Before April of this year, the Conservative party was thriving, beyond any expectations. Article 50 was triggered and Theresa May had a 20 point lead over her opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Yet, come June 8th, May’s dominating reign came to an end. The Tories had lost their slim majority, and the UK was heading for another hung parliament. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party had exceeded all presumptions, and he’d managed to regain the 32 seats previously lost in 2010. This result, however small it may have been, utterly changed the political spectrum within Britain, and indeed the wider world.
With the Brexit negotiations due to begin 11 days after the general election, the party elected needed to pull their socks up and prepare for the hardest period in UK history since World War Two. This party was the Conservative and Unionist party, but with a totally altered outcome. They were weakened, and 8 seats short of a majority government. This led to anxiety within the party, and additionally within the cabinet. The majority of party members wished for Theresa May to resign, blaming her for the worst campaign ever conducted by the Conservative party in decades. Moreover, her neck would become on the line during the upcoming Brexit negotiations, knowing full well that she needed every vote within Parliament to acquire the Brexit deal she desired. Still, the Conservative party received over 13.5 million votes, making it their largest vote share since the late 70’s. But this did not change Tory voters’ own perception of her leadership, with the thought of a lost majority still very fresh in their minds.
Alongside the approaching Brexit negotiations, the Conservative party additionally had to worry over the Queen’s speech, which, if failed to pass through parliament, would mean that there could be yet another general election occurring in Britain within the next few months. However, the Tories had a plan. A plan to secure their 5 year reign as a minority government, thus allowing them to execute Brexit with how they saw fit. It was called a ‘confidence and supply’ deal, involving the Democratic Unionist Party, led by the right-wing nationalist Arlene Foster, whose “guiding star” was the Union. Nonetheless, this deal came at a price, and an expensive one at that. £1.5 billion was required in order to secure a Tory government. This, unsurprisingly, caused uproar, with many arguing that this sort of money should be spent in essential areas within our society, such as the NHS and schools. Still, the deal was made, and the Queens speech was narrowly passed.
Nearly immediately after the election, pollsters began publishing the gradual decline in May’s popularity, displaying a 40% drop between April and June. May was in trouble, as was her party. The beginning of the Brexit negotiations did nothing to assist her approval rating, with many arguing that the government had ‘no plan’. In addition, the Grenfell tower disaster as well as several almost consecutive terrorist attacks illustrated her wobbly record as Home Secretary. With less police officers on the streets than ever before and nearly every tower block in Britain failing cladding tests, people were angry, and angry at the Prime Minister.
The Labour party’s reputation soon began regaining stability, with a new poll displaying a 3% lead over the Tories. The past few months have been difficult for Mrs May, to say the very least. With her cabinet in disagreement on nearly every Brexit issue, and other MP’s vowing to quit if taken down the wrong Brexit road, the Tories need a well-planned strategy if they hope to have any chance of winning the next general election. However, not all is lost for the Conservative party. With the next election set for 2022, they have time, and quite a lot of it. There are several clear ways in which they would have a chance of regaining their lost majority, and governing for another 5 years until 2027, but it will require funding, determination, and hard work.
First, the Conservative party would need to win support amongst youth, those who incredibly dislike the Tories for constant cuts and little funding, especially in regards to education and the housing crisis. The most plausible way in which this could be achieved involves university tuition fees. Instead of keeping the figure at over £9,250 per year, they would need to reduce this to at least £6,000 per annum, as well as bringing back maintenance grants to have the slightest prospect of gaining support amongst 18-24 year olds. This would prove to younger voters’ that the Tories are willing to reform, thus displaying credibility. Theresa May’s recent announcement of ‘freezing fees’ will not be enough, something blatantly obvious to myself and other students’. Mrs May needs to be broader in her policies, instead of suggestions which show no more than basic thinking.
Secondly, increased funding into public sectors such as the NHS and the police force would prove popular around the entire country, with almost all public servants criticising the conservatives consistent cuts to areas which require it most. Additionally, the public sector pay cap must be scrapped, in order to provide the very hardest of UK workers the pay rise they truly deserve.
Next, Brexit. After over 17 million people voted to leave the European Union last June, and more remainers now becoming optimistic about our exit, Brexit needs to work, and work for everyone. The deal must be right regarding the interests of all UK citizens. Unknown funding must end, immigration must be properly controlled and ECJ regulations should be passed into the hands of British judiciary’s. This is what people voted for, and what they are anticipating.
Lastly, and most importantly, Theresa May must be gone by 2022. The campaign she led this year was disastrous, a fact even her own colleagues are willing to admit. Support was lost for her cause due to poor leadership qualities, several u-turns and the repetition of the extremely frustrating phrase “strong and stable”. Nonetheless, It recently emerged that conservative members’ have called once again for her resignation, in order to “stop Corbyn”. This in itself demonstrates the height of Mrs May’s downfall. So, the Conservative party needs a fresh face, an experienced parliamentarian with a clean record such as David Davis, or a relatively unknown backbencher who has the potential to gather support similar to Corbyn’s unexpected success like Dominic Raab. Either way, if fulfilled, the Conservative party may be anticipating a return to number 10, rather than exiting through the back door.