So the Conservatives have taken a battering at the by-elections in Southall and Sedgefield. Are they likely to learn anything from it?
What they should be realising is that the direction David Cameron is trying to take them is towards an area already occupied by the Labour party and Liberal Democrats - the left of centre - and there really isn't anything to be gained by trying to muscle into their domains.
All in all, there was little to get excited about for any party in these by-elections.
On the face of it the Lib Dems did well slashing the Labour majority in both seats, but with turnout so low this is really to be expected. I've no doubt that they - and their supporters - will do their best to talk it up, but they know that nothing's really changed.
Labour and Gordon Brown will be able to feel well satisfied that they've hung on to their seats fairly comfortably despite the low turnout. They won't get complacent about it, but they'll be fully aware that come a General Election their voters will turn out in greater numbers and will get a comfortable majority once more.
The Tories must be sick this morning, though. Soundly beaten by both Labour and the Liberal Democrats they are the party who will view the results with the most concern. Not least because in Sedgefield, the BNP candidate, Andrew Spence, polled around half as many votes as their candidate.
As I've mentioned before, by deserting their traditional ground on an ill-judged yomp to enemy territory, the Tories have left their rear unguarded. Perhaps they felt this was safe to do as there was no party which was apparently well placed to take advantage of it.
The BNP have shown that they will take advantage of it. Oddly enough, the BNP have been surprisingly helped by the media who frequently refer to BNP as right wing - while any look through their policies will reveal that many of their ideas owe more to old-fashioned left-wing socialism than conservatism. By portraying the BNP as "right-wing" the media have actually managed to make them attractive to middle-class conservative voters as much as working class voters.
One of the most disappointing aspects of UKIP has been their inability to take advantage of the Conservative party desertion to Labour. They were probably the most natural successor to the Tory party, but have steadfastly refused to push at the open door of conservative England. The UKIP leadership should be listening to every Cameron speech, reading every Cameron penned op-ed and every word uttered by the Tory front bench and using them as opportunities.
When Cameron says no grammar schools, UKIP should leap in and confirm their support for grammar schools - and do it publicly and frequently. When Cameron talks euphemistically about supporting "families", UKIP should leap in and say that they'll promise support for the traditional married two parent family above any other relationship.
Every little bit of ground the Tories concede is an opportunity for one of the new parties to gain ground. In theory it should be UKIP taking advantage of that, but they're making about as much impact as the English Democrats while BNP are doing a far better job even though they are far from being a traditional conservative party.