TODAY marks a year since Richmond MP Rishi Sunak took on the leadership of the Conservative Party; a year ago tomorrow, he entered Downing Street as Prime Minister. How’s he got on?

On the one hand, he’s done well. After the 49-day debacle of Liz Truss’ Premiership, and the lurch from embarrassment to embarrassment that characterised the dying days of Boris Johnson’s dishevelled administration, he pulled the ship of state off the rocks. He is steady and competent; he can comb his own hair neatly.

After his arrival in North Yorkshire in 2015, he impressed his constituents by becoming immersed in their rural detail, and he’s done a similar job at a national level. He seems to have grasped the nuances of the Middle East and has performed creditably – imagine, when one false word can launch a thousand rockets, if Truss or Johnson had flown on Britain’s behalf to the most treacherous conflict zone in the world.

But on the other hand, the Conservatives are still 20 points behind in the polls and are losing by-elections with historically bad results. Some disillusioned voters are staying at home; more are peeling off to centre left Labour, some – a few, but enough to make a difference – are skewing off to the right, to Reform UK.

And Mr Sunak hasn’t been able to offer a vision to bring them back together. In his party conference speech, he promised to reform A levels and to ban smoking in a complicated way – issues, when the NHS waiting list is topping 7.5m, nobody is calling for.

Perhaps he doesn’t know his own vision – he was the Chancellor who took taxes to their highest level in modern times and yet claimed to be a tax-cutter at heart, and now he’s Prime Minister, he hasn’t articulated how that’s going to change.

As he’s a blank canvas, all the sins of the Conservatives’ 13 years in office are being written on him, and for all he’s a decent, clever chap, he hasn’t managed to repair the reputational damage that was done by his predecessors.