James Forsyth

If the Tories are to take full advantage of this moment, they must cut out the unforced errors

If the Tories are to take full advantage of this moment, they must cut out the unforced errors
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The last week has been one of the worst the Tories have had in a while. As Pete said on Friday, a bad week in August is unlikely to do lasting damage. But the Tories should learn from the events of then past few days: they have been thrown onto the defensive not by clever Labour attacks but by their own unforced errors. Alan Duncan was a fool to say things to a prankster who he had never met before that he did not want made public and Dan Hannan should have realised that a Tory politician criticising the NHS in the context of the US healthcare debate was going to be grist to the left’s mill.

You can say that in an ideal world both Duncan and Hannan should have been able to do what they did. But however disappointing it is that people abuse a politician’s hospitality by breaking confidences or that policy debates get reduced to 140 characters, Duncan and Hannan should have behaved more sensibly. Their actions suggest that some Tories have yet to acquire the discipline that is needed if the Tories are to fully capitalise on the opportunity that the next few months will present them with.

Every bit of political capital the Tories have to expend on dealing with these self-inflicted wounds reduces the amount that can be devoted to taking advantage of Labour’s weakness to change the terms of debate in this country.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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