The conference season has kicked off this year with all three parties engaged in internecine struggles. Key people in each party are the subject of whispering campaigns from within their own rank and file. Policy frequently appears made up 'on the hoof' and then later retracted as the press reacts furiously to any apparently 'off-message' speeches and announcements.
Nick Clegg has had to backtrack on his 'savage cuts' proposal, which appeared to be the result of bravado. Vince Cable has been criticised for not clearing his 'million pound house surcharge' with the rank and file first. Labour is contending with an Attorney General who employs illegal immigrants and a leader whom much of the party believes is a nutter who will probably bow out before the next election. Meanwhile the Conservative Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne is being criticised as weak and not up to the job, too much of a political point scorer, who is frequently out of his depth.
It is primarily the greater discipline of the Conservatives that has allowed them to maintain their lead over the other two parties. However, much of the electorate is very much in the dark as to how it will put 'clear blue water' between it and the Labour and LibDem parties. When politics is all about being all things to all people, it is difficult to avoid frequent political cross-dressing and the ultimate alientation of the rank and file.