James Forsyth

Will warnings of chaos affect the electorate?

Will warnings of chaos affect the electorate?
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Ken Clarke delivered the IMF warning today at the Tory press conference. Clarke, a politician experienced enough to remember the last time no party had a majority in the Commons and the last time the IMF was called in, said that if the electorate did not put in a government with a working majority that is serious about dealing with the debt and the deficit then the IMF will do it for us. He scolded the electorate, saying that ‘not every single member of the electorate seems to realise how serious this election is.’  

The Tories hope that this bucket of cold water will help end voters’ infatuation with Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats. My worry is that the electorate actually wants to bring everything tumbling down so warnings of chaos will have little impact on them The Tories are relying on the reality of what massively higher interest rates would mean kicking in at some point before polling day.

One thing I think the Tories must start doing is emphasising where on the economy they differ from both Labour and the Liberal Democrats. If you want to stop the job-killing National Insurance increase, the only way to do that is to vote Conservative. If you want the government to start reducing the amount by which it overspends immediately, the only way to do that is to vote Conservative.

David Cameron has two debates to push the Tory vote back up. (If the Lib Dems continue to poll ahead of Labour — which I hear one pollster thinks is now more likely than not — then the Tories could get a majority with a score in the high thirties.) In these debates, Cameron needs to bracket Labour and the Lib Dems together in values and policy terms at every opportunity Viewers need to feel at the end of it, that it is the Conservatives who are truly different.

Written byJames Forsyth

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

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