The ideas buried in the Tory manifesto - buried I say because they've not spent nearly enough time explaining them - are good and classically conservative. Family, Community, Country. Those are the pillars. But they've not been able to build upon this good work and instead the "Big Society" has left voters cold and confused. What does it mean?
And that's left the Tories vulnerable. During the second debate Gordon Brown even suggested that the Tories' Big Idea was little more than a kind of "DIY NHS" - a double calumny since the NHS is the one area that the Conservatives have decided to leave well alone. So the idea has been corrupted and people think that they've got to come home from work and then set up a school or something.
That's not how it works. Anyway, Iain Martin has a terrific, must-read post on this making the case that for all his talents Steve Hilton has blundered when it comes to the essential framing of the Tory message. How much more effective would the Tory campaign be if it had been about The Strong Society and not The Big Society?
Put in those terms you can see how it could all make sense and how everything from education policy to welfare reform could have been bundled together in a clear, coherent fashion.
As I say, do read Iain's post. It falls into the I Wish I'd Thought of That category. Damn.