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'The Tory campaign is shambolic'

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 06 March 2010

After a Channel 4 News poll showing plummeting Tory support in key marginal seats, Tory lobbyist Peter Bingle sent an email entitled "Musings of a Tory in despair".

Peter Dingle, Conservative lobbyist

"I received the results last night's YouGov/Channel Four of the key Tory/Labour marginals with despair but no real surprise. A seven point lead has become a two point lead which points to a hung parliament.
"In recent weeks I have hinted at being not over-impressed by the Tory campaign since the beginning of the year. The time has now come to be more blunt. The Tory campaign is shambolic and unless somebody of quality and experience takes control of it now there is a real danger of the Tories throwing away what should be an inevitable election victory. Should this happen, David Cameron will never be forgiven by his party and his party's supporters in the country who are desperate for a change of government.
"I have already observed that the 'sleaze from Belize' is a toxic issue. Didn't David Cameron or his colleagues understand that it should have been sorted out years ago rather than in the middle of a general election campaign? As one Labour special adviser pointed out to me yesterday: "Wouldn't it be ironic if the man tasked with winning the marginals becomes the reason they lose them ...." Spot on.
"So what has gone wrong?  Nobody knows what the Tory Party stands for any more. David's speech at Brighton was simply more of the same. Was I inspired by the rhetoric? No. Did it convince me that a Tory government would give power back to individuals and reduce the size of the state? No. Did his Shadow Cabinet give me confidence that they would be able to take control of the government bureaucracy and deliver radical change? Absolutely not.
"Somebody seems to have persuaded David that talking about change is enough. It is not. People are naturally conservative. They will vote for change only if they believe that change means that their lives will get better. Looking at the two rows of the shadow cabinet scared me. Is that really the best that the Tory Party can deliver?
"The advertising campaign is hopeless and has hurt the Tory Party rather than helped it. Firstly, it is clear that they are not using an advertising agency. If they were, they would never have used the word deficit in the now infamous NHS advert. Nobody understands what it means. They should have used the word debt. Likewise, they should stop talking about the broken society and replace it with broke society. Perhaps Steve Hilton needs an immediate holiday in California. Secondly, the row about David's face being airbrushed damaged him as it seemed to confirm the suspicion that he is all image rather than substance.
"It is also clear that nobody is really in charge of the campaign. Somebody should pick up the phone this morning to Tim Bell and beg him to advise them on what to do to get the campaign back on the rails. Unfortunately, anybody over the age of forty is regarded as a candidate for an old people's care home...
"I haven't mentioned the lack of a consistent policy agenda because it is simply too depressing. Let's take health and education as an example. Andrew Lansley's core message is one of stability. Michael Gove's is one of radical change. I despair.
"The Tory Party's one hope remains the PM. I cannot believe that English voters will give him their support when they have to vote in the privacy of the voting booth. At the moment he is the only compelling reason to vote for David Cameron. I feel let down by a party I have supported since I was sixteen years of age.
"Gallows humour sometimes saves the day. I could not resist a smile this morning when I read my Daily Mail and saw a ringing endorsement of David Cameron from that well-known moderniser Robert Mugabe. His words are hilarious: "We have always related better with the British through the Conservatives than Labour. Conservatives are bold, Tony Blair & Gordon Brown run away when they see me ..."
"Nobody wants David Cameron to win more than me but I am in despair at the sheer hopelessness of the campaign.
"Why has it all gone wrong? What should they do to to get the campaign back on track? 
"Let me know your views."

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