Cameron hoping party will uncover from Ukip damage in time for general election
Opinion: Tories hope to scare electorate by painting opponents as Old Labour villains
David Cameron: knows he must counter the perception of the Tories as the party of privilege.
This week in Manchester, a pollster laid out detailed figures for Conservative Party delegates gathered for their annual conference. If an election were held today, Labour’s Ed Miliband would become prime minister, with a majority of nearly 90. If the election were not to be held until May 2015, he would also become prime minister – if current trends stay the same. His majority, however, would be less than 20.
The figures are explained by the rise of the UK Independence Party, which, according to the currently prevailing logic, will win most seats in next year’s European Parliament elections.
The same logic argues that Ukip’s support will at that point start to fall away again, with Conservative-leaning voters, feeling that they have put some manners on David Cameron, returning to the fold.
The logic is questionable on a number of fronts, even if Ukip manages to demonstrate yet again its unerring ability to parade unreconstructed fools intent on expressing antediluvian opinions in front of cameras.
On Monday, several hundred people gathered in Manchester’s Town Hall for a meeting of the Eurosceptic Bruges Group, which includes Conservatives, Ukip members and others.
Pleading is never attractive, and in politics it is usually fatal, since no breed is better able to smell weakness. Most importantly, it never achieves its objective. Because of its size, Ukip cannot possibly run in 650 constituencies in 2015, so, by definition, it is likely to direct its fire elsewhere than on Eurosceptic Tories such as Cash.
If Ukip cannot win Commons seats itself, and that remains an open question, it can stop the Conservatives retaining the 32 it currently holds that are most actively targeted by Labour.
Yesterday David Cameron’s conference speech was parsed and analysed to destruction – it was judged to be boring, pedestrian, marking time, soporific.
In reality, however, the prime minister was treading water. Everything will have changed by the time Conservatives next gather for their annual conference.
Ukip will either have trounced the Conservatives and everyone else in the European elections, or not; Scotland will have voted to leave the UK, or not; green economic shoots will have grown, or died.
The physical manifestation of a Ukip victory will put the fear of God into 150, perhaps more, Conservative MPs, far beyond anything now circulating.
If that happens, the Conservatives face the danger, the near-certainty, perhaps, of looking like a disunited, cantankerous rabble by next autumn.
If the speech was dull, it was not insignificant, displaying the first real signs of the strategy that will form the core of the 2015 general election campaign.