Ponder this for a party political track record.

Elections fought: 26. Elections won (alone or in coalition): 19. Elections lost (but with a majority of the votes polled): five. Total defeats: two.

That's not the history of a banana republic or even an oil rich family-owned desert paradise (Texas excluded). It is the UK Conservative party's history 1900-1997.

So where and why has it gone wrong since then? Three election routs on the trot. Something to discuss in less than happy tones at the Tory Party Conference this month but not, one feels, quickly to resolved.

One reason, of course, is the Tory focus over recent years. Both Hague and Howard were seen as firmly right wing. …

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