The Tories tearing themselves apart is giving Sir Keir Starmer a free run - Bill Carmichael

Listening to the Conservative Party these days is a bit like living with a house-full of hormone-driven, self-indulgent, bickering adolescents - the drama is never ending.

Instead of the foot stamping and door slamming you can typically expect from the teens, our Tory politicians provide ceaseless threats of rebellion, not-so-secret plots to oust the Prime Minister, pavement press conferences, anonymous briefings, clandestine meetings, backstabbing and intrigue.

This seems to have been going on for years, and surely I am not the only one who is thoroughly exhausted by it all.

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There was even talk earlier this week of yet another leadership vote - and the election of yet another Prime Minister - and threats of a February general election. Have they all gone stark, staring mad? Have they seen the state of the polls?

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer gives a keynote speech marking the four-year anniversary of the 2019 election. PIC: Jacob King/PA WireLabour leader Sir Keir Starmer gives a keynote speech marking the four-year anniversary of the 2019 election. PIC: Jacob King/PA Wire
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer gives a keynote speech marking the four-year anniversary of the 2019 election. PIC: Jacob King/PA Wire

One thing you could normally say with certainty about the Conservative Party in the past was that they were serious about doing what was necessary to gain power. Indeed, that is precisely why we’ve had a Tory government in power for about 65 of the last 100 years.

You’d never catch the Conservatives picking a no-hoper like Jeremy Corbyn, and they were absolutely ruthless in ditching a leader if he or she became an electoral liability.

But that desire for power, and the steely discipline required to deliver it, seems to have been abandoned by the Conservatives in recent months, and now they spend most of their time fighting each other like ferrets in a sack.

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Rishi Sunak is, no doubt, a decent man, and at the Covid inquiry this week he put up a very impressive defence of the government’s performance, but it is beginning to look as though he can’t keep the fractious tribes of his party united. Perhaps nobody can.

It is hard to escape the conclusion that they know the game is up and they are manoeuvring for the blame game after what is starting to look like an inevitable defeat at the next election.

Perhaps not just a heavy defeat. Some pundits are suggesting the wipeout could be so catastrophic as to destroy the Conservatives as an electoral force for good, although I think this is unlikely.

Not that I detect much enthusiasm for Sir Keir Starmer and Labour among the general public, and the left of his party positively despise him more than they hate the Tories, largely because of his treatment of Mr Corbyn, who has been banned from standing for the party next time around.

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But given the self-destructive behaviour of the Conservatives, Starmer’s dullness and lack of sparkle doesn’t matter too much. He doesn’t have to do very much other than watch as the Tories tear themselves apart. As Napoleon Bonaparte said: “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”

If Labour does form the next government we can expect higher taxes, soft policies on crime and open borders. The problem for the Conservatives is that they have been delivering pretty much identical policies as these for the last 13 years.

As for the Rwanda policy and the issue of immigration I believe the establishment blob - the Supreme Court, the unelected House of Lords, activist lawyers, the civil service, academia, much of the media - are playing a very dangerous game.

There is clearly a demand widespread among the public for better control of immigration.

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This is hardly surprising with net immigration hitting a record of 745,000 a year putting immense pressure on housing, schools and health services.

But every effort by the government to control the numbers is thwarted by endless legal challenges, leading to frustration and anger.

And the big danger here is that if the democratic will of the people is continually blocked by unelected activist lawyers, that anger and frustration will find ways of expressing itself that none of us want to see.

Even more frustrating is that the Rwanda scheme has a good chance of deterring illegal small boat crossings. We know this because a very similar scheme introduced in Australia almost a decade ago reduced illegal boat crossings to zero in about two years. If it worked so well in Australia, why wouldn’t it work here?

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Although the government scored a comfortable victory in the Rwanda Bill vote in the House of Commons on Tuesday, there is a long way to go, with further challenges likely by Tory rebels, the House of Lords and the judiciary.

Whether we will ever see a single illegal migrant sent to Rwanda still remains to be seen.

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