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It required a miracle for Gordon Brown to find an opponent so incompetent that Labour would not be comprehensively booted from office this year. Yet in David Cameron just such a magnificent incompetent appears to have been found.

To say that Brown has brought the country to the brink of bankruptcy is to grotesquely understate the case. He has taken the country beyond bankruptcy. The government is borrowing £600 million a day. Our national debt is now riskier than Italy's.

And yet the polls show that the Conservatives may not win this election. At best, they might arrive in a hung Parliament or scrape a majority so narrow as to be unworkable. It is worth reminding ourselves of something. This is what friends of the Conservative party have got for five years of "detoxifying" insults, sustained political cowardice and a leadership-led abandonment of every issue of grassroots importance. This is all that has been achieved by those Tory backbenchers who have silently gone along with the Cameronians only because they thought it would finally gain them power.

Cameron and his colleagues have spent the last five years assiduously antagonising everyone who should be well disposed towards them and attempting to woo those who would never like them. They have been chasing unimportant and ungettable endorsements from the Guardian while alienating their sympathisers. I recently spent an unhappy evening with a senior Tory who dismissed one potentially friendly institution after another. The City's criticisms of Osborne? "Who cares about the City?" he asked. The Telegraph's criticisms of Cameron? "I don't bother with the Telegraph anymore." And so on.

If the Cameron clique had spent more time listening to their friends they might be preparing for power. As it is, they deserve to lose. Instead of setting out a principled manifesto, they have competed in the language and politics of their opponents even as that language and politics has been utterly exposed and recognised as moribund.

In the week when Brown was forced to say that he didn't physically assault his staff, the Conservative lead in the polls actually fell. It is worth reflecting on this a moment. The political opponent who has put your grandchildren-to-be in debt for life is having to publicly state that he doesn't assault his staff. As I said to some Tories that week: "What more are you hoping for? Harriet Harman to be accused of embezzlement and rape?" It is a situation that would be funny if the situation facing the country were not so tragic.

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April 24th, 2010
1:04 PM
Can you possibly find some breakdown of the £1bn spent on advertising? It doesn't sound that much out of the total and what was it for? Is spending on, say, "eat 5 fruit and veg a day" bad? Campaigns against drink driving? Reducing energy consumption? You probably know about the fortunes spent on advertising privatisations. Was this OK?

April 24th, 2010
1:04 PM
Proportional representation? Funny how conservatives only believe in this now. Great rape gag there, Douglas. What a charming chap you are. And clearly a policy of doing what the City wanted would see the Tories romp home.

Geoff M
April 22nd, 2010
7:04 AM
The Tories have given away the right to govern. They have moved so far to the Left that they no longer represent their core vote. They expected to be able to do this and have their core vote blindly vote Tory for want of anyone else to vote for. Now they are finding that they will either vote for UKIP/BNP or not vote at all. Should be interesting. Perhaps a hung parliament will give us a separation from Scotland (and Labours built in majority), rebalancing of constituency sizes, proportional representation and the rise of more representative Parties. Should be fun.

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