Yesterday it felt like the Tories were in control. They were united behind Cameron on Europe (for now) and both Cameroons and Fox-ites could look each other in the eye and feel rather pleased with themselves. Ed Miliband’s bungled response to the PM at PMQs will only have increased their pleasure.
Yet only a day later – and the Tory Party is looking rather desperate.
This morning their economic plans – austerity or bust – were slammed by the IMF’s Chief Economist on the Today Programme. Blanchard’s intervention could only have been more damaging for Osborne if he had outed Osborne as a stubborn-minded economic illiterate.
Then last night’s Tory PPB (which they must have been rather pleased with, considering the timing) came under fire after Cameron’s manifestly false claim (or “lie” as they’re otherwise known) that the government is cutting the debt was referred to the head of the UK stats authority and then contradicted by Cameron’s own spokesperson.
But perhaps most desperate of all are the Tory attempts to try and squeeze through changes to parliamentary boundaries (and slash the number of MPs) despite the Lib Dems vowing to vote against them. After all of the bluster yesterday and claims of renewed confidence over the Tory electoral position, their desperation to make boundary changes happen against all odds shows how reliant they are on such gerrymandering to achieve an absolute majority. Apart from anything else, for the vote to pass through the Commons wouldl require several Tory MPs to vote in favour of abolishing their own constituencies. The massed ranks of the “awkward squad” may have been cheered by yesterday’s speech – but it’s hard to imagine any of them voting to make themselves redundant. But Cameron must try anyway – because he feels he has no choice.
From the Euro-high of yesterday the Tory Party has woken up with a hangover to the grubby reality of government – mistakes, criticism and the difficulty of winning re-election in an inhospitable political climate.
And in the cold light of day – they don’t look that strong anymore, do they?