DAILY MAIL COMMENT: It’s time for Rishi Sunak to get on the front foot
In 1974, Tory prime minister Edward Heath went to the country with the election slogan: ‘Who Governs Britain?’
Sadly for him, the voters took one look at Britain, plagued by strikes, social turmoil and economic slump, and emphatically replied: ‘Obviously not you, chum!’
He was dumped from office, ushering in a disastrous Labour administration under which inflation peaked at 25 per cent, the wheels of industry seized up and the top income tax rate soared to 83 per cent (98 per cent for investment income), crushing growth and productivity.
The situation is nowhere near as dire today. But as we look around at the political vacuum into which this country is being sucked, Heath’s question takes on a new relevance.
People are beginning to wonder whether anyone is governing Britain at all.
There is a creeping barrage of damaging strikes across the public sector. People-traffickers send wave after wave of illegal migrants across the Channel with impunity. The unreformed NHS sucks in ever more cash for a worsening service.
DAILY MAIL COMMENT: The Prime Minister has been puzzlingly muted. He has many fine qualities but, if he is to have any chance of winning at the next election, he must find his Tory voice.
British workers are groaning under the heaviest tax burden since the Second World War. They deserve a lot more for their money than this slow-motion car crash.
Since the disastrous decision to topple Boris Johnson, the Conservative Party has been dangerously fractured, with rebellion constantly in the air and ministers seemingly locked in a state of paralysis.
Yesterday’s utter confusion over onshore wind farms is a prime example. Does Rishi Sunak still support a moratorium? Would such farms be allowed if locals supported them? If so, what level of support would be required? Who knows?
Dithering over how to deal with the eco-zealots of Just Stop Oil also demonstrates this lack of resolve.
Dithering over how to deal with the eco-zealots of Just Stop Oil also demonstrates this lack of resolve. Pictured is a Just Stop Oil protest on the M25 on November 10
Having previously glued themselves to various arterial roads and scaled motorway gantries, they brought London traffic to a halt yesterday with slow protest marches on busy roads.
Instead of immediately moving them on, the police gave them an escort. Why?
Yes, they have a right to protest, but what about the right of the rest of us to go about our lives without being inconvenienced by a tiny bunch of single-issue obsessives? Who speaks for the long-suffering majority?
Then there is the issue of private schools. Sir Keir Starmer has committed Labour to removing their VAT exemption, a spiteful move which would raise fees by 20 per cent, pricing out all but the wealthiest parents.
Why is Mr Sunak not passionately making the case for private schools? Not only are they beacons of excellence and aspiration, they educate many tens of thousands of pupils from diverse backgrounds who would otherwise have to be paid for by the state.
For Mr Sunak is just about the only asset the party has right now. Though polls show Labour way in front, he is still more admired and trusted than Sir Keir
On this issue, as on many others, the Prime Minister has been puzzlingly muted. He has many fine qualities but, if he is to have any chance of winning at the next election, he must find his Tory voice.
For Mr Sunak is just about the only asset the party has right now. Though polls show Labour way in front, he is still more admired and trusted than Sir Keir. This is his glimmer of hope.
But the hard work starts now. The Budget was a body blow to the strivers of middle Britain. He must prove their hardship will ultimately be worth it by articulating a positive, prosperous Conservative vision for the future – on all fronts.
He must defy the Remoaner establishment and capitalise on the enormous potential of Brexit, galvanise the recalcitrant Whitehall Blob into action and convince voters he has a coherent plan for recovery.
No more timidity. No more vacillation. It’s time to get on the front foot.
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