Thursday, June 20, 2024

The Conservatives should have worried more about the Lib Dems and less about Reform

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Even now, the Conservatives have not understood that Ed Davey is a far bigger danger to their majority than Nigel Farage.

So says Martin Kettle in today's Guardian, and he's right.

The Conservatives' obsession with the voters they have lost to Reform has always been bad politics. It's also bad arithmetic.

In seats where the Liberal Democrats are the challengers to the Tories, every voter they lose to us reduces their majority by two. A voter lost to Reform reduces it by only one.

The Reform obsession, I suspect, arises because most Tory members now have little idea what Conservatism is and tend to think it consists in the aggressive English nationalism espoused by Nigel Farage. So it really hurts them when one of their own changes to supporting Reform.

As to the bad politics, Kettle has been to the village of Myddle in Helen Morgan's North Shropshire constituency.

It's a village I know well, so when I first blogged about the North Shropshire by-election (and note my headline Lib Dems to fight North Shropshire by-election - and they are right - how far we have come!), it was natural that I should use a photo of it.

I couldn't resist using one of those Ed-with-a-halo photos at the head of this post, but you can find my photo of Myddle at the bottom.

Anyway, Kettle reports from Myddle:

Morgan is an exemplary local campaigner, and in Myddle an impressive number of people recognised her when she stopped by. By far their most common concern was the local NHS. Many had stories of long delays to recount. 
None of the 40 or so people I spoke to said they would vote Conservative. “It would be outrageous if she doesn’t retain the seat,” Michael, a Myddle resident, told me.

And he says of Lib Dem target seats more generally:

Terms such as "middle England" or "middle Britain" are inexact, but they capture something emotionally meaningful about what these target electorates represent. They are not partisan places, but they have a belief in community, a conviction that the country could do better, including in their area, and they mostly have generous values. 
They have little in common with Reform. They are the middle-ground voters that government parties ignore at their peril.

Looking forward to a possible Conservative collapse at the election, Kettle says:

The Lib Dems are in line to win 38 seats, according to Ipsos this week, or 56 seats, according to Survation.

An outcome like this would ... say something profound about the kind of country that this still is – just about. It would say the claim that the real England or the real Britain finds its voice in the Conservative party as it currently exists, let alone in Reform, is dangerously untrue. 

As the most disruptive 10 years in political memory come to an end, it would say that Labour and the Lib Dems, between them, are the truer voice of middle Britain today.

"Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad," as Enoch Powell was fond of quoting.

Well, the Tories have driven themselves mad through their obsession with voters lost to Reform, and that madness could yet destroy them.


Anselm Anon said...

Muddle is also notable as the home and subject-matter of Richard Gough (died 1723), a local historian fascinated with the particulars of his community. In another era he would perhaps have been a Liberal Democrat councillor.

Anselm Anon said...

It auto-corrected to Muddle, but I meant Myddle!

Anonymous said...

A relative of mine who lives in mid-Wales but is in Oswestry frequently is very impressed with Helen Morgan