Paul Sweeney: We don’t need another Tory Prime Minister, we need a General Election

It’s over. Liz Truss’ time as Prime Minister is done. The lettuce won.


Her claim to fame will be that she somehow managed to crash the UK economy in record time during the shortest tenure as Prime Minister in history.


It turns out her tax-cutting, deregulating, Brexit-embracing agenda was too much for the markets and even for the Tory party. Quite a feat.


It would be amusing if it wasn’t so serious; if the stakes weren’t so high, and people’s lives and livelihoods didn’t depend on the occupier of 10 Downing Street possessing at least a modicum of competence.


As a Labour politician it would be easy to gloat, be smug and hope the political instability continues, but that would be foolish. For too long, party interest has been put before national interest; that’s what got us to this point in the first place.


And that is precisely why the revolving door at the top of the Tory party can’t continue to spin unimpeded. With Rishi Sunak’s coronation complete, we have now had three Prime Ministers, four chancellors, four home secretaries and three foreign secretaries in the past four months. All of them a result of Tory incompetence, ineptitude, and infighting.


That would be a derisible chronology of events in a banana republic - for it to be happening in the UK is unforgivable.


When Boris Johnson was unceremoniously ejected from Downing Street, kicking and screaming as he went, the public should have been given a say in who steers the ship through the choppy economic waters we face.


Instead, Liz Truss was foisted upon us and look how that went.


You could be forgiven for thinking that lessons would have been learned; that the Tory party couldn’t possibly think it acceptable to impose another Prime Minister on the country without seeking a mandate in a General Election. Sadly, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Once more, we have had a Prime Minister imposed on us. This time with even less scrutiny, less accountability and legitimacy. At least Truss had the backing of 80,000 Tory party members, Sunak has the backing of less than 150 Tory MPs.


The need for a General Election has never been clearer. Our country is on the precipice of economic armageddon, of social collapse and, if the Tories get their way, of culture war.

To try and resolve any of them without a mandate from the public is as unthinkable as it is untenable.


It becomes even more untenable when you consider the context of the past decade.

A decade in which the Tory party embarked on a brutal austerity agenda that punched down on the weakest and most vulnerable; a divisive Brexit referendum that brought internal Tory divisions into the public realm, and a botched Covid response that saw hundreds of thousands die while billions of pounds was wasted and lost to fraud.


Yet the same people responsible for a decade of chaos want us to believe that they are the ones to fix it. It’s akin to an arsonist burning down your house and then telling you that they can rebuild it while the ashes are still smouldering.


The fundamental question that needs to be addressed is whether we need more of the same, or whether we need a fresh start? I know which option I would choose, and with polling suggesting that two-thirds of people in Britain want a General Election, I know I am not alone.

As we face a prolonged and extended period of turmoil, the stakes could not be higher and the bare minimum the public can expect is to have a say in who leads us through that difficult period.


It seems unlikely that we will get that opportunity, after all turkeys don’t vote for Christmas. Yet that basic democratic deficit illustrates perfectly why we need a change.

At present, the country is being held hostage by a rump of Tory MPs that refuse to give you a say in a General Election for one reason only - a fear losing their seats.


Warm words about compassionate conservativism will do nothing to dull the pain of more austerity; no amount of perceived economic competence will reverse the damage done in the past couple of weeks; and all the spin in the world won’t hide the basic fact that this is another Tory Prime Minister we didn’t vote for.


That is why we need a General Election.


It’s not just about removing the Tories from office, but about restoring trust in politics.

Restoring trust that can only be earned through the ballot box by convincing the public at large that your ideas and your character make you the right person to lead the country.

Anything less than that is inadequate; a democratic deficit that cannot be overlooked and one that will see the Tory party punished by voters at the next available opportunity.


As a party, our position couldn’t be clearer. Labour stands ready to fight a General Election.

We will fight that election with an unequivocal promise to restore trust, competence, credibility and compassion to politics. To put the national interest ahead of party interests, and to put working people at the heart of our policies.


That is what this country deserves, and that is what you get with a Labour Government.

Unfortunately, it’s exactly what you don’t get with this current Tory Government.


You can see the original column on the Glasgow Times website: Paul Sweeney: We don’t need another Tory Prime Minister, we need a General Election | Glasgow Times