Voters no longer like the look of David Cameron
The Mole: Bullygate didn’t just not harm Gordon Brown - it looks like it helped
So, David Cameron thinks it’s the patriotic duty of Conservatives to win the upcoming election. But does he have what it takes to lead them to victory? In short, is he actually electable if he insists on fighting Labour on the centre ground?
It's a little late in the day to be asking, and after his no-notes rallying call to the Tory faithful yesterday afternoon, perhaps a little churlish. But when YouGov shows the Tory lead over Labour slipping to just two points only a matter of weeks before the election, the question has to be asked.
Cameron may try to write off YouGov as a glitch - "The polls move around a lot," he said on Saturday - but it isn't. It's a trend. The gap has gone from ten points to six to two in a matter of weeks.
The Sunday Times YouGov poll puts the Tories on 37 per cent and Labour on 35 per cent – fascinating because 35.3 per cent was enough to win them the general election in 2005. (The opposition divided 32.3 per cent to the Tories, 22.1 per cent Lib Dems and 10.3 the others.)
Translated into Commons seats, these polling figures would give Labour 317 and the Conservatives 263. Labour would be nine short of an overall majority but Gordon Brown would - against all the odds - remain in power.
What has gone so wrong for Cameron? Two thoughts:
Bullygate. Not only have the Andrew Rawnsley revelations done Gordon Brown no harm, as the Mole predicted - they may have done him good. The electorate sees a strong, passionate man, who fights hard to do his best and, under enormous pressure, occasionally has a rant with a member of staff. So what?
YouGov asked voters about the bullying allegations. Just over a quarter of respondents thought the prime minister was a bully while 50 per cent said he displayed a "strong sense of right and wrong".
Postergate. A number of people have whispered in the Mole's ear over the weekend that there's something wrong about the unsmiling visage of David Cameron glaring down from those newly erected Tory billboards.
Seeing them in the papers was one thing; seeing them up by the side of the road is another. They don't work. Cameron looks too smooth, too unreal - the slick PR man incarnate - and he doesn't look friendly. Okay, so he's trying to come over tough and businesslike - but is he even on our side?
When there was no election in the offing, and the opinion polls were merely a referendum on an unpopular government - and, let's not forget, an unpopular prime minister - Cameron was getting excellent figures. Now that there is an election coming, and voters have a real choice to make, they are not at all sure.
Some commentators say this is because the Tories have still not got their message across clearly. The Mole begs to differ. Voters are very clear about one important policy difference between the parties - unemployment.
Cameron and George Osborne have made it abundantly obvious that they want to deal with the national deficit swiftly through severe public service cuts - against the sane advice of economists like David Blanchflower who say it has to be softly, softly.
In short, Cameron and Osborne appear to believe that unemployment is a price worth paying for getting Britain's house in order. As a result, voters who a year ago might have told a pollster they were changing their allegiance in protest against Labour are today wondering very seriously if it is safe to do so. Some old stagers are even rejoining the party.
There is evidence for this in the YouGov poll. The survey shows concerns growing - not decreasing - about Cameron's Eton and Oxford background. Just 25 per cent of those polled by YouGov think that Cameron understands problems faced by "people like me", compared with 35 per cent for Brown.
Furthermore, only 28 per cent think the Conservative leader wants to do the best for "all groups in Britain", against 39 per cent for the prime minister.
And here's the killer: for the first time in a YouGov poll since July 2007, well before the banks went to the wall, people are saying they trust Labour more than the Tories to run the economy.
So what does Cameron do now? Turn hard right? Put immigration back on the agenda? Don't be surprised. Fighting over the centre ground is not working. There's plenty of time for this to turn ugly. ·
Comments are now closed on this article