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Look away, Rishi: It could be 1997 all over again

If moderate Tories like Max Hastings and Anna Soubry (not to mention Mark Carney) say they’re abandoning Rishi Sunak and switching to Labour, the election tide really is turning in Keir Starmer’s favour, writes John Rentoul

Thursday 12 October 2023 13:58 BST
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I didn’t expect to see Blairism revived in all its essentials, not just as a guiding philosophy for the Labour Party but as a tendency of wider society
I didn’t expect to see Blairism revived in all its essentials, not just as a guiding philosophy for the Labour Party but as a tendency of wider society (PA)

Max Hastings, who in his time has been the editor of The Daily Telegraph, an employer of Boris Johnson, a Daily Mail columnist and a distinguished war historian, is a monument of moderate Conservatism. So much so that he voted for New Labour in 1997 and 2001 – but who could have imagined that another Labour leader could persuade him to support the party again? And so soon after the party was led by someone so opposed to the moderate Tory view of national security?

Yet it has happened. Sir Max told The New European this week that he will vote Labour at the next election, not because of anything Keir Starmer has said or done, but because the government is “dreadful”, the Tory party is dominated by “Flat Earthers” and Brexit has been a “disaster”.

Earlier this week, Mark Carney, the former governor of the Bank of England who was recruited by George Osborne, endorsed Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, saying it was “beyond time we put her energy and ideas into action”. John Caudwell, the Phones4U founder and former Tory donor, told The Independent that, after Rishi Sunak’s new “pragmatism” on net zero, he was thinking of giving to Labour instead. Yesterday Anna Soubry, a former health minister who left the Tories to form Change UK, said she would be voting Labour.

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