Tactical voting, somewhat akin to India’s Mahagathbhandan against the ruling party, may damage the Tories.
It may have been all doom and gloom if the triple whammy that the Tories feared most had come true in the byelections last week. Before the consolatory straw of a win in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat once held by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson came, albeit with a thin majority of 500 votes, it appeared as if the next general elections would be Sir Keir Starmer’s to lose — so certain did defeat for the Tories seem.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak may have brought his party some breathing space with the knowledge that 2024 is not a write-off yet and that there is much to battle over. The Uxbridge result may have proved how unpopular green measures for a cleaner environment can be when they are introduced as it was London Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan’s ‘Ulez’ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) scheme of fining old vehicles with an entry fee for polluting the metropolis that proved Labour’s undoing.
Labour did take away a lot more from the results as the Yorkshire vote in the Selby and Ainsty seat was an overwhelming win and the biggest numerical Conservative majority overturned since 1945 as election statistics pointed out. Not only did the Tories suffer defeat in the north but also saw the Lib Dems come to life with victory in Somerton and Frome. The Tories under Sunak are likely to face two major opponents with Labour and the Lib Dems looming as two parties capable of ending the long Tory run.
Tactical voting, somewhat akin to India’s Mahagathbhandan against the ruling party, may damage the Tories. It does not help that Sunak’s approval ratings have been plunging so much as to stray deep into negative territory, at minus 20 in the last count. It appeared anything he did could be construed as negative, including his family, with young children, picking Barbie to view at the local cinema even as the ‘Barbenheimer’ debate rages between fantasy and portrayal of harsh realities in Hollywood’s twin release last week.
The 2024 polls are ‘no done deal’ Sunak insists though, in the face of the rising cost-of-living index crisis that Britain faces, they are likely to be the biggest challenge to the Conservatives after Boris Johnson led them to retaining power, riding ‘Brexit’ to victory in 2019. UK’s PIO Prime Minister bears the burden now of keeping the Tories afloat in electoral politics even as the hustings loom.