Conservative Diary

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I have no idea what Team Cameron thinks of this morning's ten point plan...

...because I haven't heard a peep from them (here it is btw in case you missed it). A dozen MPs and as many candidates have sent positive messages, however. Joanne Cash being the exception, thinking we have to choose between talking about immigration and the economy. That, to me, is a false choice. We can't have too many messages but immigration should be one of our top campaign themes.

James Forsyth at The Spectator agrees: "It was a strategic mistake in 2005 to talk about immigration so much but it would be an equally large mistake not to talk about it at all this time round. I also think that ‘detoxifying the brand’ has worked sufficiently for it to be easier for the Tories to get a hearing when they talk about this topic. However, the problem is that the Tories can’t start talking about immigration now; it would look like a panic response to the polls. But as soon as the Tory numbers go up and again, as I expect they will, they should take the opportunity to do a big speech on it. Andy Coulson’s instinct that Sayeeda Warsi is the best messenger for the Tories on this subject is sound."

Here is some other reax from the media:

The Times: "Grassroots members surveyed by the ConservativeHome website, however, have called for the party to move to the right. A survey of 2,352 members this week found that more than eight out of ten believed that promising to cut net immigration would appeal to floating voters... Two thirds of Tory members surveyed by ConservativeHome do not want Mr Osborne to front the campaign. While they want Mr Cameron to be front and centre, they would prefer that he was surrounded by William Hague, Boris Johnson and Ken Clarke. Mr Osborne is marginally less popular as a public face of the campaign than John Major, the former Prime Minister. In the survey, the grassroots members overwhelmingly agreed that they should criticise Lib Dems holding marginal seats for possibly keeping Labour in power."

London Evening Standard: "An open call for a campaign rethink was launched by the activists' website ConservativeHome, which issued a 10-point list of themes that had been tested on the doorstep by candidates. The list was headed by “clarify the economic message” because the official lines to take from Mr Osborne's office were bombing on the doorstep. Next came “warn of the danger of a hung Parliament” and “deploy the party's very sensible message on immigration”. Mr Cameron's aides said he would use his speech to the spring conference to “take the battle to Labour”."

Daley-Janet-black-backgroun Janet Daley: "Over at ConservativeHome, Tim Montgomerie gives David Cameron some excellent advice about how to deal with the present malaise... These endless dollops of counsel under which CCHQ must be staggering are divided roughly into two types: those (like Tim’s) urging a more straightforward and focused campaign because they sincerely want the Tories to win, and those from Left-liberals who pretend that they are seriously considering supporting the Conservatives which advise even more of the fluff that has caused so much trouble already (ie “Cameron must convince the country that his party has really changed”.) I sincerely hope that the leadership team can tell the difference between those who have the party’s best interests at heart and those who want to bury it forever for urging it to make itself even more apologetic and self-doubting."

Iain Martin: "Tim Montgomerie has penned a very astute set of recommendations aimed at the Tory leadership ahead of its spring conference in Brighton this weekend. How should they fix their struggling campaign and win the election? Don’t panic, be much clearer and more straightforward and then get properly stuck in to Labour, he advises. If they are awake at CCHQ they would be wise to digest every word of Tim’s."

Tim Montgomerie


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