Rishi Sunak’s election campaign gets off to a soggy start

The British prime minister announced that parliament will be dissolved next week and elections for a new parliament will be held on July 4th. This came as a bit of a surprise since it had been expected that he would hold off until later this year because his party is polling poorly at the moment and it was felt that more time was needed for things to improve.

As is the practice in the UK when the prime minister makes a major announcement like this, a small podium was placed outside his residence in Downing Street for him to speak. This is a quaint custom but risky in a country notorious for its rainy weather and while he was speaking there was a heavy downpour that soaked him and everyone present who did not have an umbrella. Added to that was the loud presence of perennial troller Stephen Bray who blasted out loud music from his portable device. When Boris Johnson announced his resignation, Bray blasted out Yakety Sax. Such things tend to take away from the gravitas of the situation.

Conservatives have been in power for 14 consecutive years and no doubt Labour is hoping to sweep them out, and even the Liberal Democrats are hoping to make gains at their expense.

The nice thing about UK election campaigns is that they are short, unlike in the US where they are pretty much a permanent feature of the political landscape.


  1. says

    “Such things tend to take away from the gravitas of the situation.” Says the master of understatement. 😉 😉 😉

  2. KG says

    There are rumours that some Tory MPs, furious at being denied another few months in Parliament, will try to get the election called off. The idea is that they would get enough Tory MPs to send letters of no-confience in Sunak as leader to the chair of the 1922 Committee* to force a vote among all the Tory MPs, which if Sunak lost would force him to resign as leader, install a new leader without a contest (a contest would take too long), hold a confidence vote in that new leader in the Commons, and send the new leader to tell the king there’s a working government and he should call the election off. Hard to believe this could work, as the king is supposed to act only on the PM’s advice, and Sunak would not stop being PM automatically if deprived of the party leadership. But I’d love to see them try -- it would be a fittingly ludicrous end to their 14 years of failure and corruption.

    *The 1922 Committee is supposed to represent Tory backbenchers -- those with no government position (or “shadow” equivalent if the party is in opposition), and its chair is the custodian of their right to force a vote on the current leader.

  3. katybe says

    Some nuance that may escape some of your non-UK readers -- the ‘loud music’ specifically chosen was D:Ream’s Things Can Only Get Better, which is most famous as the 1997 Labour campaign trail song. This was not just any old trolling!

  4. katybe says

    Oh, and my favourite reaction so far -- the TUC (Trades Union Congress) put out a photo of a a desperately bedraggled, sopping wet PM, captioning it “Forced to work in the rain unnecessarily? Join a union.”

  5. invivoMark says

    I wish the citizens of the UK the best of luck in their elections on July 4th, and hope they can collectively declare their independence from the conservative tyrants running their government. That would be cause for a major celebration, like some kind of holiday… I wonder what we could call it?

  6. sonofrojblake says

    @7 -- to be clear, Brian Cox out of “Wonders of the Solar System”, not Brian Cox out of “Succession”, the original Hannibal Lecktor.

    I’ve already booked Friday off to recover from being up all night. It promises to play out like a slightly more boring version of 1997, or at least that’s what I hope. Tories have been announcing for over a year now that they won’t be standing in this election -- none of them want to have what’s known as “the Portillo moment”, when a high profile Tory in a “safe” seat gets booted out, to the great surprise of the minor activist that Labour stood against them.

    My favourite comment I’ve seen so far was just a photo of a drenched Sunak with the caption “Labour have no plan, says man who didn’t bother to check the weather forecast”.

    The only sad thing about the outgoing Tory government as far as I’m concerned is that it’s likely they’ll all still be alive by Christmas. Terrible shame.

  7. sonofrojblake says

    (Aside for US readers -- I’ll be staying up, because although there are over 47 million registered voters and (at least last time) over two thirds of them actually vote, polls close at 10pm and there’s usually a reliable result within about six to eight HOURS and an absolutely final result definitely within twelve. Part of the reason for that is that when we have an election, we have AN election, just the one, not a load of side distractions from the main event. Another part is that rather than mess about with technology, we vote by literally marking an X in a box on a piece of paper with a pencil (yes, like Viggo said, a fuckin pencil), then get humans to physically count how many votes each candidate got. It’s an extremely quick and reliable method, you really ought to try it… but it’s also CHEAP and there’s not much opportunity for anyone to get rich doing it, so you probably won’t be interested, never mind, forget I mentioned it, your democracy is doing just fine… good luck in November.

    So staying up to watch the result, in the right circumstances, can be extremely entertaining. It certainly was in 1997. I stayed up again in 2001, but since the result was a foregone conclusion onnaccounta Labour were doing a really good job and the Tories were still a bunch of obvious no-marks, it was incredibly boring and I’ve never done it since. Here’s hoping for another ’97 in July. Things can only get better.)

