There is a chasm between a tragedy of calculated wrongdoing and a comedy of errors, but the Conservative campaign in Wales has had its share of both. Taking the tragedy first, the lack of remorse and the slowness of the party’s reaction to the involvement of former candidate Ross England in the collapse of a rape trial, has been morally contemptible and politically inept. The errors around Chris Davies and other candidate selections have often provided the comedy.
The biggest strength the Conservatives have is that these misjudgements do not seem to matter. Both the last Welsh Barometer polls show the Conservatives either ahead or in a very healthy position, which see them forecast to more than double their seats in Wales. If the UK polls released so far can be believed in any way, the party has a commanding lead over Labour and that is barely changing.
Which leads me to believe that the obvious weaknesses of the Conservative campaign in Wales which we have obsessed over, magnified and ridiculed for over a fortnight simply do not matter very much. This isn’t to belittle the Ross England episode in any way – and I am intrigued to see local polling in the Vale of Glamorgan during the campaign as I suspect it might buck other trends – but there is absolutely no evidence as yet of any of the Conservative campaign weaknesses actually damaging them in Wales.
The Conservatives are also fortunate in their opponents. The Remain Alliance fashioned in Wales is in reality no such thing. Yes, it targets Brexit supporting would be MPs in Brecon & Radnorshire and Montgomeryshire as well as challenging Alun Cairns in the Vale of Glamorgan. But it misses out other areas where the Conservatives are championing Brexit, and doing so without the Brexit Party on the ballot paper. Monmouth, Clwyd West, Preseli Pembrokeshire, Aberconwy and Carmarthen West & Pembrokeshire South are all free runs. The fact that the Remain Alliance has chosen to prioritise its focus on Remain-supporting Labour candidates in Cardiff Central, Pontypridd and Llanelli rather than actually take on Brexit backers with any sort of popular front is one of the biggest boosts the Conservatives have yet received.
Indeed, both the unilateral disarmament move by the Brexit Party and the fake, self serving selections of the Remain Alliance have aided the Conservative Party in Wales as much as anything it has yet managed to do itself.