Operation Save Little Dog

 Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

When it was clear Johnson was on the way out, his allies launched Operation Save Big Dog. This article explores what we might call Operation Save Little Dog – the equivalent for Sunak, in the wake of the worse-than-expected results in the Council elections.

The factions on the right are now quite complex: there are the extreme-right backers of the Tufton Street think tanks, there is most of the UK press, there is Farage and his Reform Party, there are the “five families” within the parliamentary Conservative party, there remains a one-nation faction, and there is Sunak and his allies – it is this last group who will push Operation Save Little Dog.

In Johnson’s case, the Big Dog plan was to sack some advisors and civil servants and blame them for everything that Johnson might otherwise be held responsible for.

Sunak’s plan is better thought-through.

Although this was written as satire, it seems to capture the breadth of operations being carried out by Sunak and his team.

Diagram with wide range of unethical options for retaining power


On Delivering for the UK population, Sunak’s record is dismal, so he cannot campaign on that.


He is, however, continuing to push hard on Delude, repeating his claim that “the plan is working” even as it is fact-checked and found to be false at every turn.


So he turns to Divide: this part of Sunak’s plan is about shifting the blame – this time to the victims of his policies:

“The first step in the process is to identify a suitable target group. The group needs to be small enough (or else left-voting enough) to be sacrificed without losing too many votes. It needs to be a group that can be blamed (not necessarily with any factual basis) for most of our problems. (And of course it must not be a group like tax-avoiders, which would include most of the party’s major donors).”

Suitable groups include:

  • Migrants – who can be portrayed as invading us, taking our jobs, living on benefits, overloading our schools and hospitals, etc, etc;
  • The disabled – it is easy to imply that the disabled are malingerers, inventing or milking a condition in order to live a life of luxury on benefits while hard working families struggle;
  • The unemployed – the demonisation of the unemployed has a long history. Many politicians have implied that being unemployed is just a “lifestyle choice” for many people; and even
  • Environmental campaigners – who can be painted as eco-terrorists, extremists trying to destroy the livelihoods of ordinary people.

So we see policies like the Rwanda scheme, which are doomed to fail in terms of reducing immigration, but which are somewhat effective in dividing the population.

And his recent attack on the disabled and long-term sick, whose increasing numbers were an inevitable consequence of underfunding the NHS and allowing waiting lists to hit record levels – as we explained to policymakers in Westminster last year. So his latest initiative, as well as being immoral, will be self-defeating.


His attempts to Discourage his political opponents are not going well, as the recent results show only too clearly.

Source: Financial Times

Indeed, they are beginning to seem quite optimistic.


So he is trying increasingly to Distort our democracy, for example by introducing voter-id and telling the Electoral Commission to focus on (almost non-existent) voter fraud rather than (disturbingly widespread) fraud by his Party’s candidates.


The only area he has not yet exploited is Destroy – creating an excuse to cancel the next general election.


Operation Save Little Dog, of course, is just one of many plans we may see being put into operation over the coming days and weeks.

We explored what the extreme right-wing backers of the Tufton Street think tanks may be planning – and those plans may align with Operation Save Little Dog.

Farage has hinted both that he may appoint himself Leader of Reform and that he would like to lead the Conservative party. From his point of view, also, seeing Sunak limp into the next election may be better than seeing him replaced.

The five families all have their own preferred candidates, and there are rumours that there may be a rebellion after the dust has settled from the Council elections. A rebellion is what caused the failure of Operation Save Big Dog, but seems less likely now.

Precisely how all these plans will interact with each other is impossible to predict.

What we can predict is that the next General Election will be both extremely dirty and very consequential. Whoever is Conservative Party Leader going into the next General Election is likely to follow the outline of the plan sketched out above – and that is bad for democracy. Should they manage to find a way to win, the prospects for 99 per cent of the UK population look grim.

Fortunately, that outcome seems unlikely now, but the stakes are too high for complacency.

You can help ensure a good outcome by:

  • Making sure that you will be allowed to vote at the next election;
  • Using your vote wisely, even if that means voting for a party you are not 100 per cent happy with – under our first-past-the-post system, if you vote for the party you like most, there is a good chance your vote will be wasted but if you vote against the party you think will do most damage to the UK, there is a good chance your vote will count;
  • Joining the 99% organisation and helping us to encourage rational policy-making to drive the much-needed transformation after the next election.