The Tory grandee Lord Clarke said on Wednesday that it is time for Labour to win the next general election and give the Conservatives “a rest.”
Lord Clarke, who served as chancellor from 1993 to 1997, said that if he were given the opportunity to vote, he would support the Tories, reversing his decision to oppose Boris Johnson in 2019.
However, his comments are in keeping with the idea that the Tories should spend some time in opposition after recent infighting, which was put out by several top individuals and rejected by the Government.
When asked by Andrew Marr of LBC what he thought about Sir Keir being prime minister, Lord Clarke said, “Well I’d be disappointed, because if I had a vote – which as a peer I don’t – I would have voted for the Conservatives.
“But I’d feel as I felt when Tony Blair took over. I felt very angry because I was out of office, and the government, which I thought had a very successful economic policy, had been defeated.
He continued, mentioning Sir Tony explicitly, saying, “What I felt was that he was the person with the capability and personality to be prime minister and not disgrace the country.
“And it’s probably about time the social democrats had a turn and give us a rest.”
Last summer, in the height of the fierce fighting within the Conservative Party, Lord Patten and Lord Heseltine both said that a loss in the next election would really be for the best.
Lord Heseltine said in June that “there are divisions within the Conservative Party, which frankly – and I don’t like the idea – a lost election might do something to heal,”
Both Mr Sunak and Sir Keir could be taken seriously, but neither lacked “charisma,” according to Lord Clarke. He said, “If the British reject both of them [the major parties]… then the threat to our democracy is very high. I’m cheered up by the fact we’ve got Rishi Sunak facing Keir Starmer.”
He said that Richard Tice’s right-wing party, Reform UK, which is now polling at approximately 8% amid discontent among the Tory base, constituted an electoral “danger” to Mr Sunak.
“The centre ground is wanting to feel some confidence in the Government again, so Reform is a danger,” he said. “But don’t start making stupid point-scoring off the French speeches to try to win Nigel Farage’s voters back.”