Shropshire Star

Comment: The Conservative Party now takes its orders from Sir Keir Starmer

What has become of the Conservative Party?

Rishi Sunak has finally landed the top job despite being rejected by Tory members last month

In Parliament at least, the natural party of government is now in a sorry state, characterised by too many self-serving MPs who are focused on settling personal vendettas and self-aggrandisement rather than the country's best interests.

We have arrived at the point where its very purpose is questionable.

It is certainly not doing anything remotely close to what people in the Black Country, Staffordshire and Shropshire wanted when they voted Tory in historically high numbers in 2019.

That year's manifesto has been left on the shelf like a dusty old book. Key policies such as levelling up have stalled. Others, most notably the pledge to clamp down on illegal immigration, have failed miserably.

To the delight of Sir Keir Starmer, MPs bombed out the leader who Labour feared. Then they looked on as another caused total havoc during a six-week reign of misery.

Now, after an almighty parliamentary stitch-up, a majority of them have foisted Rishi Sunak upon us, the former Chancellor they desperately wanted as leader when members rejected him for Liz Truss at the start of last month.

His coronation came after Boris Johnson – who Mr Sunak helped force out of office – reasoned that should he make a comeback as PM, he would never have been able to govern effectively without the support of his parliamentary party.

Some MPs would resign, many others would openly rebel. Put simply, the MPs conspired to make it impossible for Mr Johnson to return, doing Labour's bidding once again.

So Mr Sunak it is. The mega-rich banker with no working class friends and no mandate to govern, who believes he can unite the party.

The task ahead of him cannot be understated.

On top of dealing with the lingering internal Tory squabbles, he is likely to start his premiership by announcing a massive programme of public spending cuts and tax hikes.

While the economy and public finances will be prioritised, he will also need to deal with NHS backlogs and start to make genuine headway on those manifesto pledges.

Mr Sunak will need to back the West Midlands, a region seen as crucial to both his predecessors' plans for growth but for which he has previously appeared to have little time.

He'll also need a fair slice of luck when it comes to global events outside of his administration's control.

Above all, him and his parliamentary party will need to stop taking its orders from Labour and actually govern for the people.

Do all this and he might just have a chance of avoiding a monumental Conservative collapse at the next general election.

As things stand, there is a massive disparity between the direction of the parliamentary party and what Tory members and voters want.

Mr Sunak can preach unity until he is blue in the face.

But among those who voted Tory in 2019, there are many who currently look on at him and his party with disdain.