The disintegration of the Tories is happening “faster than the Conservatives feared and Labour dared hope”, says Adrian Wooldridge in Bloomberg. Politicos are circulating a “Portillo list” of leading ministers in danger of losing their seats, including Grant Shapps, Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt; there are even rumours Hunt won’t contest his seat at the next election. After the by-election “double defeat” last week, where the swings against the Conservatives were both over 20 percentage points, some Tories want the party to “turn hard right” on issues like tax and immigration. And sure, that would help neutralise the threat from Reform, the successor to the Brexit Party. But it would also push many moderate voters over to the Lib Dems, since they “don’t feel the same need” to keep Labour out of power as when Jeremy Corbyn was in charge.
Rishi Sunak, whose polling after a year as PM is “brutal”, has hardly helped things, says Tom McTague in UnHerd. “Going to Manchester to cancel a train line to Manchester doesn’t suggest a particular proficiency in the fine art of winning people over.” But blame needs to be shared among the entire recent run of Tory leaders. “We have never been as badly governed as we have over the past 13 years.” Living standards have never grown so weakly over such a sustained period. Taxes have risen to their highest level on record; public services are a shambles. Structural problems, like regional inequality and the “productivity slump”, have gone untouched. “There is no law that says we must accept decline,” David Cameron declared before he took over from New Labour in 2010. His party seems to have done so anyway.