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The Tories can win

It has been a pretty bad month for the Conservative Party. Yet Brown’s bounce and Labour’s seeming unassailability lead in the polls will count for nothing if the Tories take advantage of Britain’s grossly unfair electoral system. The next election, whenever it is called, could see the party with the largest votes gain fewer seats in Parliament. The Tories need only to win a few votes in around seventy constituencies to turn the country blue. If they do so, the country is likely to be led by a party that commands barely a third of the popular vote. All the pundits are looking nationally, but the Tories are wisely thinking locally

Targeting those few hundred thousand voters in marginal seats is arguably David Cameron’s only chance of becoming prime minister. He has calculated that many of them are young professionals living in urban areas who would have voted for Thatcher had they graduated when she was in office, yet feel that the Tories of the noughties were too illiberal.

Cameron’s response has been to promote the party as soft and cuddly, sensitive enough even to hug a hoodie, and caring enough to do something on the environment. While most of the country has not fallen for this, remember that they do not have to. Only a few hundred people in these marginal seats need convincing. These same people are concerned about house prices, their parents about passing on their wealth. Thus, the Conservatives have promised to abolish stamp duty for first time buyers and exempt all but the super rich from inheritance tax.

If ever there was a time for Brown to embrace electoral reform, this is it.

Fix the date, Gordon

Oh, how petty