My excellent chum Iain Martin observes that seven of the ten most recent polls have put the Tories below the "magic figure" of 40% support. The latest ComRes survey has them on 37%. Perhaps, he wonders, some of the core vote has been scunnered by the Lisbon Treaty shenanigans or perhaps some floating voters are concerned by a perceived Tory zeal for cutting public spending and, hence, they feel, services.
A bit of both, I'd hazard. But, as I've argued before, there's something more than just these elements. Frankly, if you were to take Tory rhetoric at face value the only sensible course, for those with the means to take it, would be emigration. In a variation of Tony Blair's "masochism strategy" David Cameron seems intent upon following a "misery strategy". Everything about Britain is broken, apparently, and everything needs to be changed. Every time a senior Conservative appears on television his (or, occasionally, her) message is that everything's buggered and while a Tory ministry will help alleviate the pain it will be years before anything is fixed. It's fair to say that Dave doesn't come from a place named Hope or, for that matter, from anywhere near it.
Sure, there are problems, some of them serious, and sure, the electorate is less than gruntled, but even allowing for the country's fiscal predicament the Tories give the impression, perhaps unwittingly, of believing that Britain is just the Worst of the Worst Places on Earth.
This is overdone. A little optimism, a little faith a little less relish about all the victory-enhancing grimness we all recognise exists would not go amiss. Things Can't Get Worse is not a great counter to Things Can Only Get Better. A bit of modest faith in the country would not be a terrible thing, nor a recognition or acknowledgment that not everything has gone to pot in the past 12 years. Despite the public finances, it's not all doom and gloom. Is it?
Nobody is asking for sunny delight, but a little less bleakness and a bit more optimism wouldn't be the worst thing either.