It’s a year to go until the longest election campaign finally finishes. Ed Miliband thinks he has more intellectual self-confidence than David Cameron, which since his 2013 autumn conference speech where the Labour leader finally found the courage of his convictions. But David Cameron has more confidence about his own party sticking by him for the campaign at least.
The Prime Minister has mended some relationships, and others are more cordial and banging the Tory drum simply because they want their party to win next year. But it’s fair to say that for the time being the PM has got the contingent of swing voters amongst his own MPs – those who are not his loyal servants but who also don’t hate his guts – working on his side. Those swing voters were very cross with him just over a year ago and it was very easy to get them to list all the ways in which he had wronged them personally and in which he was ruining the party. Now they are keen for victory in 2015, keen for there not to be too much fuss from the awkward squad after the European elections, and even quite keen to help out in ensuring that there isn’t too much fuss.
They’re a mixed group, but many of them are frustrated by the constant will-he-won’t-he business from Boris Johnson, and quite pleased with the way Lynton Crosby has tightened up the party’s messaging. The Prime Minister has even managed to get some troublemakers such as Andrew Bridgen back on board in the name of victory. Sure, he hasn’t converted them to becoming Cameroons, but they’ve got their shoulders to the wheel, and at this stage, that’s all that matters.
These swing MPs won’t bicker publicly unless they’re set a bad example from on high, which is why the Boris question needs answering sooner rather than later, and unless Number 10 manages to muck up the aftermath of the European elections. We all know they are going to be dreadful, but there are plenty of MPs who are not Cameroons and are not gratuitously insulting to Ukip who could be deployed as part of the recovery plan to calm the rest of the party down. And they’re keen to help.