An Open Letter to Rishi Sunak
This is the ONLY card you have left to play
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Dear Prime Minister-
I know people in your team and many MPs read this Substack each week. I hope they will forward this to you.
I’ll cut to the chase.
You are languishing some 21-points adrift of Labour. At by-elections, you have suffered some of the biggest swings against any governing party in history.
Your party is weaker than when you took over as leader and prime minister, in 2022.
Your coming election defeat will be heavy and historic. It will likely be worse than 1997. Your party will probably be reduced to its lowest number of seats since 1906.
You will lose every single seat in the Red Wall. You will be chased out of not just northern England but the big cities, the university towns, and the commuter belt.
The post-Brexit ‘realignment’ of the Conservative Party, which handed your party a huge majority of eighty seats at the last election, will be blown apart.
The blue-collar workers, the non-graduates, the Brexit voters and the northerners are running for the hills.
You will soon have nowhere to go. You will have alienated the liberal left in the cities and you will have lost cultural conservatives everywhere else.
You will also be forced to watch Labour return as the dominant force in Scotland, making it much harder for your party to win majorities in the future.
In turn, your party will be thrust into a very long, very messy, and very bitter civil war from which it might take decades to fully recover.
This is why many of your MPs are restless and divided, which is compounding your problems. They can see what’s happening in seats up and down the country.
You’re not even holding half the people who voted Conservative at the last election, in 2019. You are haemorrhaging support on three flanks at the same time —to the Labour Party, to the insurgent Reform party and, most of all, to apathy.
Close to one in three of your 2019 voters now say they won’t bother to vote at all. And while Reform is already averaging 11%, with support from one in four of your 2019 voters, my polling suggests 16% of people would consider voting for it.
This revolt on the right, in short, will only grow over time. Especially if we have another hot summer with lots of small boats and especially if Nigel Farage returns one month out from the election.
Your party’s brand is also completely toxic. It is the political equivalent of Prince Andrew. You are leading a party which has sucked up all the negativity and chaos of the last fourteen years —Brexit, Boris, Cummings, Partygate, Liz Truss, inflation, the worst cost-of-living crisis since World War Two. All of it.
And your own image is not much better. Your ratings have continued to slide. Only one in ten voters think you have been a good prime minister. They consistently prefer Labour’s Keir Starmer over you. And they do not trust you to manage the top issues facing the country —the economy, immigration, the NHS.
I run focus groups with voters all the time. The blunt reality is they don’t really know who you are. They don’t know what you believe. And they don’t know how you want to change the country.
What they do know, what they do believe, what they do feel in their gut, is that Britain is heading in the wrong direction, that the future will be worse than the present and the present is already worse than the past, and it’s time for a change in Westminster.
You are now on the wrong side of this zeitgeist and like most incumbent leaders since the onset of inflation you look set to be thrown out of office.
So, with the clock ticking, what should you do? How do you turn things around? How do you prevent disaster? How do you outflank Labour and deliver one of the biggest election shocks in history? And how do you go down in the history books as the only leader to ever lead their party to a fifth consecutive term?
I’ll tell you how.
If you want stand even a chance at the looming election you’ll need to find a way of doing five incredibly difficult things at the same time.
You’ll need to squeeze the Reform party.
You’ll need to give all those apathetic Tories a reason to re-engage with you.
You’ll need to reconnect with the post-Brexit realignment because, to be blunt, the cities, the university towns and the liberal shires have all turned against you.
You'll need to give all these people a very compelling, a very credible, and a very clear reason for turning out to vote for you.
And you’ll need to distinguish yourself, Rishi Sunak, from your predecessors in a far more forceful way than you’ve managed so far.
You’ll need to make it clear to the British people, in other words, that you genuinely represent something different —a different kind of politician, a different politics, a different kind of bond with the British people, a different future for the country.
So, how do you do all this?