By Ray Fleming

ASSUMING that Britain's general election is to be held early in May there are about fifty policy-launching days left before polling. And if the Conservatives continue as they have started there are probably fifty new policies waiting to be exposed to the waiting media. Although this may be intended to convey a sense of preparedness for office there are dangers in it. To begin with, some of the initiatives seem to be little more than headline-catching announcements that lack substance -- that was certainly true about yesterday's proposal for “public service co-operatives” about which neither David Cameron at his press conference nor George Osborne on BBC Radio's Today programme could provide anything more than the bare bones of the idea. Errors are also showing through. The rate of teenage pregnancy was misstated by a factor of ten in a campaign leaflet entitled Labour's Two Nation, and last week the shadow home secretary Chris Grayling was publicly dressed down in a letter from the director general of the independent UK Statistics Authority for attempting to use annual rates for violent crime to Labour's detriment by comparing years in which the methods of analysis were completely different.

The number of new policies and proposed legislation aired by the Conservative Party over the past month is probably already greater than can be accommodated in a normal Parliamentary year, let alone one in which the focus will necessarily be on urgent attention to the economy.