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Can Cameron score a winning hat-trick?

There are footballing analogies all over the media this morning:

Cameron10The Times thunders: "There are many ways in which David Cameron is not like John Terry but there is one way in which he is. He is the captain of the blue team that should be doing better than it is. Its main challenger recently lost its star player (for Tony Blair read Cristiano Ronaldo) and is clearly not as good as it was. Only a few weeks ago the gap between the top two teams was large and it looked like the game was up. Yet, suddenly, the red team is back in it. Though Chelsea remain favourites to be champions, they still look as though they might somehow contrive to throw away their best chance of victory in years... The next election could yet be a case of better the Red Devils you know, unless the blue team improves its game and starts playing with conviction and purpose. They think it’s all over. It isn’t yet."

And Polly Toynbee in The Guardian is similarly inspired: "How can they be so hopeless? So many open goals missed, so many own-goals scored, and yet overflowing with more donations than they know what to do with: Cameron and his party are proving breathtakingly incompetent at seizing an election handed to them on a platter."

I'm afraid I was at it too on this morning's Week in Westminster (14 minutes in). Stealing an analogy I'd heard from The Spectator's James Forsyth I said the Tories were like a team 1-0 up that was sitting on its lead. Rather than scoring a second or third goal the party was being defensive. It was, for the moment, successfully repelling enemy attacks but only by hoofing the ball to the other end of the pitch and inviting further onslaughts. There is not enough possession of the ball and not enough adventurous play that could put the game out of Labour's reach.

I recently set out ten 'closing the deal' steps for the Tories and more than 2,000 Conservative members rated them in the end-January survey. The top three ideas feature in the chart below (respondents were asked to rate ideas on a scale of 1 (least important) to 10):

Screen shot 2010-02-13 at 12.04.17

Resolution on the budget deficit, doorstep policies (of the kind David Cameron set out to Express readers on Wednesday) and more volume on immigration are the hat-trick that Tory members recommend.

Tim Montgomerie


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