Expect an election in the perfect storm of next year
By TruePublica Editor: It is becoming increasingly inevitable that there will be a general election next year. It will be driven mostly by bad news and how the country sees itself going forward. And if we thought voting for Brexit was big or for Boris Johson to get it done, wait until you see how important this one will be.
The bad news for Boris Johnson will keep piling up over the next few months. But wait until the winter gets a grip and when the cost of living crisis becomes just that – a real crisis at every level of society for at least one-third of all households across the country.
At the moment, Rishi Sunak is sticking to his guns and is not preparing to do much other than knock a few pence off a litre at the pumps. His contribution is likely to be not much more than £2 off 40 litres of petrol. For a typical driver doing average mileage that’s an annual saving of about £60 – and it won’t feel like the government is doing much to help because the price of petrol/diesel is much higher anyway – even with the tax fall.
The reality is that a perfect storm is heading our way. It started with the lingering after-effects of the bank-led financial crisis that cost the country hundreds of billions to save the suits in the City of London. Then we inflicted Brexit upon ourselves. That is already costing the economy the equivalent of a standard recession (about 4 per cent of GDP/£80 billion in lost turnover per annum). The pandemic has cost the state another £400 billion (so far) – the equivalent of about £4,700 to £6,100 per person in the UK. Now we have Russia’s attack on Ukraine just to add salt to these deep wounds to our overall falling standard of living.
By next week, one-quarter of all households will start to realise they just sank below the waterline.
Leaving aside rapidly rising base costs like food, housing and taxes – two and a half million households with children will be in fuel poverty once the new energy price cap comes into effect on 1 April, according to estimates from the End Fuel Poverty Coalition. That’s two in five households with children. For single parents, that number rockets to 50 per cent. By next week, one-quarter of all households will start to realise they just sank below the waterline.
The worst affected areas in Britain for this cost-of-living crisis is in the North. This is the same place where ‘levelling-up’ is supposed to make a difference. It won’t because there’s not enough money to achieve – no matter what they say.
Homelessness will hit the headlines. That’s a problem that can only be solved with homes. Rising poverty will as well, which will rapidly increase by mid-winter. Both need a holistic fully managed approach, not a gesture like a few pence off a litre of petrol. Just watch, for instance, how food banks, already greater in number than McDonald’s will explode even further across the country.
By adding up this perfect storm, it is evident that around half of all households will be pulling their belts in so tightly to feed themselves and keep warm – a recession will bite. Inflation will continue because it is driven by global tensions and shocks to supply-side economies. Real employment – the type that is full-time and permanent will fall. To confirm this position – over 100 British listed companies have already issued profit warnings.
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All the optimism of coming out of the pandemic this year will soon fade. The world we now live in is already a lot different to the one we lived in last year, let alone a decade ago. As we head into 2023, which is not so far away, it will be so bad, the Tory government will be wondering what their chances of staying in power really are.
The Fixed Term Parliament Act (FTPA) required that general elections take place on the first Thursday in May every five years. That Act is due to be scrapped by this government very soon but it has that backstop date of May, five years after the last election. The consequence is that the Tories will be planning an election as soon as they think they can win one. Or more like – the least chances of losing.
Since 1945, there have been 19 elections. In that 75 years (to Dec 2019), 47 per cent of them have been played out between April and June (inclusive). In those elections, the Tories secured two-thirds of the time in government (32% V’s 68%) so far.
Making the assumption that the FTPA is ditched – there is no possibility that the Tories will want to go all the way into 2024 only to be forced into an election that May – a time not of their chossing. I suspect, they’ll call an election earlier in Q3 next year. The winter will be over and the cost of surviving it marginally abated. The Tories will then be splashing their war chest built up (VAT on rising costs is raising tens of billions already) during the previous year to convince voters that they are the people to save the nation from never-ending dark clouds.
Then there is David Canzini. He’s the prime minister’s new deputy chief of staff and you’ll be hearing his name a bit more in future. Last week, he hinted to Downing Street advisors that preparations for an election next summer are on the cards. He reminded those present that Boris Johnson was ‘not out of the woods’ when it came to all the scandals that he and the party is emersed in.
Apparently, Canzini presented staff with a slide showing the government’s five main priorities. Unbelievably, Canzini said that delivering on Brexit was the number one priority. “If you don’t think that’s a priority you shouldn’t be here” he bleated. Behind that, Canzini said the cost-of-living crisis was limping behind as a second priority for electors, with the NHS, crime and migrant boats. If nothing else, this clearly demonstrates that, according to their data, core Tory voters and those in the red wall will remain loyal irrespective of the climatic conditions of the economy. It’s about Brexit first – according to them.
This is a miscalculation. Firstly, the effects of the cost-of-living crisis will be full-on by this winter but won’t abate. Incomes will not match inflation. Headlines will be negative – and there will be a lot of them.
Then there are the various polls right now suggesting that somewhere between seven to eight out of ten voters (depending on what you read) think the government is handling the cost-of-living crisis badly already – and it’s not bitten much yet, let alone fully. Conversely, only 19 per cent of voters think the government is handling the unfolding crisis well.
These polls suggest two-thirds of voters who backed the Tories in 2019 and nearly 85 per cent of those who voted Leave are not happy with this government right now. This is telling – perhaps a game-changer. Indeed, the latest polls on Brexit agree that if there was a referendum now – the tables would be dramatically turned towards ‘remain’ with only 39 per cent in support of Leave. Campaigning on Brexit shows what a mess Brexit really is – as if trying to convince us that it will, in the end, be our saviour. I don’t think the public will be conned on this again.
Think about that for a moment. Brexit is now not supported by anything like a majority. A recession is being caused by it. The Tories brought it, forced it then broke laws to push it through – and will soon push it again as the next big thing.
In the meantime – a lot of political pressure is now focused on the treasury where Rishi Sunak is being tested. He will no doubt look towards making popular tweaks in the months ahead to give the impression they are tackling the crisis in some way – but like fuel duty reductions – it won’t actually stop households submerging in debt or from becoming fearful of the post being delivered every day.
In the meantime, Sunak and Johnson will likely come to blows internally over what are the priorities that actually matter. No10 will want to be crowd-pleasing, of course. No11 has already shown there is no love lost between neighbours – adding to the chaos that is both political and economic. The new management at Downing Street (after the recent clear-out) has not increased morale or the back-stabbing environment that it was. Indeed, there are many rumours inside Tory circles that things are so bad inside the camp – that they simply won’t be ready for 2024, let alone next summer. But still, it’s next year or bust – because that is the reality.
All of this means an election where no one should be counting chickens. But one you can count on is that there will be an election next year, not 2024. By then, most of the Tories’ biggest chickens will have come home to roost. They were promises that will have been exposed as nothing more than bluff and frankly, devoid of any reality.
If Brexit decided our position in Europe and Boris Johnson was elected to get it done, this election is about defining who we are as a nation of people. The result will lead us in two completely different directions again.
This should be Labour’s big moment. Starmer’s message needs to be right on the bullseye. His vision for Britain needs to be clear. He needs to get his troops ready.