Sunday 4 October 2009

Conference Time

I nearly went to the Conservative party conference this year. That intention was great – it has kept almost a week of my diary free so I will actually have time to do things next week. But somehow it seemed just a bit too long to spend hanging around corridors pretending to be important. Plus it was in Manchester.

I’ll nevertheless be interested to see what happens. My main worry is over-confidence. I don’t understand why Labour is so depressed – or why there seems to be such an assumption that the Conservatives will win the next election. I have as much regard for the Sun’s page 3 “News in Briefs” as anyone, but this is not a slam dunk, for four reasons:
- The voting system and boundaries are massively skewed against the Conservatives. It will take a very big swing, and a much larger share of the vote than Labour, for them to have a majority.
- The election is likely to be 7 months away. A lot can happen in 7 months. Reputations can be made or broken. Leaders can come and go. Economies can recover or crash. Wars can deepen or end – or start.
- The Conservatives are reliant on a very small Cameron based clique for policy and personality; it’s worked well so far but...if there's any crack in that small clique there'd be big problems.
- There a big gaps in policy detail. As, to be fair, there were in 1979. And announcing policy will simply see it copied. But not being Labour may not be enough.

In addition, the Lib Dems are clearly, from their conference, leaning to supporting Labour so if there is a hung Parliament there’s no doubt who they will back.

There’s not a lot the Conservatives can do about this – except don’t take victory for granted, don’t appear to take victory for granted and try to work up some decent policy detail behind the scenes.

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