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Tory party deep divisions

Mike McCartney

29th September 2022

It is something of a truism that the electorate don't reward fractured parties at the ballot box

And this article about a widening chasm opening up between Tory backbenchers and the front bench in response to last Friday's "mini" budget is an opportunity to think about the short to medium term factors that decide the outcome of elections.

The modern electorate, as probably all Politics students are aware, are inclined to cast their vote according the rational choice model. The twin anchors of partisan and class alignment still heavily shape decisions by voters at the polls, but they don't decide the outcome. It is decisions by the vital swing voters that ultimately determine what the colour of the door at Number 10 will be painted.

As such, it is the 4Ps that matter: past performance, the party leader, and future policies, and we are looking at a fourth 'P' here for party unity. And so, as things stand, it doesn't look too good for Liz Truss as PM.

As the Guardian reports:

"Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget will prove “politically toxic and economically dubious”, Conservative MPs have said as they lambasted the extra £72bn of borrowing needed to pay for swingeing tax cuts that will disproportionately benefit the very wealthy.

“I’ve never known a government that has had so little support from its own backbenches, just four sitting days in,” observed one MP.

The normally ebullient benches that roar behind a chancellor as they make a fiscal statement to the Commons were more hushed on Friday. Several present said few order papers were waved and there was only a smattering of comments of “hear, hear”, allegedly orchestrated by party whips.

“I completely despair, because I’m a member of a party that stands up for the squeezed middle not the very rich. This will be politically toxic and economically dubious,” said another MP present for the statement."

See the full story here.

If students are new to studying Politics, it should be noted that for a new PM to crash and burn so spectacularly so early in a premiership is fairly unprecedented, and unless something remarkable happens, she has played right into Keir Starmer's hands. As the Chinese say, may you live in interesting times.

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

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