‘A Radical Reset’

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In late May, just six weeks before the election, British Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that he would introduce a National Service plan to allow young people to “gain valuable skills, make our country more secure and build a stronger national culture.”

The reaction was fierce.

“Does (Sunak) want us to vote for him?” wondered Mathew Matos Gillingwater, 22, as reported by the Washington Post. “Is he trying to get ousted?”

Whether that is Sunak’s intention or not, it’s likely on July 4 when Brits go to the polls that he will be out, along with his party, which has governed the island country on the edge of Western Europe for 14 years. Ironically, Sunak called a snap election to energize his base in the hope that he might receive a mandate to retain power.

Regardless, voters are fed up with the Conservatives’ handling of the economy, which has been stagnating. Sunak’s predecessor, Liz Truss, said her policies would be innovative and liberating, but instead caused turmoil, earning her ousting in 2022, as the BBC explained. Sunak has struggled to improve the mess he inherited, mitigate the arguably insurmountable trade problems associated with Brexit – the European Union is the United Kingdom’s biggest trading partner – or release a plan to revive the moribund British economy. Instead, Brits are extremely cynical about their future, according to Gallup.

Meanwhile, recent allegations that he presided over officials betting on the timing of the election based on their inside information has further undermined the prime minister’s chances at winning at the polls, reported Al Jazeera.

“(The scandal fueled) the perception that we operate outside the rules we set for others,” Michael Gove, one of the Conservatives’ highest-profile lawmakers, told the Times of London. “That was damaging at the time of Partygate and it is damaging here.”

Sunak also failed to create a campaign infrastructure that could capitalize on the energy that a snap election might generate, argued World Politics Review. Meanwhile, his personal messaging, like when he describes the racism he and his family have experienced in the UK as South Asians, as the Guardian described, probably won’t be enough to persuade sufficient voters of his fitness for the job.

King Charles III is likely to be happy with the change in personnel: On issues like climate change, housing, immigration, and relations with the EU, the monarch is almost certainly more sympathetic to the man expected to replace Sunak: Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer, the New York Times wrote.

Starmer is a center-left moderate who models himself after former Labour titan Tony Blair, in office from 1997 to 2007, contended Politico. Like Blair, Starmer has pledged economic stability, improving the public healthcare system – where delays can be heartbreaking – adopting a “tough but realistic” stance on migration, and similar middle-of-the-road proposals.

Starmer, who called for the end of the monarchy in his youth but accepted a knighthood in 2014, would describe himself as a socialist and progressive, University of Sussex political sociologist Luke Martell wrote in the Conversation. But he has purged the Labor Party of the leftists allied with his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn’s militant political network, incidentally, has found a new home in the Palestinian solidarity movement in the UK, according to Middle East Eye.

Other past faces are back from the dead, such as Nigel Farage and his Reform UK party. The party may only win a very small number of seats, but nonetheless is drawing a very significant tranche of support from former Conservative voters disaffected with the current government, and by splitting the vote will cost Sunak’s party dearly, Politico noted.

Meanwhile, some of the most stalwart supporters of the Conservatives over the past decades, including the Times of London, the Sunday Times and the Financial Times have endorsed Labour.

The Sunday Times said in an editorial that the country needs a “radical reset” after 14 years of Conservative rule and that the country could not carry on with an “exhausted” party. “There comes a time when change is the only option.”

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