Two conflicting views about what is going in the deep inside the Tory party.
First Simon Heffer:
It is too early to say whether the game is up for Mr Cameron and his party. I am told that Tory HQ is embarking on the familiar process of recrimination and panic, which can hardly be regarded as promising. Speaking on the telephone in the last few days to candidates and their helpers, I learnt that the mood in the country is sour, and that the fragile trust that the party at the grass roots had in Mr Cameron, his team of image-mongers and their project is cracking. There is trepidation before the debate tomorrow on foreign affairs. No one predicted Mr Clegg’s beano last week; perhaps Mr Cameron is about to have a triumph that will put him back on course. However, defending his party’s stance on the Iraq and Afghanistan expeditions against a highly sceptical public will test him to the limits. And should he attack Mr Clegg’s stance on Europe, he will invite exposure of his own mishandling of the Lisbon Treaty process, and could open a near-fatal wound.
We hear little about the “big idea” of the “big society”, which despite the efforts of propagandists died almost the second it left the womb. The public knows it is inadequate: the big idea it wants is about securing prosperity again, and the Tories are nowhere near a credible plan for that.
But his fellow commentator, Ben Brogan, paints a different picture and says the Tories have “a credible plan for government”.
Who is right? Perhaps this is the clue:
The Telegraph's Ben Brogan is believed by some to be thinking of joining Team Cameron if he makes it to Downing Street.
Meanwhile, over at The Guardian, Brogan’s views don't appear to be backed up by Cameron’s colleagues:
A series of anxious shadow ministers have warned the Tory leadership in private that David Cameron's central general election message – devolving power to create a "big society" – is crashing on the doorstep as candidates struggle to explain the idea to voters.
And a warning of what will happen if Cameron doesn't get over the line:
The source was clear about what would happen if Labour and the Lib Dems formed a coalition in a hung parliament to push through electoral reform. "By then we would have murdered our leader and his head would be on a stake. The last week shows how thin our support was. There is no great enthusiasm for Cameron."
With cracks appearing in the Labour party and now with the Tories, Nick Clegg is kicking the ball at an open goal.