By jove I’ve got it: now I understand the Tory Eastleigh strategy

It’s been quite a conundrum: what is the Conservative Party strategy in the Eastleigh Parliamentary by-election?

Select a candidate with controversial right-wing views. Spend much of the campaign dodging interviews with the media, generating a slew of negative stories as a result. Slip in the occasional public comment that generates more controversy. And even after all that, leave Lynton Crosby largely out of things, rather than calling him in to sort out such a disorganised mess of a message.

What could possibly be the logic behind all that?

Incompetence, quite possibly.

But wait a moment. Is there an alternative?

Perhaps… it’s a cunning strategy by the Conservative modernisers: have a poor right-wing candidate and a duff campaign, hoping thereby to assist on the quiet the Liberal Democrats in winning so that (a) you can turn round to the right afterwards and say, “See what happens when we run on your dream anti-Europe, anti-abortion, anti-equal marriage, anti-state comprehensives ticket?”, and (b) you hope that a Lib Dem win boosts the party in the polls, upping the chances of Labour failing to win an overall majority at the next election.

Oh well, I guess incompetence it is then.


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