Eric Pickles will be getting his night’s rest on a Sleeper train to Cornwall.  After an evening speaking engagement he’s heading towards the South West for a tour of Conservative-Liberal marginals.  His day begins at 7.30am tomorrow with a breakfast engagement in Truro and it’s a full day of meetings thereafter.  An aide to the new Party Chairman tells me that this visit communicates two of the big themes that Eric Pickles wants to characterise his tenure at CCHQ: graft (he promises to match the sacrifice of volunteers) and a focus on the LibDems.  With opinion polls pointing towards a perhaps decisive increase in the Tory lead some party strategists are recommending a significant shift of battleground resources into unseating Liberal Democrat MPs.  Eric Pickles is a big advocate of the lovebombing* tactic.   

Tim Montgomerie

* After years of unsuccessfully trying to scare people from voting LibDem (because, for example, of their strong pro-Europeanism, their social permissiveness or ‘soft’ approach to crime), the Tories decided that it was better to flatter them and appear to agree with them on key issues. The love-bombing strategy was partly a result of fears that negative campaigning against the LibDems risked reinforcing voters’ perceptions of the Conservatives as mean-spirited rather than affecting voters’ perceptions of the ‘nice’ LibDems.