David Cameron has just delivered his feistiest performance of the election campaign yet. In a combative interview with Andrew Marr, the Tory leader repeatedly described the prospect of a Labour government propped up by the SNP as ‘frightening’, telling English voters that the SNP wouldn’t ‘care’ about them and their needs. He implicitly warned that SNP MPs supporting a Labour government would result in less money for English constituencies. He had been given this opening by Nicola Sturgeon, who in her interview had made clear how the SNP would use the fixed term parliament act to give them maximum influence on a Labour government. Her point was that the fixed term parliament act means that a government can be defeated in the Commons without being brought down.
The rest of the interview didn’t shed much light, as Cameron and Marr repeatedly interrupted each other. But what was striking was Cameron’s change of tone, which seemed deliberate. Gone was Prime Ministerial detachment, replaced by a much more passionate tone as Cameron inveighed against the mess that the last Labour government had left and argued about who the Tories stand up for.
There are now 18 days to go to polling days and the Tories are not ahead in the polls. This means that Cameron is running out of time to change minds but as his performance this morning showed, he clearly believes that his strongest card is voters’ fears of the SNP having the whip hand at Westminster.
Update: Tory source tells me that Cameron will this week be doing a whistle stop tour of the 23 seats that the party needs to win for a majority, assuming it holds all the seat it currently has which is far from certain.