As the Conservative Party rolls into Manchester, their emphasis is on presentation and on exploiting the perceived weakness of the left. Osborne's slimy utterances and the mendacious claims of one nation Toryism are the soundbites, while underneath the various forms of primeval throwback are chuntering away with nostalgia for a bygone era of fealty and rigid hierarchy. For every potential modern policy, there are snivelling and foul throwbacks that should act as a salutary reminder that, much as the Blairites failed to capture the Labour Party, the Tories remain the Nasty Party.
Sometimes it is not the fault of the mainstream party. When the self-styled and mendacious Taxpayer's Alliance (the single apostrophe is appropriate since it is not a membership organisation but a mouthpiece for gibbering right-wing lunatics) calls for cuts to pensioner benefits to be brought forward because, not merely statistically many of the recipients will be dead or too befuddled to notice before the next General Election, this is not surprising. When Jeremy "Rhyming Slang" Hunt regards cutting tax credits as some kind of moral crusade to remove British workers' rights and emulate such paragons as China and the USA, it is clear that the asylum has been well and truly breached.
The Tories are currently in a honeymoon period. Illegitimately elected, a point which needs to be rammed home every time they bang on about rights and self-determination for other elections, their base is built on sand. Huge swathes of Great Britain are no-go areas for them, and the towering achievement of less than a quarter of the eligible electorate supporting them is not one they are particularly comfortable with. An unbalanced recovery continues, but prone to disruption from squalls beyond Europe, and the housing bubble looks set to create more division going forward.
Against this background, most government departments are going to be cutting between a quarter and two fifths of their expenditure after Osborne's spending review this autumn. Compared to the austerity-lite that the Coaltion perpetrated, this is savage and will resonate into areas of Tory heartlands where their own sense of entitlement will be rattled. A division over Europe will magnify as the referendum campaign heats up, and the Tories will then have their own leadership to worry about. Not exactly a glowing prospect, even with four years to go until the next election campaign commences its progress.
Appealing to a "one nation" narrative is clever spin now, given that their mavens and echo-chambers have been alleging that Corbyn's mainstream democratic socialism is some form of extreme Maoism - I'm quite surprised that there haven't been parallels drawn between Islington today and Cambodia in 1975 by some of the more hysterically raving lunatics. This won't work as services collapse and society becomes more polarised.
This is not in itself a gaping opportunity for the left and centre to grasp, merely a necessary and sufficient condition. When the enemy is sliding back into a morass, the time is right for a clear alignment and statement of an alternative position. The Tories are doing themselves no favours with their current hypocritical maunderings on minimum wages and tax credit, the distorting mirror will see to that. They have not shot themselves fatally as yet, but the omens are not good for the remainder of the current Parliament.