James Forsyth

The growing sense that the worst is behind the Tories

The growing sense that the worst is behind the Tories
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These have been a grim few days for the Conservative party. But there is a sense, just a sense mind, that the worst might be behind them. Today’s ICM poll shows the Lib Dems still surging, up 3 to 30, but Tory support is only down one from Sunday’s ICM poll to 33. Labour is in third on 28, down one.

Obviously, these polls numbers would have been considered pretty darn awful a week ago and no one would pretend that they are what the Tories would like to see right now. But they are not as bad as some feared they might be and as Julian Glover writes, “the Lib Dems have gained twice as much support from Labour as from the Conservatives. Meanwhile, Labour is losing support in all directions, including to the Conservatives and other smaller parties. The Tories are losing almost no support to Labour and are gaining almost as many former Labour votes as they are losing former Tories to the Lib Dems.” This suggests that the pace of Tory blood loss has slowed.

In the Tory party election broadcast, which has just been released, Cameron does a better job than he has previously of saying what the ‘big society’ agenda would actually mean for voters: “So we're going to say - be your own boss. Choose your own school. Own your own home. Veto high council tax rises. Vote for your police commissioner. Sack your MP. Save your local post office. See how government spends your money.’  Cameron now needs to put this across in the debate. (Why he didn’t in the first debate remains a mystery.)

The other encouraging sign is that the ash imposed restrictions look like they’ll soon be lifted. This might not seem particulalry relevant to the election. But as the US pollster Frank Luntz pointed out this morning to my colleague Tim Shipman, the ash cloud — by being another major news story — has prevented the Clegg story from going stale.  

Having said all this, there’s no doubt that Cameron needs to win the next two TV debates if he is to get a majority. But there is, at least, the outline of a strategy to do this emerging.