Guido suspects it was team Fox not Chairman Maode that spread those Cameron coronation rumours and by “spread” we mean got Nick Robinson to repeat them. The circumstantial evidence:
- Tim Montgomerie had advance notice that the story was going to be broken on the Beeb – he backs and is close to team Fox. He floated the Will Davis withdraw? story yesterday morning.
- If team Fox is using the dark arts its doubly clever – it has set an unrealistic expectation of Cameron possibly getting 100 votes – something that is not going to happen and his camp have not claimed – his votes will be in the 70s. So if Foxy scrapes past Basher he’ll say “I have the momentum, talk of Cameron getting 100 votes was nonsense, blah, blah, blah”.
- Fox is positioning himself as the defender of party democracy, any talk of coronation he says is arrogant “I campaigned to defend our members participation in that ballot. I will do all I can to defend that right”. Its a play to activists who are more right-wing than MPs.
- Fox is a canny campaigner. This bit of spin damaged a demoralised Basher campaign and sets Cameron up for a negative spin in the constituencies. Hence team Cameron has started calling constituencies about the hustings and smartly telling journalists they were calling constituencies about the hustings. So they can be seen to be ready to take the fight to the country.
The genius of this line of spin was that people were genuinely speculating about the possibility of another coronation, its effectiveness was its plausibility because Davis has previous here. It added to the instability in Basher’s campaign office, which by all accounts resembles a scene from Little Britain.
Basher’s campaign team get the YouGov polling results.