The Tories received a bit of a shock this week. Bye election results in Tamworth and Mid Bedforshire delivered wins for Labour with significant reversals of Conservative majorities.
Tamworth Labour tweeted that it was an “absolutely sensational result”. The Tories starting the night with a majority of almost 20,000 but Labour won with a majority of 1,316. Election expert Sir Jon Curtice said that “no government has hitherto lost to the principal opposition party in a by-election a seat as safe as Tamworth.”
Tory Party Chairman Greg Hands said he will not resign despite the losses. "The swing to Labour was clearly disappointing but bye elections are not a good indicator of how the general election will turn out."
"People think Rishi is doing a good job, He is the best leader to take the country forward. We are committed to halving inflation, restoring growth, cutting debt, reducing hospital waiting list and stopping the boats. We are making the right decisions on transport infrastructure, smoking and mathematics." OK don't mention prison overcrowding and popup cells in courtyards.
Greg Hands sought to deflect blame away from Rishi Sunak, saying the defeats, which came on the back of two by-election losses in July, were the result of "legacy issues" that pre-dated Mr Sunak's time in office.
The party's defeats have been criticised by its own MPs, with Dame Andrea Jenkyns saying the Tories needed to make "far-reaching major changes now".
David Frost, the UK's former chief Brexit negotiator, said the results were "extremely bad for my party". I don't think it helps to suggest otherwise, as some party figures have done this morning. The current national polls are dreadful for us but these results are even worse. These results show that the national polls are broadly correct and that a strategy of denial is unlikely to work."
George Osborne said Sunak and chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, have restored a rational, serious approach to politics but he and other Cameroons were offended when Sunak tried to present himself as the radical-change candidate after 13 years of a failed Tory government.
I don't think he's really going to be able to pull that off, Osborne said. You can't say, "All that went before me was pointless or useless, because people will say: Well you were part of that party, you are pointless and useless."
It''s a fair point. The bye elections occurred when Chris Pincher resigned for groping, Nadine Dorries resigned for sulking. There was no swing to Labour. Labour picked up 800 votes in Tamworth but lost 150 votes in Mid Bedfordshire.
The Tories lost 16,000 votes in Bedforshire and 20,000 votes in Tamworth. Tory voters stayed at home. Legacy issues, thirteen years in office, pointless and useless. That's a lot of electoral baggage ... and a clear message to Number Ten ...
The Saturday Economist
John Ashcroft publishes the Saturday Economist. Join the mailing list for updates on the UK and World Economy.
|The Saturday Economist|
The material is based upon information which we consider to be reliable but we do not represent that it is accurate or complete and it should not be relied upon as such. We accept no liability for errors, or omissions of opinion or fact. In particular, no reliance should be placed on the comments on trends in financial markets. The presentation should not be construed as the giving of investment advice.