"'Sit back, keep quiet, let the government unravel and you will be in Number 10.' If I had a pound for every time these words of advice have been uttered to me over the last year or so, I’d be able to make a sizeable contribution towards easing the pain of Labour’s debt crisis.
But the advice — however well meaning — is plain wrong.
The election is far from won and I still hold to the belief that governments don’t just lose elections; oppositions must deserve to win them with a positive mandate for change."
It may seem like a platitude - what opposition wouldn't say that kind of thing? - but it keys directly into one of the Tories' main presentational problems at the moment. It's easy and, given the parlous state of the economy, necessary to bash Brown and his government. But there's a danger that any positive agenda - the school and welfare reforms - can get sunk under the weight of all the jibes in PMQs and all the anti-Labour posters, however effective they may be. To my mind, that's what's happening with the Tories. Cameron may have given us his five reasons to vote Conservative a few days ago, but - in the spirit of our New Year's Resolution for the Tory leader - does the average voter know what they are? I doubt it, although I'd be keen to see some polling data that clears the matter up.
This isn't to say that the Tories won't win the next election, even if it is just down to Brown protest votes. But given the massive swing that they need to secure a majority in the Commons, nothing, as Cameron suggests, should be taken for grated. Tory supporters should hope that their party leader's words are, well, more than just words. We shall see.