Elections are lost, not won, the saying goes. It’s been proved true a number of times, most memorably in 1992, and the same may happen in 2015.
Today’s Times has more evidence that one of the strongest motivations for Conservative voters is the desire to keep Ed Miliband out of Downing Street. The YouGov poll it commissioned reveals that the party’s supporters would overwhelmingly support another coalition with the Liberal Democrats rather than countenance a Labour government.
You might think it’s obvious that Tories don’t want Labour in power, but consider the sacrifice involved in that statement. After all the frustrations of governing alongside our wet, europhile coalition partners, after soaking up all the insults and hostile briefing, it is notable that 87 per cent of Conservative voters would be willing to continue the experience if it prevent Red Ed from getting into power.
That view is a testament not to the wonders of coalition but to the horrors that a Miliband government would bring. All of us would much prefer a Conservative majority in the Commons which could do a host of popular things which Clegg and his colleagues currently prevent. This site will fight for precisely that outcome, alongside many other Conservatives across the country.
But if the party falls short at the election – an outcome made more likely by the electoral calculus – the top priority will be ensuring the country does not have to endure a return to ruin under Labour. As our Pinning Down Miliband series has shown in recent weeks, where his policies are not totally absent they are deeply troubling. A reckless obsession with ill-thought-out state intervention in the economy, full commitment to costly green taxes and a total refusal to apologise for their fiscal sins are just a few hints at the harm they would do if they returned to power.
Miliband’s campaigning in the last six months has won him headlines and undoubtedly rallied his supporters. The risk to him, and the opportunity for us, is that the more we see of Red Ed and the more people can imagine him in government, the more likely people are to vote Conservative to keep him out.
That provides new motivation for our own base, and I suspect plenty of people who are not Cameron enthusiasts may well be sufficiently worried about Miliband to put aside their feelings about the Prime Minister when the time comes.
Crucially, it is also a powerful argument to those thinking of voting UKIP. After the European elections there must be a concerted effort to communicate with such voters about the impact of their decision in 2015. If they wanted Farage in Brussels this year, that’s by the by – but if they vote UKIP in 2015, it will only help Miliband into Downing Street. The more they look at him, the less attractive the prospect will seem.