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Opinion

Cleansing rain falls on a Tory-free Wales this morning

05 Jul 2024 4 minute read
Ousted Tory MPs: Fay Jones, Virginia Crosby, Craig Williams, David TC Davies, Alun Cairns, Simon Hart, Stephen Crabb

Ben Wildsmith

Out, damned spot! Cleansing rain fell on a Tory-free Wales this morning after the UK acted in concert to evict the party not only from power, but from the national conversation.

After five years that saw us enduring hardship and upheaval that has changed us forever, the driving emotion of this election result was revulsion.

For people bereaved during the pandemic, homeowners whose mortgages have soared,
people suffering from cuts to a range of public services, and those whose pensions have been devalued, governance since 2019 has seemed like abuse.

At the very time when wise and gentle leadership was needed, the Conservatives offered irresponsible, callous politicians whose personal behaviour often reflected the public decline they oversaw.

Many chose not to face the electorate at all, standing down before the public could issue its verdict. Those who remained, including the inconsequential Rishi Sunak, didn’t so much campaign as cower through the last six weeks, bracing themselves for their just desserts.

The result is less a political decision than it is a trauma reaction from voters whose decency has been outraged and who needed to be seen.

Unprecedented

Refreshing as rain can be, though, it doesn’t provide a backdrop for a new day in the nation’s mood. A disciplined Labour campaign saw the party achieve an unprecedented majority without significantly increasing its share of the vote.

Many of its gains were the result of the Tories haemorrhaging votes to Nigel Farage’s Reform UK. You Gov published a poll this week of people’s reasons for voting Labour.

48% responded that their motivation was to remove the Tories, a further 13% because the country needed a change. Only 5% of respondents cited approval of the party’s policies as their reason.

It’s far from clear what the party intends to do in office for many people, me included. A vague manifesto and a front bench that lacks many recognisable figures leaves the party with a huge mandate but no defined mission.

While the public is clear that it demands sensible behaviour, the result offers little insight into how voters want the country to change.

Labour’s support in this election is so broadly drawn that some of it is likely to evaporate as soon as policies are announced. It’s not possible to govern for the equal benefit of traditional voters in the Valleys, for instance, and those in English constituencies that previously voted Conservative as a matter of religion.

Something will have to give, and which way Starmer’s government leans will have far-reaching consequences.

Unified

In France, Emmanuel Macron moved into the centre ground from the left and tried to cohere the nation around traditional economics and cautious social reform. Labour will be eyeing the results on Sunday’s French election to see if managerial polish is, in fact, enough to stabilise a nation that is unified in dissatisfaction with the status quo.

With anti-Tory sentiment the overwhelming factor in today’s result, it may transpire that second places and shifts in vote share reveal more about the nation’s feelings than the headline figures.

Reform’s 13% is significant enough to demand attention but also evidence that Farageiste populism doesn’t cut the mustard for mainstream right-of-centre voters.

Subtract Farage himself from the equation and, for now at least, there is not a base for radical conservatism in the UK.

Nature abhors a vacuum, however, so if Starmer’s Labour steps into the huge Tory-shaped hole on the right of UK politics, the Lib Dems, Greens, and Plaid Cymru have the momentum to grow exponentially on the left.

The SNP, paradoxically, have squandered that position by underperforming in office. Labour should be taking notice of that, too.

Decency drove last night’s result. Voters lashed out at its scarcity in the Conservatives and signalled their approval for it in the Lib Dems, Greens, and Plaid Cymru.

The recent machinations of internal Labour politics suggest they may be disappointed in that regard when it comes to Labour but, for now, Keir Starmer has a clean slate and a mandate to draw up a new UK. We’ll all thrash out the implications of that when he gets started.

Today, let the rain wash away the stench of 14 years of disgrace. On that, for once, we can all agree.


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hdavies15
hdavies15
9 days ago

Cleansing ? Hardly cleansing is it when one type of muck gets swept out only to be replaced by another blend of Unionist effluent. Give it a few months and the stench of patronising colonialism will be just as offensive to those whose sensory capability is still functioning.

Cwm Rhondda
Cwm Rhondda
8 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Independence is the only long-term option for a happy, prosperous equal Cymru.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
8 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Ha! your back…working under cover eh!

First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin…LC…

hdavies15
hdavies15
8 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

I return……again,….. and again,…. and again ! Hiding in plain sight, but kept away from politicians who won’t bother with likes of us when there are no elections to contest. Good to know you are keeping an eye on people, MM. Will recommend you for elevation to Urdd y Werin when it’s created, much nicer than Chuck Windsor’s gongs.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
9 days ago

With the lack of will to implement any policies that will deliver the changes most people need, Starmer’s honeymoon period is going to be cut very short and before long he will become increasingly unpopular. As far as Wales is concerned, now is the time for Plaid Cymru to start really ramping up on Labour’s failure to deliver for the people of Wales. It needs to be approached as an early start to the next Senedd elections campaign, eroding and undermining support for Labour wherever possible: basically doing what they do well in the areas they currently represent, only doing… Read more »

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
8 days ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

Agree. Plaid needs to start campaigning now for the next Senedd election undermining Labour at every turn. The Labour party, represented in the Senedd, are such bad news. They have given us the worst NHS and Education system etc in the UK while the apaulling behaviour of Gething beggars belief. Wales deserves better.

Che Guevara's Fist
Che Guevara's Fist
9 days ago

I’m guessing Plaid are now the official opposition in the Senedd?

Morfudd ap Haul
Morfudd ap Haul
8 days ago

The makeup of the next Senedd could be quite surprising.

Steve George
Steve George
8 days ago

No.

Steve George
Steve George
8 days ago

I hate this “tory free” narrative. Wales is far from Tory free. The Tories got the 2nd highest number of votes in Wales and, combined with Reform, the right got almost as many votes as the Labour party. It deludes us into thinking that Wales is uniquely, and somehow virtuously, immune to the enticements of Reform and the right of politics. It is nonsense! In case anyone forgot Wales voted *for* Brexit. It also deludes the National Party into thinking that Labour in Wales can best, perhaps can only, be beaten from the left. Make no mistake, Plaid needs to… Read more »

TBLM1957
TBLM1957
8 days ago
Reply to  Steve George

Someone observed in type (I forget where, it’s been a hectic week), that there are now no Toriy MPs in Oxfordshire, so Tory voters must have been lending their votes left right and centre to express displeasure with the party they have supported for years, if not a lifetime So no, Wales isn’t exceptional in that regard. .

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
8 days ago

Like the characters from a fever dream disassembling and reassembling into the cast of Fear and Loathing in Lost England or East of Eaton for their time in the House of Horror Show…

The choice of leader still contains the absolute worst of the worst…

The adult version of Lord of the Flies…

John Ellis
John Ellis
8 days ago

Cleansing rain fell on a Tory-free Wales this morning after the UK acted in concert to evict the party not only from power, but from the national conversation.’

That depends on where you were. Here in the north-east we awoke to glorious sunshine, which, as my son observed, seemed rather appropriate!

adopted cardi
adopted cardi
8 days ago

the blue piano is clapped out. So instead of getting a new one they repaint it red. Same old music. We won’t get any decent tunes coming out of it, but at least we are rid of the old eyesore anyway – ie tory politicians. Maybe those who recognise treachery, as personified by the likes of the old and new leaders in London, and so didn’t vote, had the best idea, although it doesn’t bring us any further forward. A bit of hope – a well tuned Green piano being wheeled in here and there, whether in Ceredigion or North… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
8 days ago
Reply to  adopted cardi

They should have stuck drawing pins in the blue note hammers and belted out some Blues…Memphis Slim RIP…

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