Sep 03, 2012 16:58 BST Curtin&Co LibDem consultant, Chris Oughton, shares his thoughts ahead of the Coalition's first full reshuffle
A difficult day for Cameron. New territory for the Coalition.Aug 07, 2012 09:36 BST
Councillor Paul Harvey looks at what could prove a very difficult day for the Prime Minister.
It never rains but it pours for poor David Cameron, not only has he jinxed a number of our Gold medal hopefuls by appearing in the audience on the day they didn’t quite make it, he has to now contend with a by-election in a marginal seat in the middle of the Autumn political season.
Louise Mensch, the MP for Corby, has announced her resignation. A leading Tory performer, Louise Mensch was one of David Cameron’s ‘A list’ candidates. These candidates were parachuted into key seats in 2010 in order to show that his brand of Conservative Party was new and different.
One of the leading lights was Louise Mensch, high profile, out spoken and media savvy. She was a key figure on the Select Committee Inquiry into the News of the World phone hacking affair, and she was seen as a keen defender of the Government.
Two things now arise; one, can the Conservatives defend an ultra-marginal seat in the heat of the political storm in November; and, secondly, if they lose what message does this send out to Tory MPs in marginal seats up and down the country?
If you add into the mix today’s announcement that the Coalition’s proposed Lords Reforms legislation has been shelved and Nick Clegg’s announcement that he won’t be whipping his MPs to vote for the boundary changes then the runes do not read well for the Conservatives.
Cameron will be aware of the historical precedent that no Government has ever increased its majority while in office, and the Tories don’t even have one to start with. His one chance of winning a slender majority at the next election would have been the twenty or so extra seats that the boundary changes would have given him, but now that the Lib Dems have scuppered this he will have to look for other means.
So Corby now matters. The writ for the by-election will be moved when Parliament returns after the summer recess, and we should brace ourselves for the one of the longest by-election campaigns in recent memory.
Labour has to win, and they have to win well as anything less than a resounding victory will be seen as letting the Tories off the hook. Cameron would be severely weakened at a time when he will be seeking an autumn revival.
The most likely date for the election to take place on will be 15th November, the same day that voters in Cardiff South and Manchester Central will be electing their own MPs. If Labour is able to hold on to these two safe seats, and pick up Corby it could end up being a very bad night for David Cameron.
If you think of Norwich North and Crewe & Nantwich in the last Parliament, or Wirral South, South Staffs, and Dudley West in the run-down of the Major years, the implications of Corby for the next General Election could be even greater.
So much of the political discourse will be geared around this for the next three months, and the tensions will rise as the media inevitably build this into frenzy. The only ones who have nothing to lose are the Lib Dems (aside from their deposit) – they only risk being utterly marginalised in what will be seen as a heavy weight bout between Labour and the Conservatives.
Who ever said the summer was the silly season in politics may have just had a point!