Peter Hoskin

Who should be the Tory attack dog?

Who should be the Tory attack dog?
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A persuasive passage (complete with a spiky, ministerial quote – highlighted) from Rachel Sylvester's column this morning:

"There is growing concern among some Shadow Cabinet ministers and strategists about the increasingly aggressive tone Mr Cameron uses against Mr Brown. It is, they believe, no coincidence that the poll gap has narrowed as the Tory leader launches a series of increasingly vitriolic personal attacks on the Prime Minister. Last week, for example, by turning the bully into the victim, Mr Cameron seems to have simply solidified support for Mr Brown. There was a similar backlash to the Conservatives’ misleading 'death tax' poster campaign. Although ministers admit privately that 'even I couldn’t bear another five years of Gordon', the Labour leader is somehow gaining public respect for surviving all the backbiting and coups. The Tory leader’s attacks sound high-handed and arrogant, playing into the 'born to rule' image and reminding voters of his party’s 'nasty' past. 'It’s perfectly legitimate to frame the election as a choice between Brown and Cameron and negative campaigning has a part in that,' says one frontbencher. 'But David shouldn’t be doing it himself. We need a Norman Tebbit, an attack dog who can do it on his behalf.'"

It seems the Tory leadership might be coming round to this line of thought.  Ken Clarke – who, to my mind, is one of the most suitable candidates for that attack dog role – has an article in today's Mail assaulting Brown's economic record head on.  Expect to see plenty more of him in coming weeks.