over “partygate” was the last straw.

It was more than a slice of bloody cake

You’ll see apologists for the Tory party, and Boris Johnson loyalists in particular, mutter about it “just being a slice of cake”.


It was a government putting us into the most restrictive living conditions we’ve ever experienced, while the government ignored the rules they set for us. The Queen mourned alone, while they partied. Two women walking with coffee were surrounded by police, while the Tories partied. Locked-down children’s educational achievement collapsed, while the Tories partied.

If we had a sense that the country was well-run, if our rivers weren’t full of shit, and our public services failing, then maybe the Tories could have come back from that. But it’s just been one long series of incompetencies and scandals in the last couple of years.

Voting out, not voting in

20 years ago, Anthony Howard wrote for The Times that oppositions don’t win elections, governments lose them. I wonder if that piece has stuck in Kier Starmer’s mind as much as it has done in mine. Because, even with the manifesto out, we have remarkably little idea of how he’ll govern, and what sort of Labour government we’re looking at.

He has, despite criticism from all sides, played a bit of a blinder: doing his best to look reasonable, sensible and competent, and just let the Tories destroy themselves. I can only imagine the cheers in Labour HQ when Nigel Farage rejoined the UK political scene. That move neatly ensured the most loyal right-wing elements of the Tory support would sheer off in the direction of Reform, splitting the vote, and nicely boosting the chances of more marginal seat gains for the other parties.

This is the week when the UK will almost certainly say goodbye to a government it’s sick to the back teeth of. This, however, won’t be the week when we find out what we’ve elected instead. That’s a revelation that will be doled out in the weeks and months ahead.

The Brexit landscape of British politics dies at the polls on Thursday. What we will birth in its place will be interesting. Into the unknown…