As we approach the big day, some Labour big guns have changed course slightly. Led by Alastair Campbell, who spearheaded the approach in the spin room after the third leader’s debate, they have stopped pumping up Brown and have switched to pointing out how Cameron has seemingly failed to hold on to a huge poll lead. I’ve just got back from a Labour press conference during which Lord Mandelson has done the same. With everything in his favour, they say Cameron hasn’t managed to seal the deal with voters.
The problem for the Cam camp is that when you look back at recent elections, there’s something in it. A poll of polls out today puts the Tories on 35 per cent. To put that in context, it’s the same share of the vote that Neil Kinnock, with the full force of the right-wing press against him, secured in 1992. And it also calls into question the great Cameroon age of reforming the Tories. His 35 per cent is only a slight improvement on Michael Howard’s 33.2 per cent tally.
And is he really heralding in a new age for the Tories? Tony Blair increased Labour’s vote share to 44.3 per cent in 1997, up more than nine points on Kinnock’s effort. Cameron’s leadership thus far his pushed up the share of the vote by around two points since Michael Howard.
“Cameron as popular as Kinnock” isn’t a slogan Labour, and particularly Mr Campbell, could deploy. But perhaps the Lib Dems could.
With Cam doing only a bit better than Michael Howard, the question is, Is he thinking what we're thinking? That is, he should be doing much better...
Here are the figures. I have used the ones compiled for Great Britain by Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher, at Plymouth University: