Gerald Warner: Grand delusion blinds Tories to electoral precipice

THE mood in the bunker is buoyant. Dave’s Ardennes Offensive is under way and the Tory press and blogosphere are rife with exultant claims of “economic recovery”, “a turnaround in the polls”, Labour imploding and Ukip collapsing.

Picture: AP
Picture: AP

The talk is no longer of scraping into a second coalition in 2015 but of outright victory. Conservative MPs have been despatched on holiday with the exhortation: “Retire to your deckchairs and prepare for majority government.”

The question intriguing observers is: what are the Tories on? What substance are they collectively smoking, snorting or injecting that has induced so extravagant a hallucination? The reality is that the Conservatives are a zombie party, doomed to annihilation in 2015. Among all the fantasies being conjured to bolster their illusions only one is remotely plausible: the patent ineligibility of Ed Miliband to become prime minister. Yet Cameron and his “modernisers” could not beat Gordon Brown, a universally loathed premier carrying all the baggage of failed government. Miliband may look like the Frank Spencer of British politics, but he is not discredited by a record in power. Cameron is.

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The canard about a turnaround in the polls is based on a maverick ICM survey for the Guardian on 15 July, showing the Tories level with Labour on 36 per cent and Ukip down at 7 per cent. Oh, frabjous day! The Conservatives were dancing in the streets, regardless of the fact that a simultaneous poll by YouGov put Labour on 40 per cent, Tories 31 and Ukip 11 while a Survation survey showed Ukip on 20 per cent. The current opinion polls record an average support of 38 per cent for Labour, 31 per cent for the Conservatives. Granted a modest 7 per cent lead for an opposition (the Miliband effect) at this stage is unimpressive, there is more to the electoral situation than that.

Because of the Liberal Democrats’ blocking of parliamentary boundary revision, the Conservatives need a seven-point lead over Labour to secure a majority of one seat; at present they are 14 points short of that bare minimum. Current forecasts award 362 seats to Labour, 227 to the Tories, with 20 months until the general election. Does that seem to merit celebrations at CCHQ? Well, actually, from the idiosyncratic perspective of that outpost of La La Land, yes – because a multitude of Baldricks there and in No 10 have competing cunning plans. One is to court the ethnic minority vote, of which the Tories only gleaned 16 per cent in 2010; so that project is steaming ahead – contemporaneously with bulldozing homosexual marriage on to the statute book, which may not play too well in the mosques.

The Tories’ contradictory, dishonest initiatives are based on the infantile delusion that nobody outside one target group knows what is being done in another. The Conservative “machine” is a Heath-Robinson contraption. Lynton Crosby is hauled on board to win back traditional voters; then Jim Messina, a former campaign manager for Barack Obama is hired to do what he does best: enthuse socialists. The Tory modernisers have a simple peasant faith in software as a substitute for supporters to win elections. That is just as well since their constituency associations have collapsed as activists desert in droves. Douglas Carswell MP openly speculated last week that the Conservative Party’s membership has fallen below the crucial 100,000 mark; Ukip is already at 30,000.

It is Ukip that will bury the Tories. Forget fluctuating poll figures while its profile is low between elections: it will win next year’s European elections and destroy the Conservatives in 2015. The Axis of Evil that is the BBC, the liberal media and the three social democrat parties are targeting Ukip. The clever money is on a cack-handed Tory dirty-tricks operation against Ukip backfiring spectacularly. This is a crucial test, however, for Nigel Farage. He must not give the progressive consensus a veto over Ukip activists.

Outside the consensual bubble, which angered the British public more: Ukip MEP Godfrey Bloom dismissing corrupt Third World countries as “Bongo-Bongo Land”, or David Cameron giving Nigeria, the most corrupt nation on earth, £1bn of taxpayers’ money which may be squandered on a space programme? Farage must keep that reality in mind. The liberal objective is to cow Ukip into uttering the same bland banalities as the failed consensus, which would repel voters.

In 2010 Ukip deprived the Tories of 21 seats, enough to have given Cameron a majority. Ukip was then polling 3 per cent. At the English local elections it won 25 per cent; 70 per cent of its voters are ex-Conservatives. They intend to punish Dave. Considering these harsh realities it is edifying to see the Tories exhibiting such high spirits as they are herded to the electoral abattoir. «

Twitter: @GeraldWarner1