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Will Sleaze and Partygate see Boris Johnson’s ‘magic’ fail in local elections?

Exactly a quarter of a century ago today, I campaigned in my constituency in North Sheffield after 18 years of suffering in opposition for my party.

And tomorrow, 25 years ago, I joined the Department of Education and Employment as Secretary of State.

Tory backbenchers have the power to seal the Prime Minister's fate ahead of the next election if they sense his magic waning

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Tory backbenchers have the power to seal the Prime Minister’s fate ahead of the next election if they sense his magic waningPhoto credit: AFP

Those were heady days when Tony Blair appeared outside the Festival Hall in London and announced: “It’s a new dawn, isn’t it?”

For the students I teach today, those early years are ancient history.

But next week they will get an indication of whether history will repeat itself.

Britain goes to the general election on Thursday when 6,800 council seats are up for grabs.

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It will provide the first indication of whether Boris Johnson can defy political gravity and lead the Tories to another general election victory.

Many good councilors could lose their seats because of national issues – it’s a personal tragedy for them.

But we’re barely two years away from the next election, and it’s an opportunity for voters to express their views on their current political leaders.

John Major was in a similar position to Boris Johnson two years before the historic Labor landslide of 1997.

The Tories had been in power for 16 years and his government was riddled with filth.

The public gave their verdict with a town hall massacre that cost 2,000 Conservative councilors their seats, while Labor won 48 per cent of the vote, a record high for the party in local elections.

On Thursday, voters will undoubtedly voice their opinion on 12 years of Tory rule – not to mention the dispute over Partygate – and give the clearest signal as to whether they might be ready to give Johnson a second term.

No one will be more excited about the voting patterns than Tory backbenchers, who have the power to seal the Prime Minister’s fate ahead of the next election when they sense the Bojo magic waning.

The greater Thursday’s losses, the more his position is under threat from his own MPs.

The cost-of-living crisis, the Chancellor’s family tax affairs and the aftermath of Downing Street’s lockdown parties have at least made Labor feel like the stakes are high.

The last time Labor came to power, they challenged a government on its knees.

And what are we facing today? Cabinet ministers issued firm orders, a backbench watching porn in the House of Commons.

Without pretending that this is some sort of referendum on Boris Johnson’s government, the outcome of Thursday’s vote will matter.

Not least because Conservative MPs will consider whether this is the moment when they should oust Boris Johnson.

Many will continue to argue that they should await the final outcome of the Metropolitan Police’s Partygate investigation and the long-awaited report from Chief Officer Sue Gray.

Others will test the waters in their constituencies to see how deep the disenchantment runs.

For what it’s worth I believe they won’t trade.

Uncertainty about who would take Boris Johnson’s place and how much better they would do will remain in the hands of many.

In light of Thursday’s results, you’ll only be wondering: has his electoral magic gone for good?

  • Lord Blunkett was Labor MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough from 1987 to 2015 and held three senior cabinet posts as Home Secretary, Education Secretary and Works and Pensions Secretary.
Lord Blunkett was Labor MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough from 1987 to 2015

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Lord Blunkett was Labor MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough from 1987 to 2015Credit: Alamy

https://www.the-sun.com/news/5238872/sleaze-boris-johnsons-magic-local-elections/ Will Sleaze and Partygate see Boris Johnson’s ‘magic’ fail in local elections?

DevanCole

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