Their must be a degree of despair at CCHQ when looking in detail at the latest YouGov / C4 poll in the marginals. The election that should have been a gift, should have been a match between a Premier league and a Conference league team, is being lost on own-goals. We're facing the real prospect of five more years of Gordon, five more years of chip-sizing laws, compulsory walking, joy taxes, penury and economic ruination.
Voters don't like Gordon, but they don't like Dave either. They think Gordon's a thug, but that Dave's a snake-oil salesman, 62% agreeing that he's 'lightweight'. 39% say that none of the party leaders makes them feel optimistic. They don't buy Labour's 'fairness' idea, and blame Labour for immigration - the issue, apart from the economy, that they care most about. Europe isn't an issue. If Dave wins, 70% think things will stay the same or get worse. 37% think Dave's too posh to understand what ordinary people want, and 53% think the Tories are just after power for their own sakes, as opposed to 41% who think the same of Labour. Only 15% think George would be a decent Chancellor - but 27% think that Vince would, and 59% think the economy's the most important issue.
Back in 1893 the British fleet, under the command of the stubborn and obdurate Admiral Tryon, was at exercise in the Mediterranean. He ordered a series of manoevers that brought his flagship, HMS Victoria, directly on a collision course with HMS Camperdown. Despite this being obvious to every officer except Tryon, and despite their urging him to alter course and go astern, Tryon ignored it all. The ships collided, and Victoria went to the bottom, taking Tryon with her. To many Conservatives across the nation, it must seem as though they're the unwitting crew on the Victoria, awaiting the inevitable, in the face of CCHQ and a party leadership on the bridge committed to maintaining their present course and speed.
If Dave wants to win this election, here's what I reckon he must do;
1. Get rid of Osborn. The voters neither like or trust him, and the Eton fag thing damages Dave's standing with the voters. Bring in a heavyweight - Ken Clarke would do - as shadow Chancellor.
2. Carefully articulate how the Conservatives will not only limit but reverse immigration. Bring back housing priority for people with local connections and history rather than those with large families. Reverse the African diaspora, the clogging of our health service and local facilities with overstayers and bogus visitors
3. Hide the posh Chadonnay-quaffing Notting Hill totty and downplay the Wimmin's Quota; this pisses voters off, even women. Fill the airwaves with regional accents, make Conservative Values Yorkshire Values - Hovis, strength and goodness
Making Dave more heavyweight and credible is more difficult - a high-profile visit to the Falklands might help, and I haven't seen a picture of him driving a tank yet. An Easter break wrestling crocodiles may sway a few voters.
Will CCHQ do any of the above? Nah.