Skip to content
By Jim Hancock

By Jim Hancock

Huge Gamble

In his latest blog, Jim thinks the Prime Minister has taken a huge gamble in calling a General Election whilst the polls remain so strongly against him.

To throw yourself on the mercy of the voters, when you are 20% behind in the polls is a colossal gamble. You wonder when the Cabinet met on Wednesday afternoon whether any ministers said to Rishi Sunak “are you mad?”

For 18 months the polls have shown a solid and persistent lead for Labour. That meant one thing, people had made up their mind and weren’t listening to the various attempts by the Prime Minister to shift opinion.

The campaign didn’t get off to a great start. Standing in the pouring rain with a protester’s amplifier blaring out the New Labour anthem “Things Can Only Get Better”, the PM looked a bit hapless. So why has he risked it now rather than waiting until the autumn when there could well have been a summer of improving economic news?

A major factor must have been the dramatic fall in inflation to around 2%. That is an achievement, but it will take a while for mortgage payers and shoppers to feel the effects. Also, it is by no means certain that the Bank of England will cut interest rates on June 20th. Will reduced inflation be enough to restore voters’ confidence that the Conservatives can be trusted to run the economy? That was always their ace card over Labour. The chances are the damage has been done and Sir Keir Starmer (to the frustration of the left of his party) shows no sign of launching reckless spending.

Was there also a fear that during the long summer months, a calm English Channel would provide an opportunity for an endless stream of boat people with the Rwanda scheme shown not to be a deterrent. Going early might allow the government to get a few flights off with a claim that it will be too soon to draw conclusions on its efficacy.

However, I come back to the huge gamble that Sunak has taken. One thing this surprise announcement cannot affect is the most difficult political challenge of all when the electorate feel it is time for a change. Before the 1997 General Election, when I was interviewing the then Prime Minister, John Major, he kept telling me about the improving economy. I told him I heard him, but suggested there came a time in the political cycle when it didn’t matter when people thought it was time for a change. His pause before he fell back into a predictable answer said it all. I could see in his eyes that he knew I had a point.

The Tories have been in power for a long time. Do you remember that day in May 2010 when David Cameron and Nick Clegg announced the Conservative led Coalition? Having defeated Scottish independence, Cameron foolishly believed he could repeat the trick with the Brexit Referendum. His failure plunged us into chaos as Theresa May tried to find a solution that reflected the narrow vote. She was deposed by the dishonest Boris Johnson who delivered Brexit and trashed our reputation in the eyes of the world. Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, we had the Truss interval. Rishi Sunak is a man of integrity but not a politician and his decision to go to the country in these circumstances proves it.

Downtown in Business

Not another one!

The Blackpool South by election will be the eleventh in this parliament caused by Tory MPs being thrown out for sleaze or walking off the job. Jim reports on this sad saga. He also reflects on fifty years of local council shakeups and the birth of Piccadilly Radio!

Read More

The storm before the storm

Check out Jim’s comprehensive preview of next week’s local elections. While the Conservatives face hundreds of losses, the Gaza crisis poses problems for Labour in Lancashire and Rochdale.

Read More

Slow reply to Sunak zinger

Jim thinks Keir Starmer was slow off the mark in rebutting the Prime Minister’s £2000 Labour tax rise claim. He also looks at the big constituency boundary shake up in Cheshire and Lancashire.

Read More