Under pressure from party moderates, bullied by the Tory right, the Prime Minister seems caught in a trap of his own making.
When inspiration fails, brute organisational force can still carry Labour over the line.
Labour has learned lessons from the Lib Dem campaign in Eastleigh last year.
The Labour leader is, after much hesitation, ready to contemplate the problem of running public services in austere times.
The Labour leader's plans for government can factor in the prospect of having Balls as his chancellor, but in a shrunken empire.
The repetitive and needlessly venomous exchanges over the 50p rate distract from the long-term question of how we should pay for the services that we value in an era of austerity.
Labour can be right about the economics of the cost of living crisis and still lose the argument in 2015.
Everyone in Westminster knows that the nation’s creaking infrastructure needs an upgrade but Cameron’s “global race” and Miliband’s “new economy” must be depicted as ideological antitheses.
The Rennard shambles risks undermining the graduation into a serious party of government.
The Labour leader is confident that by 2015 voters will not be judging parties according to who they think will be better at inflicting austerity.
Any communications strategy devised in Downing Street also has to compete with noisy agendas elsewhere in the party.
Andrea Leadsom, No 10 advisor and co-founder of the Fresh Start group of MPs, raises prospect of "more fruitful" negotiations after Britain votes to leave the EU.
Miliband and Clegg are ready to sign up to three debates over three weeks. They say Cameron is running scared.
Part of the problem is that even Labour MPs find their boss remote.
If the spectre of Gordon Brown alone were sufficient to propel the electorate into Cameron’s arms, he would now be governing with a majority.
The Labour leader appears determined to avoid the challenge of fixing state services without spending more money on them.
The PM's Ukip-style positioning on immigration is viewed as weakness or blackmail by the rest of the EU.
Miliband is running out of time to inspire people with more than just a feeling that he has noticed how expensive life has become.
Both Miliband and Balls know they need to do more if people are going to be persuaded to put them in charge of public money.
The risk for the Deputy PM is of looking desperate to stay in office at any price.
If the Chancellor starts doling out goodies he risks undercutting the Tory message of long-term discipline.
The Chancellor is right that people don't demand ideological consistency but they do like politicians to believe in something.
Rafael Behr on "Milibandism" and the Labour leader’s mission to reshape capitalism in Britain.
In a closely fought battle, when hospital wards face closure in marginal seats, there will be irresistible temptation for Labour to make promises that can’t be kept.
The balance of credit for getting the Tories even this far has clearly tilted towards the Chancellor.
Labour won no credit when it tried to mimic Osborne's inheritance tax cut in 2007. The Chancellor is determined not to fall into the same trap with Miliband's gambit.
Neither Cameron nor Miliband seems serious about finding reasons why anyone with an existing inclination to one side should actually consider switching to the other.
The changes were designed to accelerate the process of re-branding Labour as neither old nor new; neither Blair nor Brown – but wholly Milibandist.
Populist, nationalist parties like Ukip mop up angry conservatives first – then move in on disenfranchised voters from the left.
Cameron and Osborne should be wary of defining socialism so broadly as to encompass any political resentment of a complacent corporate status quo.