PM: I still have a tiger in my tank
David Cameron has insisted he still has a "tiger in his tank" as he faces up to three and half more weeks of a gruelling General Election campaign.
The Prime Minister's comment came as he faced unease from some Conservatives over the party's approach to a contest in which it has struggled to establish a lead and has been widely criticised for a negative message focusing on the risks of Labour victory and personal attacks on Ed Miliband.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, Mr Cameron acknowledged that the campaign needed some "sunshine" but insisted he had not lost his appetite for the battle.
"I'm hugely enthused," he told the paper. "There's not just a tiger, there's a couple of elephants, a lion and a yeti in the tank. This is a very energetic campaign."
Former defence secretary Liam Fox voiced concern following a clutch of polls in which Labour appeared to be opening up a lead of as many as six points.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Dr Fox said the Tory record of overseeing recovery should have enabled them to build up a 10-point lead at this stage in the campaign, adding: "The questions many Conservatives are asking are: what is going on and what are we going to do about it?" said Dr Fox, who stood against Mr Cameron in the 2005 Tory leadership contest.
Chancellor George Osborne blundered by talking about the need for further austerity, which has "negative connotations with too many voters with its dark Dickensian ring", said Dr Fox - an unsuccessful rival of Mr Cameron's in the 2005 contest for the Tory leadership. He suggested Tories should instead speak of "Britain having to live within its means".
Meanwhile, the Tory leader himself was criticised by outgoing Conservative MP Brian Binley, who told the same paper: 'With the election campaign well under way, Mr Cameron still appears to be standing apart and aloof, almost like a spectator. Flat-footed and lame, we already look as if we're running to catch up."
Mr Cameron compared his position to that of the England cricket team after the late commentator Richie Benaud had declared they were facing a "pretty tough battle".
"As so often when Richie said it was a pretty tough battle out there, it has often ended happily for the England team," said the PM. "It is a tough battle, but at the end of the day we have got a very strong and consistent argument."
He said he planned to spell out a positive vision of what Britain could be like after five years of Tory government, saying: "That's what I'm excited about. For me there is no greater sunshine than giving people the chance of a job, or more of their own money, a home to own, a school place they can be proud of, a community they love.
"Do we need to spell it out in more detail? Do we need to bring it alive in a thousand different ways? Yes, of course. We've got to get across that if we complete the plan there's a real reward, a real bonus for people: better jobs, more money, good homes, stronger communities."
The Tory leader revealed that his 11-year-old daughter Nancy often compares him to Phil Dunphy, the dad from US sitcom Modern Family who often embarrasses his children by trying to be cool.
"She does regularly say: 'That is so Phil Dunphy'. If you watch Modern Family, you will know what that means. It's not great," he said.
And he told the Sunday Times that Nancy loses no chance to remind him of the incident when he left her behind in the pub after Sunday lunch, sometimes standing on the table outside the pub itself "recounting the story of how she was left ... (with) me with my head in my hands."
Meanwhile, Mr Osborne admitted it was difficult explaining to his children why he was booed by athletics fans at the Paralympics in 2012, at the height of his unpopularity.
He denied that he had been "low" as a result of the failure to achieve GDP growth in the early years of the coalition, but appeared to accepted he had felt besieged at the Treasury.
"It's fair to say that by 2012 it was tough economically, and I got myself into a position where I was hunkered down in the Treasury," the Chancellor told the Mail on Sunday.
"I was saying, look, if people don't like the plan or whatever, well, you know ... so be it.
"II never personally felt, erm, low, b ut I'm not going to pretend it was easy. T he most difficult thing was explaining it to my children - it's not an easy conversation to have."