Written by Christopher J. Wilkinson
By September 5, the country will know who their next Prime Minister is; it will either be Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss. Neither are particularly suitable for the job since neither have been particularly successful in their respective positions as Chancellor of the Exchequer and Foreign Secretary. Neither offer a unique vision for the future. Neither inspire hope for national renewal after a decade of economic strife, division over Europe, and the destruction of liberty presented in the guise of a pandemic. There will be no new dawn after twelve years of Conservative-led government.
Are we entering a new age of political apathy? The outgoing leader, Boris Johnson, placed style above substance and sat idly by as political scandals mounted triggering memories of sleaze during the 1990s. The underlying economy is in turmoil, with inflation at its highest level in forty years, supply side issues resulting from the breakdown of globalisation being blamed on the Ukraine intervention, and a rash of summertime strikes painting a picture similar to the failed Keynesian era of the 1970s. It says a great deal when at least four times as many viewers tuned in to watch presenter Kate McCann faint live on air in an excised video clip than watched the debate broadcast as a whole.
And then there’s the task of winning the next election, due by January 2025. On the surface, this seems an unlikely feat but there are reasons for the Conservatives to be encouraged. Still effectively unreformed since the days of Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leadership is being held to ransom by the socialist left who are engaging the party in a muted civil war which has seen Sir Keir Starmer referred to as a neo-Blairite. Barring tidal waves and assuming a continuation of Labour infighting, Scotland will vote overwhelmingly for the SNP meaning that a change of government will likely only be possible with a Labour-led coalition. At little over forty per cent of the vote in the latest opinion polls, Labour will not win a majority of English constituencies – and that lead may soon disappear again as election day draws closer. No third parties are presenting themselves as a credible threat to the political orthodoxy. Libertarian alternatives in particular are struggling to convert anti-establishment feeling into by-election and local election successes.
I suspect a great degree of reluctance to confront these serious challenges exists with both leadership contenders. Whoever wins will need to hit the ground running and reform quickly, but neither possess suitable reforming credentials. As Peter Hitchens once remarked, we’ve had the same government in office since 1990 – high spending, high taxing, over-regulating, over-legislating, pandering to ideological opponents, and meandering according to the latest social fad or trend that might increase their poll ratings. Unfortunately for Britain, there’s no sign of a course correction coming from any major party. The new leader shall inherit a poisoned chalice, but the risk of poisoning themselves and the country further is high. There’s an appetite for real change, but it’s not on the menu…