Damian Green lampooned as voters tire of Tory election message
Conservative MPs are in a bind when it comes to the 'strong and stable leadership' offensive.
First it was Westminster journalists who got sick of Conservative politicians mentioning "strong and stable" leadership.
Now there is evidence that some members of the public have had enough as well.
After work and pensions secretary Damian Green used his appearance on the BBC’s Question Time show to urge voters to back a "strong and stable" Tory government, one audience member was having none of it.
The disgruntled voter asked: "Has he caught the repetitive cliche virus from his boss? Please let’s have a more grown-up debate where we use the language of Shakespeare with a bit more flexibility."
It comes as ambitious Conservative MPs find themselves in something of a bind.
Those who deviate from the script are less likely to be lampooned on Question Time and accused of catching the repetitive cliche virus. Refuseniks stand a better chance maintaining their dignity in the eyes of journalists, cartoonists - and any voters who pay enough attention to these things.
But deviant MPs can expect a bollocking from Lynton Crosby. Worse, Theresa May and her chiefs are staff are not the type to forgive and forget. Such disloyalty is unlikely to be ignored by the prime minister next time she is dishing out ministerial jobs and deciding who to sack.
Tory MPs know that those who enthusiastically carry out their orders will reap the rewards after polling day. A friendly hearing from the prime minister and a possible promotion beckons.
So this morning, they pressed on regardless with housing minister Gavin Barwell twice managing to crowbar in the phrase "strong stable leadership" during an interview about housing policy.
One Tory MP, David Mackintosh, even snuck the phrase into a statement on Twitter announcing that he is standing down.
It comes after Theresa May showed them all how to do it whatever the circumstances. As she appeared on Radio Derby yesterday, May was asked: “Do you know what a mugwump is?”
The prime minister replied unashamedly: “What I recognise is that what we need in this country is strong and stable leadership.”