Disagreements about how to attack the Government’s record lie behind the slowness of Conservative response to New Labour spin, The Slog has learned.

A Tory insider last night broke the conspiracy of silence surrounding his Party’s poor footwork during the last few weeks of ‘phoney Election’. The source told us:

“There is a big, big difference of opinion at the top about how personal our attacks on Government figures should be – and how stark the fiscal reality should be that we present to the electorate”.

The claim was made in the light of the latest poll showing Labour just 3 points behind – although Reid has the Conservatives 13 points ahead, a finding The Slogger still believes to be nearer the truth.

We understand that the hawk on setting out the fiscal and economic hole is George Osborne – who believes the Conservative election message should be simple, harsh and direct. While he and Kenneth Clarke are both concerned not to scare the electorate out of its wits, they believe Labour economic fantasies are not being addressed sharply enough. Our informant continued:

“Cameron is fearful of looking unpatriotic, but Osborne and Clarke think this is far too restrictive.” On the subject of the Prime Minister, the source had this to say:

“There was a clear agreement after Brighton to learn the lesson of New Labour in 1997, when they focused on how clapped-out Major and his Cabinet looked. The word went out ‘Get Brown’. But then the squabbles broke out, and that focused target has been completely obscured. Now Brown has made a comeback, and I can tell you a lot of MPs are angry about it”.

A major contributor to Tory funds told us this morning that there is “despair in the ranks” about the limp performance to date. He added:

“Osborne is supposed to be the election coordinator, but he’s ballsing it up. Also he’s hampered by Hilton, whose perpetual message to the Leader is one of urging caution.” Other gossip reaching The Slogger’s ears insists that Ken Clarke cannot bear to be in the same room as Hilton, whom he regards as lacking in punch – and far too prissy.

Other sources among the grass roots continue to affirm that the lack of muscle in the Tory campaign is lowering morale. But our original source quoted earlier in this piece gets the last word:

“Cameron has been talked into believing that safety-first is the best way to ensure a result. A growing number of people think this has now been proved wrong. There is genuine nervousness that we could blow it. We have to sharpen up, and now”.