Starting tomorrow, the conservative government party will meet for its annual party conference. This is particularly important because there will be elections in Great Britain next year.
Rishi Sunak did not take on an easy inheritance a year ago. With their escapades, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss plunged the country into chaos. The conservative ruling party’s poll numbers fell so low that one could easily speak of a political near-death experience. When he took office, Rishi Sunak promised one thing above all: calm and integrity.
Sunak kept the promise and steadied the ship. The affable technocrat ended the political soap opera in Downing Street and made five promises to the British public at the beginning of the year: “My government will halve inflation. Stimulate the economy again. We will reduce our national debt. The queues in the national health service are becoming massively shorter. And in particular, we will stop the small boats that migrants use to enter our country illegally. These are the priorities of the British people.”
Promises not kept
Inflation has now fallen slightly, but otherwise none of the promises have materialized: migrants are still crossing the English Channel in small boats under life-threatening conditions. The asylum system is hopelessly overwhelmed. Almost a fifth of the British population has been waiting for an appointment in the public health system for months. And strikes bring public transport to a standstill almost every week.
That affects the mood. If there were an election today, the opposition Labor Party would win. This is what election polls show. For this reason, Downing Street advisers appear to be giving the Prime Minister a new image. Now comes “The real Rishi” – the real Rishi – the doer who doesn’t manage the country politely, but turns it around according to conservative values.
“From today on, we want to change the way politics is done in this country. From today on, we will go our own way and make decisions that are not always popular,” Sunak announced a few days ago. He has a firm will to change this country and work for a better future.
Sunak is pushing ahead with plans
Evil tongues claim that the Conservative Party has actually already turned the country around enough in the last thirteen years. But Sunak is apparently serious. Despite protests, the British government approved the development of the last oil reserves in the North Sea last week. Instead of high-speed trains, investments should be made in road construction. The flirtation with leaving the European Court of Human Rights will certainly be well received by the conservative electorate.
The problem for the conservatives, however, is that to date they have not been able to solve the major problems of this country. And even in core conservative issues, such as migration or tax policy, people in surveys now believe Labor can come up with better solutions.
So stabilizing the ship won’t be enough. Rishi Sunak will have to quickly convince the British people that it is worth getting on board. Otherwise the Conservatives are likely to collapse in the coming elections.
Great Britain correspondent
Open the people box. Close the people box
Patrik Wülser has been working in London as a Great Britain correspondent for SRF since the end of 2019. Wülser was an Africa correspondent from 2011 to 2017 and lived with his family in Nairobi. He then headed the foreign editorial team at Radio SRF in Bern.
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