Sunak’s Rwanda Fiasco


By Russell Bruce

Sunak has doubled down on his ‘flagship Rwanda policy’ tied to the mast of a sinking ship. For an administration with many ministers the offspring of immigrants who came here on a boat the policy and the determination to push his policy to its limits flies in the face of rational political thinking. For the far right it does not go far enough, but the moderate One Nation Tories are also unhappy as it attempts to pick and choose what bits of Human Rights it will seek to ignore. A policy is either compatible with the International Human Rights Law (OHCHR) or it is a pick and mix of bitter sweets that does not belong in a democracy.

The costs of Sunak’s Rwanda deal are mind blowing and economic lunacy. So far the UK has handed over £240 million with a further £50 million in the pipeline for sending up to 200 people on a flight to Rwanda. That is a cost of £1.5 million for every person – if actually sent. Should this actually happen Rwanda would have its hand out for any increase in numbers. The prospects for Sunak’s legislation getting though are considered 50/50 which is probably optimistic.

Sunak has been driven to an unworkable strategy by his right wing who dislike his administration pandering to the centrist views of those on the same green benches. The policy is a hangover from the Johnson administration, which would seem an ideal reason to drop it, but he has failed due to those hard right votes that have messed with the administrations of his predecessors from May to Johnson to Truss. The result of a tired and terminally conflicted party is probably worse now than under his predecessors. Staring armageddon in full frontal mode is the defining analysis of a Tory affliction in total self-destruct implosion.

What the polls that don’t always agree say

Where a party’s support is coming from is what polling analysis indicates. Broadly speaking across Europe there is a move to the right by the working class. Recent UK polling shows large numbers of working class voters moving to Reform, mostly men, or deciding they will not vote. This worries Tories in Red wall seats – and indeed Starmer’s Labour. In the South of England Tory concern is former Tory voters will vote Lib Dem. The relatively better off and better educated are more likely to vote for centre and left parties than the working class. Hence the dilemma Tories face- heads or tails it is lose lose.

Yet strangely the polls are shifting slightly with the gap between Labour and Tories narrowing from a longish running 20%. In the last two Delta polls the Labour lead was 14% then 15% which is not statistically significant. Both polls in November and December showing modest increase in the Lib Dem vote from 11 to 13%. Others total almost 20% on both samples which of course includes the SNP and Plaid who will both win seats. Despite a big rise in the Reform vote it is unlikely they can win a seat as they do not have the consolidation in some areas that helps the Lib Dems.

The picture at Savanta is broadly similar with insignificant changes in the Labour and Conservative vote in the two November polls and a narrowing of the Labour lead to 15% in the latest December poll. YouGov paint a better picture for Labour in their weighted figures for those most likely to vote in their end of November and 6/7th December polls finding a 22% lead for Labour. The Scottish sub sample gives the SNP a 4% lead over Labour for Westminster.

Looking in more detail at the breakdown in voting intentions – UK wide -the Tories have a 5% lead over Labour with lower social income groups (C2DE) and Labour has an 9% lead with ABC1s, indicating the rightward move of the working classes seen Europe wide and in the States. In older age groups those intending to vote Tory increase steadily and Labour’s share declines. The Tories have an 11% increase over Labour with over 65s. The Greens are on 7% on both the latest YouGov polls (6% in Scotland). This raises the question of where these votes go as most constituencies are unlikely to have a Green candidate. As the YouGov Scottish sub sample gives a vote share for Reform and the Greens the 1% for Others will be split between Alba and any other mini party.