Imagine the following scenario: as a result of having been empty chaired for the TV debates, at least the first two before realising he has to take part in the final one-on-one with Miliband, Cameron fails to help the Tories become the largest party in a hung parliament. By default, Labour form a government; Miliband becomes Prime Minister.
Cameron steps down as leader and a new person to lead them is sought after. Either Osborne or Boris comes in. The Right is not satisfied.
Or imagine this one: Cameron ends up back in Number 10 and calls a referendum. It becomes obvious he is going to campaign for Britain to stay in the EU. The Right is not satisfied.
The “Tory split” idea has done the rounds for several years within Westminster (mostly by Tories themselves, which is interesting). But my question, which pertains whomever inhabits Downing Street post-May, is this: will the right of the Tories be neutralised if UKIP flops badly during the election?
A caller rang in to Call Clegg this past week to taunt the Deputy Prime Minister about how many more seats UKIP will have than the Lib Dems in a few weeks time. This led to Clegg betting the man six pints of beer that the Lib Dems would definitely have more seats than UKIP post-May. This is a pretty safe bet on Nick’s part. Even if the Lib Dems had the worst night imaginable and UKIP completely out-stripped expectations, Clegg’s claim would still stand.
I bring this up to demonstrate once again how far removed from reality the Kippers are at present. They really think they’re getting fifty-odd seats this time round and will hold the balance of power in a hung parliament. I stick to my prediction: after May they will go from having two seats to one, with Carswell their sole MP. And at that point, Douglas might want to have a think about career options.
With UKIP having flopped, this should embolden the sensible wing of the Conservative Party, as the “defect to UKIP” escape route will have been proven to be career suicide. But on the other hand, the right of the party still has pretty much all of the membership on its side.
I think the battle between the two factions is coming. Cameron hopes he can avoid it by holding the referendum, staying in the EU and thus “ending the debate”. He’s wrong about this: holding an In/Out referendum will only hasten the split. Perhaps the right of the Tories will be so outraged by Cameron trying to keep Britain in, they will all join UKIP despite that party having failed in May 2015. Or they will manage to take over the Conservative Party completely. At which point, what do the pro-business Tories do? Wait it out? Or do they split off, taking all the money and contacts with them? I can’t wait to find out.