The seat is a three way marginal, which was number 83 on the Tories’ target list – precisely the sort of seat they’ll need to win in 2015. However, as James noted on Friday, the Liberal Democrats’ need is greater at the moment. Already, tongues are wagging that a pimpled Etonian is destined to journey north of the Watford Gap, safe in the knowledge that gallant defeat will ensure he is the next Prime Minister but three.
Enter Nigel Farage, opportunistically. Looking to attract disaffected Conservative voters and recent eurosceptic converts, Farage is styling UKIP as the British Tea Party:
‘The big difference between us is that the tea party legislates within the Republican party whereas UKIP legislates outside the established parties...but the feeling that we are being overtaxed, over-governed, not being listened to, yes. There is increasingly a feeling that you don’t really get a choice...really on the big issues there aren’t many differences. That’s what it’s got in common.’
It’s bold, and Farage may succeed. But without high profile defections from rebellious Tory MPs, a UKIP breakthrough is unlikely under first past the post.