2017, 2010, 1997: Why Sunak faces three prime ministerial problems all at once

By Lord Ashcroft

My new research report, out today, is titled They Think It’s All Over. This is not (only) an attempt to find a topical link to the World Cup. It encapsulates our finding that even if Rishi Sunak and the government manage to make progress on the huge challenges facing Britain, the electoral battle they face could be even tougher.

Sunak faces problems that were familiar to three of his Downing Street predecessors. No two elections are exactly alike, but the precedents look ominous. And unlike Theresa May, Gordon Brown and John Major, Sunak faces all three of them at once.


The 2017 problem – the broken coalition

In 2015, David Cameron assembled a coalition of the willing behind his long-term economic plan to restore order to the public finances, successfully selling austerity under the promise “we’re all in this together”. Two years later Theresa May struggled to hold together this alliance (which had included many middle-class who voted Remain in 2016) and to attract enough recent Brexit supporters (many of whom were suspicious of the Tories, not least because of austerity) (more…)

They Think It’s All Over – Can The Tories Turn It Round?

By Lord Ashcroft

This article was first published in the Mail on Sunday

Ask a group of people who’ve previously voted Tory about what they felt when they heard Rishi Sunak was to become PM and the chances are someone will say “relief”.

There are plenty of doubts – about his ability to empathise with voters given his family’s wealth, his role in Boris Johnson’s downfall, and some of the Covid bailouts he unveiled as chancellor – but many welcome the return of some sanity to politics and sense to the public finances.

Yet in footballing terms, the Conservatives find themselves three goals down with the clock ticking. The scoreline is made up entirely of own goals (though Johnson, the former captain, still claims one of them never crossed the line). A late substitution seems to have put the Tories back in the game and gives a glimmer of hope for extra time. How likely is that, really?

The fact that basic competence now feels like statesmanship of the highest order is surely a bad sign. My latest research shows how voters are seeing things.