Are the Tories as rattled as they seem?

On foot of Brian’s observation about the way the polls are swinging in the most bizarre way, it might be timely to mention this presser (blogged by David Hughes at the Telegraph) I got during the week from Adam Boulton at Sky News on the debate, which was a deft response to what may have been some pre match nerves from David Cameron:

“David Cameron needs to be careful. The rules he is attacking are those insisted on by the party negotiators during their months of bargaining with the broadcasters.…Ask yourself a simple question: which side, telly or parties, would want a no-holds barred TV scrap and which would want to pin down rules about audience, moderator, questions and debate to protect their man from something going disastrously wrong? … It is not surprising that the parties were nervous and tried to play safe. But if expert negotiators such as Andy Coulson pressed for tighter restrictions than David Cameron says he would like, then they only have themselves to blame … In the end the rules “belong ” to the parties. If the leaders want to lighten things up, that is their choice. As moderator I will insist on fair play but I will not be a jobsworth. My job is to ensure lively, informative and free-flowing debate.”

As my old mucker from the Daily Telegraph Iain Martin notes, sleep deprivation is robbing some Tory frontbenchers of their critical faculties… Meanwhile the dirty war techniques may now be turned on the Lib Dems now they appear to be serious contenders (“a transient phenomenon perhaps, but clear proof of an underlying volatility in the electorate“)…

But is it too late?