After a calamitous week, the only good news for the beleaguered Prime Minister is that inflation has dropped below 5%, one of Rishi Sunak five policy targets. Even that is qualified by the fact that it needs to be maintained over three months to be certain. Also, the fall in inflation is largely because of a significant reduction in energy and dairy costs which are due to global factors rather than government action.
Nevertheless, the election will largely be won and lost on economic factors, and if the indicators continue to improve for the next year the election might be tighter.
However, as things stand Labour just need to stand back and watch the Conservatives tear themselves apart. It is often said, and it is true, that the Conservatives are the most successful political party in the world. However, when they decide internal point scoring is more important than winning elections, they do it in a spectacular manner.
In the 1990s we had the Maastricht rebels who helped to bring down John Major, now we have Suella Braverman launching an attack on the Prime Minister’s integrity and policies unparalleled in its savagery. Oh! for the mild days of Geoffrey Howe’s broken cricket bats speech which marked the beginning of the end for Margaret Thatcher.
Following the Supreme Court’s ruling on Rwanda, Braverman and her friends are determined to make immigration, second only to the economy at the next election. Former Cabinet Minister Simon Clarke has said stopping the boats is a confidence issue. The implication is that if Sunak fails to deliver, he could face a leadership challenge.
That is ominous because whatever the government do now with a new treaty with Rwanda, changing domestic law or even, unforgivably leaving the European Court of Human Rights won’t stop the boats. The refugee issue presents a massive challenge for the prosperous West with no easy answers. It is propelled by millions of people suffering from violence, poverty and climate change seeing our lifestyle on their mobile phones and wanting to come here. Only political stability and aid to solve those problems in Third World countries will solve it. I acknowledge that is easily said and has little prospect of being achieved, but it remains the truth.
It has been such a week that I only now come to the return of David Cameron. Even though he was responsible for the worst political decision this century in permitting a simplistic yes/no vote on our membership of the European Union, it was, on balance, a good move by the Prime Minister to bring in what is called a Big Beast. For too long the government has been populated with inexperienced or reckless ministers. With Cameron at the Foreign Office and Cleverley at the Home Office, it is a better look.
We now move on to the Autumn Statement where the Chancellor may use a windfall £13bn to ease stamp duty or business taxes. The Conservative conference and the King’s speech has failed to dent Labour’s poll lead. The number of dice available to be rolled are getting fewer.