With probably only three months (and a bit) to go until the Westminster election, and with their Northern Ireland strategy appearing to be heading towards a crash, the Tories awoke yesterday to find that they had sunk in the polls.
It seems that the ComRes poll yesterday gave 'topline' figures of Tory 38% (-4), Labour 29% (no change), and Lib Dem 19% (no change). That represents a sharp drop in Conservative support since ComRes’s last poll.
The ComRes poll would translate into a Tory majority of around 20 seats in the British parliament – less than half what the polls were estimating only last week. If their support continues to ebb away like this they may really come to regret the mess they have made (so far) of their foray into Northern Ireland.
Three months is, of course, a long time in politics, but nonetheless the Tories must be starting to get worried. A very obvious source of seats – 10 at least – could be Northern Ireland, if they can persuade both the UUP and the DUP to support them. But for this to happen, they will have to abandon their pretence of creating some sort of 'civic unionist' coalition and use the short time to cobble together a quick-and-dirty tribal coalition.
Short-term gain, but long-term loss – such is the way of politics. Unionists would be foolish to trust the Tory party with their long-term interests.