The poll lead dropping to six points is indeed a wake-up call, and Cameron probably worked out a while ago that things were going a bit Pete Tong. Indeed (Short the UK), there are signs that he has already started to act. Look at last Monday: three strong election videos, without a politician in sight. The perfect remedy to the Tragedy of Cameron's Head poster.
The policy of allowing management buy-outs of government departments is bold, radical and entirely in keeping with Cameron's general policy of empowering the many, not the few. (Strange how Brown has appropriated this slogan, especially as his government has empowered the bureaucratic elite at the expense of the many - Cameron almost made this point in his latest webcam thing). I wrote a leader about it in the latest issue of the magazine: it was sign that the Tories are starting to get a grip. Perhaps this YouGov poll will represent a freakist post-Piers blip for Labour.
Many of you say my suggestions for five central Tory messages are dull. They are not my ideal five, but - as I said - we are where we are. It's way too late to introduce a new theme now. Strapworld, teledu, HFC, TGF, Verity and Peter from Maidstone all talk about immigration: that's what many candidates are using on the doorsteps (so ineffectual do they find the other slogans they've been issued with), but a decision has been taken not to mention it centrally in case it repels the LibDem voters who are deemed so crucial. More frustratingly, it is now too late to explain Gove's school reforms to a wide audience.
A harder economic message needs to go out. Osborne should stop talking about our "AAA Rating" in public: that makes our national solvency (and, ergo, sovereignty) seem like some accounting footnote. Brown specialises in weaponising statistics. Osborne needs a crash course in it. I agree with Nick, that many of Brown's lies have not been effectively countered. The Tories have, all too often, used his language and his framing of economics; holding him in a boxer's clinch instead of going for a knockout. The result is that Brown, against all laws of political gravity and natural justice, is still on his feet.
Moraymint and Tony Gee say the Tories have "no vision" - untrue. They have plenty of policies, but have struggled to communicate any of them clearly. In my opinion, Cameron has focused too much on the big picture, without working out how this translates to ordinary voters. There is too little retail offer: i.e. how does a voter's life change if he votes Tory? As oldtimer says, a "pub-friendly message".
Jonny says the Tories have little talent - he's certainly right in saying there is no alternative to Cameron (and I don't believe those CoffeeHousers who suggested one was needed were being serious). For what it's worth, I think no-one will be talking about a talent deficit once the new faces become better-known. The talent among candidates is extraordinary: most Tory MPs after the election will be those just elected. The face of the party will change - utterly. It'll be the biggest transfusion of new blood in the party's history.
Jess the Dog says that Blair had a three-point lead over Howard in 2005, so what's the problem with a six-point Tory lead? Answer: the voting system. It's tilted against the Tories, so Cameron would have just ten more seats than Labour and would have to start making eyes at Nick Clegg.
Colin says that the current campaign has failed to satisfy natural conservatives. I do agree: a twin strategy should have been embarked upon, catering for both existing and potential voters. There's still time to correct this. I suspect Cameron will do that, too. All told, much of this comes down to faith in Cameron. My theory: that he'll start to turn this around, and quickly. I won't have long to wait, to see whether I'm proved right.