So, having noticed this, I am deducing that it is again not going to be a good week for Dave nor, his top team (if you will excuse me calling them that) as I am now detecting the same wobble from one of his closest and previously most staunchest allies in the press, Ben Brogan.
Let’s try again, shall we? Last week was mostly a write-off for the Tories. You will remember it started with Dave’s Brighton speech that was supposed to steady the blues after several weeks of wobbles. The idea was to move swiftly on to a week spent demolishing Labour’s economic record and in particular the dire state of the debt. Yet on Monday a line-drawing operation turned into an ordeal that shows little signs of abating. Labour has successfully shaped the Ashcroft business into its ’same old Tories’ narrative, and drowned out anything else the Conservative wanted to speak about. I say ‘mostly a write-off’ because the only success was Michael Gove’s series of education events and announcements that made headlines and showed that someone in the operation was still focused on making the Tory case. But the overall effect was fairly dire.
A little tetchy, one can sense the frustration of someone who has invested much personally to the Conservatives and is feeling a little let down. There's more...
So why is it so dire? And why is there no sign of it getting any better?
Oh dear Ben, why is it not looking like it is going to get any better?
Looking back over the past eight days, it is difficult not to wonder whether the fight has gone out of this operation. The most startling thing, to my mind, has been the way Team Dave has let itself be kicked around daily by Labour.
"Let itself be kicked around daily by Labour" Hang on Ben, that's the kind of thing you would expect myself, Heffer or Warner to be saying. Next you will be mocking Cameron....
It’s as if they don’t have a dog in this fight, as if they have walked off the battlefield sniffling because – sob – those tewwible bullies are too wough
Ohhh, too late. OK well welcome aboard, better late than never. Now, what can the Conservatives, or David Cameron even to turn things around?
The best defence is a good offence, as Vince Lombardi used to say (or was it Yogi Berra?), but offence we have had none. The Tory communications machine has not been, well, communicating. Instead it has let itself be bitch slapped by Peter Mandelson, including this morning in the Guardian.
Exactly right. And why is this?
In the past we’ve heard the whisperings that the Tory high command is directed by a sense of entitlement, but I reckon the real problem is that the leadership is not sufficiently directed by an all-consuming, nail biting desire to win.
So what next?
Like the Terminator reduced to grabbling bits of metal, he is still coming for you Dave. And what cheers him? The kind of self-satisfied complacency shown by Ed ‘Friend of Dave’ Vaizey. Another week gone and the best the Tories can do on a Sunday is suggest Sam Cam votes Labour. Nice. Team Dave needs to snap out of it and get stuck in.
Ben Brogan, welcome to the view from the outside looking in, it ain't pretty but now your out here you can understand the frustrations and the angst of watching the Cameron machine stall like the little engine that could, but just didn't.
So I would think there is a bit of a voting dilemma going on out there. I think Ben is nearly there, and many others will be too.
Firstly, I have pledge personally not to vote for anyone who will not place country before party, as per the Albion Alliance and their pledge system. This instantly rules out a Conservative vote for me, as when I wrote to my MP asking if she would pledge, she had the work experience staff at CCHQ copy & paste me the standard response to Albion Alliance enquiries, and of course failed to answer the question (so, I take it that the answer is no, she will not put country before party).
But what about others who have not, or not yet undertaken a voters pledge, but are in a similar predicament as I would have been. Here's the balancing act, and the dilemma. The country simply cannot take another 5 years of Labour, and even if they sneaked through there is no way in hell that Gordon Brown will not be challenged over and over agian much the same as he has been in his two-and-a-bit years as Prime Minister to date. However, the Red-Toryism on offer seems very much like it has been proof-read by people resembling low-grade bank clerks in Brussels. It is sanitised, and has been carefully revised to be EU friendly. With Osborne and Clarke at Camerons side, we have two Bilderbergers and two EU-Philes of the highest order. As someone who would argue that our greatest problems today stem back to our inability to legislate and govern freely because of the EU and to be able to make the tough choices necessary free from EU control, I look at team Cameron and wonder aloud if it would not be better for them to be beaten, so that the Conservative Party can be seized back from them in the ashes of their leadership ready and ready at the next opportunity to make the tough and lasting changes we really need.
It is I believe what many voters are asking themselves and is in part reason for the narrowing. What Cameron has carefully crafted as his message is that the Conservatives with largely offer the same policies as Labour, but with tweaks around the edges and with a new team in charge. I say "in part" in reference to the polls, the other part is because of all the gaffes, which is never a good thing this close to a ballot. I believe in Tennis they are referred to as "unforced errors" and is the first stat seized upon when analysing a defeat. The person or team with the least unforced errors usually wins.
So, which is better? Labour out, with little change in Government policy from an incoming Tory Government, or Tory loss, with the potential of some real detoxification of the Heath-ites and Clark-ites and the possibility that with Parliament much closer that Labour will not make five years next term with an election perhaps possible after two or three years? Maybe then, we would have a Conservative Party that will make the tough decisions that are needed to slash the size of the public sector, deliver on the EU and put forward a solution to the inequality of devolution.
Either way, as Ben Brogan points out, the Tories seem to have taken a victory for granted and relied too heavily already on the notion that we can all be sure there is some great policies in the pipeline, because when push as come to shove, no matter which side of the fence you are on, this is not an attractive Conservative Party, and as far as the Cameron project is concerned anything less than an outright win and comfortable majority is not a victory for his direction and policies. It is Gordon Brown and Labour who after bankrupting this country financially, morally and politically and yet it is the supine Tories who lay on the floor getting the snot kicked out of them. There is no good reason at all why the Conservatives should not be miles out in front; they were when people thought they were a Conservative Party in the traditional mould, it is their own announcements, revisions and clarifications that have caused the polls to narrow. Labour has nothing new to offer, it is convulsing under the weight of the realisation that its ideology has failed, again.
I may disagree with Cameron on much and like I said, unlike many I am not sat on the fence. But unless the top team starts putting in a fight, like the Conservative bloggers have, like the leafleters and the grass-roots has been then it is the team at the top that will lose this election. I believe the bloggers and I believe the tory friendly media and I believe the leafleters I know what they stand for and I agree with them on most issues. They want an honest to god revolution in the way things are done in the UK, and I believe they are the kind of people who will not be unquestioning of the hand of Brussels. They are, or were my political kin. I had envisioned two years ago being on the door steps and making the argument for the Conservatives, it is Dave & Ken that drove me out, that lied to me, that insulted my beliefs and stole my party.
So, last chance saloon Mr Cameron. Do you want to win this election or not? If you do, get off your arse, get your bloody messaging straight and start fighting for it. If you don't get the hell out of the way for a proper Tory who is chomping at the bit to rip Labour and Gordon Brown to shreds.