The week in review: Why do Conservatives hate reality?

They're behind you: Cameron faces attacks from his back-and-frontbenchers
They're behind you: Cameron faces attacks from his back-and-frontbenchers
Ian Dunt By

Evidence-based policy making is one of those things they used to do after the war, like broken biscuits or black and white films. But recent weeks have seen even evidence-based political manoeuvres added to the dodo list. Tory MPs now have such scant interest in the real world they don't even read daily polls anymore.

If they did they would see David Cameron is far more popular than they are. Among a badly tarnished Conservative brand, he remains their best chance of convincing the nation to give them another shot at No.10. If they were to go a little further back they'd see that divided parties never win elections. Alas, all of these conclusions require proper respect for reality, and that is not an attitude which wins much favour on Conservative benches. Instead, both back and front benchers are intent on destroying him.

Most Tory MPs seem to want to drag the party to the right, as Liam Fox suggested when he demanded a cut to capital gains and an end to the ring-fencing of the NHS. Generally speaking, promising to cut the health service is not a sensible way to win an election, so Cameron could afford to worry himself about his other challenger.

Theresa May is the home secretary the prime minister has never particularly liked but who won plaudits by staying in the job for longer than 30 days. May gave what many journalists called a barnstorming speech to a ConservativeHome rally last weekend. By barnstorming, they meant that she spoke in a string of banned-list clichés and could barely be heard above the air conditioning system.

Miliband used the prime minister's travails to good effect during PMQs on Wednesday, as he hammered Downing Street for failing to kill the rebellions against Dave's leadership and U-turning on even the most insignificant of policy issues. May hid by the Speaker's chair, where the press gallery couldn't see her, but Miliband made sure she was at the centre of attention as frequently as possible. She has the hindrance of considerable height, making it harder for her to evade the glances of her peers.

The Labour leader's other strategy is to drive a wedge through the coalition whenever he gets a chance. He tried to use the mansion tax in a pretty shameless piece of real politick, but Vince Cable and the team wouldn't play ball. His failure evidently disappointed Cameron, who decided to throw the Liberal Democrats into the willing arms of their abusive Labour husbands by walking out of talks on press regulations on Thursday.

Doing so instantly forced Nick Clegg and Miliband into their first super hero team-up. If that seems strange, consider this: their pact over Leveson could be a harbinger of things to come if there's another hung parliament in 2015. It was a dangerous, self-defeating move from Cameron, not least because he's likely to lose the Monday vote over the proposals. Maybe those rebellious Tory backbenchers aren't so foolish after all. All of a sudden, his life is in their hands.


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