What would happen if -- if! -- Cameron can’t form a government this week?

Could the Tory party be finished for ever?

Let me preface this by saying that David Cameron may well be prime minister by the end of the week. However . . .

At the end of my piece for the magazine out today, I touch on what might happen if he fails to form a government this week, speculating that -- after the Tories pursued a "core vote" strategy in 2001 and 2005, and were then seen (wrongly, in my view) to have "modernised" fundamentally in 2010 -- they would struggle to know where to turn.

Already, the recriminations have begun on the Thatcherite right of the party, saying Cameron should have stuck to harder-line policies. But in reality, he has, on every issue from tax to Europe to immigration to welfare to the family, and -- as I have always said about Cameron -- if he loses it will be not because he changed his party too much, but because he didn't change it enough.

Nonetheless, the likelihood is surely that, thanks to the blanket media narrative that has declared him a "moderniser" and a centrist, the party will once again lurch to the right, possibly under the leadership of David Davis or Liam Fox.

That is if Cameron goes, of course. But as I point out in the piece, the Tories are much more ruthless than Labour about getting rid of leaders who fail. Some say the "men in grey suits" could move in swiftly for the kill.

But there is no doubt that Cameron has performed extremely competently if not wisely as leader, and a party that has become so used to depending on his personality may baulk at the prospect of getting rid of him.

As a senior backbencher told me, the "problem" is that, as Mehdi Hasan explains here, the goalposts have been shifted so far between where they were months ago, when many people expected Cameron to win by a landslide, and now, when some would regard a hung parliament as a success for him.

Nonetheless, having been seen to have tried every strategy, the Tories would be in crisis -- and perhaps be finished for good as a force in their own right -- if they don't win this week. However, as I said at the beginning, Cameron may well win on Thursday, and win big. We shall see.

James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.
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Quiz: Can you identify fake news?

The furore around "fake" news shows no sign of abating. Can you spot what's real and what's not?

Hillary Clinton has spoken out today to warn about the fake news epidemic sweeping the world. Clinton went as far as to say that "lives are at risk" from fake news, the day after Pope Francis compared reading fake news to eating poop. (Side note: with real news like that, who needs the fake stuff?)

The sweeping distrust in fake news has caused some confusion, however, as many are unsure about how to actually tell the reals and the fakes apart. Short from seeing whether the logo will scratch off and asking the man from the market where he got it from, how can you really identify fake news? Take our test to see whether you have all the answers.

 

 

In all seriousness, many claim that identifying fake news is a simple matter of checking the source and disbelieving anything "too good to be true". Unfortunately, however, fake news outlets post real stories too, and real news outlets often slip up and publish the fakes. Use fact-checking websites like Snopes to really get to the bottom of a story, and always do a quick Google before you share anything. 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.