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Park the Bus.



You could be forgiven for thinking that you have woken up today in October 2008. A beleaguered Prime Minister who is staring inevitable defeat in the face, turns to an old hand who is an ‘election winner’ to come back into the Cabinet to help guide the troops towards a General Election. The old hand is given a peerage and told to work the media in a vain attempt to portray party unity and announce a ‘reset’.


Of course, it isn’t 2008 and Prime Minister Gordon Brown isn’t appointing Peter Mandelson to the Lords and asking the Prince of Darkness to lead the Department for Business. Instead, Rishi Sunak has brought Lord David Cameron back into the fold and asked him to lead the nation’s diplomatic efforts on the world stage. Of course, it went so well the last time he led Britain’s diplomatic efforts on the world stage that he bungled the Libya conflict, failed to get the necessary votes to support allied coalition forces in Syria and he negotiated exactly nothing out of the EU to the point where Britain became the first country in history to impose economic sanctions on itself and voted to leave the European Union.


Far from reset, when Prime Ministers’ pull these stunts, it has all the whiffs of desperation.


And its clear that Sunak is desperate. His party conference was a disaster with his botched HS2 u-turn (something David Cameron took to twitter to tell Sunak was a mistake). And his King’s Speech was overshadowed by his then Home Secretary openly ignoring him and declaring war on the Metropolitan Police. With race riots on the streets of London, recession looming large, business confidence at an all-time low and no sign of NHS waiting times coming down, Sunak’s strategy needs to change.


And today it has. Make no mistake, the government is deploying a new strategy.


If this was a football match, we'd be saying that the Tories have turned up looking for a draw. They are not interested in winning. They plan to park the bus.

Just like Gordon Brown’s Labour Party in 2010, Rishi Sunak and the Conservative Party understand that they cannot win the next General Election in 2024. Eleven by-elections in the last parliamentary session, with Labour winning 8 including in Tory heartlands whilst the Liberal Democrats are stealing a march in the blue wall, is all the evidence you need that the government has adopted the habit of losing and is now an addict.


There isn’t going to be sunny uplands on the economy, and we are all facing another winter of economic discontent with rising prices, war in Europe, war in the middle east and war in Africa, alongside more and more uncertainty over the legality of the government’s flagship Rwanda policy.


Sunak has therefore today changed course. From the Red Wall to the Blue Wall. The name of the game now, is hung parliament. Can Sunak stop the bleeding just enough to deny Keir Starmer a workable parliamentary majority? Sunak will do all he can to try and ensure as many of his existing MPs can cling on. If this was a football match, we'd be saying that the Tories have turned up looking for a draw. They are not interested in winning. They plan to park the bus.


Will the appointment of Cameroon and a band of ‘compassionate Conservatives’ be enough to stop traditional Conservative voters in Surrey, Kent, Hampshire, Devon and Dorset, from voting red or orange in 12 months’ time?


It's a stretch.


Cameron isn’t liked. By either Brexiteers who see him as the embodiment of an economic advantage that has long been missing in the towns and communities of Red Wall constituencies. And by Remainers who see him as the egotistical PM who believed he could quash the Tory Party obsession with Europe by recklessly calling a referendum that plunged the country into a crisis of his making. As I’ve said before, he’s not respected internationally because of Brexit and the dynamic of having a former Prime Minister calling the shots on the world stage is never a comfortable position for a PM to find themselves in.


Cameron still faces questions of his involvement in the lobbying scandal Greensill with court cases ongoing in multiple jurisdictions. Not to mention his links to China where as recently as last month he was lobbying for Beijing. I’m sure the Premier is toasting their man’s new job.



So what about the others who took the famous walk up Downing Street? Again, the wider reshuffle is also a sign, as we tip toe towards 2024, of the lack of progress that Sunak has made in his five pledges that today he sacks his Home Secretary, Chief Secretary and Health Secretary – all key positions if he wants to halve inflation, grow the economy, reduce debt, cut waiting lists, and stop the boats. It’s hardly a ringing endorsement of the performance of Cabinet that of all the positions in the top team, these are the only ones he has singled out for change.


Then consider the Minister of State level. We now onto the SIXTEENTH Housing Minister. Is it any wonder we haven’t built enough homes? We’re onto the fourth Pensions Minister in a year. Is it any wonder we aren’t utilising pension funds to build the homes and the infrastructure that was promised? It screams chaos. The truth is that he is promoting new, more moderate, people he hopes can gain enough profile in the next six months to have a shot at taking on the hard right who will coalesce around Suella Braverman when the next Tory Leadership contest starts.


As Sunak repositions his party, the question remains: will this 'reset' resonate with a public weary of economic distress and political turmoil? The evidence suggests not. Sunak's strategy may be new, but its success is far from guaranteed.


Will it work? No chance. Come November 2024 it will be Sunak himself looking for a new job.



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