There have been a few times when Cameron has been roused to real passion, but only a few. Generally he rubs along as a reasonably charismatic sensible bloke who wouldn't scare anyone much. His emotional level has always been pretty constant, at a sort of relaxed determined level. If his knobs go up to 11, he's generally operating at about 7. The fire in his loins is the civilised flicker of a late-evening living room fire, not the blaze of a Greek street.
However, this past week something has dampened even that reassuring glow. As Toynbee pointed out in yesterday's Grauniad, he delivered his 'jail bankers' speech with all the charisma of a dead fish. And his stumbling performance in defence of welfare mums was unconvincing. Hague's performance at PMQs today was equally flaccid.
What do they know that's knocked the fuel out of their fires? That the Tory message isn't resonating with the public? That Mandelson and Campbell have spun them into a corner? I can't pretend Cameron's warmth towards both the big central State and Europe are to my taste, but he's our best bet in getting Brown's corrupt cabal away from power and I wish he'd raise his game. Politicians at the top don't have the luxury of off-days. Can someone throw a shovel of best furnace coal on those flickering embers, please?