It’s the economy, stupid!
The defeat of the Conservative plan to reduce the number of MPs in the House of Commons from 650 to 600, caused by their Liberal Democrat coalition “partners” voting it down in pique after failing to get House of Lords reform or AV has led to questioning of whether the government can really limp on another 2 1/2 years or indeed, whether it ought to do so. Continuation of the current number of MPs with no changes to the boundaries of their constituencies mean that only a 0.1% swing to Labour would be needed for a Labour majority and for the Conservatives to require an 8% lead in the popular vote to get a majority.
Chances of David Cameron being in a position to deliver on his speech about the EU delivered last week or indeed anything else after 2015 look slim indeed. As a friend commented to me recently, who exactly, of those who didn’t vote Tory in 2010 would now vote for them? Perhaps some who went to UKIP might be tempted back as single issue zealots, if they are sensible enough to realise that any other vote would mean there was no chance of a referendum on EU membership. That, on 2010 numbers might be enough to be worth a number of seats. However, it is hard to see many LibDem voters switching away other than to Labour – and while this could lead to some Tory gains in seats where they are reasonably close challengers to LibDem incumbents, those are likely to be limited. So something has to be done if the Tories want to stay in government.