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Who should be the Tory attack dog?

That's the question asked by Peter Hoskin over at Coffee House.

It's an urgent question as Cameron must stop the character attacks on Brown. My mum is my best political advisor (she has accurately predicted every election victory throughout my life) and it's the one thing she likes least about the Conservative leader. Rachel Sylvester at The Times addresses the topic in her column in The Times (now, for me, the best of its kind on Fleet Street):

"If [Cameron] continues to concentrate on a character assassination of the Prime Minister rather than on emphasising what he would do in No 10, he will turn off voters — particularly women. If he uses the sort of language in the TV debates that he has deployed in the Commons recently the electorate will be appalled. It would be a huge mistake for the youthful challenger to turn himself into the big clunking fist."

I agree with every word of that. Cameron should, of course, continue to blast Labour for its record but he sullies his own brand when he gets personal. He must be the positive alternative to Labour, decent, compassionate and as above partisan politics as someone involved in partisan politics can try to appear.

Pete suggests that Ken Clarke should be the attack dog. The former Chancellor certainly does a good job at demolishing Labour's economic reputation in an article for this morning's Daily Mail.

Screen shot 2010-03-02 at 12.03.52 My choice for top attack dog would be Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling. He calmly dissects Labour's failures without ever looking mean. Crucially, (like Grant Shapps) he also has the work-rate that too many other Tories lack. He'll get up for GMTV and still by working the TV studios late at night.

The most important thing is that Cameron stays above what he once called 'punch and judy' politics. As Rachel Sylvester writes, it's particularly important that he doesn't get personal in the election debates.

Tim Montgomerie

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