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Good day. I promised a more detailed set of thoughts on local elections once all the results are in, and that’s the subject of today’s story. As a consequence, my complaints about the Metropolitan Police coronation surveillancefor today at least.

With that said, I’m sure the topic will come back sooner rather than later. You can distract me by asking me questions about other newsletter topics in the comments below, or encourage me by the same route.

Inside Politics is edited today by Darren Dodd. Follow Stephen on Twitter @stephenkb and please send gossip, thoughts and comments to

conservative riddle

Roberto Shrimsley has written the final take on what the results of the upcoming election suggest: we are heading towards a change of government, but it is not entirely clear whether that government will be Labor only or Labor in alliance with some other party or parties.

If the last 18 months of this parliament play out according to usual trends, we are headed for an election that looks a lot like 2010, but with the roles reversed. In 2010, the Conservatives finished clearly ahead of Labor in both votes and seats, but did not win enough seats to win a majority.

What are the reasons to think that the trajectory could be broken? On the conservative side, it’s hard to see a plausible one. Ultimately, the biggest problem for Rishi Sunak is that many of the public policy challenges he faces cannot be resolved before the next election. sensible steps like increase the power of pharmacists, it may relieve some of the pressure, but not immediately. And the big picture of wages and prosperity is that either we are about to enter a period of wage growth that would be some of the best the UK has ever enjoyed, or the incumbent government will have political difficulties.

On the Labor side, the reason to think it could surprise to the upside is that this local election saw a lot of tactical voting between Labour, the Libdems and the Greens, and this will continue in the next election. I know whose shoes I’d rather be in.

And as Robert points out, these results are so damaging to the narrative that Sunak’s allies have tried to paint, of a rising party with a good chance of winning the next election, increasing pressure on the prime minister from within his party. . , not because of a change of leader but because of a change of course:

For all the noise from the dwindling and slightly ridiculous band of Johnson loyalists, there is no serious prospect of a challenge to Sunak’s leadership. But the demands for policy changes that he had managed to stifle will pick up again. The most obvious issue will be the demand for earlier action to reduce taxes.

Iain Duncan Smith has strongly criticized Sunak’s Chinese policy, while the prime minister faces calls to make it easier to build houses for some secondary MPs, such as Simon Clarke, and to make it more difficult for others, such as Theresa Villiers. There are calls to cut taxes and there are calls to increase spending, sometimes from parliamentarians themselves.

In China, Sunak’s problem is much less acute: Duncan Smith is ultimately the most aggressive of the Conservative Party’s Sinoskeptics, and there is, for the moment, no immediate danger there. In the long term, Sunak faces the challenge of being fairly close to the European mainstream on China policy in a party that is siding with the US on the issue.

In the short term, the difficulty is everything else. Part of the problem is that all of Sunak’s critics are right, as i said in our podcast this week. Clarke is correct that the areas that have moved towards the Conservative party are the ones that have built the most housing. Security of office remains one of the biggest predictors of a Tory vote.

But the likes of Villiers are right to say: if you build more housing in the south of England, the first people to buy it will be inner-city people who will mostly take their politics with them. A big part of the Conservative Party’s problem in the South is that the UK has done a better job of building and upgrading transport links than it has of building houses. Crossrail increases the distance people can live from London and still work in the capital. There is electrification of some railways which increases the commutable area of ​​many other Labor cities. And if he builds more in Tory areas, the first buyers will be Labor voters who will leave, who will vote Lib Dem or Labour.

And it’s also true to say that part of the Tory coalition feels overstretched and angry and part feels they need more public money and is therefore angry. Any choice Sunak makes here is going to upset someone.

shameless self promotion

My column in today’s newspaper. is discussing the casting of Cleopatra and what it reveals about the global politics of race and ethnicity around the world.

now try this

I saw How to blow up a pipe, a tense heist thriller inspired by the nonfiction book of the same name, at the theater last night. It really is very good: not as good as The Cairo conspiracymy runaway pick for best thriller of the year in its current form, but a very good one indeed.

If you can get a showing while it’s still showing this week, you should. Otherwise we have a excellent interview with the director of the film here.

Today’s best news

  • blood money | The compensation bill for those affected by the NHS tainted blood scandal it could hit £10bn in a further hit to UK public finances.

  • creators message | British manufacturers have called on ministers to stop “changing course” and urgently develop an industrial strategywarning that the absence of a long-term plan is holding back growth and hurting the UK’s competitiveness.

  • transportation problems | Rail passengers face further disruption this week as two transport unions launch a new wave of strikes in a long dispute with the train operators and the government.

  • sewage smell | Britain’s privatized water and sewerage companies paid £1.4bn in dividends in 2022, up from £540m a year earlier, according to an FT analysis, despite rising household bills and a wave of public criticism over wastewater dumping.

  • moderate or die | Recent history demonstrates the need for Sunak conservatives to rediscover moderation in time for the general electionPhilip Stephens writes.

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