How The Tories' Election Campaign Is Becoming More Desperate The Closer We Get To July 4

The scale of the party's looming defeat has sent it into full-on panic mode.
Rishi Sunak attends the plenary session of the Summit on peace in Ukraine, at the luxury Burgenstock resort, near Lucerne.
Rishi Sunak attends the plenary session of the Summit on peace in Ukraine, at the luxury Burgenstock resort, near Lucerne.
URS FLUEELER via Getty Images

With a little over two weeks until the general election, one thing is becoming more apparent every day. The opinion polls are not shifting and the level of panic in Tory headquarters is becoming more acute.

The first signs of this came last week, when Grant Shapps raised the possibility of Labour winning a “super-majority”.

Leaving aside the question of how that is different from a normal majority, the defence secretary appeared to be conceding that Keir Starmer is not on course to win, but to win big.

The Tory campaign was no longer about trying to get Rishi Sunak re-elected prime minister, but about trying to limit the size of the seemingly inevitable Labour victory.

Although the PM himself said all the right things about fighting for every vote, if anything, the Tory campaign has become even more desperate this week.

Responding to yesterday’s launch of Reform UK’s election manifesto, a Conservative spokesperson warned that a vote for Nigel Farage’s party could put Labour in power for a “generation” - widely considered to be at least 15 years.

Farming minister Mark Spencer doubled down on that outlandish prediction this morning by insisting Labour could be in government for 20 years if it wins on July 4 and then implements plans to give 16 and 17-year-olds the vote.

Shapps, meanwhile, who polls suggest is on course to lose his seat next month, conceded yesterday that a Labour victory was now “likely”.

Tory chairman Richard Holden got in on the act last night, raising the prospect of a “big Labour majority” in an attempt to scare voters into backing the Conservatives.

In yet another sign of desperation, the Tories are also rolling out Boris Johnson - who was forced to resign as PM in disgrace following partygate and the Chris Pincher scandal - in a last-ditch attempt to save some seats.

He has put his name to thousands of Tory election leaflets urging voters who backed him in 2019 not to desert the party this time around.

Responding to that development, Starmer told LBC this morning: “They started off saying vote Tory because they were going to win, then they said vote Tory because Labour’s going to win, now they’re saying something about Boris Johnson.

“Honestly, if you can’t even have a strategy that holds for six weeks, you really don’t deserve to win.”

According to The Sunday Times, senior Tories are urging Sunak to “go for the jugular” in the final fortnight of the campaign by being relentlessly negative about the prospects of a Keir Starmer government.

But speaking on his Political Currency podcast, former Tory chancellor George Osborne said that would be a “disaster”.

“He needs to just do what he’s doing, which is continue to show energy and enthusiasm and commitment and do the best he can,” he said.

“One thing I would not do is take the advice of various people in the Tory Party - terrible advice - which is to switch and become the lead negative campaigner for the Conservatives against Keir Starmer.

“That would be a disaster for the party but also a disaster for him.”


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