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  • K Rooney

Is the Conservative Party Finished?

After 14 years in power, five Prime Ministers and trailing by 20 points in the polls, K Rooney asks if it is over for the Tories as a political power in the UK

Photo: The Independent

The Conservative Party, historically one of the UK's two major political forces, is facing an existential crisis that has prompted speculation about its future viability. After a series of electoral defeats, internal divisions, and shifting public sentiments, many are asking: Is the Conservative Party finished?


Recent local elections have delivered a stark message to Conservative leadership. The party suffered significant losses, ceding ground to Labour and the Liberal Democrats across the country. This electoral setback comes on the heels of May’s local elections, where the Conservatives experienced their worst performance in decades, losing a whopping 474 seats and 10 mayoral seats.


The decline in support can be attributed to multiple factors. Economically, the cost-of-living crisis and the government's handling of post-Brexit trade negotiations have left many voters disillusioned. Additionally, the party has been criticised for its response to the housing crisis, with many young and middle-aged voters feeling left behind by policies perceived as favouring the wealthy.


"Recent local elections have delivered a stark message to Conservative leadership"

Leadership turmoil has further compounded these issues. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s controversial policies and public gaffes have alienated moderate voters and failed to unify the party’s disparate factions. Sunak’s decision to snub heads of state (including USA, Germany and France) at the D-Day ceremony in Normandy, is a bigger and more appalling gaffe than even Gordon Brown’s description as a member of the public as a “bigoted woman” in 2010. The recent defection of several high-profile MPs to other parties, citing dissatisfaction with the party's direction, has exacerbated the perception of a party in disarray.


Culturally, the Conservatives face a generational divide. Younger voters, who tend to prioritise issues like climate change, social justice, and progressive economic policies, are increasingly aligning themselves with Labour or the Greens. This shift has led to a perception that the Conservative Party is out of touch with the modern electorate.


Political analysts suggest that for the Conservatives to survive, they must undergo significant reform. This might include a leadership change, a reevaluation of policy priorities, and a more inclusive approach to addressing the concerns of younger and more diverse voters. "The party needs to reconnect with the grassroots and present a vision that resonates with today's Britain," says Professor Mark Thompson of the London School of Economics.


However, some within the party remain optimistic. They point to historical cycles of political revival and insist that with the right leadership and policies, the Conservatives can regain their footing.


The coming months will be crucial. The Conservative Party’s ability to navigate its internal divisions, respond to public concerns, and present a compelling vision for the future will determine whether it can reclaim its place as a dominant force in British politics or be relegated to a diminished role on the sidelines.


As it stands, the question remains open. Is the Conservative Party finished? Only time will tell, but one thing is clear: the path ahead is fraught with challenges that will test the resilience and adaptability of this storied political institution.


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