UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is rained upon while making general election announcement.
(Peter Nicholls/Getty Images)

UK Conservative Election Campaign Somehow Only Got Worse From Comically Disastrous Start

After years of Conservative rule that has overseen Britain leaving the EU, mishandling the beginning of a global pandemic, entering into a recession, facing a cost of living crisis and a housing crisis, and facing strike after strike across the public sector, a general election is finally being held.

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Just as expected, it’s already turned into a farce. In a surprise move, Rishi Sunak, Britain’s current Prime minister, announced a general election last week. In true fashion for the Conservative party in the last decade, they couldn’t even get the announcement right, with Sunak standing soaking outside Downing Street in the rain as he made his speech. Perhaps he thought he’d end up looking like Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice—he did not.

If there is one thing you can count on with the British, it’s their ability to crack a joke about anything and everything. Even before Sunak stepped out, the announcement was not off to a good start, with someone playing Star Wars’ “Imperial March” music in the lead-up to his entrance.

Then, during the speech, Sunak had to compete against the ’90s song “Things Can Only Get Better,” a song famously utilized by the opposing Labour party in their 1997 election-winning campaign, the last time they ousted the Conservatives.

While the Conservative announcement was met with derision by many, the party’s campaign continues to alienate itself. The only major policy they have announced so far is mandatory national service, with 18-year-olds having to take part in a scheme involving military or non-military service. This has gone down with young people just as well as you can imagine, especially given how it’s young people who have been the worst affected by the government’s mishandling of the pandemic and current cost-of-living crisis.

Home Secretary James Cleverly told the BBC their reasoning:

“Too many young people are living in their own bubble, whether that’s a digital bubble or a social bubble. We want to get back to a situation where young people are mixing with people – in different areas, different economic groups, different religions – to try and find a way of addressing the kind of fragmentation that we see too much of.”

So, rather than putting more funding into school programs, community youth programs, and social welfare, let’s sign kids up for an unenforceable, mandatory national service that may see them pushed toward the military. Compulsory drafting has not been looked on favorably in Britain for some time now, whereas volunteering schemes have had better success. I’m personally by no means against the idea of finding ways to get young people more active and engaged in their community, but national drafting for the military is another thing entirely.

As you would expect, the response to this policy has been strong, with many saying that the costs alone, an estimated £2.5 billion, are too much. Online, the reaction has been hilarious, with one actor and comedian Greg Birks posting his own advert (of sorts) for the policy on TikTok.

It does paint a very grim picture of what the Conservative party, and government parties around the world, feel is up ahead of us if they are looking for ways to bolster their military. But, with young British people feeling let down by their country on may fronts, it doesn’t seem like they are overly keen to fight and potentially die for it.

It makes sense, then, that at this point in the race, Labour is currently leading in the opinion polls with the Labour leader, Kier Starmer, at 44.5 percent whilst Sunak is limping behind at 23.3 percent. For many, Conservatives’ many, many blunders over the last decade are just too numerous to overlook, and their defeat would appear to be imminent shifting power in the country for the first time since 2010.

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Laura Pollacco
Laura Pollacco (she/her) is a contributing writer here at The Mary Sue, having written for digital media since 2022 and has a keen interest in all things Marvel, Lord of the Rings, and anime. She has worked for various publications including We Got This Covered, but much of her work can be found gracing the pages of print and online publications in Japan, where she resides. Outside of writing she treads the boards as an actor, is a portrait and documentary photographer, and takes the little free time left to explore Japan.