I'm in election planning/development mode at the moment so starting to read my old books around various campaigns and approaches. (I must admit the more I re-read about Rove the more over-stated I think his reputation is). To add to my reading, Lord Ashcroft's Minority Report, offering his assessment of the Conservative Party's election campaign will be published tomorrow. Its main criticisms of the Conservative campaign is featured in the Sunday Telegraph and summarised at Conservativehome. He sums up the situation succinctly:
"The Conservative Party faced a shambolic government, an unpopular Prime Minister, a recession, a huge budget deficit and an overwhelming national desire for change. A year before the election the Conservatives were 20 points ahead in the polls, yet they failed to win an overall majority. Surely this had been an open goal."
The list of failures are pretty accurate and some have been mentioned before but that should not lead people to simply ignore it. He does point out the result means work on the Tory brand still needs work. He states the goal as:
"It is only in government that the Conservative Party can complete the rehabilitation of its brand – that it can show doubtful voters that it really is on the side of ordinary people, that it is competent to run the economy, and that it can be trusted with public services like the NHS."
The first and last will be extremely difficult in the early years of the government and difficult to overcome in the final years. Ashcroft now intends to reduce his role in politics both on a personal and financial level. Conservative politics will be the worse for it and not because of the money but his incisive, honest and strategic thinking on campaigning.