Stuart notes that the Tories have admitted they are losing the battle. Personally, I think they are clearly implementing Lynton Crosby’s send a message strategy of trying to lull Labour voters into a false sense of security.
Nevertheless, there is no concrete evidence of the Tories making up any ground. Indeed, Stuart links to a very interesting Scotsman article on the likely aftermath of another Tory defeat:
This weekend, party grandees are already preparing for the fall-out from another defeat. It is understood that Sir Michael Spicer, chairman of the party’s influential 1922 Committee, (and the man behind the well-executed plan to force out Iain Duncan Smith) is quietly laying the ground for a soft landing. Party chiefs want Howard to stay on after May 6, hoping to prevent the chaos of the 1997 and 2001 elections, when John Major and William Hague respectively quit immediately afterwards. This time, they hope that their still respected leader will stay on to allow a more orderly succession. However, the fact that they are now preparing for such a move speaks volumes.
The article also has a list of the Howard’s potential successors. To the best of my knowledge the word at Westminster is that the Tory leadership favours David Cameron.
If Davis manages to hold his seat he will certainly be a formidable candidate. He is the only Tory I can think of who has carved out a heavyweight presence since 1997, taking a few ministerial scalps in the process.
Having said that, I hold no brief for the Tories, partly because I wouldn’t trust their management of the Irish peace process, but also because they have responded to New Labour’s domination of the centre by veering further to the right.
Nevertheless, the Conservative Party is an enduring part of the British political landscape, and I think the most constructive way they could evolve would be towards English nationalism, which I think would also require them to return to a more centrist one-nation philosophy.
Whether that happens may in part depend on whethet they make an electoral recovery outside England. It may be worth keeping an eye out for the results from Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland and Monmouth in Wales.