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2nd November 2022

A moment for reflection and reconstruction: Liz leaves, Sunak starts

The tumultuous end of Liz Truss’ brief premiership, and the unmandated start of Rishi Sunak’s gives us a moment for reflection and reconstruction in British politics
A moment for reflection and reconstruction: Liz leaves, Sunak starts
Photo: PxHere

The British Political landscape is in a period of turmoil. This much is apparent to all people affected by the decisions of Westminster. Liz Truss has stepped down as Prime Minister just 45 days into her premiership. The Conservative Party had reconfigured its Cabinet with Kwasi Kwarteng being released from office. Suella Braverman followed suit mere days later by standing down. This is too much change in a shockingly short period.

Historically, a party popular enough to win such a majority would have nearly half a decade to implement their desired policy. So, where has it gone wrong?

In times of 24 hours newsreels, dynamic desires, and dopamine-infused Tik-Tok trends which last hours, consistency has become anachronistic. As a society, it feels that we have become apathetic to stability. This begs the question – has the British political tradition also succumbed to this volatility? After 12 years in office and five Prime Ministers, it would appear so for the Conservatives.

There are a growing number of sceptics around the legitimacy of another Conservative PM. From forces within the Commons, such as Labour Leader Keir Starmer, to various external journalists and commentators. Parliamentarians appear to want to usurp their corresponding superior or achieve greater success than their predecessor, even if that is hardly an accomplishment given the recently short roles in respective offices.

It’s no coincidence that Michael Gove, who spent much of Truss’ brief premiership sniping from the backbenches, has found himself promoted back to cabinet after her downfall. This is evidently not in the spirit of a unified front.  Although, with an understanding of procedure and process – the Conservatives are entitled to remain in power. But, after making such dramatic changes since their election victory, what mandate do they have?

The public already has reduced faith in the British political system. Rishi Sunak, who lost to Truss mere weeks ago, surely fails to secure a rightful claim. After all, he was defeated in his first attempted ascension. Now Sunak has entered into office without a vote from the Tory membership. With his technocratic style a far cry from Boris Johnson’s pomp and populism, which secured the mandate back in 2019, questions will remain about what right to rule he has.

Yet the Conservatives, although in a shambolic situation, surely understand that to succumb to a general election would be to decimate their majority in the Commons. It would be utterly sacrificial to not use the remainder of their term to salvage their reputation with respect to their voting base. However, the calls from the sidelines of “what mandate?” will only grow with each difficult decision they inevitably have to undertake.

Damage control, paired with further preventative protocols, seems like the only possible Tory agenda left. Thus, two more years of political stagnation could be an entirely realistic prognosis for Britain.

For the opposition, this period should therefore be based firstly on reflection, and secondly, on reconstruction. A time to concisely reconfigure the motives and agenda of the Labour Party. With polling highly favourable towards Starmer’s party, he could seize the initiative, and offer the opportunity to enact real social change should he be the next PM.

With the possibility of two years to determine a manifesto that could be implemented with widespread endorsement, the Labour Party has the opportunity to rectify the contemporary crisis by opposing the “growth at all costs” narrative of the Conservatives. A deconstruction of the existing system is necessary. Rather than letting the country slide towards the intense polarisation that is occurring in global politics, such as in the US and Italy, Labour has the opportunity to unify the people of Britain.

This does not necessarily involve being reactionary and attempting to appease all the disjointed motives. Rather, it means it can correct the causes that forced the social justice movement of Just Stop Oil, who have taken their activism to the streets and galleries of London. It can amend the housing crisis taking place nationwide. Tackle the widespread mental-health epidemic. Create an energy project that would prevent the possibility of the current predicament – which is in such disarray that blackouts may occur this winter.  This is only to name a few of the areas in which Labour could create real change, change that would benefit the nation as a whole, and which would not alienate a large proportion of the population.

It is not asking for revolutionary action against the fabric of parliamentary politics, it is the opportunity to enforce positive ideals to the core of politics.

These opportunities, which may have appeared as only a dream under the current Conservative Party, can be realised. It will require the Labour Party to be stable. Ideological segregation within the party is natural, agendas will inevitably vary. But, if the Labour Party is to learn a lesson from the last decade of British politics, it is that stability is vital.

Although the world can feel as if it is moving at an unprecedented rate, politics must evade falling too far into a state of continuous change. For what can be done if the premierships of our Prime Ministers last mere months? Who can deliver the righting of these many wrongs if the party in charge cannot even decide on a leader, let alone a coherent agenda?

With time, it will become apparent whether Labour, in its current form, is able to use this time efficiently. An election could come before Christmas, thus speculation is almost futile at this point. Although, not even that can keep up.

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