DAVID Cameron's “fight-back” yesterday over the economic crisis did not go well. I don't know what the audience at the London School of Economics thought of his speech but his preview of it on BBC Radio 4's Today programme was not convincing. The suggestion that economic policy should be put to the British public at an early general election sounds like desperation. It would take at least one month to hold such an election; would the government be expected to put its already launched policies on hold during that time and tell international meetings that it could not be sure its recovery measures would be implemented? That would be disastrous in the current situation. In any case, the opinion polls have consistently shown that the British public prefer the Brown/Darling team to the Cameron/Osborne team to deal with the crisis - and did so again and most convincingly in the poll for The Times released yesterday which gave Brown and Darling the preference by 40 to 31 per cent.

The most surprising line taken by Mr Cameron in the Today interview was his complaint that “none of Labour's heavy borrowing to finance a fiscal stimulus was in Labour's manifesto at the last election”. Of course it wasn't. How could it have been in 2005? I sometimes think that Mr Cameron has still not appreciated how totally the rules of the game have changed in the past few months.


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