2023 in Review: Stasis and stagnation
Activity but no change, the year the Tories wasted
This week I’m running a special sale on paid subscriptions. Click below to get 10% off your first year as a subscriber.
The Tories arrived in 2023 hoping for a change in fortunes. 2022 had been a year of chaos, scandal and mounting economic challenges. Sunak hoped to provide stability and correction. In part, he has succeeded in this. He has, at least, avoided a leadership challenge, but beyond that, he has seemingly simply replaced decline with stasis. For both the party and the country, the outlook is pretty similar and all the worse for it being twelve months later. A year of everything and nothing.
If you’d not looked at the polls for the intervening twelve months, you’d have missed little. The Tories sit almost exactly where they did a year ago, floundering in the mid-twenties. Labour have dropped back a bit, on course only for a thumping majority rather than a one-party state. Talk of honeymoons and fightbacks in the spring came to nought.
The same is true of major policy problems. It was reported this week that the housing market faces a politically lethal combination of stagnating sales and rising rents. Inflation is falling, but not especially quickly and that does not dampen the effects of prices that are already locked in. Negative growth in the last quarter sets us up for a potential recession. Public services are deteriorating, with waiting lists rising, councils going bankrupt and other bits of the realm fraying.