Can new man at No 10 steady Team Cameron?
It is not just a new cat that is moving into Downing Street.
The appointment of a new director of strategy is to be announced very soon. Andrew Cooper, the founder of the polling company Populus and the former director of the Conservative research department, is dotting the i's and crossing the t's on his new role. His task will be to give the government "narrative coherence".
Downing Street certainly needs someone to ensure that the government had a clearer message and makes fewer unforced errors. In my interview with the PM yesterday he as good as acknowledged that the government had tripped over itself while trying to go too fast. Stumbles over school buildings, books and sport, the sell-off of the forests (soon to be abandoned I predict) and prisoner votes have all unnerved Team Cameron.
Cooper's appointment will be controversial, however. He has been seen as an uber uber moderniser (see Conservativehome) ever since producing polling that told the Tories they need to keep modernising to salvage a contaminated brand. Cooper joined the Tories when David Owen's SDP folded. Those who portray themselves as "mainstream Conservatives" will see his appointment, alongside Craig Oliver's, as evidence that their party is not interested in reaching out to them. Our mistake, one Cameroon told me, was to look like we wanted and were enjoying coalition rather than being dragged kicking and screaming into it.
Further evidence of the confidence wobble in No 10 is the creation of a new policy unit to shadow and monitor the work of government departments. It will be staffed by civil servants as the Tories have run out of special advisers having promised to cut their number and then having to share them with the Lib Dems. First on the list for monitoring will, I'm told, be Defra and those forests.
A minister confesses that for a while the coalition thought it could do anything. It has now become painfully clear that that is not the case.