UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is trying to bring the Tories with him to victory in the next election. He wants to appear as a man who dares to take bold decisions for the future. A major infrastructure project will not materialize.
Chung took over the leadership of the Tory party almost a year ago after Liz Truss was forced to resign after 44 days. Now he is trying to paint a bright future for the party despite the problems on many fronts.
The wealthy Sunak has drawn much criticism for his nearly 13 years of conservative rule in the UK. The financial crisis, Brexit, coronavirus, strikes and high energy prices have hit the British economy and welfare society hard. Sunak and his party are now accused of creating many of the problems he pointed out – including social security and the housing crisis.
The tax burden is high, the national debt and inflation have increased rapidly, and many are struggling to make ends meet.
A new poll released on Wednesday found that a third of 2019 Conservative voters see Rishi Sunak as “incompetent”. When all respondents were asked the question, nearly six in ten thought so.
Focusing on the main northern railroad – Sunak cleared the area north of Birmingham
Speculation over the future of HS2 – a major rail project beset by huge delays and rising costs – dominated the Conservative Tory party conference in Manchester. Inflation has skyrocketed the costs of major infrastructure projects.
In his first speech as prime minister to the Tory party conference, Sunak announced on Wednesday that the northern section of the planned HS2 train would not work. High-speed rail from London via Birmingham to major cities in the Midlands and Northern England will not extend to Manchester.
Sunak said he would cancel “the remainder of the HS2 scheme”, meaning everything already under construction outside the London-Birmingham area.
– The facts have changed and the Prime Minister has promised that every penny saved on the canceled section of the line will be used for other transport links.
The Prime Minister presented a series of alternative transport projects, saying these projects would offer better value for money and could be delivered quickly.
The aim of the HS2 rail link is to reduce journey times and allow more people to work outside of London. This planned rail link is a key part of the Conservatives’ 2019 election promises.
Anger at Sunak among local leaders and businessmen
Andy Burnham, the Labor mayor of Greater Manchester, has accused the government of not respecting people in the north of England.
– He told the BBC recently that many people in the Tory party feel the north of England can be treated differently to the rest of the country.
An expensive, unique infrastructure project
HS2 was originally proposed in 2010 and completed in 2012. The then Conservative Transport Secretary Justine Greening described the project as “the most important transport infrastructure project since the motorways”.
At least £22.5bn has already been spent on building the London-Birmingham section, while £2.3bn has gone into phase two, which includes land and property purchases. Around 30,000 people work on HS2, mostly in the supply chain. Many people’s lives and homes have been greatly affected by the scheme due to property purchases made along the planned HS2 route north of Birmingham.
Sunak’s speech at the party conference comes at a difficult time for the Conservatives, who have trailed Labor in the polls for more than a year.
“Difficult Long-Term Decisions”
Sunak tries to create an image that he is the only politician willing to take tough long-term decisions, even if the short-term decisions are not immediately popular, and the economy can benefit from it. He believes that the political system is too focused on short-term benefits and not on long-term success.
– Our mission is to fundamentally transform our country.
Sunak does not want to take any responsibility for the short-term focus of the last 13 years, and he believes the political system has not worked properly since the 1990s.
Sunak says he’s willing to be unpopular to push for change.
– I am willing to convince people that what I am doing is right.
How the party will fare in next year’s elections is a question mark.
Labor is turning up the heat – but still has to try to retain radical voters
A Conservative government must call a new election no later than January 28, 2025. Many observers believe that the election will take place already in the fall of 2024 or already in the spring. In the 2019 election, the Conservative Party won a landslide victory, winning 352 of the 650 seats in the Commons.
If an election is held today in Great Britain, a change of power is likely. Opinion polls show Labor has a clear lead over the Tories.
Labor leader Keir Starmer has been criticized for being so cautious that it is unclear what he really stands for.
When Starmer won the party leadership election in 2020, he promised to unite the party’s various phalanxes. With increasing support, Starmer gradually moved to the right.
Many members who were previously attracted to Labor by the party’s previous radical policies have now left the party, and no new members are coming in at the same rate.
Mr Starmer has previously talked about introducing a wealth tax, but that is out of the question today, and the Labor leader has not talked about raising income tax on higher earners or scrapping university fees.
Starmer has said that a Labor government will not be able to deliver the services citizens need until economic growth increases significantly. However, such growth will not happen quickly, and alternatives are few and far between – and taxes will have to be raised.
Labor now needs to get Tory voters to switch parties and win back voters in the north of England who voted Conservative in 2019. At the same time, Labor still needs to try to retain those who prefer a more radical policy.
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