Chris you are mixing up the thread of my argument. I said that Bromley showed a reluctance to vote on the part of Conservatives. That reluctance was either because they spent an entire day eating strawberries several weeks before Wimbledon, or because they were unhappy with Cameron and the modernisers.
It was after that initial statement that I came onto Europe. Had the EPP decision been taken prior to Bromley (and it was no doubt carefully pushed out of that period) the stay at home Conservative non-vote might well have been bigger. Also Mr Farage might have managed to get a bit more oxygen into his campaign. If 300 odd votes had changed sides, or 600 more stayed at home, Bromley would have been lost
The point I'm making is that Cameron is intentionally refusing to represent the views of the majority of Conservatives based on the strategic plan that he will attract others to the party especially from Lib Dem, and that the current Conservative voters have nowhere else to go.
This strategy is a backwards-looking strategy. In the past Conservatives have had nowhere else to go.
The issue of Europe is significant in that it is an acid test issue for many Conservatives, and over it Conservatives have shown themselves willing to abandon their traditional loyalty, as UKIP demonstrates.
If UKIP had not been such an incompetently run affair, it would have done us far more damage. We have been most fortunate that Nattrass' cabal seized control and ran the party from his business premises in Birmingham, upsetting allcomers by rigging all internal elections etc, including their best electoral asset Kilroy Silk.
Next time the Conservatives' luck might not hold. Threats could come from a rejuvenated UKIP with new leadership, or from Labour's left wing winning control of the Party with a eurosceptic policy that appeals to people like me. Or possibly a surging BNP.
At current growth rate, by the next Euro elections, the BNP's support could be 2X or 2.5X what it is now. They need only tidy up their image to make it less labour voter targetted and more Conservative-voter targetted and they could make inroads.
I think Cameron could still get away with all his modernising, with traditional Conservative voters backing him if he delivered a convincing eurosceptic platform. This is the key area of Cameron's vulnerability. Sadly he's given Hague the opportunity to mess it up for him, which Hague has done. The Conservative vote at this moment has become extremely vulnerable.
Unless some more MEP's stand aside from the stitch-up and brave the threat of deselection, I don't see much hope. Cameron actually needs more Helmers to keep this wing of his party onside. If he kills off all hope, he will suffer the consequences next time he wants votes. Hannan would be helping Cameron by striking out alone.