Fortunately, the next UK General Election is a long way away. It is scheduled to be held on Thursday 2nd May 2024, in line with the Fixed-term Parliaments Act. Nonetheless, presuming Covid restrictions fade by the end of 2022, there are certain predictions that can be made even now.
Despite by then 14 years of Tory rule, Labour has little hope of winning a majority under Sir Keir Starmer in 2024 because Jeremy Corbyn’s legacy will still be a substantial weight around Labour’s neck. The major problems faced by Starmer are the following:
- Too many Labour MPs are Corbynites – the Tories will simply spotlight the truth that too many Labour MPs, many in frontline shadow roles, are unfit for government and, however competent the new Labour leader, they are merely using him as a backdoor to get into government. Thereafter they will stage an internal putsch and Corbyn 2.0 shall be launched. There is enough evidence around already to make such a case to British voters – Labour’s hard left dinosaurs leave footprints around like diplodocuses rather than micro raptors.
- Starmer has little control over the machinery of his party. Labour’s NEC is dogged by hard left apparatchiks who will not cede power to Starmer’s centrists. Don’t expect any rapid change in the Labour party without structural reform, which would result in a split of the party. Therefore, Starmer, again, can be truthfully portrayed as mere Trojan Horse – those who control the Labour party can attempt, once Labour wins an election, to take Downing Street by swiftly engineering his removal once he gets the keys to Number 10.
- Labour’s starting point is dire. Last December the Labour Party won 202 seats, its lowest number and proportion of seats since 1935. So, doing the maths it seems likely that Labour will need a coalition government involving the SNP. As the old saying goes, a vote for Labour will be a vote for the SNP – a slogan that wins elections for the Tories. The SNP may be popular in relatively tiny Scotland, but they are vehemently disliked elsewhere in the UK. Voters simply won’t risk an SNP-Labour alliance.
- Likewise a Lib Dem alliance seems far-fetched. The Lib Dems lost momentum with the coalition and with their endless remoaning – there is little sign that any of its MPs could align with Labour, especially not Sir Ed Davey. Davey says he has 80 Tory constituencies “in my target range” and “the maths” of the UK’s voting systems needs Lib Dems to win – he is right but the reality on the ground is that he’s in a titanic struggle to muster any kind of popularity.
- Antisemitism in Labour’s ranks hardly seems to be going away.
- Starmer’s Marxist past should rightly haunt his attempts to become PM.
- More is made of the weakness of Starmer’s record as DPP than it should be. Frankly it is a pointless waste of Tory effort claiming that Starmer was responsible for Savile (he wasn’t) and the perpetuation of grooming gangs. DPP is a thankless role that the public tend to be rather grateful for anyone doing.
Meanwhile Boris can do what he wants – to a degree. But losing the red wall would be a great shame. Allowing Sturgeon to prosper would be a disservice to the union. Not implementing a long-term recovery plan post Covid would be dumb. While not opening up Britain post-Brexit to all the opportunities of Brexit would be an election-losing betrayal.
Even a week is a long time in politics, but it seems the greatest threat to a Tory win in 2024 comes not from Starmer as some predict – it comes from the possibility of more government own-goals and errors. Boris, despite the constant stone-throwing from remainers and those getting enervated by Covid, is a lucky prime minister who could be around, if he plays his cards right and rediscovers his mojo, for many years to come.