Published on 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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3 reader comments

  1. Phil Woodford says:

    I don’t get this at all. If the Tories defeat the Lib Dems in certain seats, they have more Tory MPs, so aren’t gnawing through any lifebelt, are they? And if the Lib Dems win in those seats, they will – I’m sure – be happy to jump into bed with the Conservatives again. It’s a zero sum, in exactly the same way as the Labour v SNP battles in Scotland.

  2. Andrew Dundas says:

    In practical terms, swaps of Labour held seats in Scotland for SNP simply introduces a practical left agenda instead of ‘pie in the sky’ promises from the SNP.
    SNP cannot deliver on its promises and never has. Where’s the ‘local income tax’ that they promised? Where’s the emulation of the ‘arc of prosperity’ they promised: it’s not achievable because Scots don’t want the much higher levels of taxation that apply in Scandinavia, or their big cuts in public sector pay that Ireland has suffered. Nor is there “independence’ in the oil market: that’s controlled at the behest of Saudi Princes.
    The SNP will end up supporting the Labour manifesto and claiming that they had ‘forced’ them to implement Labour’s policies. Alternatively, if the Tories get the government cars, they will claim that ‘the only way’ to get leftish policies is to become dependent on EU dictats. Either way the SNP – and Scotland – will have put itself at a disadvantage.
    So the SNP will covertly support key Labour policies. The unknown wobbly is how the Lib-Dems will react. Will they go for the Ministerial Cars and pensions? Or will they recall their Members’ principles?
    Time will tell us the answers.

  3. Aidan Turner says:

    I wonder whether the Tories now regret the rejection of Nick Boles idea of an Electoral Pact with th Lib Dems? The problem for the Tories is that they always thought that the 2010 Election result was an aberration when, it was, in all likelihood, predictive. Labour may also have to get used to the idea that “normal service will be resumed as soon as possible” may instead be a distant or unachievable prospect.

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