The Tories are already acting as if the 2022 election is lost

Conservative party conference feels more like a funeral than a festival.

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Is this death? Labour party conference felt like the gathering of a party that had just experienced a kind of victory, but the Conservatives' big do feels more like a funeral than a festival.

Yesterday's big speech, such as it was, came from Philip Hammond, who had a lot to say about how bad the 1970s were and rather less to say about what the 2020s will be like under the Conservatives.

For all it's easy to laugh at Labour for celebrating their third successive defeat, they did at least take a significant step forward at the last election.

It's a lot stranger that despite the fact they're at worst three points behind, the Conservatives are already talking as if the 2022 election is lost. At almost every fringe I've been to, activists are asking questions about what happens "when we're back in opposition".

The strange thing is that all the Tories have to do to win is stop talking as if affluent ethnic minorities are the enemy and as if everyone who voted Remain should be sent to camp, and to turn their energies towards house-building. The future could yet be blue.

But Labour's great joy is that the Tories are already acting as if the last election has been fought and lost.

Stephen Bush is political editor of the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.