Why are the Tories struggling to connect with voters? It’s the economy


Plenty of theories have been devised to explain why the Conservatives are struggling.

Is it because Boris Johnson was dethroned? Is it because Johnson wasn’t dethroned quickly enough? Is it because public services have worsened? Is it because immigration has grown? Is it because Rishi Sunak is out of touch?

Perhaps the simplest explanation is the classic one – it’s the economy.

Since the global surge in inflation, which squeezed living standards and caused interest rates to rise, governing parties around the world have seen their popularity drop.

That is why the Prime Minister is delighted that a forecast increase in inflation failed to materialise yesterday, and is keen to avoid confirmation of a recession today when figures on GDP growth are published.

There is no doubt the economy is getting better. As Andrew Bailey said yesterday, interest rates will soon start to fall. But can it get better quickly enough to help Mr Sunak at this year’s general election?

Let’s see: In the past week Labour has certainly been doing its best to give the Tories a helping hand, with embarrassing public rows about a green spending U-turn and fresh allegations of antisemitism.

There is tentative polling evidence that some voters are now turning against the Opposition. But a survey of 18,000 people broken down by constituency, which was released yesterday, reminded us all that Labour remains very much on top: it suggested that the Conservatives would be left with just 80 seats if an election took place immediately.

There is no real prospect the Tories will face that sort of epic wipeout. But to avoid a heavy defeat, they will need a lot more nuggets of economic good news.

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