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Fourteen years

The final Survation MRP poll of the UK general election campaign was published yesterday evening, predicting that the Conservative Party will secure only 64 Parliamentary seats. I don’t have much faith in that number—I reckon they will end up on three figures—but it is undeniable that the self-styled ‘most successful political party in the world’ may be losing its touch.

It’s less than three years since we were told that Boris Johnson—out campaigning for the first time yesterday—was preparing for a further decade in power, aiming to beat Thatcher’s longevity as Prime Minister. He’s now the last-but-one Prime Minister and seems likely to gain his third successor by the end of the week.

As it seems likely that the latest era of Tory government is finally limping to a conclusion, it’s worth reading William Davies in The LRB summing up the approach to government over the last fourteen years.

It is mind-boggling to contemplate that of those fourteen years, only three and a half were spent with a Prime Minister enjoying a majority they secured at a general election.

Of those, two and a half were achieved thanks to Johnson and Dominic Cummings installing the Vote Leave campaign in Downing Street, kicking high-profile Tory Remainers out of the parliamentary party, and then fighting an election on the single pledge to ‘Get Brexit Done’. That leaves just the single year Cameron enjoyed following the 2015 election, which he had fought on a promise to hold the referendum that ended his premiership.

It’s also startling to think that, in many ways, the most politically stable years were those between 2010 and 2015, with hardly any turnover of cabinet ministers despite—or perhaps because of—the fundamental challenges inherent to coalition government. If it weren’t for all that followed, we might reasonably conclude that an unstable foundation begets unusually stable government.

International politics looks set to cause some significant instability in the next fourteen years—indeed, in the next fourteen months—so goodness knows how our new Government will fare. On hope so much depends.

The image at the top of this post was generated by DALL·E 3.

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