Peter Oborne writes today that a Tory victory is far from certain. He does not believe that there is yet a groundswell of support for David Cameron in the way there was for Tony Blair in the mid-1990s. He also thinks that the views of many Tories on, for example, fox hunting and the NHS – as expounded this week by Edward Garnier MP and Dan Hannan MEP – could yet frighten voters.
But The Telegraph suggests that current polling in marginal seats – where the party leads by 14% – points to a big Conservative victory. The marginal seats data is part of a major Telegraph feature that profiles key elements of the Tory plan to ensure that victory IS delivered:
Framing the election as a choice between David Cameron and Gordon Brown: CCHQ is very confident that David Cameron is a huge political asset for the party. "The election will be all about David v Gordon [Brown], Cameron will be plastered over everything we do," a source tells The Telegraph: "Not since the focus on Margaret Thatcher will you see a Conservative campaign so focused on one person."
A focus on middle-of-the-road swing voters: Citing the decision to return Ken Clarke to the frontbench and to accept Labour's 45p tax band The Telegraph quotes a strategist as saying "there is no point in focussing on immigration, Europe and other traditional right-wing areas as it will no longer attract voters as they are already on side. But it might put some voters off."
A focus on the three big issues of healthcare, education and the economy.
Different campaigns for different seats: As already revealed by ConservativeHome the party is not just focusing on geographical clusters of marginal seats but also on "seaside towns" and "new towns", for example. Each cluster receives a different style of literature and a different messages are emphasised.
A capacity for immediate rebuttal: "In Coleshill in the West Midlands, a rapid response unit has been established with its own printing facility. It is able to immediately print "rebuttal" leaflets which can be delivered within hours. This was trialled with devastating effect when the Lib Dems attempted a dirty trick in last year's Henley by-election. If Labour airs a damaging political broadcast, the Conservatives should be able to have a leaflet rebutting the claims on doormats before breakfast the following morning."
The Conservative's "electoral board" meets once a week to discuss tactics. Chaired by George Osborne, the board also includes Andy Coulson; Stephen Gilbert, the chief of Lord Ashcroft's polling and seats operation; and Ed Llewellyn, David Cameron's chief-of-staff.