Monday, October 02, 2006

Can Cameron's Conservatives win the next general election?

The Tories have opened their conference in Bournemouth ahead in the opinion polls. But, as most psephologists point out, their lead is nowhere near big enough to guarantee them victory at the next general election.

A workable majority at Westminister usually needs about 40% support from the electorate. At present, Team Cameron stands at around 36%. Given the difficulties New Labour is going through, the real question is, why isn’t the main opposition party doing a hell of a lot better?

I think a lot of the reason is the perceived lack of difference between Labour and the Conservatives. Both of them base their political line firmly on what is widely being called the centre ground, but is probably more accurately described as the more rightwing side of the centre right spectrum.

So can the Tories win the next general election? The political experience of my adult lifetime has been confined to two extended periods of rule by the same party.

Both were preceded by a tangible swing in the public mood. The Thatcherite ascendancy was heralded by a backlash against trade unionism in the late seventies, while an extended period of Labour government was a certainty after Black Monday in 1992.

So far, any feeling that the tectonic plates have shifted in the same way is passing me by. There seems to be little active partisanship for either party, particularly among younger voters.

I suppose that increases the odds on a hung parliament. But that is not to say that Cameron cannot triumph.

By the way, I was interested to hear that Guardian green columnist George Monbiot will be addressing the Tories’ Tribal Gathering. This is the same guy who was still a member of Respect until February 2004, right?

[Picture credit: UK Daily Pundit]

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