Within twelve months the Tories have seen two strong and secure Prime Ministers humbled. The chaos that followed the resignation of the first of them is the only thing which is propping up the second. Very few people in the Conservative Party relish the prospect of another leadership contest. They don't have a good one available. They can't agree which is the least bad, they are deeply split over what any new one should do and they are pretty sure they would lose an election.
On the face of it this creates every prospect for one of the most enjoyable spectacles anyone on the left can witness. A confused and divided Conservative Party under an inept leader being subject to week after week of blistering attacks from the opposition. What's not to like?
Well quite a lot actually. If you actually care about the future of the UK.
Most people tend to take it for granted that things will carry on being pretty much the way they have always been. A politician might make things a little bit better or a little bit worse but they don't normally interfere a lot with the ordinary life.
That isn't always the case. Sometimes things go very wrong indeed. Ask the people of Russia about their experiences during the period of the collapse of communism. Or the people of Greece what it was like after the 2008 financial crash. Or the people of Venezuela how well their economic experiment with a command economy has gone. Extreme changes in the lives of ordinary people do happen when politicians and economists get it wrong.
There is now a risk that the UK could go through something almost as bad. All you have to do is to imagine the following set of circumstances:
1. The EU negotiations don't go well.
2. We are out of the European Single Market
3. Instead of signing wonderful new trade deals our major trading partners spot our weakness and we find it is a long hard slog to negotiate unfavourable new trade deals overseen by teams of international corporate lawyers who can override our sovereign Parliament.
4. The popularity of the minority government continues to decline. It has been weakened by two years of still unresolved infighting, losing by-elections, low in the opinion polls and in the middle of another damaging leadership battle.
5. The economic and political uncertainty damages business confidence. Investment drops and unemployment mounts. The pound goes down even further, inflation rises, and people start to clamour for pay rises the government can't afford without ditching its most dearly held policies. The deficit starts to get worse not better.
6. Rising unemployment, inflation and deficits coupled with political uncertainty create a deep economic crisis.
To be clear I am not saying such a set of circumstances is bound to happen. Nor am I saying that it is the most likely thing to happen. What I am arguing is that it is on the serious possibility map and needs thinking about. Pessimism isn't always unrealistic.
There are, of course, plenty of optimists around. Those on the right have been telling us for months that it is all going to be great. We'll be trading confidently across the world as a proud independent nation. That is of course an entirely possible outcome of events. I just see one tiny flaw in their optimism. I don't see why people from abroad are suddenly going to start to buy more of our goods just because we are out of the EU.
People buy things because they are well made, modern, cleverly designed, attractive, offer interesting new technology or are just plain and simply cheap. You don't sell a single new thing abroad by putting a label on it that says it is made in the newly proud and independent UK. You sell abroad because you have invested in the right things.
The Conservative Party's Industrial Strategy is as follows. Build new roads. Let housing developers do what they like. Spend too much on getting 8% of all your energy from one giant inefficient nuclear plant. Subsidise North Sea oil and gas. Go for fracking. Mess up technical education with another set of silly reforms. Ignore the regional imbalances. Pay a bit of lip service to new technology.
As you can probably tell that doesn't inspire me with confidence. I can't see anything in their economic policies that seriously recognises the scale and the speed of technological change that is taking place and is going to help equip the UK to compete. China is investing billions in alternative energy technology and roaring ahead.
There are, of course, plenty of modern high tech creative industries that the UK does very well based on our excellent science and design and our inventive culture. I find it hard to believe that the government's strategy is going to foster and develop these industries, stabilise our massive revenues from a footloose and insecure financial services sector or put us at the forefront of technology. The best I think we can hope for from the leadership of a confused and nostalgic Conservative Party is a genteel and steady decline. The worst is a collapse of confidence and a re-run of the 2008 panic without enough resources left to deal with it.
On the left the optimistic assumption is developing that the solution to all this is that Corbyn storms in - the earlier the better - and his new government sorts out the whole mess and leads us forward into a socialist paradise.
I would seriously like to believe that this is going to happen. Corbyn certainly has vastly more policies that I agree with than Theresa May. But I have my doubts.
1. Corbyn's policy is to pull the UK out of the Single Market and negotiate something even better. If that came from a far right politician everyone on the left would howl in protest. It is deeply unrealistic nonsense and shows a complete failure to understand what the EU can possibly agree to.
2. Does Corbyn and his team really understand the scale of the changes that are going to take place in the world economy and where to direct UK investment? Will he back small flexible modern high tech companies or is he more likely to support investment in old fashioned heavy industries such as giant nuclear projects?
3. Does the Corbyn team understand what went wrong in Venezuela and why? Do they understand the limitations of a command economy and how to redirect and re-orientate a modern knowledge economy? Or how many of the policies that are necessary require stronger international collaboration not pulling out of our main trading block?
Don't get me wrong. I would love to see the Conservatives lose the next election and a serious attempt to implement a radical alternative economic strategy get underway. What I am arguing is that naive optimism about how wonderful his economic strategy is going to be is very dangerous. It is one thing to kick out an ineffective Tory party and get Labour back in power. It is quite another thing to make sure that new Labour government doesn't disappoint and crash and burn.
Those of us who care about the future of our country rather than tribal politics need to make every effort to ensure that progressive thinkers have an effective programme ready and waiting to deliver if another election happens soon. I continue to have serious doubts that current Labour Party policy passes that test.