The Sunday Telegraph leads on the Ashcroft 133 page book "Minority Verdict: The Conservative Party, the Voters and the 2010 Election", due for publication tomorrow, in which amongst the criticisms levelled are:
"Failing to get its "message" and "brand" across to the voters. Relentless counterproductive attacks on the Labour Party and Gordon Brown. Agreeing to a televised debate of political leaders which enabled the Liberal Democrats to seize the "real change" initiative."
Commenting on the election result, Ashcroft then poses this question:
"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. How could they come so close to missing?"
In attempting to analyse the reason for Cameron failing to win an outright majority, as is usual with the present day Conservative Party, it is "the subject that dare not speak its name" that is most noticeable by its absence - namely that of Europe.
That one subject cost Cameron outright victory, a subject in which Cameron was exposed as a man whose word meant nothing - and I refer to his broken Sun promise and infamous U turn. Consider that it has been claimed, in a Times article, that:
"16,000 votes extra votes for the Tories distributed in the 19 constituencies in which the party came closest to winning would have spared us a weekend of coalition negotiations and speculation."
To maintain, as Ashcroft does, that:
"We did not make as much progress as we should have done in transforming the party's brand, and in reassuring former Labour voters that we had changed and were on their side."
is a tad disingenious as the Conservative Party would never 'reassure' convinced Labour voters to vote for them. However, bearing in mind that across party divides and bearing in mind also the undoubted "UKIP effect" - the latter whose vote doubled by hundreds of thousands - there were voters whose overriding consideration was membership of the European Union and that they had never been given the opportunity of casting their vote on that one issue.
It is therefore beyond any argument that Cameron's two decisions, mentioned above, cost him his victory.