Sunday, October 09, 2005

A Hard Pounding

Today's polls do not make comfortable reading for us DD supporters. It really is quite shocking what a difference one fifteen minute speech and a dodgy focus group have apparently made.

A few deep breaths.

The temptation is to trash the polls, but as always, it's best to trust Anthony:

"The impact of Davis and Cameron’s conferences performances has indeed stretched beyond the media and the conference to normal party members - the electorate who will make the final decision. It remains to be seen if this is a permanent change in opinion, or if Cameron will fall back once the immediate rush of media adoration falls away. For the moment at least David Cameron is the clear front runner."

Fair enough. However:

"Amongst the public as a whole, Cameron’s rating has improved, but he is hardly sweeping all before him. A second poll tomorrow, by ICM for the BBC’s Politics Show, asked a sample of normal voters and found that Ken Clarke remained their favourite candidate, with 27% naming him as their preferred leader. Cameron has moved up to 13% to put him joint second with David Davis."

So while many Tory members see a handsome young prince who has pulled the sword from the stone and will surely now smash the Vikings, he clearly hasn't justified his chum Frank Luntz's OTT comment that “David Cameron has reinvented politics ”. Sadly, he is no more a miracle electoral solution than Ken claims to be.

And "once the immediate rush of media adoration" does fade, we will again focus on that extraordinary lack of experience. Even Cameron backer Michael Portillo says "Cameron-mania could be an election too soon", and Andrew Rawnsley- who grilled DC at an excellent Conference fringe event- says:

"David Cameron is the most high-stakes gamble of the lot. He has risen without trace at amazing speed. He could sink without trace just as quickly. He is hugely promising and vastly risky. He is double or quits."

Feel lucky?

So it's very far from being over for DD. Clearly he needs to shine in the terrorism debates, but there's every reason to think he will.

And clearly he needs to show us he is more than another grey man. He must engage with us, just as he did at (some of) the fringe events in answering questions, and just as he did on say, that Frost interview back in the summer. But he's much better on telly than on the platform, so between now and December he'll get plenty of chances.

There is of course one strong positive in all this. Davis is being tested in a way that DC has never been. The very severity of this pounding is showing everyone the mettle of the man. Deep down we all realise that if modernisation is ever going to move beyond mere words, we need a leader with substantive ideas, and with the grit and determination to see them through.

Davis remains the man most likely to.
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