The Tories could be headed for electoral disaster in by-elections this Thursday. But the Labour continues to go back on its own promises in order to stay as favourable to the bosses.
Three by-elections— in Uxbridge, Selby and Somerton and Frome—could end in defeat for Rishi Sunak. Uxbridge, Boris Johnson’s old seat, was held with a small 7,000 majority.
Some leading Tories hope they can cling on due to outrage with London mayor Sadiq Khan’s plans to expand the ultra-low emission zone charges to outer London. But others know that anger at Johnson, and wider fury at the spiralling cost of living crisis, could see the Tories booted out.
“In Uxbridge, the expectation is that the Conservatives need to keep Labour’s majority down—not that they will win,” Tory peer Lord Hayward told The Independent newspaper.
Labour is also confident in Selby, North Yorkshire, where Tory MP Nigel Adams resigned after being denied a peerage. A Labour victory here would be a record-breaking, as it requires an 18-point swing.
And the Lib Dems are looking to take Somerton and Frome, despite its 19,000 Tory majority. David Warburton left the south west England seat after allegations of cocaine use and sexual misconduct.
Leading Tories are treating the by-elections as an unofficial mid-term election before the general election next year. Losses in all three seats would spark and even greater crisis for Sunak, who has battled cracks and splits within his party since he took office last October.
And with Wednesday bringing the latest inflation figures, Sunak will be scrambling to make it seem like he has control both over his party and the economy. But while the Tories face more crisis, Labour leader Keir Starmer is once again marching rightwards.
For starters, Labour now says it won’t axe the two‑child benefit limit, with Starmer saying Labour is “not changing that policy”.
Shadow work and pensions secretary Jon Ashworth said last month that the policy was “heinous” and it was “absolutely keeping children in poverty”. Yet Starmer made it clear last weekend that Labour would keep the policy. And he was then backed by senior figures in the party.
But just last week Starmer committed Labour to breaking the “class ceiling” holding working class children back in Britain. In the same speech he refused to commit to funding free school meals for children.
One shadow cabinet minister set expectations low, saying, “We can’t end child poverty unless we have more money to do it—and that’s not going to happen, frankly, in the first term of a Labour government.”
Starmer claims it’s worth “ruffling feathers” within his party to win the next election to keep his “central promise” of changing Labour to make it “electorally viable”.
But his version of electoral viability and what working class people actually need are worlds apart.
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