Thursday, 4 March 2010

A polecat writes, and Tories outspun again

Do read Lord Tebbit's venomous blog on Lord Ashcroft before the week is out. The "semi-house trained" polecat continues to amuse and amaze with his hostility to Cam's Conservatives. He obviously loathes his fellow peer, the Lord Ashcroft.

It's been a long political day,from Blair's book to the SNP's licence fee strop, but I bet it's felt far longer for the birthday boy, Michael Ashcroft.

The Conservatives failed again to blow out the 64 fizzing dynamite sticks under the Ashcroft donations. They undoubtedly have a point about Labour hypocrisy on the issue of non-doms but they can't get their story across as effectively as Labour's narrative of rich, privileged Tories assuming that they can buy a general election.

The reason is simple. The Tories keep putting their spin doctors (good ones) to bad use, asking them to nudge journalists towards right wing comment sites. It's pretty ineffective, deploying bloggers as proxy attack dogs, although some of the poison inevitably drips into the mainstream media.

Labour, I noticed this week and last, just don't mess around when it comes to bare fist fighting. Word goes out that Mandelson is heading for the studios and we wait and watch, like war correspondents on the edge of a free fire zone, as has he delivers another devastating blow. The old phrase from home, "Eadar an dha shuil" - between the two eyes - effectively invokes the style and the effect.

When it's not Mandy it's Prescott or Johnson or, if they want to wound, a "more in sorrow than in anger" Darling. The Tories seem reluctant to put their money where their bruised lips ought to be - punching back against the other side's stories. This evening they were huddled, like characters in vampire movie, praying for dawn and Brown's appearance at the Chilcot inquiry to melt away the nightmare.

By rights there ought to be some kind of freelance Conservative Ned Kelly gang of MPs, firing off quotes and beating up on Brown. But I don't know if they've got anyone 'ard enough to lead a gang unless Bagpuss Ken Clarke rides to the rescue.

Much more this will Ashcroft story will contaminate the Cameron brand beyond Westminster tube station, which is its current penetration level.

From tonight's Channel 4 marginal poll it seems as if Ashcroft's £5.1 million hasn't been entirely wasted - the Tories are still ahead in the key seats that will decide the election - but only by two points. That's a bad slip, two per cent in a marginal constituency is a good sitting MP's personal vote. Some Labour seats will survive the outgoing tide.

Still, nine weeks tonight before the only poll that counts closes. A lot of shifting sand before then but from the signs of the tightening polls it's evident that something is moving out there.

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