In the aftermath of a chastening performance by the Conservative Party in the recent local elections, cabinet minister Lucy Frazer told Sky News: “I know people are frustrated and angry…”
Frazer admitted “It’s really important to listen to people…”, but refused to accept the loss of 945 seats reflected on Rishi Sunak as prime minister.
Adamant the outcome of the poll would not prompt a change of strategy, the culture secretary claimed Sunak needed more time to deliver on the pledges he made at the start of the year.
This is, however, not a widely held view within the Conservative party.
Former cabinet minister John Redwood called for an immediate tax-cutting budget.
Back bencher Christopher Chote claimed “We (the government) need to change direction and make it clear to people what we stand for…”
Former Home Secretary Priti Patel directed her venom specifically at the party leadership. In her view, senior figures at Westminster had “…done a better job at damaging the party…” over the past year than Labour.
Another former cabinet minister, Nadine Dorries, was equally scathing: “We are drifting and people know that,” she said. “They can sense it and they can smell it. We no longer have that inspirational leader and those visionary policies.
“What happened to levelling up? It’s been all but dumped… a U-turn on the promised bonfire of EU regulation, which in itself demonstrates a paucity of ambition.”
While the Tories suffered at the ballot box there were significant gains from the other parties.
There were 643 gains for Labour and 415 for the Liberal Democrats. The Green party’s strategy of targeting rural areas achieved 200 gains including their ‘first’ overall council control at Mid Suffolk.
Labour gains in Brexit-voting parts of the country will be of significant concern to the government.
An understandably upbeat shadow health secretary Wes Streeting told the BBC: “Labour has made gains in places that people didn’t expect us to four years ago.
“Whether it’s in the south of England, whether it’s in the north of England, right across England in places where we need to win to form a majority, Labour is winning back support.
“And we’re confident we can win a majority of the next election…”