It’s fair to say that things haven’t been going particularly well for Mr Sunak recently. He was feted last October (yes, that long ago) as a return to normality with a dull but competent technocracy. The reality of governing, however, and especially as leader of the modern Conservative Party, has left him looking like a supply teacher trying desperately to get the class in their proper seating plan. And just like a centre-back taking out his goalkeeper with a perfect sliding challenge that leaves the opposition with an open goal, Sunak’s cabinet refuses to shut up and govern.

Understanding Tory Factionalism

You know you’re in trouble when divisions within your party are worse and more publicised than divisions within the Labour Party — a party seemingly hooked on infighting and factionalism since its inception. And yet here we are. The factions on the right wing of the Tory Party are so numerous now that it’s hard to keep track of what each group believes in, but I’ve got nothing better to do so I’ve given it a go:

  • The European Research Group (ERG) — A bit like England in the ODI Cricket World Cups since 2015. Their first album (Brexit) was a smash hit, but their second one faded with a bit of a whimper.
  • The New Conservatives — Perhaps because stuffy Old Conservatives just don’t have enough zing and pep. Ironically, they’re still happy to vote with the old guard on most key legislation.
  • The Common Sense Group — Given that they’re, apparently, the only group in Parliament with any common sense, it’s a miracle that cars haven’t been forced to have square wheels. Future manifestos may or may not include recommendations to ban Manchester United from European competitions to preserve their fans’ sanity — or what’s left of it anyway.
  • The Conservative Growth Group — Dear oh dear. Liz Truss’ way of trying to make sure at least some of her economic policies outlast the lifecycle of a lettuce leaf.
  • The Conservative Democratic Organisation — The unofficial Boris Johnson fan club. Backing Boris since it was politically expedient to do so.

But Seriously, …

There is, of course, a serious point to all this. As funny as it is to see the Tories, supposedly the party of stability and order, tear themselves apart; it’s not good for the country.

Public services are not in good shape, the tax burden is still rising, and inflation is still higher than the 2 per cent target. Rishi Sunak can try and pretend that everything is fine, and that halving inflation was totally his doing and not at all down to the independent Bank of England, but it just doesn’t wash. I get the feeling that he knows this too. Yesterday at PMQs he looked tetchy, answering Keir Starmer’s question on a homeless child without a shred of compassion. The Prime Minister is guilty of the same ‘shameless opportunism’ that he notes in the Leader of the Opposition during that same answer. Whenever he blindly repeats the scripted lines placed before him to make the government sound better, my respect for him is further eroded.

When you make mistakes, when you don’t meet your targets, you should own up to it. This constant narrative that everything is fine is frustrating, damaging, and patently wrong — confirmed by the Resolution Foundation’s description of Britain as a ‘stagnation nation.’

Failure to admit failure only makes future failure more inevitable.

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