Wednesday, 30 January 2008

The Late Lunch Briefing

Bad Week for the Tories

It has not been a good week so far for the Tories (it hasn’t been that great for Labour either, but it rarely is these days). First the polls showed an unexpected fall in their share of the vote – despite the seemingly endless bad news stories about Labour. Then they got caught up in a sleaze scandal which trumps anything Hain has done (or not done, ahem). Then a shadow minister is arrested after allegations he assaulted two teenage children – though this has hardly featured in the headlines given the scale of their other problems. Of all of these issues it could well be the first one, the polls, that causes most alarm at CCHQ, however.

Cameron Saved in the Nick of Time

Remember back in the summer when Brown took over the party? It was Cameron and the Conservatives who were getting all the bad press and trailing by a country mile in the polls. There were not just rumbles, but ever growing vocal calls for the head of David Cameron. The thing that saved him was Gordon Brown’s non-election. Up until that point Brown was the golden boy and Cameron was up for the chop. Then the polls turned on their head. The Tories surged to an 8 to 10 point lead. It shut the right of the party up immediately. Suddenly his position was saved – and in the nick of time too. The Tories are a party who constantly appear to be just around the corner from imploding, and the gauge that measures this is the polls.

Have the Tories Peaked?

If the right of the party think that they are on to a sure fire winner, they will shut up. As soon as it looks like they might lose, all hells breaks out. I fear we may be just months away from that position. The problem is, if Cameron cannot make Brown and the Government look useless and take a commanding lead in the polls after the catastrophic few months they have had, then will he ever?

We all know that the Tories need to be polling a good 8-10 points at least over the government come the day of the general election if they want to win a majority. The mid-term opinion polls will always favour the opposition, and on that basis you would expect the Tories needing to be polling in the region of 15-20 points if they are to look like serious contenders. Right now, after everything, they are not even close.

They Must Hold it Together – or They Are Finished

Unless something extraordinary happens, how is Cameron going to change this? He has had everything he needs in the past few months to pull ahead in to a commanding lead. The question right now for the right of the party will be – have the Tories peaked in the polls? If they think they have and they start to slide back down again, expect the Tories to implode. Again. Something they must avoid at all costs. Changing Cameron and going back to the right could well spell the end of the party as well know it and end any hopes of forming a government for a long, long time.

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