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Issue 263 Editorial: Britain Needs a General Election Now

By this weekend, the UK will have had two different monarchs and three different prime ministers in a greatly tumultuous eight weeks. The premiership of Liz Truss was, in a word, shambolic, not only sending the UK into internal turmoil, but thrashing its international standing, both economically and politically. While Ms Truss’s resignation was a welcome first tilling of the soil, we must dig deeper and get to the root — the Conservative party has proved it is no longer able to effectively provide even adequate administration for the UK.

Rishi Sunak’s ascent to leadership marks yet another prime minister chosen without a general election. Since 2019, the Conservative party has demonstrated a lack of competence as well as consistent deviation from the values they were elected upon — economic proficiency and institutional respect.

The farcical premiership of Boris Johnson marked a departure from the latter value — partygate, in which 10 Downing Street was found to have hosted several parties during 2020 and 2021, breaching the Covid restrictions which were prohibiting such gatherings. This disrespect of the restrictions along with his refusal to accept accountability for his own wrongdoing and hypocrisy crumbled any authority he previously held.

The former value — economic proficiency — was completely ignored by Ms Truss. The mini-budget, delivered against the backdrop of an ongoing cost of living crisis, led to a steep fall in the value of the pound sterling. This led to a stark increase in government borrowing. Beyond just the mini-budget, she also showed a rejection of the system of checks and balances. She and former Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng undermined the Office for Budget Responsibility, the central bank, and the civil service.

The Tory party has shown itself to be unfit to lead. Beyond its clear incompetence obvious to those outside the party, it is also fraught with internal strife. There is a clear lack of intraparty harmony, the sole source of unity being a paralysing fear of a general election.

Mr Sunak does not offer much hope for a stable Britain either. Since his ascension to the premiership, BoJo loyalists have stated he will face an “ungovernable” parliamentary party. These stark supporters of the former prime minister viewed him as having undermined both Johnson and Truss, stating he is not to expect loyalty.

Beyond this, Mr Sunak’s plan for Britain involves aggressive tax rises and cuts on public spending. With a growing number of British people struggling to pay rent, feed their family, and heat their home, these ideas are not at all what the country needs. The priority of the government should be providing aid to these people.

The polls show support for the Tories is at the lowest it's been in over three years, at 21 per cent. Comparatively, Labour is way ahead with 53 per cent. The tumultuous crisis of Brexit, a whirlwind of prime ministers (each with less public support than the next), and intraparty disjointment and rebellions have proved the Conservatives cannot provide a stable government.

It is time the people, not a miniscule number of Tory party members, choose who is to lead us back to a thriving Britain. A general election is needed now.

Note: this editorial was written Monday, 24 October.

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