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Sunday, March 06, 2005

Election fever remains untreated

The Sunday Express today (no link) quotes Labour campaign chiefs as believing that the Tories have snuck into the lead and are threatening to overturn the Government's majority. This is attributed to a "secret leaked report". Other secret leaked reports reveal that Tony Blair is an extra-terrestial and that Father Christmas is planning a coup in Equatorial Guinea!

As I have commented before, these reports do not leak by accident and I am astonished that the Sunday Express has allowed itself to be manipulated in this way. It may well be that the Tory Party's appeal to the base instincts of their core supporters has upped their poll ratings but the electoral arithmetic remains stacked against them and the campaign has barely started. A close race suits the Labour Party as it enables them to motivate their voters to go out and vote and to combat leakage to other parties.

As an example of the formidable electoral machine being put together by the Tories, the Wales on Sunday demonstrates that they cannot even keep a show of unity at their Party Conferences. It seems that Welsh Tory leadership has spent much of the time at their Welsh gathering bickering about the future of devolution.

This is not to dismiss the Conservatives altogether of course. They remain a formidable electoral machine and they are re-learning the art of campaigning at the grassroots. They are ruthless opportunists who think nothing about flip-flopping on a policy position to win votes and they have a substantial hard core of support who, if motivated, may well turn out in greater numbers than the core-voters of other parties. In other words the outcome of this election may come down to targeting and differential turnout.
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