Friday, August 12, 2022

Local Conservatives expect to lose Cheltenham to the Lib Dems

Peter Walker, the Guardian's political correspondent, saw more of Cheltenham yesterday than the just the Conservatives' leadership hustings. What he found will encourage the local Liberal Democrats:

In 2019, the incumbent Tory MP, the former solicitor general Alex Chalk, held off the Liberal Democrats by just 981 votes, and one local Conservative conceded they expect to lose the seat by 5,000-plus votes next time.

And that's not all:

Another Tory activist said that while the 500 or so local party members who will help choose the next PM are receptive to talk of tax cuts, culture wars and curbs on immigration, most voters feel differently.

"My guess is Truss is ahead here, though only slightly," they said. "But I think we’re in big trouble whoever takes over. It’s all feeling very 1997 - death by a thousand cuts."

Nor is that all:

David Bartlett, a 49-year-old banker who describes himself as “a massive swing voter – I’ve voted Labour, Lib Dem, Tory and Green” – says he has now turned permanently from the Conservatives. He said: “I was so appalled by Boris Johnson I’ve even stepped back from following the leadership contest.”

I have, you may not be surprised to hear, used the best quotes for us. And you might say that if we can't gain Cheltenham next time then we aren't going to gain many seats at all. Still, this is good news.

What worries me more is the state of Labour, because they are going to have to make substantial gains at the next election if the Tories are to be defeated.

In 1997 Labour had a popular leader, was confident and had the skeleton of an impressive cabinet in place and .

None of this is true of Labour today and, unimpressive as I find Liz Truss, we cannot rely on the Conservatives continuing to sabotage their own chances for another two years.

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