  8. jenorafeuer says

    Yes, same here in Canada; federal and provincial elections are literally one list of names, select one out of the list by putting a pencil mark in the circle next to the name.

    The only complicated ones can be municipal elections, where you’re usually voting for mayor, local city councillor, and local school board trustee. (And where I am there are four different lists of school board trustees, because there are four different school boards based on religion and language, but you only vote for the one that your taxes are going towards. That’s the result of a mess of a political compromise that dates back to the founding of Ontario and Quebec, then Upper and Lower Canada.)

    Also, as I’ve noted before, the riding boundaries used in the federal elections are set by a completely non-partisan committee consisting primarily of civil servants, and said committee also runs the elections, eliminating gerrymandering as a big issue. Being a registered member of any political party disqualifies you from working for them.

  9. Jazzlet says

    Adding a little more information about vote counting in the UK. The polling station staff and vote counters are employed for the work, typically from local authority employees for the polling station staff and from bank tellers for the vote counters. It’s a lucrative side gig for both so quite sought after. Watching the speed the tellers count the votes after they’ve been sorted is impressive. Both of these traditional sources of election staff are far reduced these days, especially the number of bank tellers, but local election officers (full time staff from a local council with the election work as part of their work) take pride in the speed at which they can produce the results so I don’t expect sonofrojblake’s estimates to be much different than the usual historical rate.

  10. says

    KG @2: I guess that strategy might help the Tories a little, at least insofar as it might set up yet another stupid “leadership” fight that could, maybe, distract everyone from their previous embarrassing stupid “leadership” fights. Do they have anyone in mind to replace Sunak if they manage to get him to resign?

    Wouldn’t it be hilarious if either BoJo or Liz Truss were able to make a comeback from such a power-struggle?

  11. sonofrojblake says

    “Do they have anyone in mind to replace Sunak if they manage to get him to resign?”

    Front runners as far as i know are all women -- Mordaunt, Braverman and Badenoch have all been spoken of. Much as i hate them all, i do credit all of them with the wit not to want to take over just *before* their worst defeat since 97.
    Jenrick has also been mentioned -- don’t know if he’s enough of a headbanger to go along with such a plan. Is anyone? They might as well give truss another go at this point -- she cant make it any worse (although she’d certainly try). She’s definitely pigshit thick enough to take the job if offered.

  12. jrkrideau says

    @ 15 sonofrojblake


    You would be better off with the Dalek Party.

  13. Trickster Goddess says


    A bit of additional trivia: the head of Elections Canada (the committee that runs the federal elections) is the only citizen who is legally barred from voting in the election. Even convicted criminals can vote while they are in jail.

  14. Mark J says

    A new anthem for the British Labor, sung to the tune of ‘When The Boat Comes In’.

    Who will have a Rishi on a little dishy,
    Who will have a Rishi when the vote comes in?

    RIP James Bolam

  15. Acolyte of Sagan says

    More nuggets about the UK election process for Americans to ponder.
    The result that is announced within 12 hours of the 10pm close of polls is the definitive result.
    Once that definitive result is in, if there is to be a change of government it is pretty much immediate. Before close of business on the day the result is announced the outgoing PM has left Downing St., the new PM has moved in: the outgoing Cabinet ministers have cleared their desks and vacated their offices, et voila! the new government is in place. We traditionally hold general elections on Thursdays, change of power happens on Friday and it’s business as usual in Parliament early the following week.
    That’s it: from voting to the new government running in under a week.

  16. Silentbob says

    Particularly in regard to LGBT rights:

    Less than a decade ago, in 2015, the UK was ranked the best place in Europe for LGBTQ+ rights, with a 86 per cent rating, but its 2024 ranking has seen it drop to sixteenth place, with an overall rating of just 51.87 per cent. 

    It’s almost like they’re in a competition with Putin and Orban to see who can be the most regressive.

  17. anat says

    Well, Washington state ballots are also lists of names. It’s just that there are many lists of names, because there are many positions up for election. You fill a bubble next to your preferred candidate with the ink of your choice. We were promised that the new(ish) machines in King County can even deal with pink ink with sparkles. The only reason it takes time to count the vote is because we vote by mail and votes still trickle in for days. But no standing in line, and there are accommodations for assorted disabilities and language issues. And you can vote 2 weeks in advance if that suits you better.

  18. jrkrideau says

    @17 Trickster Goddess
    Not only can convicted criminals vote while they are in jail, I was tracked down in my hospital bed during the last election by Elections Canada staff and volunteers who handed me a ballot. There is no escape!

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