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UK politics

Don’t bet against the Tories

Starmer with Corbyn in 2019: enabling extremism? Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty

A fifth term for the Tories would be undeserved, says Janan Ganesh in the FT, but it’s also “underpriced”. First, don’t assume either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak will lead the Conservatives into the next election. Both could prove incapable of dealing with the crises heading Britain’s way. Second, a recession “need never be fatal” for a right-wing government: questions about how the left will fund their “Jerusalem” become “more potent, not less”, when revenue dries up. The Tories, after all, were re-elected after recessions in 1983 and 1992 but not “amid a boom” in 1997.

And then there’s Labour. It’s not enough to purge the hard left, as Keir Starmer has capably done. The soft left is a problem too. It is the bit of Labour “that enabled extremism while never espousing it”. Starmer himself asked Britain to make Jeremy Corbyn prime minister in 2019; Ed Miliband, “who enfranchised the hard left in the first place”, is still in the shadow cabinet. Making Corbyn leader was a “unique dishonour” that will take a lot to live down. If you are seen as left wing and want to be considered a moderate, you must “oversteer” to the right to end up somewhere in the middle. So if Starmer wants to get to No 10, “he has to upset the soft left. He has to upset himself.”