Unpopular Rishi Sunak in ‘doom loop’ as UK PM’s victory in doubt


NEW DELHI: Britain’s Conservative leader, Rishi Sunak, hasn’t delivered on important promises, and his popularity in opinion polls has dropped. He also caused trouble with a popular Adidas shoe. This makes it likely that he’ll lose the upcoming general election.
Even with two tax cuts and a slightly better economy, Rishi Sunak’s political luck hasn’t turned around.Criticism from Boris Johnson, the former Prime Minister, and uncertainty about Nigel Farage’s Brexit stance are only making things worse for him.
According to political scientist Rob Ford, Rishi Sunak appears helpless in the face of the seemingly unstoppable shift in political momentum away from the ruling Tories.
“When the herd moves, it moves. There’s not much you can do,” he told AFP.
Sunak, aged 43, has not yet revealed the election date. It’s expected that he will schedule it for October or November, but legally, he can delay it until January at the latest.
Surveys overwhelmingly indicate that Britons desire an end to the 14-year rule of the Tories, and nothing Sunak has done since assuming the role of Prime Minister 18 months ago seems to be altering their opinions.
A recent YouGov poll revealed that the Conservatives would only secure 155 seats in the UK Parliament, a significant decrease from the 365 seats they won under Johnson in the last election in December 2019.
The same survey found that Keir Starmer’s opposition Labour Party would secure 403 seats, resulting in an impressive 154-seat majority.
“Right now, it’s very challenging to envision how the Conservatives could stay in government after the next election simply due to the magnitude of the shift they would require,” remarked Keiran Pedley, director of politics at polling firm Ipsos.
Sunak took over from Liz Truss in October 2022 after Tory MPs ousted her following a tumultuous 49 days in office. Truss’s mini-budget caused turmoil in financial markets, leading to a decline in the pound and a surge in mortgage payments. Truss had succeeded Johnson, who was removed from office by his colleagues amid scandals, including allegations of illegal parties in Downing Street during Covid-19 lockdowns.
The chaos of the two preceding administrations has certainly hindered Sunak, but political analysts argue that he has also worsened his own situation by failing to fulfill promises and failing to resonate with voters.
Despite pledging to do so, Sunak has not halted the influx of migrants arriving from France on small boats. NHS waiting lists have increased since he took office. Economic growth remains sluggish, although inflation has decreased by more than half.
Rishi Sunak’s efforts to steer leadership and policy changes have not gained traction, with some initiatives like relaxing carbon net zero goals to appease drivers and addressing extremism failing to resonate. Analysts believe Sunak is struggling to find a game-changing solution, with public sentiment towards the Conservative Party hitting a low point.
A recent Ipsos poll disclosed that 58% of voters hold an unfavorable view of the Conservatives, marking a significant decline in popularity. Sunak’s personal favorability rating also took a hit, with a net score of minus 38, the lowest among all politicians surveyed.
Critics often point out Sunak’s disconnect with the average citizen, labeling him as “awkward and nerdy” and quick to appear defensive when challenged. In an attempt to bolster the party’s standing, Sunak has been actively engaging with voters across the country amid speculation of a potential leadership challenge following the upcoming local elections on May 2.
However, setbacks continue to plague Sunak, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson publicly criticizing his proposal for a comprehensive smoking ban and rumors circulating about the PM’s involvement in an AI fund post-election defeat, which Sunak’s spokesperson promptly denied.
Sunak found himself issuing a public apology to the Samba community after facing backlash for sporting Adidas trainers, leading to mocking headlines questioning his fashion choices. As political commentator Ford highlighted, the negative media coverage and public sentiment can create a detrimental cycle for unpopular politicians.
Despite the challenges, observers anticipate a potential shift in polling trends closer to the election day, with some moderate Conservatives likely to rally behind the party to prevent a significant Labour victory and maintain a robust opposition force.
With the focus now on minimizing damage and regaining public trust, Sunak faces a critical juncture in his leadership as he navigates through a period of heightened scrutiny and skepticism from both within and outside the party.
(With inputs from agencies)


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