The Tory mission has failed: British people dont want a smaller state

Logo The GuardianThe Guardian
2023-09-06 05:00:48  • 6 mins

There will soon come a moment, if it isnt reached already, when Conservatives fear losing an election less than they crave release from government. The shift is not always perceptible. Disheartened MPs quit quietly, letting their more pugnacious colleagues fill the airwaves, and even many defeatists put up some kind of fight out of collegiate solidarity and automatous partisanship.

In Downing Street, sustained failure generates the bunker mentality that is essential as a defence against despair. Marching resolutely towards defeat requires a dogged faith that the right policy, the right speech and a few lucky accidents can turn things around.

But the public face of that determination takes on a desperate hue. The prime minister defends himself in a tone of wheedling exasperation that barely conceals impatience with a nation that refuses to recognise the tireless work he is doing on its behalf. On camera, Rishi Sunak looks as if he is struggling to keep a lid on the same frustration that Gillian Keegan accidentally and in terms unfit for daytime broadcast spilled into a live microphone earlier this week.

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