Looking ahead to Conservative Party conference, which begins tomorrow, I find it impossible to imagine a situation in which Cameron and his party don’t come through the whole thing with flying colours. Some Tories I know, ground down by years of this sort of stuff being fluffed, are certain that someone will defect to UKIP or be involved in some sort of lurid scandal during the week ahead. But somehow, I don’t think so.
After the bust up over Trident in Brighton, the Tories divisions on Europe seem if not small at least manageable (for now, I’d like to stress). Cameron will get to seem like exactly who he ideally wants to seem: the only sane man left in the room. The only guy who can lead the country in this hour of need. The only possible prime minister. All of this has been set up by Labour in a way that had they planned it, they could not having succeeded any better at it.
This summer the only political game in town was the Labour leadership contest. This allowed the Tories to pass a pretty in your face welfare bill that got nary an eye blink from most of the media. What’s a substantial change to the post-war settlement compared to Labour being in complete meltdown?
Meanwhile, look at how much stuff is up in the air. Are we going to bomb Syria or are we not? Cameron isn’t even under pressure on this, since Corbyn has very nicely taken it all upon himself. I’m terrified of what Cameron is doing on the Europe front: I sit and hope that his plan is to bring everything together for next March when he’ll announce what the “new deal” on Europe is, then get behind Britain staying in. However, at this point who genuinely knows what Cameron has in mind? His imploring of the business to community to “keep quiet” on the Europe is hard to read.
If I ever needed solid proof of the importance of having a strong opposition to the functioning of a parliamentary democracy, Jeremy Corbyn has aptly provided one already. Because when the other side of the House is not only not holding you to account but carrying on with such a drama that they become the focus of all negative attention, it does allow the government of the day a massive amount of elbow room.
Even if my Tory friends’ worst nightmares come true, and further tales of spurious or otherwise semi-bestiality come to light, it hardly matters: everything comes down to Cameron’s speech. Which is almost technically impossible for him to screw up. He just has to sound managerially okay – that’s how low the bar is now set. All thanks to having no real opposition to speak of.