The Tories have a 40:40 strategy for the next election. The aim is to defend their 40 most vulnerable seats and try and win 40 others to give the party a majority. So which 40 are in their sights? Normally, it’s an easy one to answer: you just look at the last election and count which seats have the most narrow Tory defeat.
If you’d done this, there would only be 9 Liberal Democrat MPs on the Tory hit list. But the Liberal Democrat vote has changed radically since the last election. So Stephen Gilbert, the PM’s political secretary, has drawn up a new list, added in demographic factors, current polling data and consumer targeting. As a result, the number of Liberal Democrat seats on the list more than doubled.
As I say in my column for the new Spectator, this will obviously affect coalition relations. The Tories hope of a majority is to unseat more than a third of the MPs of the party they are governing with.