24 Apr 2015

Tories gnawing the Lib Dem lifebelt

Interesting bit of number crunching worth reading here. Tories do indeed seem to have all but given up on cracking the nut of Labour seats. Birmingham Northfield still gets talked about, as does Halifax. But others like Southampton Itchen and Newcastle-under-Lyme, where a lot of Tory money has been spent, now look out of reach, a Tory source tells me.

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Tories insist that some Lib Dem seats they thought were out of reach – like North Devon, Colchester and Kingston – might be gettable. But the problem here is that the Tories are in danger of desperately gnawing through the very lifebelt they may need after 7 May. Put that to senior Tories and they acknowledge the problem but feel they can do no other.

Needless to say, Lib Dems insist they are confident of holding on to Sir Nick Harvey, Sir Bob Russell and Ed Davey.

If the Tories can end up the largest party in the Commons by 20 seats, they will mercilessly try to play the “legitimacy” card. They will claim Labour has not done well enough – in share of the vote or seats – to govern. They will hope Labour is so bruised by a night of awful and once unthinkable losses in its Scottish heartlands that it struggles to pick itself up off the ground.

They will hope Labour looks and sounds like a loser and do what they can to contribute to that impression. They will, the second prong of their anti-SNP campaign, say the Scottish National Party cannot be allowed to “prop up” Labour.

But none of that talk will guarantee them success if they don’t have the numbers. They need the long-promised poll movement, the pulling back from the brink “fear factor,” to take effect.

Some senior Tories say they saw it happen in the French regional elections when the Front National support slipped back to help Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP at the last minute. If you started listing all the dissimilarities with France you’d be up quite late … a sign perhaps that the Tories are struggling to reconcile themselves to a place they didn’t expect to be in this late in the day.

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