RISHI Sunak is “entirely confident” his Tory party can win the next General Election.

In other news, I am feeling similarly optimistic about my plan to become the first person to ride a tricycle to the Moon – just as soon as I master a regular bike.

If anybody believed Sunak was sincere in his view, he would be the focus of much concerned muttering across Westminster. But because he is a politician – and a Tory one at that – we know he is just doing that thing they do where what they say is a direct contradiction of what they actually mean.

The Prime Minister made the comments to reporters on a plane travelling to the G20 summit in Delhi. So at least if anybody did let out an inadvertent chuckle at his brand of preppy delusion, they’d have been drowned out by the roar of the engines.

“I am working to get a first full term,” Sunak said. “In the time before the election, I will show the British people what I am capable of.”

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If the UK was functioning normally, this might sound like a re-assurance, a promise that the Prime Minister was going to put his full effort and energy into being the best leader he can be.

But after more than a decade of Tory rule, the UK is riddled with widening inequality and deprivation. Westminster isn’t functioning as it should be and the only thing that seems to motivate this government is the desire to make life even more difficult and dangerous for vulnerable refugees seeking sanctuary.

So when this unelected Prime Minister pledges to show us what he is capable of, it has the effect of sounding vaguely threatening.

As we head towards the end of the year, election speculation is rife.

The latest it could be held is January 2025. Some commentators believe Sunak might go around May 2024, to try to slow Labour’s momentum. Others believe October of next year is the most likely timeframe.

The National: Rishi Sunak at the G20 Summit in New Delhi, India

It’s hard to guess what the Prime Minister’s approach will be. Mostly because he is a politician and they don’t have the same thought process as ordinary people.

Most people in his shoes would want it over and done with as soon as possible. They’d want to rip off the plaster, take the well-deserved loss and move on to pastures new. When it comes to Tories, that usually means a highly remunerated role in the city or a career in lobbying.

Scores of Tory MPs have already announced their intention to stand they face the likely prospect of losing their seats.

Voters have had ample time to judge the Conservative Party’s record in government. We don’t need more evidence or more time: we know what impact 14 years of uninterrupted Tory rule has had on people across the UK.

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Labour is consistently around 18 points ahead of the Tories in the polls. This isn’t the good news it might seem for those desperate for a change of direction. A narrower lead would force the Labour Party to offer a real alternative. But with one foot nearly in the door at 10 Downing Street, Keir Starmer has been on a campaign of expectation management these last few months.

His refusal to reverse even the most heinous of Tory policies is a sign of what’s to come. The two-child cap on benefits has been described by experts as a “poverty producing” initiative. I can’t think of another policy in recent times that has been so comprehensively studied.

There are numerous reports that demonstrate it not only hasn’t achieved its stated aim, but that it has plunged hundreds of thousands of children and their families into poverty.

Labour would be quite content to see a General Election delayed until late next year or early in 2025. The more time the Tories have to demonstrate their incompetence, the fewer promises the Labour Party needs to make to win popular support.

The SNP, too, might find it beneficial for the election to come later rather than sooner.

They will hope that by the time it comes round, the investigation into the party’s finances will be done and dusted. If not, it threatens to overshadow what will already be a difficult campaign for the SNP.

Despite what is being suggested now, pre-election, I can’t see the SNP running an entire General Election campaign on the prospect of a second independence referendum.

I suspect that while independence will be front and centre, there will also be messaging around the idea of voting SNP to “keep Labour honest”.

The SNP will pitch themselves as a necessary force to hold the incoming Labour government to its promises and force them to go further to tackle inequality and deprivation.

Whenever it comes, it’s shaping up to be one of the most interesting elections in quite some time.