The latest opinion polls are still looking dire for the Liberal Democrats. (Click to enlarge.)
Pretty much all the pollsters have shown a collapse in Lib Dem support since the general election. At that election, they polled 23%. As you can see from the graph (pinched from the BBC’s excellent Poll Tracker site), their collapse began as soon as they entered the Coalition.
By the end of last year, their support had slipped below 10%. It has been hovering around 8-10% ever since, with no sign of any recovery.
Tory support is roughly where they were on election day – around 36%. Traditionally that would not have been enough to win an election. Last year it was enough because Labour received a serious drubbing, getting only 29%, with people switching from Labour to the Liberal Democrats.
Nick Clegg has tried to portray his party as having a decisive influence on the government, and restraining the worst excesses of the rampant Tories. That does not seem to have worked – not least, perhaps, because it is plain for all to see that David Cameron is no more Tory than he is.
As Liberal Democrat support has melted away, Labour are back up to 42%.
42% is the magic figure that traditionally was regarded as enough to be sure of getting a working majority.
The Cameroons will tell you that David Cameron has revitalised his party, that he has made it electable. They are telling porkies. Tory support even at the general election was hardly up at all from the level achieved by Michael Howard at the previous election. And it has flatlined ever since.
At the general election, despite fighting a government that was widely despised and hated, the Tories under Mr Cameron achieved only a 5% swing – and even that was mostly due to a fall in the Labour vote rather than an increase in the Tory one.
Tory support then, as now, is not enough to avoid defeat in a normal election. Tory support has not gone down since the election. And yet, if there were an election tomorrow, according to the polls, the Liberal Democrats would be destroyed and Labour would win handsomely.
It was Nick Clegg’s success that handed the election to David Cameron, by robbing Labour of votes. And Nick Clegg’s success is now looking decidedly like yesterday’s phenomenon.
Tories ought to understand that all the sacrifices they have made in the name of David Cameron’s soft focus Conservatism, all the beliefs and values they have abandoned, have availed them nothing. Far from leading the Tories to victory, David Cameron’s Tory Lite has achieved nothing in terms of increasing support for the Tories.
The rich irony is that Mr Cameron’s disastrous performance in those TV debates during the election campaign was what allowed Nick Clegg to achieve his surge.
Of such ironies are political fortunes made. Mr Cameron’s mistake in agreeing to those debates and then performing badly in them allowed him to win the election.
It is always difficult to predict what will happen in politics. But all the indications right now are that the Tories will almost certainly lose the next election. The Tories are not forgiving of leaders who lose. Mr Cameron should enjoy his time in the sun while it lasts.