In the Scotland of yesteryear, the Hallowe’en festivities always involved turnip bogles. A large turnip would be excavated, and equipped with a string handle, eye-holes and a mouth. Inside, a lighted candle would be affixed by molten wax. The hope was that on a black dark night, a procession of turnip bogles would resemble a conclave of witches and warlocks, possibly mustered by the De’il himself. The term ‘turnip bogle’ passed into the language more generally, to mean an attempt to frighten people, when the fear was groundless.

There have been recent instances in these pages on Reaction. In admirable prose, Iain Martin and Gerald Warner have tried to persuade us to worry about Jeremy Corbyn or the Labour Left. But if ever there was a groundless fear, it is the current leader of the Labour party. One feels sorry for the news departments of the various TV channels, who had to pretend to cover the Labour conference as if they were dealing with the principal opposition party and a candidate for power: pretend to take Mr. Corbyn seriously when they would rather be taking the piss.

This is not to deny that Jeremy Corbyn could win. Let us assume another banking crisis in Europe. Let us also assume that President Trump starts a trade war, while problems in the South China Sea and the Baltic States appear to be threatening real wars. Economic growth has collapsed, unemployment is rocketing, there are anti-immigrant riots in the North of England – and a nuclear power station blows up, killing thousands of people and devastating a large surrounding area. In such circumstances, 1931 plus plus, Mr. Corbyn would have a chance.

Anything else, and he is just a turnip bogle with a beard; from the Tory point of view, a gift that goes on giving.

While always remembering Mr. Corbyn in their prayers, wise Tories should also give thanks for the British electoral system. For there is an unmet electoral demand: a potential threat to Tory hegemony.  The demand is for a party of the generous and sensible centre.

First, this would require a leader. He or she would be articulate, charismatic, and ideally with rugged good looks. In the prime of life, he or she would have had an interesting career. Again ideally, he or she would have served in the colours – a gallantry medal? -and then built up a successful business while always doing good works. Declaring that his or her involvement with politics was a reluctant one, the basic message would be: “Britain deserves better.”

The leader would continue as follows. “In a complex and difficult world, intelligent people of all persuasions should come together to solve problems. Instead, we have an adversarial system which enforces partisanship and conflict. I am happy to admit that the Tories have many good ideas and that some of their policies have worked. I am equally happy to acknowledge that most Labour supporters had compassionate instincts. But neither party could do it on its own. However much they tried, the Tories could not reach out to the millions of struggling families in this country. Tories cannot help their DNA. They will always be on the side of the bankers, not the bread-winners. As for Labour, they do not understand that before you spend wealth, you have to create it. So I offer a permanent coalition, of Tory tough-mindedness and Labour warm-heartedness. If you are prospering, then under my government, your tax bill would rise, but not too much. We respect wealth-creators. You would be spending a little more, but for higher-achieving schools, better hospitals and safer streets.  As it is, you probably pay subscriptions to various societies. We will charge you a new subscription, for the Better Britain Society. It will be worth it. Finally, the largest number of people who ever voted in a British political contest cast their ballots to leave the EU. The second largest number voted to remain. I do not believe that the result of such a tight contest is binding for all eternity. I believe that Britain needs a close and constructive relationship with the nations of Europe, in all our interests. That is what I will strive to achieve.”

If there were someone who could deliver that message, the Tories ought to be worried. As it is, however, the only candidate for such a role is – Tim Farron. First question: who is less intelligent and less Prime Ministerial: Mr. Corbyn or Mr. Farron? Second question: does it matter?

But there is a third question, which does matter. David Cameron made a sincere attempt to reach out to the generous centre; to convince its voters that his Tories could deliver their wishes. That was a hegemonic vision. If he had succeeded, the Tories would have been impregnable. Then Europe got in the way. So the question is: does Mrs. May share Mr. Cameron’s goal and if so, can she achieve it?

We might have some answers in Birmingham next week.