This is a Humpty Dumpty election. Blue Humpty fell off the wall some years ago after getting carried away by thoughts of hugging hoodies and huskies, building windmills in every field, ramping up taxes on the middle classes, dithering over Europe and inventing gay marriage. He broke into two bits: pale blue and purple and has yet to be put back together again.
Red Humpty, while lacking a sense of balance, clung on longer until he took fright at the prospect of losing his Scottish province. His fall proved most painful, resulting in a large and brightly coloured tartan fragment, obstinately detached to this day.
The least said about yellow Humpty the better. He tripped over a tuition fee and a Coalition deal and shattered into a thousand pieces. Beyond economic repair.
The question is: Can either Blue Humpty or Red Humpty be made whole by polling day? Both are stuck on 33 per cent of the vote. Both need to win back their defectors to stand any chance of outright victory.
Dave kicked off first yesterday in his house magazine The Daily Telegraph. It is time to come home, he told the purple brigade: “This election is about choosing a government. It’s not a moment of protest…I would say to those voters who have concerns – message received and understood. Now please, come on, let’s get together and take the country forward and avert the danger of a Labour government.”
Older readers will recall that Mr Cameron’s emollient, nay supplicatory language, is rather in contrast to his previous essay on this subject, when he dismissed Ukip supporters as “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists”. He must be hoping that he was wrong the first time. Appealing to the good sense of loonies and racists tends not to get you very far.
But the Prime Minister’s problems with the revolting Right are nothing compared to Ed Miliband’s difficulties in quelling the latter-day version of the Jacobite rebellion under Bolshy Princess Nicola. Yesterday, he wheeled out “The Master”, one Tony Blair, who pulled off the unprecedented feat of winning three elections in a row for Labour, but who is now widely reviled on the Left.
Blair was born and schooled in Scotland. But his anglicised nature means he is not the man to turn the tartan tide. Instead, he adopted a tangential approach, warning against the perils of nationalism, but in the context of a European referendum, not the separatist uprising. We should expect more of the same in coming weeks with more credible Labour heavyweights, such as Gordon Brown, Alastair Darling and John Reid, being summoned to the hustings.
More importantly, Blair sought to lay the ghost of his alleged differences with the wonkish Miliband, claiming he supported him 100 per cent. It does not ring true, but it does help to shore up Ed’s shaky position.
The question remains. As Cameron put it, will the deserters ever come home?