Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Tory Advance Stalling?

I have no doubt that the entry of David Cameron onto the political scene has caused much excitement and opened up a great many new possibilities. The implosion of the Lib Dem leadership, for a start, is partly attributable to the impact of the wunderkind. But as the weeks have past- and it's been some six of them now- I get the feeling that the onward rush of 'New Toryism' has faded. Some polls were showing the Conservatives four points ahead in December but today's poll in The Guardian shows a lead of barely one while the Lib dems are not too far adrift at 19. For the new sexy message to be continuing its early tsunami like dynamism I would have expected a lead of six or seven points at least for the opposition in the third term of a government which is divided, unpopular and facing almost certain defeat over its key education reforms.

Rupert Murdoch, always a keen sniffer of the political winds, did not endorse Cameron but rather, criticised him fo not making his position sufficiently clear. And then today we see George Osborne, Shadow Chancellor, shuffling tax cuts- that sine qua non of popular Conservatism- further down the pack so that 'stability' or 'sorting out' any mess in the economy, 'will have to take precedence over any promises of tax cuts.'

As soon as policy becomes refined in any way, suddenly Dave's brave new world seems very much like the old familiar one we know so well of compromises and obsfuscation. And remember this, because of the bias in the voting system towards Labour, caused by the piling up of 'wasted' votes in safe Tory seats, the Conservatives will have to beat Labour by upwards of 7 percentage points before they can command a proper majority. My guess has not changed for some time that the next election will see a hung parliament with all the delights of coalitions and alliances to keep us political junkies happy. The local elections in May are awaited with particular interest.

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