Gordon MacMillan,  UK Politics

Tory campaign “most inept… in living memory”

As the media attempts to canonise Nick Clegg, things are going from bad to worse for the Tories as Bell Pottinger chairman Peter  Bingle calls the party’s election campaign the most inept in “living memory”.

Can we stop a minute and take someone temperature? The Sunday Times went bonkers at the weekend (I mean literally) with its frothy front page headline “Nick Clegg nearly as popular as Winston Churchill”. One world war and one TV debate naturally being the exact same thing.

Worse than that it then confounded this piece of bad journalism by referring to this screamer again today saying that Clegg was in the “surprising position of having to talk down headlines that put his popularity on a par with Churchill” (without pointing out it was the culprit behind the headlines).

At the moment no one knows what the Lib Dem poll surge means. They today stand on 33% compared to the Tory’s 32% and Labour’s 26%, but the key question is will it last and translate to anything significant that will boost the party’s presence in the House of Commons much beyond its current 62 seats?

It appears likely that this figure will rise and it looks like it will hit the Tories hard. They are panicking and attacking Clegg (soft on crime/immigration et cetera) and warning that voting for the Lib Dems could keep Gordon Brown in power and the Tories out for a very long time.

Nick Clegg - time up for the Tories?

Maybe a permanent social democratic Lib Lab pact is our electoral future. How bad would that be to do a deal with Clegg? He was at one stage viewed as a Cameron clone. They are both products of wealthy families, private education (Eton and Westminster) and Oxbridge. Clegg, however, caught a lucky break in that his public school education wasn’t as Dominic Lawson pointed out a “four-letter word”.

The rise of Clegg and the danger it represents to the Tories has led Peter Bingle the chairman of Bell Pottinger Public Affairs and a lifelong Tory supporter, to write a withering memo attacking Tory campaign strategy and labelling the campaign inept.

“This is the most inept Tory campaign in living memory. I know there have been some dud campaigns in the past. William Hague’s was pretty awful but in a way it didn’t really matter. Nobody believed he was going to win the election.”

Bingle claimed that the televised debates may well have cost the Conservative Party the election.

“It has elevated Nick Clegg from nowhere to equal footing with the PM and David Cameron. Whichever adviser or guru advised David Cameron to take part made a terrible mistake.”

The manifesto came off no better. He said there didn’t “appear to be any strategy” and that “the ‘big society’ idea has come and now disappeared”. At least there was all that stuff about sharing power…borrowed from Labour’s 1997 manifesto.

Bingle has form in this area. He previously sent an email that described the Tory election campaign as “shambolic”. That was last month, today’s memo goes much further and warns that if Cameron does not win the Tories could be permanently shutout of power.

“The stakes are now very high. If David Cameron does not become PM on 6/7th May the electoral system will be changed. The first past the post system will be abolished and there will not be a Tory government for a very long time if ever again. Perhaps John Major will go down in history as the last Tory PM.”

Here’s hoping his prediction comes true as we are well past the point where change to the way we are governed is needed.