I strongly suspect that for all political parties there is a common pattern: what seems sensible and logical to those on the inside often seems baffling and weird to those on the outside. Europe for Tories, STV for the Liberal Democrats, for example.
Often, of course, it is the outsiders who are right because they have a more detached view; often, however, they are wrong because they do not really understand what they are talking about.
Therefore the odds are you should ignore the rest of this post where I opine on the Conservative Party. If you fancy taking a punt, stick with me…
Reading and listening to the reaction in Conservative ranks to this week’s news on Lords reform and Parliamentary boundaries reminds me rather of Liberal Democrats in the summer of 2010. Then it was ‘hooray, we’re in government!’ followed by ‘oh bugger, is this what it is really like?’ as events unfolded, such as the loss of Short Money.
Now for Conservatives, it seems to be a case of ‘hooray, we’ve saved the House of Lords!’ followed by ‘oh bugger, that means no boundary changes’.
ConHome’s Tim Montgomerie has been particularly scathing about what this means for the Tory party’s election prospects, saying that in a day they’ve lost 20-30 seats at the next election, making the day Lords Reform was put to rest the electorally most disastrous day for his party since Black Wednesday.
Scathing, and all the more effective for the essential logic and accuracy of it. We can have fun debating whether days such as the one when the Conservatives elected IDS as their leader rather than Ken Clarke were more costly to the party.
Regardless, the basic truth is there: in saving the Lords, the Conservatives paid a significant electoral cost and, despite all the warnings that this was going to happen, they seem only to have realised quite what it meant after it was too late to change their minds.